RTI plea returned on flimsy ground, activist seeks withdrawal of 'absurd rules'

Chief information commissioner and department of personnel & training should look into the matter and withdraw absurd rules under which genuine queries are sent back, says Delhi RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal


Jasleen Kaur | May 24, 2013

Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal has criticised the central information commission (CIC) for sending back an RTI petition filed by him on a flimsy ground – that it was not legible and readable, among other.

The CIC, which found alleged discrepancy in the petition as per rule 8 of the right to information rules-2012, marked three out of eight reasons for returning the petition, dated May 2013.

The other two reasons for which it was returned were that the petition was not filed as per the format decided by authorities and indexing of documents was not done as per the required format.

Another petition, received by the commission in November 2012, filed by Agrawal, was also called incomplete as per rule 8 of the Right to information rules. It was returned  because Index was not enclosed and that each page of the document was not self attested.

Agrawal said the chief information commissioner should look into the documents to decide whether the returned petition and documents were readable or not. “Action should be taken against the CIC staffer (responsible for returning it) in case the commissioner finds the documents legible and readable,” Agrawal said. “How can a petitioner who does not know how to draw tables be expected to submit petitions and index (it) only in format decided by the authorities?”

Other reasons for returning the petition in the past include not enclosing copies of RTI petitions, appeal and/or orders etc.

Agrawal said a unique case was decided by the commission where a copy of RTI petition could not be practically filed because the central public information officer’s “vague response” did not carry any reference or subject-matter, or any other such aspect which could be related with any RTI petitions filed by the petitioner. Also, another registry of a commissioner returned the petition because suddenly it required photocopies of documents attested, even though an affidavit was submitted with the petition for contents of petition being true, he said.

According to Agrawal, a user-friendly act should be adopted without requiring the assistance of lawyers. “The chief information commissioner and the department of personnel & training (DoPT) should look into the matter and withdraw such absurd rules. It is grossly misused by registries of some of the information commissioners,” he said. 



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