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Sunday, September 7, 2008

RTI Warrior Shailesh Gandhi Appointed CIC







RTI warrior Shailesh Gandhi, who has recently been appointed member of Central Information Commission (CIC), will now ensure others like him will have less trouble prying information out of tight-fisted bureaucrats. Gandhi has been rewarded for his tireless crusade for transparency and accountability in governance. He has been appointed as a member of the Central Information Commissioner (CIC). Up to now, these posts have gone to former bureaucrats, something that Gandhi has openly criticised.

“I was informed on phone about the new assignment on Friday morning by an officer from the Central government. A notification has also been issued,” an excited Gandhi told Mumbai Mirror. The formal letter of appointment by the President of India will be dispatched in due course.

He quit his business in 2003 to devote himself fully to his cause because of the time and effort required to pry information from government agencies, it won’t come as a surprise that his priority is to reduce time taken to deliver judgements and cut down the backlog of appeals.

Over 16,000 appeals are pending in Maharashtra while up to 8,500 are pending before the CIC. Gandhi says it takes up to a year-and-a-half for an appeal to be heard by the state information commission and up to over eight months by the CIC.

“At this rate, the common man would lose faith in the system. I have decided that appeals should be disposed off within three months from the date they are filed. In exceptional cases, it should not go beyond six months,” he says.

When told that the post of the CIC has the status of the Supreme Court judge, Gandhi says, “Work is more important than the status. I want to set certain ideals in the course of discharging my duties in the constitutional post. My commitment would be to the laws of the nation and the President of India, who has appointed me, says Gandhi. I would prefer to add quality to RTI judgements with transparency as the soul. I would always welcome suggestions on making this happen,” he says.

He has already set a precedent with his decision ‘to accept only a token amount of Re 1 as compensation’. Besides that, “I have also decided not to use the official car,” he says.

An IIT-Powai graduate, 59-yearold Shailesh Gandhi’s first tryst with RTI Act was in September 2003 when he approached the police commissioner of Mumbai and public information officer for names of politicians who had recommended the transfer of some policemen.

When his plea was turned down, he invoked the RTI Act. “After some months, I was able to get the names of all the people, including some ministers, who were responsible for the illegal transfers,” he says.

His persistence resulted in action being taken against the police officers concerned and turned him into an RTI warrior. Despite the RTI Act, it took considerable time and effort to get information from the government. Hence, he sold his successful business to devote himself fully to ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.

He now sustains himself on the interest that comes from his savings, which is about Rs 60,000 per month. Of this amount, he spends a third on RTI Act cases.

3 comments:

Prashant said...

Now that Mr. Shailesh Gandhi has been officialy nominated,

Start - sound, lights, camera's - Action.

I have lot of hopes and expectations from him.

A very experienced, intelligent, educated and logical person who knows the exisiting judicial/bureaucracy system at the back of his hand and more importantly he has the common man of our country in his heart. http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=ORznMuqqiFg YouTube - Shailesh Gandhi Speaks on Indian Right to INformation Act (RTI) at Association for India's Development (AID) Portland OR pt 3
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=ORznMuqqiFg
I pray to God that he succeeds.

Chota said...

I am deeply troubled to see the acts of a religious organization which has a lot of dedicated people. Wouldn't it be really nice to bring charitable and religious organizations in the purview of RTI?

This will also help fight terrorism because then we can get accounts terrorist outfits operating under the guise of NGOs and charitable organizations.

Chota said...

I am deeply troubled to see the acts of a religious organization which has a lot of dedicated people. Wouldn't it be really nice to bring charitable and religious organizations in the purview of RTI?

This will help fight terrorism because then we can get accounts terrorist outfits operating under the guise of NGOs and charitable organizations.

In the aftermath of Mumbai attacks and with Shailesh Gandhi driver's seat, we can build momentum to get it done.