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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How can RTI Act be practically interlinked with welfare of defence personnel

“Welfare : Serving Solider”, how often do we send across letters with such subject lines to the civil administration and how often is action actually taken on such requests from military authorities, let’s not rack our brains since the number of the latter is bound to be dismally low.

Despite constant reminders by our Defence Ministers to States from time to time on similar subjects, no action on ground seems to have actualised. While some States have been proactive in this regard, most have slept over such correspondence leaving in the lurch our serving personnel who are mostly placed far away from their homes.

I however feel that a two pronged approach wherein the unit writes to the civil administration and the person concerned follows it up on a personal level through RTI, can work wonders. The RTI Act, if used properly, is a great tool in the hands of the common man and can go a long way in bringing succour to regularly faced impediments by our soldiers, sailors and air-warriors.

Let’s take the example of a soldier who is posted in J&K and there has been a theft at his house in his village but the Police is neither registering an FIR nor taking action against the culprits. The first step would be for his unit to write to the DC/DM/Collector, the District SP and the concerned SHO requesting them to take action in this regard alongwith an enclosed application of the affected person. If no action is taken, after waiting for a reasonable period of time, say about two weeks, the individual concerned can send an RTI Application, something to the following effect :

To :
The Public Information Officer
Office of the Superintendent of Police
ABC XYZ District, Uttar Pradesh

From:
No 123456789 Havaldar DEF GHI
Son of JKL MNO
Village and Post Office : QRS TUV
Tehsil and District : ABC XYZ, Uttar Pradesh


Subject : Requirement of Information under the RTI Act, 2005

Sir,

I am a serving soldier of the Indian Army and am currently posted to an operational area. On the night of 01 April 2009, some unruly elements in my neighbourhood committed theft in my house and stole Rs 35000 in cash which belonged to me and also my wife’s jewellery. Despite my letter to the SHO and my father’s repeated visits to the Police Station, no FIR has been registered and neither has any police personnel visited my house to investigate the matter. The same was reported through my application and my Unit’s Letter No 123456/XYZ dated 05 April 2009 to your office but despite that no action has been taken on ground. With this background, please provide me with the following information under the RTI Act :

(a) What action was taken by you on Letter No 123456/XYZ dated 05 April 2009 sent by my unit addressed to you ?

(b) Please provide me a copy of any instructions that you may have issued to the concerned SHO on receipt of the ibid letter by you ?

(c) Please inform me what action was taken by the SHO upon providing him the information of a theft at my house ?

(d) Please inform me the names of the Police Personnel who visited my house for investigation when the information was provided to them. Please also provide me a copy of the FIR registered on our information to the said SHO.

The RTI fee of Rs 10/- is enclosed vide an Indian Postal Order. You are requested to forward the information to my residential address provided above.

Thanking You


(DEF GHI)

Undertake the above exercise and see how it moves the authorities into action. The empowerment of citizens of India through various laws should ideally percolate down to every man and woman on the street. Defence personnel should make full use of the Act and it is in every sphere of administration that this very important tool can be used. For example, an officer is being made to wait for an unreasonably long period of time for issuance of an arms license, he should straightaway send an RTI request seeking information as to why so much time is being taken ?, where is the file as of now ?, who all have dealt with the file since the time it was submitted ? etc.

Let’s make optimum use of the rights and privileges provided to us under law.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi ....
It would be beneficial if some more information can be given for knowledge as what to do if still nothing happens.
Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

I am going to take over a unit consisting of more than 300 men.
You have given a tool to really look after my boys

Thanks

Pokar Ram said...

Dear Major Navdeep,
Yes, you have provided/enlightened this very valuable information and it can bring in sea change over a period of time. Excellent subject to dwel upon.

Amit said...

In whose account/name should the pay order for Rs 10/- be made out ? Additionally ,who is the district information officer in a district ?

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep,

Thanks for reminding us.
cheers

Anonymous said...

Can this method be used to obtain information on what is causing the delay in issuance of PB 4 orders

Anonymous said...

Excellent info and tool. I have been many a time beseeched with such problems for my men and despite protracted correspondence (one sided only)have only offered my frustrations and empathy to them. Maj Navdeep thou has done a great service to us- a meaningful welfare measure. Thxs once again.

Anonymous said...

Major Navdeep, there is none like you. you are the only source of comfort and inspiration for the armed forces. your yeoman service should be inscribed in letters of gold.
we only trust you and no one else.
god bless you.

Anonymous said...

I am posted in sudan with my unit something similar happened i have forwarded jawan's complain by email. but did not got any response from SSP Ambala.

what can i do in such case?

suggest me at chhetriraj@un.org

Anonymous said...

this is extremely helpful

Anonymous said...

hi that was really great to know,actually lot of us know about RTI but hardly know the procedure, thissounds very simple. great

Anonymous said...

hi,
In IAF we follow different approach, when the letter is send from the unit to the SP&DM the same letter is also send to the Air Force Provost Unit under whose jurisdiction the home address falls. The staff of Air Force Police makes a visit to the home address of the Air Warrior to know the actual facts and assist the family members to lodge the FIR and other formalities. But in 90% of cases the facts are wrong, the family dispute is give a armed forces colour for settlement of petty disputes.This figure has come to picture after analyzing the cases. But the info provided is a good suggestion to follow up in genuine cases.

Mickey said...

Navdeep,

Till now, I thought we were just a victim of the RTI Act.

For the first time, I think, I can actually use this act for the benefit of my men.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

There has been a case in the army where an officer has got all the details of his posting profile from MS branch through RTI act. The MS branch provided all details including notings after intervention of CIC.

Anonymous said...

Though RTI is prudent weapon but I feel that one must consider Meeting Distt administration as Defence person. They are generally very helpful. I am referring one incident of mine as you have posted a letter written by Sh Mulayam Singh then Def Minister on issue of land disputes etc. I belong to his constituency and Rajput community. Incidentally he happened to be my teacher in class X. But I suffered most during his tenure as CM/ Def minister. His community people every year used to forcefully occupy my land In first year I met SSP he directed local Police and provided me two armed guards so I could get back my land. Next year they again grabbed the land and cultivated. By that time SSP was changed. They told me that they have purchased land from my uncle( who had some land in same khata number but in far interior uncultivated). They produced land deal. Then I contacted a lawyer , He could get me stay from court ie they were barred from cultivating. But this did not deter them and told me they will fight for ages being local where as I could come once/twice in a year. In the mean time I met DM an IAS officer,who after listening my case , imdt called SDM and told me that I need not go to court as this is a case of demarcation of land. SDM alongwith Police was sent and I could get back my land. Thereafter Mulayam Singh also got on back seat in UP politics and now nobody dare to enter my land as they feel administration always support Defence personnel. However now I have an apprehension that there is a divide in relationship with IAS/Gp A services after 6th Pay commission and further divide is being created by political parties.
I have narrated above incident just to tell that Civil administration is not that bad as we think .They also have relatives in armed forces and understand our woes. SO first try liaison then use legal remedies.

Col NR kurup (Retd) said...

I will be able to give you all the clarifications you need on RTI Act. Let me point out following aspects from whatever is posted so far:
1. All those intend to use RTI for their men, please ensure that the application is only from cityzen. That means signing it by Adjutant on behalf of the Co won't help. Your adjutant or 2ic or you yourself can seek the information in your name.
2. Senting RTI appliction by e-mail may not succeed as every application has to be accompanied by the prescribed fee of Rs.10/the way the Rule says.
3. Always sent by Speed post or Registered post so that you get a record of delivery and date of receipt by the CPIO/SPIO
4. Do not ask information in the questionnire formlike "How " "Why" etc. It is always better to seek "the present position of the case......." and "action taken on....".or "seek certified copy of letter No..... as defined in Section 2(j) of the act"
5. Please remember that one can get only the information "Held".
6. The procedure is too simple.
(a) Request the information held accompanied by the fee of Rs.10/-, obtain the dated receipt
(a) If the information is not received within 30 days from the dateof receipt of the request or the information received in malafide etc., etc., where you are not satisfied prefer first appeal. Time allowed is 30 days
(c) If reply not received within 30 days from filig first appeal or not satisfied, you may prefer Second appeal to SIC (for State) and CIC(for centre)Time allowed is 3 months.
(d) There is provisions for Complaint also.

I will be too glad to give any clarification

Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh said...

@Anonymous at 5.11

Refer your point (1).

Of course not. RTI Applications have to be sent by personnel in their personal capacity and not by the Unit.

The unit has no locus standi to file RTI applications and neither would that be ethical. The same can only be done by affected personnel themselves.

Col NR Kurup (Retd) said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,
I have been an active RTI Activists since the very ineption of the Act. So far only the disgruntled lot of our forces were using RTI Act to settle score etc., etc., The avenue now opened by you have never struck me or any of the RTI Activists from Defence Forces (I mean Retd). Your concept of using RTI Act to obtain information from civil offices and to find the progres or present position of grievence etc., etc., of our men is too wonderful an exploitation. It can play wonders. I am quite femilar with all the complications of this Act and will only be too happy tobe of any assistanceto any unit or serving personal. (Of cource free service) I shall help only cases of defence personnel seking information frpmt civil authorities and not within the Forces which I have been avertting).

Col NR Kurup (Retd) said...

An inividual can seek the information as a cityzen. But the present issue is how an OC unit can help his men by involving himself. Earlier our men's grievencepetitions were forwarded to the department. Men will come to know the result only when he go on leave etc., I am trying to exploit the cituation using RTI. Instead of the jawan entering into RTI aplication, the unit itself in the name of Ajutant or 2ic or o seek the information as to the action taken or the present position of the case forwarded by you earlier. Seeking information by affeced personis applicable on while asking informationunder Secion 4(1)(d). In all other cases any cityzen can ask the information on anything so long asit does not fall under the exeptions and third party information.

Beniwal said...

I am a RTI activist for last 2years and anyone who needs free help and info regarding RTI may send query to me email= trident142@yahoo.co.in ,Col.kurup and maj.navdeep has already explained the basics. However remember right questions will get right answer, otherwise we know how babus work.

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep, can we copy your posts on the blog and mail it to army pers for their info.? kindly reply
thanx

AS said...

How should an RTI be made & whom to send it to find out as to why revised rates of Disability Pension as per 6CPCR have been rejected by MOD? Pl advise Navdeep.

Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh said...

@Anonymous at 7.28

No problem with that.

@AS at 9.21

First of all who told you that disability pension rates as postulated by 6th CPC have been rejected ?

Please do not go by rumours.

As far as your RTI queries are concerned, the answer lies in the blog post itself.

Anonymous said...

Hi
It is not so bad...Wrote to an DC in UP five years back on an issue of harassment of a soldier's family. Was immediately addressed and problem sorted out.
However, I agree a mechanism needs to be place that would follow up such issues.
What is the A br at sub areas doing. Most of them are not interested in these issues...how can we except the others to respond positively.

ASK said...

Dear Navdeep,
Thanks for your response.Hope it is a rumour only,though the delay appears abnormal!!

Raman said...

Dear Major,
Thanks a lot for the valuable info.I can do a lot for my men if it works.Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Dear Major,
Please tell me if the method can be used to get info about individual pay fixation and working out of arrears by CDA(O).Inspite of written request through a letter the same has not been intimated to me.

Maj Paul

ANUPAM said...

thanks major,i have frequently been visiting ur valuable info site...thanks for all the updates...thanks....anupam

Anonymous said...

Has anyone used the RTI to get reasons for the delay in paying the arrears of pension based on 6th Pay Commission? The bank says that calculation sheet has not yet been received from the CDA (post-2006 retiree).

Chandra Nath said...

Sir,
I have come across this comment from one of our esteemed members and the services he is volunteering to render to defence personnel.

Col NR Kurup (Retd) said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,
I have been an active RTI Activists since the very ineption of the Act. So far only the disgruntled lot of our forces were using RTI Act to settle score etc., etc., The avenue now opened by you have never struck me or any of the RTI Activists from Defence Forces (I mean Retd). Your concept of using RTI Act to obtain information from civil offices and to find the progres or present position of grievence etc., etc., of our men is too wonderful an exploitation. It can play wonders. I am quite femilar with all the complications of this Act and will only be too happy tobe of any assistanceto any unit or serving personal. (Of cource free service) I shall help only cases of defence personnel seking information frpmt civil authorities and not within the Forces which I have been avertting).

=====================================================================================================================
Kudos to Col Kurup for free services he is offering.

What troubles me is the following: If the authorities that have defaulted in their duty is the civil authorities and you need to use the stick of RTI to stirr them up, it is honorable. If the authorities that defaulted is the Defence Service organization, then you are on your own. Some people define little more narrowly. IF the authorities are the civilian authorities in the MoD, then also it is alright to use the stick of RTI.

The moment it is the service headquarters or any intermediaries, our loyalty to the uniform prevent us to see that impropriety, injustice or unlawful action� committed by authorities in uniform, then we are prepare to close our eyes and our innate sense of justice is numbed a wee bit at the appropriate extrimity.

Our sense of justice and sense of proportion is limited to using the stick (in this case RTI )against civilians but not against authorities in uniform!

It sounds little skewed to me. May be we have inherent belief in all fairness of the authorities in uniform. That may be misplaced.

Take one example. Authorities in uniform systematically "transfter wealth" (intented for welfare of soldiers) and use it for welfare and education of the children of officers (mostly). It is unfair and our bias colour our judgement and we are� prepared to� put our thumb a little on the scale in our favour. ("transfer wealth" is an economics term and not to be interpreted narrowly and say that here is a person� who is out of his senses and hence what ever he says must naturally be non sense! )

RTI is a good tool to bring this injustice to light. But, no, we wont do that because it is lack of loyalty to the uniform!

Brass Scales Of Justice Off Balance, Symbolizing Injustice



Even the overlookers cheer the fight against civilian ( baboos) authorities and even Judicial authorities but when it comes to improprieties by the authorities in uniform, our senses develop some curious numbness.

How right is this? Does this come out of our bias or misplaced loyalty?

I dont know.

Can any one help diagnose the disease ?

May be, any one in uniform or ever in uniform is incapable committing injustice or impropriety!� So, the disease is non-existent, hence how can you diagnose it?

Nath
--
==================================================
"To accept the legitimacy of opposing viewpoints is not to assume
�that someone who opposes you is dishonest or willfully blind to the truth." Justice David Souter.
==================================================
Chandra �Nath,
2133 Hietter Ave
Simi Valley, CA 93063, USA
Phone: 310 882 1945
email: nath@...

Anonymous said...

AS i am army personal working in Army Signal as a lance nike in pathankote.my question is I am having land dispute and my neighbours are making me too much problems to my father and mother and they have been stoped my construction.and they are in majority in terms of politics and people also they threatening us for killing also. so please help me out from this problem

Versilona said...

i am a servng soldier. my grandmother has died without any will and my paternal uncle are using our ancestral land for carrying out their business without giving any share to us. further to it they are using every excuses in the book to delay the division of my ancestral property as this suits their business interests also. please guide me wat all help cn i get from army especialy zila sainik boards. is tere any zila sainik board located in district of burdawan in wetbengal correspondence and contact no if any.also do guide me about legal steps i should take to protect my legal interests regards sourav

Anonymous said...

Sir,
My father retired after serving 35 year from army and now residing in Bihar i am also serving in army and completed 10 year.

My neighbour who is political person tried to encroach my land.

Invited political parties against us to spoil our life.

Now stopped my sewer and make independent PIT of his house in my way.

No water disposal available at present except flow water in way of mohalla lane where all mohalla people use to see this matter and instead to say that political person they use to say my old aged father.

All nearest mohalla they arranged pipe line for sewerage but still not arranged or thinking of it except my father.
However, peoples already in fear n noone come to help us. so no police action, no court order from SDM court has come. Now what should i question to RTI. Please tell me.

stav said...

Sir, It is nice that there is such forum to have discussion.I am a member of IAF. I like to divert attention to our Men leaving force after 20 years of service for such jobs as banking after serving in Airforce/Defence. Through these 20 years majority of men had worked practically on such advanced systems. They gain very good knowledge. I venture to submit that this practical knowledge is even not equaled by technical officers. All these experience goes to waste if personnel leave this field after retirement. When skill development is a priority for all the govts. there should be more efforts to divert this manpower towards more productive and its core competencies.