Dear Aggrieved RTI Appellants,
For two centuries, a few hundred Britishers ruled many million Indians and exploited them. The fault lies in our attitude; we are culturally docile people, herded like cattle by anybody in authority. Even today, we have a mai-baap attitude towards people in government and administration. Otherwise, how can a few dozen retired bureaucrats get away with steadily adulterating our Right to Information with bad hearings and vague, unlawful Orders? Why do lakhs of aggrieved appellants grumble but suffer in silence, and only a handful of activists request CICs/SICs to implement the Act the way it is written? Why does each appellant not rage against the slow poisoning of his sacred Right to Information? Why are we always on our knees before the Information Commissioners and government departments like DoPT and GAD despite the RTI Act being crystal-clear about their duties and our rights?
Why do you tolerate it when:
1. Information Commissioners violate Section 6(2) by making you justify why you need the information? (Defiantly reply that you need the information for burning on a winter morning! How dare they ask?!)
2. CICs/SICs put you on trial, and cross-examine you as if they are the defense lawyers of Public Information Officers (PIOs) and public authorities? Remember, it is the PIO who is on trial here, not you. You have stated your complaints and grounds of appeal in writing, and that is why your appeal is being heard! If your grounds of appeal are unclear, let the information commissioner dismiss your appeal; otherwise, let him ask the PIO prove that he has acted diligently, as required by Sections 19(5) and 20(1) last paragraph.
3. Many information commissioners offer cockeyed explanations, and allow evasive PIOs and public authorities to go scot-free. They don’t compell them to justify their actions as stipulated by Section 19(5). And yet they have the audacity to equate themselves with High Court and Supreme Court judges!!!
4. Information Commissioners avoid giving reasons for their own actions as required by Sec 4(1)(d)? Their vague orders deliberately avoid answering key questions such as:
a) Which grounds of appeal are upheld?
b) How many days of delay was there on PIOs part, and therefore what amount of penalty is applicable?
c) Was the information that was denied exempted from disclosure? Under which sub-section of RTI Act?
d) In the Information Commissioner’s opinion, was the information provided correct and complete? Or was it Incomplete/misleading/false?
e) Was onus of justification put on the PIO? Did the PIO submit his justification in writing? If not, what was his oral submission during the hearing? Are the points of his justification/submission admissible under the RTI Act?
5. And last but not least, SICs/CICs studiously ignore section 7(2) which states that if the PIO fails to communicate his decision within the deadlines specified in section 7(1), then he is deemed to have refused the request for information (and therefore renders himself eligible to penalties u/s 20).
Appellants, stop tolerating bad hearing procedures and vague and unreasoned orders! Activists cannot and will not fight your battle for you; each man is duty-bound to fight his own battle for justice.
Don’t be overawed by Information Commissioners. If they dilute their duties and your rights, reject vague Orders with a strategically-placed chappal, by taking a printout of this letter draft: http://www.box.net/shared/haae8g690z
If you feel that use of chappal and strong language is inappropriate, use this milder version of the same letter: http://www.box.net/shared/2194y615iv
Just as shopkeepers must feel anxious if they try to cheat and adulterate, every Information Commissioner must fear you and hesitate to dictate vague Orders. Every crooked official and politician must fear your anger — the anger of a peace-loving common man. Only then can this system work in the way that it was originally intended by the framers of the RTI Act and of our Constitution.
NOTE: The text of the abovementioned letters are copied below for your convenience. If you wish to use these letters, please download using the above links.
1. Draft of Rude Rejection Letter with “Virtual Chappal”
I exercise my powers as a citizen to reject your Vague and Unlawful Order No.
Your above-mentioned Order is arbitrary and vague. It is outside the ambit of the powers
conferred on you by RTI Act 2005.
Under section 4(1)(d), I demand that you pass a reasoned (revised) order with
the following points:
1) EITHER attach copy of PIO’s written submission justifying his actions as per section 19(5),
OR quote in your Order details of the PIO’s oral submission in defence of his actions. Please note that the PIO must adequately defend his actions of omission and commission citing relevant sections of the RTI Act, and not by citing extraneous reasons.
2) If adequate justification was not given by PIO, state your reasons for not applying Sec 20. Please note that you cannot override section 19(5) and unilaterally conclude that the PIO’s actions are not malafide, and therefore worthy of being condoned under your “discretionary powers”.
We ask you to IMMEDIATELY pass a reasoned order to remedy the above-mentioned shortcomings.
(Your name & address)
2. Draft of Polite Rejection Letter for Vague & Unreasoned Order
Sub: Your Vague and Unlawful Order No. dated
Your above-mentioned Order is arbitrary and vague.
Under section 4(1)(d), kindly pass a reasoned (revised) order with the following points:
- EITHER attach copy of PIO’s written submission justifying his actions as per section 19(5)
- OR quote in your Order details of the PIO’s oral submission in defence of his actions. Please note that the PIO must adequately defend his actions of omission and commission citing relevant sections of the RTI Act, and not by citing extraneous reasons.
- If adequate justification was not given by PIO, state your reasons for not applying Sec 20. Please note that you cannot override section 19(5) and unilaterally conclude that the PIO’s actions are not malafide, and therefore worthy of being condoned under your “discretionary” or “judge-like” powers. You are a quasi-judicial authority, and are required by the terms of your appointment to pass orders that are properly reasoned under the RTI Act 2005.
We ask you to pass a reasoned order at the earliest to remedy the above-mentioned shortcomings.
(Your name & address)