Tuesday, October 14, 2008

AP State Information Commission and the Senseless Rules !!!

Information Commissions are the corner stones of the implementation of RTI Act. The success of the act largely depends on the support of the Government in power and more importantly on how the Information commissions work. From the time the act came into existence in AP, the commission's functioning deserves less than pass marks. If you ask me to rate them on a scale of 10, i would give them a '2'.

The spirit of the act is to bring in more transparency and accountability in the working of bureaucracy and thereby paving the way for a corruption free system. The act should be used by the poorest of the poor irrespective of their education, caste, class and creed. Hence the act was kept simple and it was imperative that all the rules made by respective commissions were simple and people friendly. Unfortunately after 3 years of RTI act, things are gloomy and it has become the tool of only the educated.

Part of the reason is the senseless and foolish rules by the AP State Information Commission. The Govt and the Commission brought out GO Ms. No. 66, GA (I&PR) Department dated 25.2.2006. This specifies rules to be followed while filing an appeal to the state commission. Even till this day, most ground level activists themselves are not aware of such GO and continue filing appeals normally. The GO talks of some foolish things such as self attesting all the papers of the appeal etc. It is very important to note that even courts do not have any such rules where professional lawyers file appeals and fight cases. In case of RTI, we expect the 'Aam Aadmi' with or without education to file appeals and when we make such cumbersome and foolish rules, it is only to be understood that this is a covert attempt to weaken the act.

What GO 66 says??

What is more disturbing is that almost 50% of the appeals are rejected citing this GO. This is what some of the decisions of the Commission say,

" On scrutiny, it is found that the Appellant has not self-attested the enclosures.
For the above defects and deficiencies this appeal is hereby returned as not maintainable at the admission stage and the appellant is advised to rectify the same, and resubmit it, if he so desires."

"On an examination of the material papers, the following defects are noticed:
i) The appellant did not approach the 1st appellate authority, as provided for under Section 19(1) of the RTI Act, 2005 and
ii) He did not follow the appeal procedure rules issued in GO Ms. No. 66, GA (I&PR) Department dated 25.2.2006.

In view of the above, the appeal is bot maintainable and hence rejected with a direction to the appellant to follow the provisions of the Act, as well as the appeal procedure rules issued in GO Ms. No. 66, GA (I&PR) Department dated 25.2.2006 before approaching this Commission"

The commission has recently framed its 'Management Regulation Rules'. And this again talks of the same old senseless rules and procedures.

"Every appeal, complaint, application, statement, rejoinder, reply or any other document filed before the Commission shall be typed, printed or written neatly and legibly and in double line spacing"

The existence of these rules was known to me when i filed an RTI application to know on what grounds did the commission declare summer holidays. I am sure that 99% of the people do not know there are such rules.

In a country where 50% of the people are uneducated and we are racing towards a being a super power, these type of rules only exemplify the unwillingness of those in power to serve the people better.

Its time the commission simplifies its rules and makes it people friendly. Unless that happens, the commissions are only thwarting public attempts to better the system rather than being the custodians of the Act in its spirit and not just in letter !!!




pulivarthi said...

It is the rponsibility of the activists working on RTI to pressure the Commission to delete senseless rules.

Rakesh said...

We have been raising this issue at every possible forum. The commission has agreed to have a relook and change the rules if necessary in consultation with the civil society. The consultation process is supposed to happen in January 2009. Lets hope for the best. Please check our report on the commission's working.


vestalorg said...

January, 2009 is going to be closed in few days.Whether the Commission started any consultation with the civil societies. If not, please raise the issue again and again so as to relax those un-warrented rules like self- attestation etc.,
Thanking you,

Pulivarthi Narasimhulu, Guntur

Anonymous said...

Amiable post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you for your information.

Anonymous said...

ap information commission is there to shield the wrongs of its brothers.no where there is the spirit of rti.from its orders its clear-they try to evade..they also have a useless website.no useful info regarding how to file an appeal,formalities etc are never given.they try to discourage people from approaching them.they are averse to complaints under sec18 it appears..disgusting apic

BitraS said...

What ever may be, we just can not criticize the IC for the rules imposed by them. I think, so many people are mis-understanding the rules. But, some are going simply, directly to Information commissions. The RTI act shall not permit to go in that way. To verify that appellant has proceeded in all that way, The IC has imposed the rule of index and self attestation. Some times enclosed documents may be missed. In that stage no one can be blamed. If any index is there, all must be accountable to the Index of documents.
More over, to curtail the teasing usage of RTI act there are more law was imposed in the Act. Please every body shall go through the RTI act 2005 properly and understand it thoroughly! any controversies may be posted at my blog!!!!!&!!!!!