The RTI Act was formulated with much fanfare and with great hopes that it will bring some kind of transparency and a related sense of responsibility in the government servants who would be feeling the heat of the people's power because of their power to seek information at will. It would be too ungrateful to say that the promulgation of the Act has not helped the common people. On the contrary this Act is certainly among the most powerful and potent tools in the hands of the people of this country and can easily be regarded as one of the most memorable and laudable gifts of the UPA government. Yet, there are departments and people in these establishments who are still not over with their colonial hangover. The result is that these people are not only making an open fun of the provisions of this Act but are also defeating completely the very purpose of the Act.
I shall present before you one such department where a few examples would suffice to let you understand how such people are treating this Act. The department is the Home department in the Uttar Pradesh which is generally held to be responsible for keeping the law and order in the State as also to see to it that there is a the proper implementation of various laws and people don't go breaking laws, rules and regulations. Yet, the department itself seems to notoriously believe in the dictum- "rules are there to be broken." This holds true particularly with regards to the RTI Act.
Information was sought from the Department as regards the details of the IPS and State Police Service (PPS) officers placed under suspension during a given period. The information dealt with issues like the date of suspension, the date of reinstatement, the grounds for suspension, the time required in conducting the enquiry and the result of the enquiry etc. One section of the Home Department which deals with the PPS officers provided the details, though a bit delayed. But another section, dealing with the IPS officers refused to give the information saying that that this information cannot be given without the prior written permission of the concerned IPS officers because it comes under section 8(j) of the RTI Act. Section 8(j), as we all know, deals with information of personal nature which have a tendency of infringing the privacy of a person. Can anyone explain that the information sought can be termed private in nature? or one that is infringing upon someone's privacy?
The second example is that of asking some details from two departments of the UP Government as regards the Study leave of the IAS and IPS officers. While the Appointments department dealing with the IAS officers gave the requisite information, the same section of the Home department again said this information cannot be given without the prior written permission of the concerned IPS officers under section 8(j) of the RTI Act as being of personal nature and having a tendency of infringing the privacy of a person. Isn't it a deliberate and blatant flouting of the provisions of the Act?
In two other cases where the information as regards the selection criteria for promotion to the rank of DIG by the UP government for some given period and information as regards the decision by the government in the departmental cases in the month of May 2007 were sought, the sane section again came up with Section 8(j).
Now it seems that the Home department of UP government has got the section 8(j) under its name and any information sought from it would be abjectly rejected taking the plea of this section alone. I would request the friends here to help me proceed with this matter by suggesting me the future course of action, other than making a request to the First Appellate authority in each of these cases.
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