RTI: Trick lies in framing question
If you wanted to know how to get the best out of the Right to Information Act, here's your chance. The Drive Against Bribe campaign, which took off in earnest across the country on Saturday, will tip you on how to file an RTI application in a way that yields the maximum information and gets your work done.
“An RTI application is nothing but a list of questions one asks a government agency. It is very important to frame these questions tactfully so that the government department concerned can't get away providing inadequate answers," said Manish Sishodia of Kabir, an NGO.
He explained, forming the question is the key because section 8 of the Act has about ten clauses that specify the various provisions (read excuses) a government agency could use to deny information. "If your questions are not formed well, an errant department might try and impose Article 8 on it," he added.
At the Nehru Yuva Kendra near ITO, volunteers of 14 NGOs and citizens' groups are ready from 11 AM to 7 PM for the next two weeks to offer all the help you need. Along with the volunteers, there is a counter with three Delhi government officials, where an aggrieved citizen can register his RTI requisition. "Our job is to collect the requisitions here and send them to departments concerned for action," said Harsuman Bisht, an official.
Activists explained that in the garb of seeking information about a certain long-pending job, say, the issuance of a passport, the RTI requisition actually means to get the passport issued promptly. "At the camp's model RTI requisition, we have formulated several queries like 'Please give the names and designations of officers who have been dealing with my passport application'. Answers to questions like these force an admission of guilt. So, the department would get the job done in order to evade uncomfortable answers and in the process, you won't have to grease any palms to your passport," Manish explained.
The Drive Against Bribe camp has people from all walks of life walking in with their respective problems and getting their requisitions registered.
Complaints were to do with the issuance of passport, pension, licence, income-tax refund and the likes. A volunteer informed that most cases received so far are regarding water and power-related woes. "Interestingly, there are quite a few government officials who filed requisitions about their overdue promotions and transfers," said Arvind Kejariwal from NGO Parivartan.
In all, more than 60 RTI requisitions were filed at the camp on Saturday. "The campaign is picking up pace. The help-line, active from 8 AM to 8 PM daily, received 1051 calls today," Manish said.
The camp is on till July 15. So, instead of bribing that corrupt official to work on your application for a duplicate voter-ID card, HT suggests you walk into the Drive Against Bribe camp and get armed with the power of RTI.
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