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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DoPT losing its marbles ??? Asks Information Commissioners to hold hearings collectively and not as separate benches !!!

Well, what could be said about our great officialdom ?. They seem to have crossed all barriers of sanity with this one.

As most RTI users would know, the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions have constituted separate benches for hearing RTI complaints and appeals. Most RTI complaints and appeals are placed for hearing before single benches while contentious issues can also be placed before larger benches. Of course higher the number of benches, higher and better the disposal of RTI cases.

Now the Department of Personnel and Training has come up with this great letter asking the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions to hold hearings collectively with all members in attendance for each case. The DoPT has informed the Commissions that the RTI Act does not contain any clause authorising the Chief Information Commissioners of the Central and State Commissions to constitute benches. In other words, the DoPT wants all members of the Information Commissions (upto 10) to sit collectively and hear and decide every single case in that fashion.

Obviously, this is a direct resultant of the fact that the CIC has time and again pulled up the DoPT for not removing from its website a statement that file notings are exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act. While the CIC and SICs have held in umpteen number of cases that file notings and minute sheets are to be disclosed under the RTI Act, the DoPT guide on its website still states the opposite thereby rightly inviting the ire of the CIC.

While sending such a communication to the Information Commissions, the DoPT has obviously and clearly not gone through the Act, which in Sections 12(4) and 15(4) ordains the following :

The general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the Central Information Commission shall vest in the Chief Information Commissioner who shall be assisted by the Information Commissioners and may exercise all such powers and do all such acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Central Information Commission autonomously without being subjected to directions by any other authority under this Act.

As the above would show, the DoPT / any other authority under the Act (which includes the Central and State Governments) has no jurisdiction over the functioning of the Information Commissions and as such the letter issued by the DoPT is patently illegal, misconceived and without jurisdiction.

Besides being without authority, such a communication is also impractical. To take an example, as on date, it takes about 6 to 12 months for cases before the CIC to even get listed with the 8 Information Commissioners hearing RTI cases individually everyday, and if in accordance with the DoPT letter the CIC and SICs start hearing individual cases with all commissioners on board, the delay and the pendency can well be imagined.

The DoPT letter seems like a vengeful joke. It’s like asking the Hon’ble Supreme Court or Hon’ble High Courts to list every single case before one full bench which has all Hon’ble Judges on board. Does it make sense ? Tell the DoPT !!! Let’s hope it was an All Fools Day joke, a few weeks late though.

Zee news reports about the matter here.

Times of India too covers the issue here.


Col NR Kurup (Retd) said...

The CIC has not accepted the above foolish directions of DoPT and has already replied them suitably. Just imagine the scene of 10 judges hearing a case where according to me there is no need to hear. LIMIT OF FOOLISHNESS. If it is adhered to, a case presently coming up for hearing after 1 year will come up after 10 years.

Naren said...

Har Shakh pe Ullu baitha hai
Anjame Gulistan kya hoga!!!!

Beniwal said...

Babus are trying for long to get out of RTI cluches, because they have lot to hide. They behave like emperor and not public's servant. Todays Times of India report on RTI is the real intentions of babus and the polititians are with them, because next in line are polititions who gets/spend crores but donot want anyone to know how/where it went. I hope public at large and RTI activist will block all efforts of babus to be not accountable of public money.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

I have served IAF for 9 yrs & 6 months and i took discharge from any my own request ( on edn grounds >> 3 time ssb completion and fail).

1. am i eligble for Ex-serviceman status (non-pensioner)

2. if so can i get a id card from local zainik board.

3. what are the benefits i am entitled for (like job reservation / central school adm for kids and csd & ECHS etc..).

Please be kind enough to reply for this mail.

Santosh Mallath

ajay mohanty said...

sir could you please throw some light on the present status of one rank one paj