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Rajasthan Information Commission or Rajasthan Information Omission?

Before proceeding any further, let me make it very clear that by no stretch it should be construed that, herewith, I am pointing finger towards the entire Rajasthan Information Commission (RIC), as I do believe that, by and large, it is working efficiently, in order to ensure that the common man gets the information in accordance with the provisions specified in the RTI Act, 2005. However, it is a known fact that not all fingers are of equal size and sorry to say, but RIC is no exception either.

In this blog, I put forward a case in front of the entire world to decide for themselves that whether information in public domain is actually accessible to the general public or not. On dated 20th August 2015, a common man (senior citizen) filed an RTI Application No. 4784, with the Public Information Officer/Secretary, Urban Improvement Trust (UIT), Udaipur (Rajasthan) requesting information against 11 points duly mentioned in the Application.

However, no reply was received from the respondent within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 of the RTI Act, so the Applicant filed the First Appeal with the then Chairman, UIT, Udaipur for providing the requisite information. Once again, no reply was received. Thus, on dated 26th October 2015, the complainant filed the Second Appeal with the RIC, Jaipur under sub-section (3) of section 19 of the RTI Act.

The RIC accepted the Appeal and registered it under the Appeal No. 728/2016. On dated 22nd June 2016, after hearing both the parties, the Honourable RIC, ordered UIT, Udaipur to provide the information/reply to the complainant, within seven days. However, UIT, Udaipur skipped the reply against the 11 points mentioned in the RTI Application and provided a reply, on dated 29th June 2016, against some 13 questions, which were not pertaining to the current RTI Application No. 4784 dated 20th August 2015.

The complainant duly informed the UIT, Udaipur, as well as, the RIC, Jaipur that the reply provided by UIT, Udaipur is not against the 11 points on which the information was requested in the RTI Application. Still, the Honourable Rajasthan Information Commission, on dated 30th September 2016, in the Appeal No. 728/2016, passed a judgement cancelling the Complainant’s Appeal, on the ground that sufficient information has been provided against the RTI Application.

Now, anyone who just goes through the facts of this case will be in a position to certify that the complainant has requested information on 11 points, while the respondents have replied to some 13 questions which are not pertaining to this RTI Application. Herewith, do note that the complainant duly informed about this wrongdoing to the Honourable RIC, “a number of times”. Still…

We all know that ultimately it is the judiciary who has to decide the outcome of any case, which in turn, should be accepted with due respect by all the concerned parties. But tell me, isn’t it the basic requirement to check the facts of the case before passing any kind of judgement? It’s quite shocking, as well as disappointing to know that how some of the learned and respected authorities function.

Where would a common man go if institutions of high calibre like State Information Commission constituted under sub-section (1) of section 15 of the RTI, Act 2005, also passes judgement with closed eyes? Do note that it’s not a baseless comment because there is genuine documentary evidence supporting this remark, which is lying right in front of me, while I am writing this blog.

With utmost due respect, I would like to say that, this case is a live example of sheer negligence on the part of Rajasthan Information Commission to perform its duty diligently. “Do remember that judgements passed with closed eyes and minds will wreck the faith of citizens in the entire judicial system”. So it’s a high time Rajasthan Information Commission open its eyes or else one day it might turn into Rajasthan Information Omission.

I wish that the Almighty give good sense to each one of us.

Stay in touch!

Peyush Jain