Right to information: Orissa
activist keeps hitting brick wall
Nov 15 (IANS) A social activist in Orissa has complained he
has failed to get information from government organisations
in response to most of the applications he has been filing
under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
2005 act empowers citizens to demand information on the working
of the government. But Biswajit Mohanty, who claimed to have
filed about 450 RTI applications in the past three years,
said Friday that he has received a response to only about
the total applications I had filed, I have got information
only for 60 applications," said Mohanty, who usually
seeks information from the Forest and Environment Department.
in 40-50 cases, wrongdoings of the officials concerned have
come to the fore, in five cases I have got evidence of corruption
against the officials.
hundreds of other applications are gathering dust. The Public
Information Officers (PIOs) are harassing applicants time
and again so that they won't seek further information,"
Court judges have no hesitation in handing over their tour
details to RTI applicants. But Mohanty, who works as a chartered
accountant, alleged he has been struggling to get similar
information from a central government undertaking.
filed an RTI application in June this year seeking information
from Paradip Port Trust (PPT) on T.A. (travel allowance) bills,
leave applications and the official tour diaries of its chairman.
port authority denied the information on the ground that it
would affect the competitive position and commercial confidentiality
of the organisation since his official tour is meant to improve
the trade interests of the port," Mohanty said.
disclosure of place of stay during leave period may endanger
the life and physical safety of the chairman PPT," the
first appellate authority of the port said after Mohanty appealed
against the refusal. The appellate authority is the same official
whose tour details had been sought.
diaries are not the only class of documents the PPT considers
beyond the purview of the RTI Act.
administrative department of PPT has listed items like property
returns of employees, note sheets of the files containing
observations of employees and officers, staff selection committee
and departmental promotion committee proceedings as classified/confidential
documents which can be denied to any applicant.
sheets of the candidates appearing for the written test in
connection with selection to different posts of PPT are also
prohibited, though Indian Administrative Service examination
answer sheets are bound to be disclosed as per orders of the
Central Information Commission.
wondered how the PPT could deny such information when property
returns of ministers and even the President can be obtained
by any citizen of India.
ranks fourth in the country in terms of filing applications
under the RTI Act.
some say they are struggling for information, awareness about
the act is very encouraging," Malay Nayak, news editor
of the Oriya daily The Samaya, told IANS.
need more awareness in both the government and public levels
for successful implementation of the act," Orissa's information
Commissioner Jagadananda told IANS.