The next time bureaucratic delays frustrate you, you could seek solace in the fact that the state’s first citizen is experiencing the same.
The Governor’s office had asked the state to information about the Right To Information (RTI) Act five months ago. Two reminders later, the Governor is still awaiting a response.
Santosh Shukla, an activist from Navi Mumbai, learnt this when his own complaint to the Governor did not get a response.
“In 2007, I had filed an RTI application about a CIDCO matter. However, despite the second appeal and the final hearing, the then State Information Commissioner passed an order, which did not give me the information I had asked for,” Shukla said.
Shukla approached the Governor’s office in February requesting it to initiate action against the information commissioner. Shukla waited until June and then filed an RTI query asking the Governor’s office for the status of his complaint. The reply he got shocked him.
Acting on complaints like Shukla’s, the Governor had written to the state asking it to explain the procedure followed to take action against erring Information Commissioners. “Despite a letter from the Governor in March and two reminders, one each in May and July, the state had not bothered to respond to the Governor’s queries,” Shukla said.
A Raj Bhavan spokesperson confirmed this. “It’s true that we had written to the state, asking it to detail the action that can be taken against Information Commissioners, who err in their duties. But we haven’t got a reply till date,” the spokesperson said.
The state’s Chief Secretary J.P. Dange could not be contacted despite several attempts.
The spokesperson, however, tried to play down the incident. “Since it is a recent Act [passed in 2005], the state will also be examining it and preparing its reply,” the spokesperson said. “We can understand the delay.” Activists, however, are unforgiving.
“If the State doesn’t reply to the Governor of the state, how can the rest of us expect justice?” Shukla asked. Activist Krishnaraj Rao said it was a “delaying tactic”.
“Some information commissioners are due for retirement in October. This delay in replying is to protect them,” Rao added.