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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Strongly-worded GR strengthens RTI appellants

A recent GR issued by various departments of Maharashtra Government support the stand taken by RTI appellants and activists that:

(i)First and Second Appellate Authorities must insist on Public Information Officer justifying denial in writing, citing various subsections of RTI Act Section 8 and 9. This is as specified u/s 19(5) and 20(1) last paragraph.

(ii)Penalty, disciplinary action and strictures passed against PIO must be noted in his Annual Confidential Record and Service Book.

Courtesy: Krishnaraj Rao, 98215 88114


Text of the GR is Given Below

Time bound action on Applications received under Right to Information Act 2005

Maharashtra Government,
Village Development & Irrigation Department,
Administrative Resolution no. MAA 2009 / Serial No 73 / Equity Office,
Mantralaya, Mumbai 32.

Date:10 August 2009.


1.The RTI Act 2005 was enacted with a view to bring in the utmost transparency and accountability in every public administrative work and to set the procedures for giving the citizens their right to information. In a democracy, to create an informed citizenry, to bring about transparency in dealings, to make government administrative machinery answerable to citizens – these are some of the objectives of the Act. It would fulfill the usefulness of this Act in a better way, if the Public Information Officer and the Appellate Authority were to discharge their responsibilities meticulously (literal meaning: “strictly in accordance with law”), and it would give great assurance to the public, and help in solving their queries.

2. For this reason, the below information is given again:

1)The Public Information Officer (PIO) must carefully read and understand the meaning of the RTI applications received by him, and try to give information to the applicant. Wherever he feels that any points need clarification, he should contact the applicant on phone or by letter and get those points clarified. It is important that this work should be done within five days of receipt of the application. If the application, or any part of it, is related to some other public authority, then the application or part thereof should be sent to the relevant PIO within these five days, and the applicant should immediately be given intimation of the same.

2)If any item of information is not available with the PIO, then the same must be clearly communicated to the applicant. If the information requested is voluminous, then the applicant should definitely be called for a discussion. Through discussion or mutual understanding, and with the full acceptance of the applicant, or by allowing him inspection of files, all efforts should be made to satisfy his need for information on that particular point.

3)If the PIO says that any of the items or documents requested in an RTI application is not available, he has to give a detailed explanation for the same. Whenever information is denied, reason for denial has to be clearly stated, quoting relevant sub-section of section 8 or section 9.

4)When the PIO gives information to the RTI applicant, his letter should also clearly contain his name, designation, phone and fax numbers and other such information. Similarly, it should also clearly mention the name, designation and complete official address of the First Appellate Authority (FAA), as well as the number of days (time limit) within which First Appeal may be filed.

5)It is necessary to give a hearing to the appellant at the First Appeal stage. Only if all the grounds of appeal are upheld is it acceptable to not hold a hearing. Otherwise, let it be known to all appellate authorities that giving a hearing to the appellant is a must. The FAA’s order must contain the name and address of the Second Appellate Authority, and also the number of days within which the Second Appeal may be filed.

6)Where the FAA feels that the PIO has not fulfilled his duty, FAA must send to Information Commission the copies of the original RTI Application, First Appeal, detailed justification given by the PIO, and FAA’s opinion, order and recommendations and all such papers.

7)At the time of the FAA’s hearing, the PIO should be made to give detailed explanation for denial of information. All efforts should be made to give this detailed explanation to the appellant three days ahead of the hearing in order to give him full opportunity to study it and properly present his arguments at the hearing. If this is not possible, or if the appellant says that he has not received copy of the PIO’s explanation, then it should definitely be given to him at the time of the hearing.

8)If it comes to the FAA’s notice that the PIO has failed in his duties, then the same should be noted in FAA’s Order. This Order, along with his recommendations for action against the PIO, should be sent to the Information Commission. In this way, the work of each PIO with regard to each RTI Application will be evaluated, and the effectiveness of the RTI Act will be enhanced. Disciplinary action taken or strictures passed in the course of departmental enquiry against the PIO will be entered in his Annual Confidential Record and Service Book.

9)If PIO and FAA face obstacles in performing their duty in their department, then the head of their department must try to remove such obstacles.

10) All PIOs and FAAs must obey all provisions of this Law. To ensure the timeliness and quality of information, the Information Commission has adopted extremely high standards.

3.The above information is for circulation among you, in your office and for giving directions to all PIOs and FAAs regarding giving information, and for administrative activities for doing so.

4. In this connection, the letter from the Chief State Information Commissioner, Maharashtra, Mumbai, sent to this administration on 24/02/2009 is attached for your information and appropriate action.

This GR is published on the website of Maharashtra Government at serial number 20090811141542001.

As per the instruction of Maharashtra’s Governor,

R G Syed,
Deputy Secretary,

Attached letter: Chief Information Commissioner’s letter dated 24/2/2009

Copy to:

i)Information Commissioner Konkan Division / Nashik Division / Pune Division / Aurangabad Division / Nagpur Division / Amravati Division

ii)Deputy Commissioner in the offices of Konkan Division / Nashik Division / Pune Division / Aurangabad Division / Nagpur Division / Amravati Division

iii) All main administrative authorities, District Parishad

iv) All Additional Secretaries / Deputy Secretaries, Village Development and Irrigation Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai 32.

v) Other officers and assistants of this department.

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