Wednesday, April 28, 2010

5th Pillar participates in Round Table Discussion with Tamil Nadu Right to Information campaign


5th Pillar participated in the Round Table discussion on key
issues pertaining to the implementation of the Right to Information
Act in Tamil Nadu organized by the Tamil Nadu Right to Information
Campaign, on the 31st March, 2010 at Egmore, Chennai. Executive Director of 5th Pillar, Mr. Bhanu Kumar represented 5th Pillar in this meet. The following
subjects were discussed.

1. Why this program?
2. Key issues-Challenges and achievements pertaining to the
implementation of the RTI (Right to Information) in Tamil Nadu.
3. Recent achievements and challenges in the working of the Act.
4. T.N. Information Commission-Structure, procedure, and review
including decisions of the Commission.
5. Sharing experiences of the working of the RTI Act in relation to
PIO's, Appellate authority, and Information Commission.
6. Significant decisions of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission and
experiences learnt from the Kerala Information Commission and
Karnataka RTI activists.
7. Monitoring the role of Government and Public Authorities in
promoting the RTI Act especially Section 4 (1) a,b,c,d
8. Strengthening the Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign to
monitor the working of the RTI Act.


The following points were highlighted

1. Problems connected with the voluntary disclosures of information by
public authorities
2. Duties and responsibilities of PIO's (Public Information Officer) and APIO's (Assistant Public Information Officer)
3. Inadequate response to the information requested, providing partial information, wrong information by PIO's and Appellate authorities.
4. Activities of the State Information Commission.
5. Role of the Government in promoting RTI
6. Courts, Public Authorities and the RTI.
7. Failure to proceed with penalties and disciplinary action.
8. The powers of the Government to exempt departments like Vigilance
and Anti corruption from the purview of the RTI Act.
9. To nominate Officers at State and District level to discuss with
the Activists of the RTI.
10. Exchange of information among the Activists of RTI.
11. Finalize the demands to be given to the Tamil Nadu State Government.

The following recommendations were made at the end of the Meeting.
Government:

1. Ensure appointment of PIO's, APIO's, AA's (Appellate Authority) at all PA's(Public Authority) under the control of the State Government.
2. Launch an aggressive training campaign to cover all relevant staff
from PA's on the obligations of PA's under the Act, and rights of
citizens.
3. Allocate sufficient resources to PA's to help them implement RTI Act effectively
4. For PA's which receive a high volume of RTI applications, appoint
dedicated PIO's to handle all RTI inquiries.
5. Provide necessary infrastructure resources and support in a timely
manner to the State Information Commission. Such resources would include additional clerical staff to manage the communication they get, to ensure so that
it can run smoothly, thereby leading to an effective implementation.

State Information Commission

1. The Commission should impose penalties, without exception on all
PIO's in case of denial or inordinate delay in giving replies.
2. An efficient filing system needs to be put in place to ensure easy
access to files and communication.
3. The commission should complete its website without delay and put up
all their decisions on their website and to update it continuously.

The meeting served as a good forum to discuss critical issues pertaining to RTI Act. If all the requested implementations are put to work we can see a good change in the present scenario.

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