After Pune Newsline last week highlighted the absence of a full-time State Information Commissioner at the Pune bench, Ravindra Jadhav has been told to continue with only Pune bench under his jurisdiction.
Activists in Pune had been unhappy that the absence of Jadhav, who spent a week in Amravati and another in Pune affected the RTI movement in Pune. The appointment has been made by the State Chief Information Commissioner.
Jadhav, who flitted between Pune and Amravati SIC bench, received the orders to look only after Pune bench, which covers Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur.
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“We have received the order about appointment of Jadhav as full-time commissioner of the Pune bench,” said Raviraj Phalle, deputy secretary at the Pune bench of SIC.
Jadhav has got down to the job and RTI activists expect him to dispose of at least 20-25 cases a day as done during the days of Vijay Kuvlekar.
Two months back, Jadhav was asked to look after the Pune bench in addition to the Amravati bench. Jadhav alternated between Pune and Amravati with a week at each place. The led to second appeals of RTI queries piling up at Amravati and Pune. Pune bench had 7,045 second appeals pending, the highest in the state. Amravati with 5,096 was second.
On July 1, Pune Newsline had highlighted how the Information Commissioner was unable to give enough time to both benches.
“Jadhav had to travel for 14 hours to reach Pune and it was similar for return journey…he was a thoroughly tired man,” said RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar.
After the Newsline report of July 1, the SIC Pune bench received orders on July 3 to assign full-time charge to Jadhav.
Kumbhar, who heads Surajya Sangharsh Samiti, alleged in a letter to the President and the Prime Minister that Jadhav’s appointment in Pune has been made to favour him.
“The Governor had appointed Jadhav as SIC, Amaravati bench on March 1. Within a few days, State CIC Ratnakar Gaikwad cancelled his appointment at Amaravati and appointed him on the Pune bench. His action is not only contrary to provisions of the RTI Act, but also an infringement of the Governor’s authority.”
In the letter, Kumbhar said, “There are irregularities in appointment of commissioners…there are posting of only retired bureaucrats who are in the good books of political leaders, transfer of the Information Commissioners are made by CIC without authority and just so that they could reside in their choice places.As a result, the RTI is being sidelined in Maharashtra…”