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Monday 2 April 2012

Withdraw RTI Rules amendment: Petition sent to CM & others with 93 signatures

Withdraw RTI Rules amendment: Petition sent to CM & others with 93 signatures

2 April, 2012
Shri Prithviraj Chavan,
Chief Minister of Maharashtra,
Mantralaya, 6th Floor,  Madame Cama Road,
Mumbai - 400032
Please withdraw Maharashtra RTI Rules amendment notified in Jan 2012
We – the community of RTI activists and users of Maharashtra -- are writing this to convey shock, dismay and sense of betrayal. We feel cheated that you saw fit to notify an amendment to the Maharashtra RTI Rules on 16 Jan 2012 without taking us into confidence. And we are disappointed that we learned about this amendment post-facto from an unofficial source – a private publication sold outside Mumbai's city civil court:   
Sir, in stealthily carrying out this amendment, you have been wrongly advised. Your government DEFIED THE LEGAL MANDATE OF SECTION 4(1)(C) OF RTI ACT 2005: "Every public authority shall - publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public."
By not holding a PUBLIC CONSULTATION, you have erred gravely. The Union government held public consultations last year for rule amendments; why not you? Why did you not take the people into confidence, as mandated by Section 4(1)(c)?
Please expect this amendment to be immediately CHALLENGED IN BOMBAY HIGH COURT on these grounds. Before this happens, it may be worthwhile withdrawing this amendment, as it is legally indefensible.
The amendment says:
(i)                 Request for information must nor ordinarily exceed 150 words
(ii)               Request for information must relate to one subject matter only. If necessary, separate applications must be made if it relates to more than one.
(iii)             Public Information Officer (PIO) must allow the person inspecting the documents to take a pencil only. All other writing instruments must be deposited with the PIO.
The third point appears aimed at preventing RTI applicants from making permanent marks on public documents while taking inspection. On the face of it, that seems fair enough.
We object to point (i) because a majority of Maharashtra's people – less educated people living in slums and villages – may lack the verbal skills for drafting an RTI application within a word limit of 150 words. By what process was the 150 word-limit arrived at? Why not 250 words? Unless it is based on study and judicious reasoning, this rule is arbitrary and capricious. If we accept such an arbitrary rule today, the government may pass another amendment tomorrow imposing a limit of 10 words. It is therefore unacceptable to the community of RTI activists and users.
And finally, coming to point (ii), WE STRENUOUSLY OBJECT TO THIS "SINGLE SUBJECT MATTER" RULE, AS IT GIVES THE PIO UNNECESSARY DISCRETIONARY POWERS. There is a large subjective element involved in deciding what is a "single subject matter"; where does one draw the line between two subject matters?
FOR EXAMPLE: An RTI applicant asks the Municipal Commissioner's office for copies of complaints, and the papers showing action taken on them, relating to impure water supply in A, B and C wards. An uncooperative PIO can argue that this RTI application has three subject matters, as each ward is a separate "subject matter". Another man in his position can argue that complaints are one subject matter, and the actions taken on complaints are a different subject matter. Sir, based on our common experiences, we anticipate that the PIOs and appellate authorities will be drawn into such hair-splitting disputes, diverting their attention from the intent of the RTI Act. This will end up hurting the inexperienced first-time RTI applicants the most.
a)      Sir, IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAW THESE AMENDMENTS to regain the faith of the people of Maharahtra.
b)      If amendment to rules is felt necessary, PLEASE SOLICIT FEEDBACK AND HOLD PUBLIC CONSULTATION WITH VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS, including RTI activists and users, PIOs, first and second appellate authorities. Only after considering all the feedback should you amend the rules. This may be time consuming and difficult, but there can be no short-cuts.
c)      Before you even consider any such amendments, it is urgent for you to TRANSPARENTLY SELECT AND APPOINT AT LEAST FIVE STATE INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS, AND GIVE THEM ADEQUATE STAFF AND BUDGETS. Please do this by due process i.e. declaring selection criteria, inviting applications from aspirants, and proper screening procedures. In the absence of sufficient numbers of Information Commissioners, many benches of the State Information Commission are lying vacant, numbers of pending Second Appeals are mounting to 30,000, and the time-interval before getting hearings is exceeding 18 to 24 months. Many public authorities in the state are increasingly delaying or denying RTI applications, as the Second Appeal is fast losing its potency.
Sir, we urge you to take immediate action to safeguard good governance and transparent administration in the state.
Yours Sincerely,
G R Vora
And the below-listed petitioners :--
1.        Mr Krishnaraj Rao,  Content writer,  Borivali – Mumbai,, Cell: 9821588114.
2.       Mr Mohammed Afzal,  RTI and Human Rights activist, Andheri – Mumbai,, Cell: 9820490435.
3.       Mr Pradeep Bhatia,  Editor – RTI Activist,  Mumbai,, Cell: 9594056402.
4.       Mr Samir Pradhan, Polymer Technologist, Thane – 400610,, Cell: 9004593784
5.       Mr Sulaiman Bhimani, Goregaon West, Mumbai – 104,, Cell: 9323632081.
6.       Mr Sanjay Shirodkar, Hadapsar – Pune,, Cell: 09766313997.
7.       Dr Yeshwant Oke, Pediatrician, Mumbai,
8.       Mr Raja Bunch,  Borivali West, Mumbai – 103, Self employed,, Cell : 09969972283.
9.       Mr Anil Galgali, Freelance Journalist, Saki Naka, Mumbai – 400072,, Cell: 09820130074.
10.   Mr Bhupendra Singh,  Businessman, Kandivali, Mumbai,, Cell: 08080084588.
11.   Mr Anil Kelkar, Erandawana, Pune, Self-employed,, Cell: 09890882645.
12.   Ms Hema Sampat, Social worker, Kalbadevi Road, Mumbai,, Cell: 9820508140.
13.   Mr Janak Daftari, Environment worker, Andheri, Mumbai ,, Cell: 9322292908.
14.   Mr D M Lokhandwala, Businessman, Mumbai,, Cell: 9869277052.
15.   Mr Raju Dudam, IT Consultant, Mumbai,, 09773032020.
16.   Mr Vishal Kudchadkar, Software Devpt. Manager, LosAngeles, CA 90066,, Ph. (323)6326479.
17.   Mr Sunil Ahya,  Mfgr. of Electronic Products, Goregaon, Mumbai ,  Cell: 9820071606.
18.   Mr Chetan Kothari, Businessman, Mumbai.
19.   Mr Ramesh Patil, HR Consultant, Oshiwara, Mumbai – 102,
20.   Mr Amet Israni, Andheri, Mumbai, Professional,, Cell: 9867358355.
21.   Mr Utsal Karani, Juhu Scheme, Mumbai – 56, Activist and Hon.Secy. – NGO Janhit Manch,, Cell: 9324991030.
22.   Mr Rajesh Darak, Vile Parle, Mumbai, Secretary – Whistleblower India,, 9820683005.
23.   Advo. Namitabh Kothari, Malad, Mumbai,  Legal Consultant,, Cell: 9930992660.
24.   Mr Kamal Shah,  Finance Consultant, Malad West, Mumbai – 64,, Cell: 9870156571.
25.   Ms Simin Bharucha, Matunga, Mumbai – 19, Veterinarian,, Cell:9821679555
26.   Mr J B Patel,  Juhu, Mumbai, Flavourist,, Cell: 9820538570.
27.   Mr Melroy C F Fernandes, Vasai, Thane – 401207,  Ph. 02506450378,
28.   Mr Anupam Ghosh, Nashik, Student,, Cell: 8888856778.
29.   Mr Mohammed Afzal, Consumer / Human Rights Activist, Andheri W, Mumbai, Landlord,, Cell:  9820490435.
30.   Mr Cedric Fernandes,  Mumbai, Cell: 9820894913,
31.   Mr Rajiv Patel, Santacruz, Mumbai,  Engineer and RTE Activist,, Cell: 9869443365.
32.   Mr Dilip Shaj, Senior Counsellor on CHS matter, Andheri W, Mumbai,, Cell: 9819825752.
33.   Mehli Gandevia, Wadala, Mumbai, Senior citizen,, Cell: 9969622750.
34.   Ms Tejal  V,  Borivali Mumbai, Graphic Designer,, Cell:  9833707598.
35.   Ms Rima Kashyap, Shakti NGOConnect, Mumbai – 1,, Cell: 09341867487.
36.   Mr Rajan Mehrotra, Oshiwara, Mumbai,  Businessman,, Cell: 09820237464.
37.   Mr Duggirala Pawan, Bhiwandi, Pin-421302, Merchant Navy Officer,, Cell: 9969842729.
38.   Mr S C Gupta, Paschim Puri, New Delhi, Citizen Auditor,, Cell: 9810073862.
39.   Mr Manish Modi, Businessman, Vile Parle, Mumbai,, Cell : 9821438180.
40.   Mr R Vijayaraghavan, Alwarpet, Chennai, Journalist,, Cell: 9382319275.
41.   Ms Cynthia Fernandes, Bandra W, Mumbai – 50, Civic activist,, Cell: 9867075044.
42.   Dr Manoj Sangoi,  Pediatrician, Mulund W, Mumbai – 400080,, Cell: 9821098168.
43.   Mr Rajiv Agarwal, Social worker, Ghaziabad – 201002,, Cell: 9311607733.
44.   Mr C Ravindranath, Vidyanagar, Pune – 411032, Training Programme Felicitator,, Cell:  9422314642.
45.   Mr Vivek Velankar, NGO Sajag Nagrik Manch, Pune,, Cell: 9850063480.
46.   Mr Santosh Shukla,  RTI Activist, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai,, Cell: 9619778122.
47.   Col. (Retd) N  Thiagarajan,, Cell: 9820541864.
48.   Mr Samir Pradhan, Consulting Engineer, Thane West,, Cell: 9004593784.
49.   Ms Nirmala Tiku, Mundhwa Pune,, Cell: 9890289178.
50.   Dr Ramnarayan B, Laparoscopic Surgeon,  Chembur,, Cell: 9820026387.
51.   Dr Pankaj J Joshi, Laparoscopic Surgeon, Mulund W, Mumbai –, Ph 022-25904884.
52.   Mr Vivek Garad, Matunga, Mumbai, Cevil Engineer,, 07205171755.
53.   Dr Raju Kanakia,  Doctor, Dadar, Mumbai,, Cell: 9820229301.
54.   Mr Kishore Samtani, Retired, Chembur, Mumbai,, Cell: 9833517514.
55.   Ms C J Saldanha, Andheri W, Mumbai,, Cell: 9870704041
56.   Mr Prashant B Uikey, Mulund, Mumbai, Service,, Cell: 9769612555.
57.   Mr Mazhar Vahanvaty, Businessman, Bandra W, Mumbai 50,, Cell: 9821818299.
58.   Mr Viren Shah, Businessman & activist,L.T. Marg, Mumbai,, Cell: 9821013529.
59.   Mr Vidyut Kale, Activist, Borivali, Mumbai,, Cell: 9869060575.
60.   Mr Bharat Gandhi, Businessman, Andheri W, Mumbai – 53,, Cell: 9322246187.
61.   Mr Binoye Vallarian, Borivali W, Mumbai 103, Service,
62.   Mr Rahul Mahurkar, Activist, Mumbai,, Cell: 9867555804.
63.   Lt. Col. (Retd) K K Sawhney, Social worker, Mudhwa, Pune 411036,, Cell: 09325409626.
64.   Yvonne D'Souza, Teacher, Borivali, Mumbai,, Cell: 9820771539.
65.   Ms Cassandra Nazareth, Borivali, Mumbai, Businesswoman,, Cell: 9820224450.
66.   Mr Dilip Das, Social activist, Kalahandi, Odisha, Pin – 766001,,  Cell: 09437070038.
67.   Ms Pearl  Goswami, Bandra W, Mumbai 50, Retd. Airline cabin crew, Cell: 9892310000.
68.   Ms Jayshree Ramachandran, Goregaon, Mumbai, Advocate,, Cell: 9821485632.
69.   Mr Manohar Sabnis, Ghatkopar, Mumbai, Financial Advisor, Cell: 9819016816.
70.   Dr Ajit Telang, Andheri, Mumbai, Tech. Consultant,, Cell: 9323227247.
71.   Advocate Rina Kamath, Legal Consultant, Colaba, Mumbai,
72.   Mr Sanjay Gupta, Software Engineer, Pune,, Cell: 9224365168.
73.   Mr Bhavesh R Shah, Andheri, Mumbai, Trader,, Cell: 9594081299.
74.   Mr Anand J Gulhane, Nagpur – 26, Businessman,, Cell: 09422146262.
75.   Mr V P Balwatkar, Senior Citizen, Navi Mumbai, Pin-400706, balwatkarvp@yahoo,com, Cell: 9820280227.
76.   Mr R P Dias, Santacruz E, Mumbai,, Cell: 9869384304.
77.   Ms Rekha Trivedi, Housewife,  Sion E, Mumbai 22,
78.   Ms Mani Patel, Service, BandraW, Mumbai 50,, 9819204636.
79.   Mr Murli Multani, Mumbai – 26,, Ph. : 022-23522977.
80.   Mr Ajay S Kini, Software Consultant, Chembur, Mumbai,, Cell: 0921062476.
81.   Dr Prakash Vaidya, Pediatrician,, Mulund, Mumbai, Cell: 9322509553.
82.   Mr Sauren T Mistry, Matunga, Mumbai,, IT Professional, Ph. 022-24136434.
83.   Dr Kaushalya T Mistry, Sewri, Mumbai, Doctor,, Cell: 9820742641.
84.   Mr Tusharendoo R Mistry, Matunga, Mumbai, Retd. Professor,, Cell: 9920408639.
85.   Mr Raymond B Barboza,  Chembur, Mumbai – 89,, Cell: 9969083680.
86.   Dr T N Mahadevan, Environmental activist, Govandi, Mumbai,, Cell: 9820091316.
87.   Mr Manish M Gala, Mulund W, Businessman,, Cell: 9322266116.
88.   Dr Harshad Shah, Mulund, Mumbai, Doctor,, Cell: 9869612400.
89.   Mr Girish Mittal,  Businessman,, Cell: 9323462428.
90.   Mr Ashish Mhatre, Grant Road, Mumbai – 7, Service,, Cell: 9869111122.
91.   Mr Rajashekar Iyer, Co. executive,, Andheri W, Mumbai, Cell: 9820784788.
92.   Mr Moiz Hami, Businessman, Byculla, Mumbai,, Cell: 9833093841.
Copy to:          
 1.     Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
2.     Mrs Aruna Roy, Member, National Advisory Council (NAC). 
3.     Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Ajit Pawar, Mantraya, 6th Floor, Mumbai – 400032.
4.     Leader of Opposition, BJP Office, Behind Mantralaya, Mumbai – 400032.
5.     Principal Secretary, GAD, Mantralaya,  Mumbai – 400032.
6.     Secretary, (In charge of RTI), GAD, Mantralaya, Mumbai – 400032.

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