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 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 !!!
USE RTI !!!
JAI HIND !!