AN OFFICIAL in the office of Minister of State for Social Justice and Special Assistance Dilip Kamble has asked the commissioner for Persons with Disabilities to “take action” against people filing two or more RTI applications.
R M Pardeshi, Officer on Special Duty to Kamble, wrote to the commissioner for Persons with Disabilities on March 19, referring to a letter — dated March 19 — from Dipak Patil, a resident of Solapur district, addressed to the minister. “Patil has requested that action be taken against the persons for filing two or more RTI applications seeking information about the persons with disabilities schools,” said Pardeshi.
He added that Patil referred to a circular issued by the Pune office of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) that mentioned a Supreme Court case and a central information commissioner’s order for making people ineligible for seeking information repeatedly and taking criminal action if they continued to seek information.
Pardeshi said that MSEDCL circular had asked all its offices to compile information about the persons filing two or more RTI applications. “Patil has requested that on the same lines, information should be sought from all the district offices of the Commissionerate for Persons with Disabilities about such persons filing two or more RTI applications and immediate action be taken against them,” stated the letter, adding that immediate action should be taken.
Subsequently, Nitin Dhage, the commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, issued a letter to all districts heads on March 30, asking to submit the names of the persons and addresses with details of subjects of the applications and whether information was given to them.
Vivek Velankar, an RTI Activist from Pune, termed it as an illegal circular. “The MSEDCL had issued this illegal circular in March last year and it was cancelled after we protested. Somebody is misusing that circular,” said Velankar, who filed three RTI applications with the commissioner’s office on Tuesday. Velankar added that it shows the negative approach of government towards the RTI Act and lack of transparency due to the fear of bringing out their corruption cases.
However, Dhage said that the circular has been cancelled the same day. “Since there is model code of conduct in force, the circular is being canceled and no further action should be taken on the letter,” he added. Pardeshi maintained that the letter referred to the MSEDCL circular, but it has been stayed.