December 2015 – The Maharashtra Government has issued a notification on 19 December 2015 to follow clear norms for giving RTI replies. This follows DoPT’s general guidelines, issued in October 2015, to
discipline PIOs who give evasive replies to RTI queries.
Obtaining information from the Public Information Officers (PIOs) is a frustrating experience.
The usual response is they call the applicant to their office, obviously with the intention of collecting some money; or they give a wishy washy evasive reply.
The Maharashtra Government has issued a notification on 19 December 2015 that all Public Information Officers (PIOs) in Maharashtra will be required to provide comprehensive replies to right to information (RTI) applicants.
In a notification issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), on 19 December 2015, the Maharashtra Government has specified a sort of standardized format for reply, taking a step forward to make the use of the RTI Act more citizen-friendly.
The circular also makes it mandatory for the the PIOs to provide certified copies to the applicants, if so requested, to give reference of the section under which the information is denied as well as full details of the Appellate Authority’s contacts, so that the applicant can pursue his application, more effectively and easily.
The Maharashtra Government circular states, “Various Public Authorities provide information to applicants requisitioning information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 in various forms. Since the nature of information differs and since it is not possible for the Public Authorities to prepare a prescribed form, a circular clarifying what the replies should contain has been issued by the Central Government vide Circular No. 10/1/2013-IR Date 6.10.2015, which was required to be brought to the notice of everybody, concerned. Hence, this notification.”
in a letter dated 6 October 2015, sent to Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories (UTs), the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) had said, “It has been observed that different public authorities provide information to RTI applicants in different formats. Though there cannot be a standard format for providing information, guidelines have been provided.” (Read: PIOs can no more give wishy-washy replies under RTI )
What the Reply should contain
The circular issued by Maharashtra government states the following points, which need to be kept in mind by the PIO, while replying to the applicant:
The number and date of the RTI Application received under the Act along with the date of receipt of the application by the public authority concerned.
Name, designation, address, official telephone number and e-mail of the PIO concerned.
In case the information requisition is denied, the detailed reasons for denial of the information along with the concerned section of the RTI Act.
In case of transfer of the RTI application to other public authority under section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, detailed information of the public authority to which the application is to be transferred.
Name, designation, address, official telephone number and e-mail of the Appellate Authority should be mentioned first while responding to the RTI application under the RTI Act and ‘The first appeal be filed within 30 days from the date of receipt of the letter of the PIO’ should be categorically mentioned in the last paragraph.
While corresponding under the RTI, all PIOs and First Appellate Authority (FAA) must clearly mention their name, designation and department under their signature.
In case the applicant has requisitioned attested information under the Right To Information Act, 2005, the Public Information Officer concerned must attest the information and make a mention to that effect on the information while providing the information. In case the number of documents/ records being provided is too large, his subordinate gazatted officer may attest the information if required. The mention about attestion be made as following.
All Heads of Department in Mantralaya should bring the provisions of the said circular to the notice of the Heads of Departments, Public Authorities and all those concerned subordinate to them and notify them to act accordingly.
- The circular has been made available on the website of the Maharashtra Government