In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
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.
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:
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.
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,
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”.)
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.