Last time they stealthily amended the RTI rules , Now they are trying to stealthily frame appeal procedure rules. In last post, we read the proposed appeal procedure rules. There are several objectionable things in these rules. But most dangerous part is annexure "A" in which the appeal is to be submitted demands , Declaration that the case relating to Information sought for, has not been ﬁled previously/pending with any court/any Authority. If rules come in to existence with this clause that will be the last nail in the coffin of RTI in Maharashtra. With this clause, nobody will be eligible to file RTI application in Maharashtra.
Most of the people use RTI to obtain information, documents related to their work or status of their work. That means People demand information related to their case pending with some authority.If this clause is to be applied then no body will be eligible to obtain information from any public authority. RTI act does not prevent anybody from obtaining information even if the case is pending before any court. Then why Maharashtra government is trying to introduce such type of clause?
These rules also say that while filling second appeal one copy of the appeal or Petition shall also be directly sent to the concerned Public Information (PIO) first appellate authority (FAA) and third party by the appellant.
Why this burden of sending copy of second appeal is being placed on appellants?. As far as public authorities (PA) in Maharashtra are concerned 95% public Information officers (PIO) and appellate authorities do not even mention their or appellate authorities name or address on orders. In addition, how would appellant know about name and address of third party? Third party is actually involved or not? Even if appellant knows the names and addresses of all of these. Why will they accept or receive copy of appeal when they know the consequences of second appeal?
If PIO, FAA, and third party do not accept the copy of appeal, what remedy the appellant has. He will have to file complaint under section 18 of RTI act. That procedure is also very difficult and even if such complaint is filed there very remote possibility that decision of it will be in favour of appellant. Even if information commissioner (IC) commissioner give decision if favour of appellant it will be to accept the appeals only, nothing else. That will be a very time consuming process.
These rules also state that notice of hearing to the appellant, state public information officer, first appellate authority or the third party in any should be served in any of the following modes, namely
i. service by the party it self
ii . by hand delivery ( dasti) through process delivery
iii. head of the office or department
iv. by displaying program of the hearing on notice board
v. by displaying the programme of hearing on website;
vi. By registered post with acknowledgement due
Taking into consideration lethargy of most of the commissions clause ( iv ) is likely to be misused. The notice of hearing must be duly served. All the parties must actually receive it.Suppose Information commissions choose only to display program of the hearing on notice board. Then how would parties know about the hearing ? do these rules expect every party to visit commission's office regularly?.
RTI act does not demand any information from applicant except persons name and contact address. however, these rules want appellant to furnish information related to name of father / husband , appellants service /business and full address that too on oath . On the ground, that the RTI applicants are being threatened this information is unwarranted.