Now, Indian citizens abroad can pay RTI fees through eIPO

Electronic postal order is a big achievement for Indian citizens abroad who have been pressing the government for the last five years to facilitate them in nation building by exercising their right to know

The Postal department (DoP) has launched Indian postal order in electronic format (eIPO) that would help Indian citizens staying abroad to pay fees for their Right to Information (RTI) applications.

 

This facility is available at https://www.epostoffice.gov.in and India Post website www.indiapost.gov.in. Debit and credit cards of any bank powered by Visa or MasterCard can be used for buying eIPO online.

 

Indian citizens settled abroad were finding it difficult to seek information under the transparency law, as a postal order or demand draft of Rs10 was not easily available.

 

The applicant needs to register on the website to create his/her profile for the first time. He has to select the ministry/ department from whom he desires to seek information under the RTI Act and the eIPO so generated can be used to seek information from that ministry/ department only. A printout of the eIPO is to be attached with the RTI application sent in a hard copy. In case the RTI application is filed electronically, an eIPO is required to be sent as an attachment.

 

Delhi-based activist Commodore (retd) Lokesh Batra, steered the eIPO campaign for Indians living abroad in several countries. (Read 2013 wakes up to online payment of RTI applications for Indians abroad).

 

Commodore Batra had been continuously filing RTI applications since 2008 to relevant government departments which handle this issue like the ministry of finance, the Department of Personnel and Training (which implements the RTI Act), the Department of Posts (which can make e- payment possible), the National Advisory Council (NAC) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). While initially the DoP had taken initiative to hasten the process, the RBI was sitting over it. Thereafter the DoP was waiting for a green signal from the ministry.

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    An RTI application gives Peyush Rai his passport even before submitting his plea

    The power of RTI was realised by this citizen who followed Moneylife’s instruction to use RTI, as he was unable to get his passport, despite police verification having been submitted

    Ever since Moneylife has begun the passport campaign, it has been urging passport applicants to file an RTI application to know the status of their passport. Incidentally, the campaign was triggered off when a young Pune-based architect, Sachin Bhasme did not receive his passport despite successful police verification. When he went to the Regional Passport Office in Pune to submit his RTI (Right to Information) application, it was turned down, with the Public Information Officer stating that they do not accept the Rs10 RTI fee in cash (when the website clearly states that cash is also accepted. (Full story here: Inordinate delays at Pune Passport office; RTI applications rejected).

     

    On Thursday, 21st March, a miracle took place. A passport applicant had been running between passport office and police commissioner’s office for the past two months. While the police had cleared the verification, the Regional Passport Office, Pune told him that they have not received the police clearance certificate. However, when he went to submit his RTI application, the police clearance certificate was promptly found by the Regional Passport Office, which stated that he would soon receive his passport by courier. This, even before he submitted his RTI application.
     

    On Thursday morning (21st March), I received a mail from one Peyush Rai who showed interest in filing a RTI application to know the status of his passport. Once again, it was a case of successful police verification, but the passport office telling him that they have no clue about the verification.
     

    He wrote to me: On Wednesday, 20 March 2013 at 4:30pm:
     

    “Respected Madam,
     

    Sub: PCC application bearing Arn no.130000711038, PN1080297632813.
     

    Police verification was done on date 22nd February 2013 for PCC (Police Clearance Certificate). However, till 20 March 2013, online status of my file is ‘PCC application is under review at Passport Seva Kendra ‘. I went to the passport office after standing in a queue for three hours. I got a chance to meet the Passport Officer. She told me they do not have information about police verification in their database, it is pending from the Pune commissioner’s office. Therefore, they cannot issue me my passport. When I went to police commissioner’s office they said file has already dispatched on 7  March 2013 and she (Raghuwanshi madam) was not ready to give outward No. of my file. The status ‘PCC application is under review at passport Seva Kendra’ is being shown from almost 30 days, but still I haven't got my PCC yet. It’s been almost two months I haven't got my PCC yet. Kindly help me; I need to apply for my visa urgently.
     

    Please help me in logging an RTI application. Also I don’t know how and where I need to log an RTI in this case, Please help me as I am losing a job opportunity due to this reason.

     

    Thanking you.

     

    Warm Regards,

    Peyush Rai”

     

    I replied:

    From: Vinita Vishwas Deshmukh

    Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 5:03am
    To: Peyush Rai
    Subject: Re: PCC got Stuck in PSK (Please Help)
     

    “ Dear Peyush,
     

    I can understand how frustrating it must be for you. Please see this link of my article in Moneylife where I have stated how you should file RTI application. I have given two samples of the form too. Please read and revert in case of any doubt:
    File an RTI application if you do not get your passport in time

     

    All the best.
     

    Cheers and warm regards,
     

    Vinita”
     

    Peyush Rai filled his RTI application form on Thursday, 21st March itself and went to the Regional Passport Office on Senapati Bapat Road in Pune. He stood in the long queue at the enquiry counter for a couple of hours. When his turn came, he requested to see Mrs Seetha, the Public Information Officer.
     

    When he went to Ms Seetha’s desk, requesting her to accept his RTI application and the Rs10 RTI fee, she said she would like to check his case, before she accepts the RTI application. His name popped up in the system and she promptly gave him the good news that the Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) has been cleared and that the passport would be couriered to him.
     

    A surprised Peyush promptly called me up and said, “Madam thank you for all the good work, I am amazed that several trips to the Regional Passport Office did not fetch any results, but only frustration, and just one RTI application did wonders, and that too, without having to submit it and wait for the mandatory 30 days to get the reply.”
     

    What is shocking is that the same Regional Passport Office told Peyush that they have not received the PCC whereas the RTI application suddenly changed things.
     

    Hence, Moneylife once again requests passport applicants to file RTI applications in case their passports are stuck for any reason. Moneylife appreciated Peyush Rai’s promptness in filing the RTI application, as most citizens are lazy to try this method. The more RTI applications the Regional Passport Office receives, the less will be chances of the officers sleeping over PCCs which have already reached the office, but are not attended to. Two samples of RTI applications are available in this link. Please file your RTI as per the samples. File an RTI application if you do not get your passport in time

    Kudos to RTI!

     

    (Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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    COMMENTS

    Yatish

    1 month ago

    Madam, I do not know whether this thread is still alive. But I would like to thank you for your campaign. I got my Passport from RPO Patna only after 2.5 months of Clear PVR. And that too when, being inspired by your article, I filed rti. Within two days of my rti application I was issued my PP. Before that they kept my application unnecessarily in review and every other efforts on getting my PP did not work.
    Thanks once again.

    REPLY

    Sucheta Dalal

    In Reply to Yatish 1 month ago

    Excellent. Happy to read this.

    Ashwini

    4 years ago

    Today i was having appointment at PSK pune center, last time when i went they asked me to show the current address ID proof so I have updated my Bank passbook with the current address.

    And today i showed the same and even that lady signed it and kept the file with her and I went to the Exit i got a receipt from them stating that SENT TO 'PASSPORT OFFICE FOR FURTHER PROCESSING' since morning they were having some server issue.

    And after coming outside I got a message application is under review,what does it mean? What is the further procedure? What should i do now? Please help me with good suggestions.

    Ashwini

    4 years ago

    Today i was having appointment at PSK pune center, last time when i went they asked me to show the current address ID proof so I have updated my Bank passbook with the current address.

    And today i showed the same and even that lady signed it and kept the file with her and I went to the Exit i got a receipt from them stating that SENT TO 'PASSPORT OFFICE FOR FURTHER PROCESSING' since morning they were having some server issue.

    And after coming outside I got a message application is under review,what does it mean? What is the further procedure? What should i do now? Please help me with good suggestions.

    Anand Shirkande

    5 years ago

    Hi. Really thanks for your help and formats. I was wondering for formats . I discussed with many people for format. But you made it very easy. Your formats are very helpfull and up to date. Thanks. I am going to file RTI application tomorrow. Lets see for reply.

    Biplob

    5 years ago

    ma'am can i file an rti for police verification. I have already gone for physical police verification in the police station and they have already sent the file to the SP Office. But it has been almost 3 weeks the SP office has not forwarded the file to the Regional Passport Office. Will and RTI solve my the issue

    shrikant

    6 years ago

    my wifes passport was applied for on 7 May 13 in Malad PSK. Till date there is no verification of police done.
    we are unable to get any help from any police station. they say they have not received any request for police verification.

    do we need to take any other course of action or file the RTI for this delay?
    can u pls help?

    Satish Bhartia

    6 years ago

    My fren's RTI application was not accepted by RPO, Guwahati for his minor dauthers passport and those idiots sent the passport on the same day.Thing is not getting passport thru RTI or other means we must make these passport goons accountable.Applicants are compelled to approach dalals who charge rs7000 to 30000 in Guwahati and make more than 5 lakh per month HALF OF which is shared with RPO,PSK officials.

    Gaurav Goyal

    6 years ago

    i dont want to know anything just one thing from passport office that I am working in a PSU somewhere away from my hometown and having all the proofs of my hometown, am I able to issue my Passport from the Passport Seva Kendra Belongs to My home Town or not.

    Ankesh Sharma

    6 years ago

    I applied for my wife's passport on June 13 and since then the status is showing as "Application is under review at regional passport office (Jodhpur, Rajasthan). I am from Udaipur, Rajasthan.
    A call to call center results in long waiting and irresponsible replies. They always say that they don't have information.
    I would like to file RTI. But I need to know that do I have to take my wife along with me to Jaipur which is 450 KMS away from my town.
    The passport office and working is too much unsatisfactory

    GOWRISHANKAR K N

    6 years ago

    I waited for more than a year to obtain a passport for my son even though the police verification was done. As i was posted in a village (i was working for a bank) i just did not have the time to do the running around. Suddenly it struck me that I had the most powerful weapon at hand. I used the RTI Act and requested for the name of the person who caused the delay, the compensation payable by the Passport Authorities for delay on their part and such other things which irritated them. My son got his passport in one weeks time. So the moral of the story, use RTI EXTENSIVELY (for all government transactions and get Positive Results). [email protected]

    REPLY

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to GOWRISHANKAR K N 6 years ago

    Fantastic. Congratulations Mr Gowrishankar.

    sohan modak

    6 years ago

    Great job, Vineeta.

    sohan modak

    REPLY

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to sohan modak 6 years ago

    Tks

    MOHAN SIROYA

    6 years ago

    I inded appreciagte and offer my kudos to "Monelife" and efforts of Ms. Deshmukh.
    But while it is luadable to give publicity to this triumph in MOneylife, I wondr why my following RTI success stroy agsint the lethargy of POlice was not even found a worthy mention. If permitted,I would reproduce that below:

    MOST REASONABLE AND APPELLANT – CENTRIC ORDER IN SECOND APPEAL BY Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner , Mumbai

    Background : As a Consumer activist I had filed a case in MIDC police station for having received a threat on my mobile from the cell no. 09711499999 in May 2010 “threatening me to stop lodging complaints against the companies for Consumer Cause and Protection , failing which ‘He will bring 50 people “to fix me up” . This particular case he was referring for the Company “Fedders Lloyd” against whom a “complaint was
    sent by me to the then Union Minister for Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Hon. Shri Sharad Pawar . That was given NCno.2130 24.05.10 for necessary investigation and action .
    Another NC Complaint was filed by me in MIDC POLICE STATION on 20th Sept. 2011 against a firm called “ Modern Tech Services” for having failed to give the contracted service for second year of the CONTRACT .
    Amount was paid in advance by CQ. For second year since the service
    was not given , I tried to contact the firm’s office and proprietor but allthe listed phones were not “Working/ Not in Existance”. A writtenotice
    was sent by me on the postal address printed in the ‘Contract/Letter head”. It got transpired that now in that premises some other business by some other party is carried out and that party is not aware aboutthefirm which was operating before viz; Modern Tech Services”.
    I, therefore, filed a Complaint of “Cheating and ”Fraud"having failed to give the contracted service or refund the 50 percent paid amount” against the firm ,whose address was now was “Unknown”.
    Police was requested to find out the person in whose account the CQ money was paid and about his whereabout for such cheating and fraud . The National Consumer Help guidelines clearly state that the help of Consumer Court , can not be saught in absence of the postal address of the person/firm. Thus it has to be treated a case of FRAUD for which the Police help has to be taken.
    1. I made an application under RTI to know the progress on 25.05.12 to the
    SPIO to let me know even a line of what efforts have been done to find out the culprits in both the complaints viz; “Progress or Status”. Since the information pertained to other departments, he failed to follow the time limit to seek such information as reqd. under sec. 6 (3)(2) and proviso of the act. Then the actual info too reached me late than the prescribed time span and was inadequate in mere two words “Under Investigation”.
    2. I appealed to the first “Appellate Authority” for specific ‘status/progress’of ‘investigations made , besides complaint of delay in providing info. The AA also simply ordered “ As earlier informed “Under Investigation”. The order reached me beyond 45 days of appeal date, thus another violation of the Act without giving any reasons for delay.
    3. I went in Second Appeal to the Hon. SCIC , who within FIVE months heard my appeal . Now a big surprise. On the eve of hearing date , a police constable personally came to my home to deliver a letter that “ In first
    N C , the police has filed a case against one MR. Gupta under sec. 504, 506 of IPC. And the second NC complaint against Modern Tech Services is of “Civil Nature” and I should go to the Civil/ Consumer Court.
    In hearing , the Hon. SCIC upheld delays under the act and also for ‘Failing to suppress the available Investigation progress/report on record. The Authority also agreed with the interpretation that in absence of a party whose whereabouts are unknown, is covered under “Fraud” and thus Police is supposed to take cognisance of the same.
    The HON. SCIC further gave two specific directions viz: to summon the SPIO in person on 26 th March to explain him “Why penalty under sec.19 (8)( g) and sec. 20 (1) should not be levied on him”, failing which orders will be passed under sec. 20 (2). Another landmark relief for me was that the “Concerned Offices” should furnish me an opportunity to inspect the information so far available on record on all such files free of charge before 26 th March 2013”. After two days, police started investigating about the address of “Payee” thru’ the banking channels.

    For all Consumers ,RTI applicants and activists both the above instances are a good omen and examples of likely “Good Governance and Deliverance” in Government machinery ,if the complaints are pursued with honesty and spirited wait with “Never Say Die” attitude.

    BY 20 th March I got the result. The police acted fast, got the address of the person of Fedders Lloyed from Delhi thru' CBI and also got the address of the the prop.of Modern Tech and got me the reufnd of my 50 percent due amount in cash because the firm was closed down . Now on 26 th March , the Hon.SCIC has only to consider if any PENALTY for late furnishing of information, has to be levied nor not after hearing the reasons.
    Mohan Siroya

    REPLY

    Vinita Deshmukh

    In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 6 years ago

    Glad you pursued. Congrats.

    ravikumar

    In Reply to Vinita Deshmukh 6 years ago

    RTI IS USEFUL. I HAD TWO EXPERIENCES. A. MY SISTER IN LAW WANTED SYLLABUS OF B.SC. DEGREE WHICH SHE STUDIED IN 1990S. THE COLLEGE DIRECTED HER TO UNIVERSITY AND UNIVERSITY TO COLLEGE. SO I APPLIED RTI APPLICATION TO UNIVERSITY...PROMPTLY GOT BUNDLE OF DOC. CONTAINING SYLLABUS!!.

    B. ONE OF MY FRIEND RETIRED FROM EDUCATION DEPARTMENT. HIS EARNED LEAVE WAS NOT SETTLED. CASE WORKER DELAYING THE WORK....I ADVISED THE FRIEND TO FILE SIMPLE RTI APPLICATION ASKING DAY TODAY PROGRESS ON THIS WORK!... WONDER IS...ON 7TH DAY...HIS SETLEMENT CHEQUE WAS RECEIVED. AND NO EXTRA PAYMENT WAS NEED....
    C. NOWADAYS SIMPLY REFER THAT I WILL FILE RTI APPLICATION, PROMPTLY YOUR PUBLIC WORKS WILL BE DONE....!!!

    Shailesh Gandhi files second appeal to get info about undertrials in Maharashtra prisons

    Former Central Information Commissioner-turned activist Shailesh Gandhi had filed a second appeal for obtaining information about undertrials in Maharashtra prisons

    Former Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi is back at the role of an activist of the Right to Information (RTI). Following refusal by the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) to provide information about undertrials in prisons in Maharashtra without any valid reasons, he had filed his second appeal before the State Chief Information Commissioner.

     

    On 26 November 2012, Mr Gandhi had filed an RTI application seeking information about undertrials held in prisons in Maharashtra. Here is the information he sought from Pune-based Additional Director General of Police (Addnl DG) and Inspector General of Police (Prisons) (IG-P)...

     

    1. Subject matter of information: Undertrials held in prisons

    2. The period to which the information relates: As on 30 September 2012

    3. Description of the information required...

    a. I want total number of undertrial prisoners who have no conviction and have been in jails for over three years

                     b. For these undertrials, I want the information in the following format:

     

    The PIO at the office of Addnl DG and IG-P refused to provide the information citing the information is not held or collated at his office. He then attached the list of 43 prisons in Maharashtra.

     

    Not satisfied with this reply, Mr Gandhi then filed his first appeal before the FAA. He said, “The PIO refused to give the information claiming that the information is not collated or held in his office. There is no provision for such a refusal by the PIO. He should have either sought assistance of the other officer as per the provision of Section 5(4) or transferred the application within five days as per provisions of Section 6(3) of the RTI Act. He also did not give me the particulars of the FAA as per Section 7(3)(b).”

     

    “The FAA did not deal with the issue raised in my appeal, but took on the role of the PIO and without giving any reasoning, arbitrarily claimed exemption under Section 8(1)(b), (g), (h) and (j). No reasoning has been given by the FAA. Unless the FAA gives any reasoning, an applicant cannot refute the exemptions,” Mr Gandhi said in his second appeal filed before the state CIC on 11 January 2013.

     

    In his second appeal, Mr Gandhi has also requested the State CIC, to direct the PIO to provide the information, penalise the PIO as per provisions of the RTI Act and reprimand the FAA for a casual approach in rejecting a citizen’s fundamental right.

     

    Last month, the union home ministry told states and Union Territories that under Section 436A of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), an undertrial prisoner completing half of the maximum period of imprisonment should be released by the court on his personal bond with or without sureties, with the exception of those involved in heinous crimes.

     

    According to statistics provided by National Crime Records Bureau, as of December 2011, there were 2.41 lakh or 64.7% undertrial prisoners out of total 3.32 lakh jail inmates across India. The occupancy rate across all prisons in the country was 112.1% or 3.72 lakh inmates against a capacity of 3.32 jail inmates, the data said.

     

    The highest percentage (26.9% or 51,695 out of 1.91 lakh) of undertrials was charged with murder. Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of 8,595 or 16.6% of such undertrials, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 9.2% or 4,776 inmates, the data showed.

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    COMMENTS

    Kamal Shah

    6 years ago

    here is the crux. Shailesh Gandhi has hit the nucleus of the JUDICIAL DEFICIENCY which requires immediate reforms . I have witnessed the condition of some of the poor and helpless under trials who come to court on remand but do not have anyone to guide them or represent them or neither they are in a position to say anyhthing and cannot even pay the bail amount . In one of the scene, I have seen the poor father losing his mental state and was screaming and crying in the court premises . The Police and the public and all those in black coats standing outside the courts looking for customers were watching the episode . There is the need for Judicial reforms .There is a need to strengthen ADVOCATES ACT and there is a need for severe punishment for professional misconduct in advocacy.

    Sandeep

    6 years ago

    That's awesome!
    Request you to please post the entire contents of Mr.Gandhi's letter! It would serve as an interesting case study and help us draft our applications more sensibly.

    And thanks Sucheta, Debashis and the Moneylife team for the wonderful work you guys are doing!

    Sandeep

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