Friday, November 22, 2013

An appeal to Maharashtra SIC to Withdraw Order

Ratnakar Giakwad,
State Chief information Commissioner
State Information commission
Dear Sir,
You have issued an order to all public authorities on 26/9/2013 ( mu ma aa/vaastu/imarat/nakashe/2013 . Exact English translation of that order is like this
While dealing with the appeals  and complaints received under RTI act , It has been observed that, some public authorities provide information related to   building plans and interior of the buildings while dealing with the application received under RTI regarding public, semi-public offices , hotels , gymnasiums, hospitals, malls, IT buildings , structures of commercial buildings .
As per section 19 (8) ( a ) and section 25 (5) , it is being ordered that , all public authorities , If asked plans / documents of such structures/ buildings, considering security reason such information should not be provided, similarly if asked plans related to private buildings/structures , unless public interest is involved  in it, such plans ( interiors ) etc. should not be provided. These orders are being given to all municipal corporations / municipalities.
Principal secretory, urban development department (1) (2) to inform above orders to all municipal corporations, municipalities as well as special planning authorities

Now I want to bring some points to your notice

1)  As far as RTI act is concerned giving information must be rule and denying must be the exception.

2)  It is clear from your order that you have asked not give any information related to any public semi public building/structure.

3)  Actually information related to all buildings including public – semi public buildings is covered under section 4 (1) (b) (xiii)(     particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by it; ) and 4 (1) (b) (xi) (the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;)

4)  There was no request or demand from any security agency then I don’t understand what prompted you to issue such orders,

5)  As per Section 19 (8) (a) information commissioner surely has authority to require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, but that authority has to be used while hearing second appeal under section 19 .You can not use such authority to order blanket ban on any information

6)  As per section 25 (5) information commissions can recommend certain things to public authority ( not authorities)  he can not order blanket ban on providing information ( If it appears to the Information Commission that the practice of a public authority in relation to the exercise of its functions under this Act does not conform with the provisions or spirit of this Act, it may give to the authority a recommendation specifying the steps which ought in its opinion to be taken for promoting such conformity.)

7)  It is commendable that you have expressed concern about security of public places. However it is highly impossible that terrorist will demand plans of buildings under RTI act then decide their course of action. Why they will take such a long rout when the public places are open to all, all the time.

8)  At one place you have in to bracket used word interior, that means information related to interior of the building also should not be provide. here I want to bring to your notice that even home department also doesn’t think like that. They even allow shooting of films in interior and exterior part of the jails that attract most dangerous security threats. Recently home department has hiked fee for such shootings in and around jails.

I now humbly request you to, taking into consideration all above points please withdraw your orders immediately.