Moneylife Impact: SIC Orders PWD To Provide Information, Upload It on the Website
The state information commissioner (SIC) of Aurangabad has ordered the public authorities of the public works department (PWD), across Maharashtra, to promptly provide information about expenditure on maintenance of the government guest houses and circuit houses, many of which are badly maintained.
 
This order, given recently, specifically gave reference to the article in Moneylife online titled `Letter pe letter: 20 of Them! All because I Sought Information under RTI from the PWD of Maharashtra.’ SIC Rahul Pande has directed all PIOs under this public authority to provide information as requested by the RTI applicant, that is, me. 
 
Mr Pande’s order also simultaneously directs the PWD to suo motu upload the information on its website as per Section 4 (1b), at the earliest. The sub-sections apt to uploading such information would relate to: (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control.
 
Just to recall, I had filed an RTI online application to the PWD, seeking information on various points. They were: names of government guest houses and circuit houses in Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur and Aurangabad districts; annual budget of all the above guest houses and circuit houses from January 2017 to December 2020; annual expenditure of the above from January 2017 to December 2020; names of government officers with ranks and political leaders who stayed in these from January 2017 to December 2020 and, specifically, expenditure on maintenance for these from January 2017 to December 2020. 
 
To that, continuously, for at least six weeks, I received nearly two dozen replies from different divisions, some forwarding my RTI application to some other department. One of them, the Hatkalange PIO wrote that I was asking information on varied subjects! Only, the special projects department of the PWD Kolhapur (four PIOs of four different PWD departments of Kolhapur have replied), wrote that the information I need is ready with them. It comprises 55 pages and, as and when they received Rs110 (Rs2 per page) either by money order or directly to them, they would send me the information. However, after Mr Pande’s order, this department has promptly sent me the documents by post. I am thankful to the department and to Mr Pande for the order.
 
Going by the pile of correspondence I have received from various PIOs on this issue, it is only logical that much of the government paper and postal expenditure as well as the time of the PIOs would be saved if Section 4 of the RTI Act was adhered to. Let’s hope this public authority will abide by the SIC order of Mr Pande. What is also admirable is that Mr Pande has translated the complete article of Moneylife in his order in Marathi!
 
 

What is Section 4 (b):

4. Obligations of public authorities.—
 
(1) Every public authority shall—
 
(b) publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,—
 
(i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties;
 
(ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees;
 
(iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability;
 
(iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;
 
(v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions;
 
(vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control;
 
(vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof;
 
(viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public;
 
(ix) a directory of its officers and employees;
 
(x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
 
(xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;
 
(xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;
 
(xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it;
 
(xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form;
 
(xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use;
 
(xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers;
 
(xvii) such other information as may be prescribed, and thereafter update these publications every year;
 

 

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