Only one RTI plea per person - Delhi official’s new diktat!

September 7th, 2008 - 1:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) A Delhi government official is openly violating the Right to Information (RTI) Act by letting a person to file only one application a day, allege social activists.”Whenever we go to the office of A.K. Singh, a public information officer (PIO) in the food and supplies department in northeast Delhi, he doesn’t allow us to file more than one application in a day,” Santosh, an RTI activist, told IANS.

Apparently Singh, an assistant commissioner in the department, started this practice nearly two months ago and since then has imposed this strange diktat on everyone coming to his office.

Section 6(1) of the RTI Act 2005 states, “A person who desires to obtain any information under this act shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed to the public information officer.”

Santosh alleged: “Singh, however, has his own interpretation. He told us that according to him ‘A person’ in the above line is singular, not plural and therefore he will accept only one application in a day from an applicant.

“He is not ready to take any argument against this interpretation of the act. When applicants protested his interpretation, his response was ‘if you are not satisfied then you are free to take your case to the Central Information Commission’,” she added.

“This is not the end of it. In the last two months, we have filed over 30 RTI applications seeking details about various works of the department, but till now we have not received any response,” she said.

Santosh works with residents on the issue of public distribution system in Nand Nagari, Sunder Nagari and Seemapuri - all in northeast Delhi.

A local man, Ramasre, alleged that the ineffectiveness of information commissioners was encouraging PIOs not to take RTI pleas seriously.

“Singh asked us to approach the Central Information Commission as he knows what the fate of an applicant would be if he approaches it with a complaint against him. The applicant will be kept waiting for months and no decision will be taken despite many hearings,” Ramasre alleged.

Echoing his view, Magsaysay award winner and prominent RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said, “This is like killing the RTI Act and it is happening in many places. The PIOs are asking people to go and appeal to the CIC as they know the appellate system has collapsed.

“First, the issue will take months and even after many hearings when the decision will be taken, the information commissioners will not invoke the penal provisions of the act, thereby letting the information commissioners go Scott-free,” he added.

Vijay Dev, commissioner of the food and supplies department in the Delhi government, told IANS he would make sure that the RTI Act was implemented properly.

“It’s good that it has been brought to my notice. We will come down heavily on him and ensure that no one can violate the RTI Act,” said Vijay Dev.

“It is absolutely unacceptable and I will make sure that the assistant commissioner implements the act properly or faces music. We will obtain instructions to him very soon in this regard,” Dev added.

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