Sunday, May 23, 2010

[rti_india] Maharashtra State Information Commission - Annual Report for 2009


 Dear All
            Sec 25(1) of RTI Act requires Central Information Commission / State Information, Commission, as the case my be, to compile an Annual Report every year on the implementation of the provisions of the Act during that year, which is then submitted to the Central / respective State Government.
           Maharashtra State Information Commission (MSIC) has sincse submitted its 4th Annual Report for the year 2009 to the State Government. The position in respect of other SICs submitting their Annual Reports to the respective State Goverrnment is presently not known. The last Report submitted by Central Information Commission reportedly was for the year 2007. CIC has yet to submit Annual Report even for the year 2008.
           As per MSIC's Annual Report for 2009, total number of RTI applications received by various Public Authorities in the State was 440,728 - the highest number to be received by any State in the country. Total numbesr of applications received by other big States reportedly is less one lac. First Appeals filed during the year in Maharashtra were 43,848 - accounting for about 10% of RTI applications received. 2nd Appeals / complaints  filed with MSIC during the year were 21,710, which indicates that virtually 50% of First Appeals got converted into 2nd Appeals / Complaints to SIC expressing dis-satisfaction with the appeal disposal as done by First Appellate Authority - which is a reflection on the quality of appeal disposal by FAA. Number of 2nd Appeals / Complaints received by MSIC during 2009 is also stated to be the highest in the country. The very high number of applications / appeals filed is indicative of growing RTI activism in the State of Maharashtra
         MSIC disposed of 24,519 appeals / complaints during 2009. MSIC had a pendency of 15,480 2nd Appeals / Complaints as at end-2008, which has now come down to 10,710 as as end-2009. The pendency level pressently obtaining is abount 4 months and it is still a matter of concern. Various citizen groups / RTI activists have been pursuing, and continue to pursue the matter with MSIC for bringing down the pendency to a level where appeals / complaints received would be disposed of within about 2 months.
       PENALTIES IMPOSED:  Total number of penalties imposed during 2009 on defaulting PIOs was 347 with amounts aggregating to Rs.26.57 lacs. Maximum penalty of Rs.25,000 was imposed in 61 cases. Besides cash penalties, MSIC also recommended Disciplinary Action against 923 recalcitrant PIOs by invoking provisions of Sec 20(2) of the Act.
      Besides topping the list of States receiving highest number of RTI applications, Maharashtra State has also achieved a rare distinction of setting up Regional Benches of SIC headed by an independant Information Commissioner,thus taking the RTI Appeal / Complaint redressal mechanism closer to the scene of activity benefitting large number of  applicants in the upcountry centres.  Apart from Mumbai, 5 regional benches have been set up at Commissionarate headquarter centres of Amravati, Aurangabad, Konkan, Nagpur and Pune. SIC has taken up the matter with the State Government for setting up another regional bench at Nashik. MSIC has akso undertaken hearing of appeals through VIDEO CONFERENCING. During 2009, appeals through video conferencing were heard in 913 cases
     In its report submitted to the State Government, MSIC has also made various  recommendations to the government for gearing up machinery for effective implementation of the provisions of RTI Act / speedier delivery of information to applicants. Recommendations made include, State Government to issue a directive to all Public Authorities (PA) to ensure effective implementation of Section 4 of RTI Act in all seriousness / setting a timeframe for its implementation and holding Administrative Heads of of PA accountable who do not implement these provisions, strenthening record management system by ensuring effective compliance with the provisions of Maharashtra Public Records Act, 2005 / taking administrative action against Officials who avoid providing information with the excuse of reords not available, appointing senior level officials as PIO / FAA particularly in revenue department and agriculature department in rural areas where relatively junior level officials are presently performing these role functions, instructing PIOs & FAAs to ensure adhering to the timeframe for disposal of applications / appeals and FAAs passing reasoned orders with application of judicial mind.
        This information is being shared with all with a view to apprising  our fellow RTI activists of the position obtaining in Maharashtra State. RTI Activists in other states may like to check up the relative position in their respective states and then make endeavours for taking up the matters up with SICs for requisite follow up where ever considered appropriate.                   

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