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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Press Release: Maharashtra Chief SIC will act on attacks on activists, setting a precedent

22 Dec, 2010: Maharashtra’s new Chief Information Commissioner Vilas Patil is willing to use his offices to initiate and expedite police proceedings in cases where activists are threatened or attacked in connection with the Right to Information applications that they have filed. The only pre-condition is that such activists should file a formal complaint to State Information Commission and present the facts of their case in an affidavit.

This would set a new precedent in the country. So far, Information Commissioners have been mute spectators who have refused to take a stand ion this important issue.

Mr Patil made this commitment yesterday evening in a meeting with nine leading RTI and human rights activists of the city, including G R Vora, Sunil Ahya, Mohd. Afzal, Krishnaraj Rao and Dr Shrikant Prabhu. He was responding to a representation that they had earlier made on 7 December. With reference to the high incidence of threats and attacks on RTI Activists in the state, their representation said, ”Please announce a fast-track procedure for receiving complaints about threats & attacks, and immediately enquiring and initiating remedial action. Please use your court-like powers u/s 18 to summon evidence, witness, all the RTI documents that the attacked/threatened RTI applicant wants, etc.”

MR PATIL’S IMMEDIATE RESPONSE ON 7 DECEMBER WAS that he would take a decision on this after understanding the legal processes and constraints. He promised to consider how to respond to complaints about attacks and threats by holding investigative hearings on the RTI-related issues on a fast-track basis, and proactively communicating with law-enforcement agencies.

Warm Regards,


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