RTI made easy

Soon, anyone would be able to file an RTI application over the phone, with help and guidance from a call centre as well as through a website

While the government is consistently blamed for diluting the RTI (Right to Information) Act in several ways besides making illogical amendments at the state level, it is gearing up to make filing of RTI applications by just making a phone call. Citizens will not have to take the pains of either writing a RTI application or taking the pains to post it or physically deliver it. Proposals for setting up such privately run call centres have been advertised by the “Department of Personnel & Training” (DoPT) with the last date of submission being 10 July 2012.

The project has been named “RTI Call Centre and Portal Project” under which 2,000 centres are proposed all over the country.

The DoPT, which has put up details of the project on its website, cites two facilities under it.  One is the computerised call centre which would facilitate the citizen to file his/her RTI over the phone; file first appeal applications over the phone and even track the status of their first appeal. This facility is termed as “Computer Telephony Integration enabled Call Centre Setup”. Second, is the development of a “web portal” which would provide information about the RTI Act as well as facilitate filing of RTI and first appeal applications.

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State Stalling RTI Movement ?

Moves to limit word length, subject matter in applications as well as refusal to fill vacancies will backfire, writes Gajanan Khergamker

There seems to be a distinct bias in the ‘Sunshine’ Act…the Right to Information, particularly in Maharashtra and not without reason.

For starters, in what was construed as a stark “breach of trust and public confidence”, the state went ahead almost on tippy toes and notified an amendment to Maharashtra RTI Rules on 16th January 2012.

Changes aimed to defeat the law
That most members of the public irked by a public authority’s excess or inept attitude or behavior, making an RTI application to obtain information aren’t familiar with drafting, is a given. And, the process of educating the public about sticking to queries instead of providing background information and history is an ongoing, tedious one.

So, capitalising on this very snag, the state appears to have placed the 150-word caveat which will almost singularly defeat the very purpose of the RTI Act.

Applicants unfamiliar with the law, will continue to write and ramble on and on about the issues in question and wait for the stipulated period for official response which should be as dodgy as expected and dismissive owing to the applicant’s inability to restrict the application to the required 150 word limit.

Providing the perfect foil for issues which need to be resolved with urgency, the amendment is bad in law and needs to be reviewed.

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