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‘Understand the law better’

india Updated: Jul 24, 2011 01:35 IST
Prajakta Chavan
Prajakta Chavan
Hindustan Times
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State Chief Information Commissioner Vilas Patil spoke to Hindustan Times on his last working day in office.
Former secretary of Maharashtra Legislature, Patil was information commissioner in Nagpur before he was appointed as state's chief information commissioner. His tenure was marked by quick disposal of cases coming to his office.

Is the government implementing right to information (RTI) in its entirety?
In my opinion, the government has been positive in implementation of RTI. In all government departments Public Information Officers (PIO) and First Appellate Authorities (FAA) are appointed to provide the information. It’s up to the PIOs to reply the RTI applications.

Under Section 4 of RTI Act, all government departments are supposed to display the essential departmental information on their website. Is it followed?
My experience says information disclosed under section 4 will not be sufficient for applicants, as they seek details. Under Section 4, authorities should disclose information like functioning of the department, policy decisions, guidelines, etc. Its implementation would reduce 10% burden of the pending cases.

Applicants have been alleging that information commissioner do not penalise the PIOs for providing late information?
The commissioner has to decide whether applications made to PIO is justifiable, does it fall under RTI purview and simply can’t blame officials for not providing information in time. They have to consider the circumstances.

Your views on the RTI?
Applicants need to study and understand the law better. In Section 4, there is a provision of applicants inspecting files but when the officer offers this, most of them want it sent to them. Also, applications are often found to be vague.