Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fines against officials in the RTI Act

Slowly, one can see a greater use of the RTI Act. The RTI Act had been pushed for long as the means to allow citizens to get openness from the bureaucracy (seen for long as a place where things were slow, and where citizens would always have to suffer). The RTI Act was meant to let citizens get information on just about any query under the sun (subject some state secrets, and some commercial secrets). It has been going through fits and starts, with many bemoaning the fact that the babudom is trying their best to thwart the implementation of the law; but as the below examples show, the Act is actually doing good in many cases. People are able to request information, and if the concerned official does not provide the information, then there are provisions of fines being levies for this non-compliance:

PATNA: State information commissioner Mohd Shakeel Ahmad, has imposed a fine of Rs 250 per day with a maximum of Rs 25,000 each against deputy collector, land reforms, Rajgir, and the circle officer of Rajgir for not providing information to an applicant, Sanjay Kumar, seeking information under the provision of Right to Information Act.

Now the fine itself may not seem like much, but the provision is that the fine is levied from the salary of the official, and also such fines are typically highlighted in the media, putting pressure on the officers to comply with the orders. Further, it is the provision of such fines that would encourage citizens to query for all the information that they want to obtain, safe in the assumption that either they will get the information, or the officer will be fined for not providing the information.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:40 PM