RTI Anonymous comes to the rescue of those afraid of being targeted for filing RTI applications

If one is afraid of being targeted after filing a RTI application, the online RTI Anonymous team is there to help you out. Nineteen year old Rajeshwar Boke from Maharashtra procured details of his educational scholarship amount with help from RTI Anonymous

Rajeshwar Boke is a 19 year old boy belonging to OBC (Other Backward Classes). He is presently studying in the second year in the Government Polytechnic College in Brahmapuri, a town in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. Being an OBC, he is entitled to a central government scholarship for all the three years of the course. However, he has been receiving a partial amount of scholarship money since the last one year.

In January 2012, Rajeshwar decided to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act to find out the status of his scholarship but did not know how to go about it. He began surfing the Internet for help and stumbled upon RTI Anonymous—a free online service through which any Indian citizen can file RTI applications anonymously. He called up Ritesh Singh, one of the three founders of RTI Anonymous to know how to use the service. Mr Singh obliged. So, Rajeshnwar filed his RTI application to the college as well as to the social welfare department which disburses the scholarship money.



Says Rajeshwar, “My suspicion about whether I was getting the right amount or not, came when the college for the first time started the online form system for admission. While I was filling up the form I saw that the annual scholarship amount mentioned therein were Rs3,880 for the first year; Rs4,200 for the second year; and Rs6,700 for the third year. However, I had received only Rs1,500 for the first year.”

After filing the RTI application, Rajeshwar received a fake reply from his college and was rebuked for having invoked the RTI Act. Instead of addressing his question of how much is the scholarship amount for students and how much is he entitled to, the college gave him a document of some general rules of the college. He though did not relent.

Ritesh Singh advised him to file a first appeal with the department of social welfare. Recently, the department ordered the college to make the scholarship amount public. Accordingly, the college provided him the information free of charge, as directed by the appellate authority. Says Mr Singh, “Rajeshwar got all the desired information and found serious irregularities in the scholarship disbursal in his college because of which he wasn’t getting the full amount of his scholarship. He forced the authorities to correct the irregularities benefiting hundreds of poor students in his college.” Mr Singh says Rajeshwar was in an emotional turmoil while filing his RTI as he was afraid that the college might take revenge on him by giving him less marks in some subjects but nonetheless he decided to pursue and that has been his secret of success.

As per a news report in the New Indian Express wherein the newspaper invoked RTI, there are 2.1 lakh beneficiaries of central government scholarship to poor students in Karnataka and the amount involved is Rs10.58 crore. However, only 44% of the money has been disbursed.

There are complaints from hundreds of students in Uttar Pradesh (UP) who have not received scholarships or have received only partial amounts. The educational institutions, in which they study, do not bother to address these complaints. Hence, it is advisable that students in large numbers should file a RTI application. This will form a pressure group and steadily every educational institution will be compelled to give the appropriate money and the social welfare department will be forced to release the money which it sometimes does not.

What is RTI Anonymous?

RTI Anonymous is an online service, through which any Indian citizen can file Right to Information (RTI) applications anonymously. They DO NOT HAVE TO REVEAL THEIR IDENTITY. The RTI Anonymous community will file those RTI applications in their name and upload the documents obtained as a reply on this website. The original requester will get an email when this happens. The original requester just has to draft the RTI application as best as he/she can and the RTI Anonymous community will take care of the rest.

How Does RTI Anonymous Work

Step 1: So person A, who is based in say, Kanpur has a problem with a particular road in his locality and needs to file a RTI Request. He submits a request to RTI Anonymous, with the details of the Public Information officer and his set of questions.

Step 2: An expert in drafting RTI (in our case, for example, an ex-PIO and retired registrar from Bangalore or a RTI Activist in Pune) will draft the RTI. Few other experts in drafting RTIs based either in different parts of India or concerned NRIs from different parts of the world, review and draft the RTI.The RTI request is then moved to the Drafted RTI Request category. If the experts decide that the request is frivolous or does not need anonymity or just too vague and needs more information, then its moved to its appropriate category (Non RTI, Non-Anonymous RTI or unclear RTI category).

Step 3:  Once drafted, a concerned citizen from say, Chennai takes a printout of this drafted RTI and puts in the IPO for the required amount and speed posts it.He then updates the website with the speed post number.

The RTI Request is now moved to the Filed RTIs category.

Step 4: Once the Chennai guy receives the reply, he just takes a picture of the documents received with his cell phone or digital camera, uploads its to his PC and then to the website. At times, he just does a normal post to one of the RTI Anonymous’s core team member and they would then upload these documents to the website.

Step 5:  Once uploaded, the original requestor (from Kanpur or wherever) gets an automated email and he can then download the documents that he had recieved.

Also any public interest litigation (PIL) lawyers or journalists/reporters can also download these documents from this website.

Remember:

  • The RTI is filed by a guy from say, Chennai
  •  Drafted in say,  Pune  or London
  •  Reviewed in USA/Sweden/Hisar-Haryana, etc.
  •  And the original request is to some government office in say Kanpur
  •  And the government documents are uploaded to a website by either the guy who filed or RTI-A  team member

All done by REAL PEOPLE with REAL ADDRESSES

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])
 

Comments
Shanti Patel
10 years ago
Very good article which will help large number of people to resort to RTI, which
otherwise may not because of fear counter attack.

We must thankful to VINITA for her work

C.A. S.K.PATEL
Chartered Accountant
arjun
10 years ago
wow! this is excellent info! ...

however , could you please state a few simple points .. for example , Ive just heard about the RTI act and all i know is that I reserve the right to question the government if i want to regarding ... but I dont really know/understand the extent of the act ... where can I use it? or for what purpose?

If you could provide a few simple situations where I could use RTI ......

Thank you :)
chandru sharma
10 years ago
i have always been worried about this aspect of RTI. what happens to the person whose identity is known to the concerned dept. this method of anonymous filing is a great relief and i am sure people like me will take advantage of this. slowly we will develop the courage to file without any hesitation on any issue directly. i sincerely thank ms vinita for her efforts.
Dr P NRao
10 years ago
Vinita and other activists . To praise you and the hard working likes of your activists would be an insignificant contribution from any one .
The system and methodology of your Anonymity in bringing out the injustices to an ordinary man who is otherwise mortally scared of the repercussions .....is truly opening a treasure of infinite possibilities .. Thank you .and thank you again for this innovative yet effective way of bringing relief and justice to millions PNR
Vijaykumar B Borkar
10 years ago
A very honest effort of the persons who really love the country and the common Indian people. Keep it up RTI Anonymous.
Dr Hari Dev Goyal
10 years ago
It is a wonderful invention for the common man - victim of the widespread corruption in the system. Recently I have been cheated and suffered breach of trust by a service stock broker firm worth lakhs of crores
Is there any organization to look after the interest of a petty investor in the country?
SEBI is not performing its mandatory functions and other stock exchanges say that they are not under the purview of RTI Act, 2005. I shall submit details of my case on hearing from you. Thanks
Suraj
10 years ago
Very good in the service of RTI awareness.
Please give contact address where to file RTI application and also let us know who will bear the expenses of photocopies etc. Normally RTI replies are incomplete and vague, what is the appeal procedure in RTI Anonymous.
MANI RAM SHARMA
10 years ago
How can it be believed that the said team is made of brave man, and will not succumb to pulls and pressures in a country where even the mighty public representatives are frightened. However staging drama in the name of social service or reforms are very common in the country but all these can be hardly seen on the surface of India.
Krishnaraj Rao
10 years ago
Deat Vinita & Sucheta,

Kudos to you for spreading awareness about this sort of thing. Moneylife, Moneylife Foundation & you personally are putting fantastic information into public domain. God Bless!

What is more, you are blowing the lid off numerous scams in the financial sector, and other economic sectors also. Amazing teamwork & research.

Regards,
Krish
Cedric Fernandes
Replied to Krishnaraj Rao comment 10 years ago
Dear Vinta.
Fantastic ! what a way to go, you have got the Elephant out thru the eye of the Needle, and with Krish around thru (Hum-Janenge YG) the doors have been thrown wide open Congrats.
Please permit me to hoist this on my Blog site as well as our forum ie; [email protected].
Blessings and Warm Regards Always
Cedric
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