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Maharashtra govt asks PIOs to restrict RTI applicants’ data inspection

There had been complaints that PIOs were calling RTI applicants for inspection even when they had not sought inspection of such files.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
October 27, 2015 1:27:15 am

Following complaints of frequent instances of RTI applicants being told to visit government offices and sift through voluminous data to obtain the desired information, the state government has passed orders directing Public Information Officers to refrain from doing so.

The state has also passed directives to index and number the files given to the RTI applicant, whenever an applicant is called for an inspection. It also stipulates that at least three dates should be given on which the applicant can conduct inspection of documents.

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The state government order comes after instructions by the State Information Commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad. The SIC had taken cognisance of a complaint by RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi.

There had been complaints that PIOs were calling RTI applicants for inspection even when they had not sought inspection of such files. Rather than provide answers to applicants’ queries, they would be asked to come to government offices and sift through files to search for requisite data. In some cases, even for data which did not exceed more than two pages, applicants have been told to come and examine the files.

“If the information sought by the applicant is not voluminous, the applicant should not be called for inspection of files,” an order passed by the state government to PIOs states. The order states that in case the applicant has applied for inspection of documents or the information he has requested is voluminous, an index of all documents should be prepared before he is called for inspection.

Each file given to him should be numbered and a proper index should be given to him. The applicant should be given a convenient time to visit the office, the orders says. PIOs have been told to give three dates when the applicant can undertake the inspection.

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