THE UP Government is yet to designate Public Information Officers (PIOs) and Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) for all its departments under the RTI Act 2005, retired Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) IC Dwivedi said on Sunday.
Delivering a talk on the topic “How to use RTI Act as a powerful tool” organised by the Lucknow Management Association (LMA) at the M.B. Club here, Dwivedi said the names of PIOs and APIOs required to be published in the form of a directory by the UP Government under the RTI Act was also awaited.
He said the UP Government came out with a “Government Order” (GO) under the RTI Act on April 19, 2006 which stated that “persons seeking information under the RTI Act would be required to deposit the prescribed fee of Rs 10 in cash, demand draft (DD) or bankers cheque with the concerned public authority”.
“Even after the release of the GO on April 19, the authorities in the various state government departments continued to express their complete ignorance regarding the order and were reluctant to accept the prescribed fee of Rs 10 in cash from the applicants”, Dwivedi said.
He said the authorities responsible for collecting the prescribed fee from the applicants in various government departments were directing them to deposit the fee in the government treasury and obtain a challan before filing their application under the Act.
“Initially, all efforts were made by the government authorities to dissuade citizens from filing an application under the RTI Act by asking the applicants to either submit the fee of Rs 10 in a treasury of get a DD of the same amount made before filing their application”, Dwivedi said.
Dwivedi said that the campaign launched jointly by Hindustan Times and NDTV to spread awareness about the use of RTI Act did have an impact on the government authorities as they entertained the applications seeking information under the RTI Act.
Providing tips on how to file an application under the RTI Act, he said all requests for information would need to be made in writing or through use of electronic means such as sending an e-mail to the authority concerned. “The information needed by citizens must be clearly specified. However, it must be remembered that the RTI Act is not a “grievance redressal forum” and one can only seek information under the Act”, Dwivedi said.
“No official can ask an applicant why a certain information had been demanded under the RTI Act. The applicant needs to write the query along with his/her name and address for seeking the information”, he added.