The State Information Commission (headquarter branch) has kicked off a drive to clear backlogs and will make sure that citizens don’t have to wait long to get information. Considering the large number of pending appeals, the commission has directed the BMC to provide as much information to applicants as possible, barring those exempted.
The drive has been started by chief information commissioner Sumit Mullick; it will go on till October 21. It is directed towards the BMC as 70 per cent of the 13,000 second appeals pending with the headquarter bench pertain to the civic body.
SIC secretary Savita Jawale said, “We sent a letter to the BMC on July 26, along with details of 9,000 second appeals.” The idea is to reduce the number of appeals and so that applicants don’t have to wait for information until their second appeal comes up for hearing. “
The commission said that applicants could visit the BMC if they had filed the second appeal before July 2022 but did not hear from the officials. Both the public information officers (PIOs) and the first appellate authority (FAA) are asked to be in the office for two days a week to provide information. Over 150 pages of information will be provided free of charge, and applicable charges will have to be paid for information beyond 150 pages. As of now, of the 3,000 second appeals, 1,019 applicants have received information as per the BMC’s communication to the panel. Jawale said if applicants are not satisfied,their second appeals will be heard as they come up.
Reggie Dias, an applicant, said, “I was given information but it is not relevant anymore. There was an illegal structure and the officer was not acting. I wanted to expose that, but the party has now got a stay. Officials should follow the RTI Act and provide timely information. “In many cases, the information sought should be available suo motu. This is an off-shouldering of responsibility by the commission. “PIOs are getting used to not giving information and they should be fined with disciplinary action,” said Bhaskar Prabhu of Mahiti AdhikarManch, a body propagating RTI usage in the city.