Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Central info chief clueless on RTI pleas-India-The Times of India

Like charity, transparency begins at home. India's topmost body, created to enforce your right to know, just learnt this the hard way.

The Central Information Commission has been caught on the wrong foot after an RTI activist exposed how the commission — known for ticking off public authorities which fail to maintain records, leading to lack of transparency — is itself unable to furnish to the public information as basic as the number and status of cases and appeals pending with it. The reason: it maintains no such record.

Faced with proof that a citizen cannot know the status and pendency of cases in the commission, a stunned chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has ordered inhouse upgrade of records.

Habibullah's orders to remedy the "grevious defect" came recently after his public information officer admitted the commission kept no record of judgements and orders passed or pending on cases heard.

"The CIC’s registry will take immediate steps to computerize and maintain a record of appeals/complaints admitted, date of hearing of each appeal, decision in each case with the state of announcement," the chief information commissioner decreed while deciding an RTI plea filed by Shruti Singh Chauhan.

"Such information should be updated regularly and supplied to every information commissioner at the end of each month. This should also be made available in public domain through the commission’s website. This exercise will be completed within one month," he added.

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