Free Training on Right to Information Act in Karaikal, UT of Puducherry
Karaikal, UT of Puducherry, 16th October 2011.
Karaikal chapter of India Against Corruption has organized training on Right to Information Act in order to commemorate sixth anniversary of said Act. The training was organized on 16th October 2011 at Chamber of Commerce Hall in Karaikal. Forty five participants participated in the training. Sample applications for seeking information using the RTI Act were supplied to the participants in both Tamil and English. Participants were given practical hands-on experience of drafting the application by how to precisely construct the queries for seeking needed information. Besides, the theoretical and practical discourses, role model-participants shared their experiences on success stories to instill confidence in the participants by putting peer pressure. Question and answer session was also in place to annul the doubts of participants in using RTI Act. RTI practitioners complained that problems like charging additional fees, threatening and discourteous conduct of officials, and elusive response to queries are still persisting. Filing complaints with Central Information Commission under section 19 of the Act for such problems were suggested. Lodging complaints with Police for criminal intimidation (U/s 506, IPC) and wrongful restraint (U/s 342, IPC) to mitigate the threats and harassment of RTI Applicants were also deliberated. However, an applicant can any way use the Whistle Blower’s protection resolution of Government of India for filing a RTI application by superscripting on the top of that application a statement ‘This application is under PUBLIC INTEREST DISCLOSURE & PROTECTION OF INFORMANT RESOLUTION (PIDPIR)’.This will protect applicant’s identity if information sought is of sensitive & self-risky in nature. Such an applicant can plead jail sentence for any officer who breaches PID/PIR and betray that informant. Therefore, the forum demanded an amendment / DoPT Notification in the RTI Act itself to protect the identity of a RTI applicant under PIDPIR if an applicant prefers so. Such an improvement in RTI Act will give the powers to Central / State Information Commissions to impose such other penalty on the public authority provided therein the resolution for leaking RTI Application to the opposite party and thus betraying the RTI applicant, putting her / him at risk. This demand is significant amidst series of murders of RTI activists. Moreover, the forum also resolved to protest against any amendment diluting the act itself. This training was completely sponsored by willful contributions in public interest from few volunteers of Karaikal chapter of India Against Corruption. Certificates were issued to participants for successful completion of said training. Organizers came forward to offer more such training for welfare of public if demand arises. Dr.S.ANANDKUMAR, the team builder of Karaikal chapter of India Against Corruption was the resource person.