What Nutan is saying is absolutely NOT surprising. Nobody would expect the officials to help implement a program that directly hurts them. I am sure there are going to be hundreds of cases where RTI is ignored / sabotaged. This does not take away from the value of RTI, but simply points out that it will be difficult to get the most value from it.
If we kept our expectations in check, RTI can be a valuable tool towards improved transparency and efficiency in government. The challenge is to formulate a system/program that gets the most value from our efforts.
Let me paint a scenario of a district where we setup an volunteer office to help disadvantaged people use RTI. If we help the applicants with the right procedures and then track the responses from the key officials. Over time, some of the methods used by the officials to bypass / ignore / abuse the RTI intent will be highlighted by repeated use of the same answers (or lack of answers) from the particular office.
By systematically collecting, cataloging and analysing such data, it should be possible to build a case that can be highlighted to the proper authorities, press, internet blog forums etc. Shining such light MAY be one method to reduce the propensity of the officials to use DELAY techniques to solicit a bribe. (Will this eliminate corruption - HELL NO. Will it put a slight dent in corruption - MAYBE YES.) We simply have to keep on trying these tools so over time, we can see an impact.
I am willing, able and available to help fund 2 to 3 such prototype centers. If there are people interested in helping make them a reality, I can be a vialbe partner in that goal.
--- On Fri, 5/1/09, Nutan Thakur <drnutanthakur <at> yahoo.com> wrote:
From: Nutan Thakur <drnutanthakur <at> yahoo.com>
Subject: [rti_india] Any Question- Same answer
To: rti_india <at> yahoogroups.com
Date: Friday, May 1, 2009, 10:07 AM
The RTI Act was formulated with much fanfare and with great hopes that it will bring some kind of transparency and a related sense of responsibility in the government servants who would be feeling the heat of the people's power because of their power to seek information at will. It would be too ungrateful to say that the promulgation of the Act has not helped the common people. On the contrary this Act is certainly among the most powerful and potent tools in the hands of the people of this country and can easily be regarded as one of the most memorable and laudable gifts of the UPA government. Yet, there are departments and people in these establishments who are still not over with their colonial hangover. The result is that these people are not only making an open fun of the provisions of this Act but are also defeating completely the very purpose of the Act.
I shall present before you one such department where a few examples would suffice to let you understand how such people are treating this Act. The department is the Home department in the Uttar Pradesh which is generally held to be responsible for keeping the law and order in the State as also to see to it that there is a the proper implementation of various laws and people don't go breaking laws, rules and regulations. Yet, the department itself seems to notoriously believe in the dictum- "rules are there to be broken." This holds true particularly with regards to the RTI Act.
Information was sought from the Department as regards the details of the IPS and State Police Service (PPS) officers placed under suspension during a given period. The information dealt with issues like the date of suspension, the date of reinstatement, the grounds for suspension, the time required in conducting the enquiry and the result of the enquiry etc. One section of the Home Department which deals with the PPS officers provided the details, though a bit delayed. But another section, dealing with the IPS officers refused to give the information saying that that this information cannot be given without the prior written permission of the concerned IPS officers because it comes under section 8(j) of the RTI Act. Section 8(j), as we all know, deals with information of personal nature which have a tendency of infringing the privacy of a person. Can anyone explain that the information sought can be termed private in nature? or one that is infringing
upon someone's privacy?
The second example is that of asking some details from two departments of the UP Government as regards the Study leave of the IAS and IPS officers. While the Appointments department dealing with the IAS officers gave the requisite information, the same section of the Home department again said this information cannot be given without the prior written permission of the concerned IPS officers under section 8(j) of the RTI Act as being of personal nature and having a tendency of infringing the privacy of a person. Isn't it a deliberate and blatant flouting of the provisions of the Act?
In two other cases where the information as regards the selection criteria for promotion to the rank of DIG by the UP government for some given period and information as regards the decision by the government in the departmental cases in the month of May 2007 were sought, the sane section again came up with Section 8(j).
Now it seems that the Home department of UP government has got the section 8(j) under its name and any information sought from it would be abjectly rejected taking the plea of this section alone.
I would request the friends here to help me proceed with this matter by suggesting me the future course of action, other than making a request to the First Appellate authority in each of these cases.
Dr Nutan Thakur
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