Right To Information

Use RTI, Don't pay bribe

*You need not pay bribes any more in this country. Now you have an effective alternative - Right to Information. Use the RTI Act. Often, it works faster than bribes, says the right to know crusader group, Parivartan. * * *

Wherever you have a legitimate work pending, you have filed all the documents, you have completed all formalities, you have a genuine case, which the official ought to do in his normal course of duty but is not doing either for expectation of bribe or merely laziness. We call it extortionist bribery.

For instance,

- You made a complaint to the police but they are not registering FIR;

- You want to know balance in your provident fund account. You have retired and want to claim your PF but the authorities are not responding to your letters;

- You are a government servant and have been transferred out against the transfer policy. The Government is not responding to your requests to transfer you back;

- You are a government servant. Your requests for claim of medical reimbursements are not being heeded to;

- You have a faulty electricity meter in your house. But the authorities are not replacing it despite repeated requests;

- The sewer is choked in your locality for some time but the authorities have not responded to repeated requests;

- You have applied for

* passport

* any type of license

* Various certificates i.e. marriage, death, birth, caste and so on;

but things do not move;

- You sought correction in your water, electricity, telephone bills but the authorities do not oblige;

If your work is unnecessarily held up in a government department, use the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Do not pay bribe.

File a requisition under the RTI Act demanding to know:

1. Daily progress made on your application so far. i.e. when did the application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?

2. Names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on the application and who have not done so?

3. What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

4. By when would the work be done now?

In normal circumstances, such communication would be thrown in a dustbin. But if a formal requisition is made under the RTI Act, the public information officer (PIO) representing the government or semi-government establishment (called the public authority in the Act) is obliged to give the desired information within 30 calendar days (or refuse it by citing specific exemptions from disclosure listed in the Act).

If the PIO does not answer within 30 days, he can be fined and his salary can be deducted. Now, it is not easy to dodge these questions.

You ask what is the progress made on your application. The government officials cannot write back and confess that they have not acted on your application for many months. That would be admission of guilt on paper.

You ask for names and designations of the officers who by their brief in their establishment were supposed to take action on your application but had not done so.

If the government provides names and designations of the officials, their responsibility gets fixed. Any officer is most scared of fixing of responsibility against him in this manner.

The experience so far is that, as soon as such requisition is received from a citizen under the Right to Information Act, files move at an amazing speed and usually the pending work is done even before the 30-day deadline for giving information on the status of the application under the RTI Act.