RTI not implemented effectively in Orissa-RFC

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Bhubaneswar, Apr 20 (UNI) Right to Food Campaign(RFC), a state level platform of civil society groups, spearheading a campaign for effective operationalisation of the Right to Information Act, today alleged that the Act was not being implemented properly in Orissa.

RFC convenor Pradip Pradhan told newspersons here that they made the complaint after conducting a study of select number of 20 decisions announced by the State Information Commission(SIC) during January and February 2007 and urged Governor M C Bhandare to initiate action against the SIC after conducting an inquiry.

Mr Pradhan alleged that the analysis of cases revealed that the decisions were not only against the letter and spirit of the Act but were also anti-citizen.

The decisions reflected a 'skewed' understanding of the RTI Act on the part of the Commissioners and a 'clear bias' towards 'corrupt' bureaucrats.

The study revealed that SIC had arbitrarily rejected some complaints and appeals without giving an opportunity of hearing to the complainant violating the rules.

He said the Commission very rarely imposed any fine on Public Information Officers (PIO) for their failure to supply information to the applicants within the prescribed time limit.

On the other hand, in most of the decisions the SIC had protected them by exonerating them from the penalty, he alleged.

Mr Pradhan said out of the total 2500 cases the Commission heard during the period penalty was imposed only in 19 cases.The Commission failed to exercise their power u/s 25 of the RTI Act for recommending to competent authorities to remove the difficulties faced by the public in accessing the information.

In almost all cases the names of the PIOs and the date of registration was mentioned deliberately, he alleged.

The study said though section 4 of the RTI Act provided that each public authority was required to disclose voluntarily about 17 documents which could be given to the citizens, it was not being followed and the Commission was not taking any action for the violation of the rules.

Mr Pradhan appealed to the Governor to institute an inquiry under section 17 of the RTI Act,2005 and take appropriate action against the Commission.

UNI BD PL RN SZ RK1840

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