Right to Information (RTI) Case Studies

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RTI is a powerful tool in the hands of right citizens and any Indian citizen can exercise his RIGHT to demand accountability and transparency in public offices. Here is the compilation of few case studies that can be used for training, awareness and education. Please contact the author for more case studies for FREE OF COST guidance.

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Right to Information (RTI) Case Studies

  1. 1. Case Studies on The Right to Information Act 2005 ~ By Avinash Murkute, Pune & Nagpur Mobile: 9822698070 1 © Galaxy4u
  2. 2. 1. PROVIDENT FUND TRAVAILS Encashment of provident fund money can be a Herculean task. Avinash Murkute explains how the Right to Information (RTI) Act can help you get money Published - Money Life, 13 September 2008 2
  3. 3. 1. PROVIDENT FUND TRAVAILS K Surya Rao was an area marketing manager at Vanguard Therapeutics, Hyderabad. When he changed job, his former employer ignored all his polite reminders to pay his salary, field expenses and statutory Provident Fund (PF) dues. Frustrated, he filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (RPFC) Hyderabad, seeking the status of his PF withdrawal application pending since August 2006 and complete statement of PF account. The RTI Act 2005 mandates the central public information officer (CPIO) to respond to queries within 30 days. Since he did not receive a response, he made repeated calls to RPFC Hyderabad and was told that his RTI application, sent by speed post, was not received. The CPIO directed him to send it by fax; he did that and followed it up by sending proof of delivery by speed post. The CPIO sent the query to the Sub Regional Office, Kukatpally, Hyderabad, which was the “appropriate” public authority in this case and asked for a response within seven days. This is when Rao came to know which PF office was handling his account. He soon received information that his former employer had submitted wrong PF number; he was also given correct number with detailed statement including employer contribution, interest and cumulative balance. 3
  4. 4. 1. PROVIDENT FUND TRAVAILS The CPIO also deputed an enforcement officer to check the affairs of Vanguard Therapeutics for its default in submitting a few annual returns. Rao was told that he could send claim forms directly to his office, obtain the attestation of the employer and process the claim. He is hopeful of receiving around Rs 20,000 that is due from his employer for over three years. Similarly, Sudhir Yerpude made over 50 calls to the RPFC Bandra, Mumbai, who then forwarded the query to RPFC Kandivali, which was the correct PF jurisdiction in his case. Another employee’s RTI application and a subsequent complaint to the RPFC at Bengaluru led to the RPFC issuing a show cause notice to the managing director of Jagdale Healthcare for PF default. The notice said that failing to forward a duly attested claim application to the PF office within five days after receipt makes the employer liable for “prosecution under section 14 of the EPF and Malpractices Act 1952 read with EPF Scheme 1952.” Another PF application led to the Bengaluru PF office writing to a nationalized bank asking it to credit the beneficiary PF account immediately or be held liable to pay interest for the relevant period. 4
  5. 5. 1. PROVIDENT FUND TRAVAILS FEW THINGS THAT EMPLOYEES MUST REMEMBER Preserve your appointment letter and salary slips showing PF deductions. Preserve your PF account number and seek information from the regional PF office that will service your account. Obtain an annual PF statement from the employer or RPFC. Submit form No. 19 and Form 10-C on resigning and preserve a copy until your dues are settled. If the former employer fails to acknowledge your PF queries, send a formal registered letter to the CEO seeking an answer. If that does not work, file a complaint with the Director Vigilance, EPFO Head Quarters, Ministry of Labour, Bhavishya Nidhi Bhawan, 14 Bikaji Cama Place, New Delhi 110 066 5
  6. 6. 1. PROVIDENT FUND TRAVAILS When this all very positive, E-Governance don’t work too well. The Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRS) at a few regional PF offices are either poorly installed or crumbling. Websites either do not open or have no customer interface and the online grievance management system is like the Bermuda Triangle where things simply disappear. A response from regional PF office is so rare that it is foolish to expect it. That is when RTI does the trick. In the box above are a few tips for employees covered under PF. The writer has helped file these RTI applications. He can be contacted at avinash@murkute.com. 6
  7. 7. 2. RTI Act helps senior citizen rattle the PMC Pune Municipal Corporation is boasting about its record tax collection. ButPu are you paying the property tax at higher rate? Is your tax invoice correct? Is your conveyance deed application pending with PMC since years? Check out this Right to Information (RTI) success story where a senior citizen battled with E-governance savvy Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) who acted as blind as a bat to his applications pending since 2003. Records are managed in a pitiable condition exposed this RTI application. Published ~Avinash Murkute (Intelligent Pune April 18, 2008) 7
  8. 8. 2. RTI Act helps senior citizen rattle the PMC Sudhakar Dandawate, a senior citizen, is resident of Tulip Apartments, Mrutyunjay society, Kothrud Pune. He retired from military services. Tulip apartments is five flat abode to seniors like him. They jointly filed society deed of declaration and requested flat wise bills to PMC authorities on May 12, 2003. It derived no response but still we pay our corporation taxes regularly, said these senior citizens. Frustrated with this attitude of tax department of PMC, on December 31, 2007, Dandawate filed an application under RTI Act 2005. •This application was returned by postal authorities with a comment not taken or address not found. This returned application was re-sent to Pune Municipal Commissionerate praying information about action taken on their application dated May 12, 2003. This time it was accepted and was confirmed as delivered by speed post agency. •RTI act 2005 stipulates public information officer to provide information in 30 calendar days but PMC maintained the silence and showed their thick skin, experienced this ex-serviceman. This silence was broken when PMC authorities received an appeal under section 19(1) of RTI act 2005. Tax department directed field officers to run for cover. They obtained extra copy of deed of declaration from applicant as they couldn’t find originally submitted documents in PMC record. 8
  9. 9. 2. RTI Act helps senior citizen rattle the PMC Appeal Number 14/2008 was fixed on March 26, 2008 at PMC head quarters. After hearing both the parties and perusal of papers appellate authority found that public information officer (PIO) failed to furnish written reply to RTI application. The request originally submitted in 2003 was required to be attended by employees responsible at that time and show-cause notice (SCN) should be issued to them for delaying citizen’s work, was further ordered in order dated March 26, 2008. After obtaining extra set of records from applicant, PMC tax officials pleaded that deed of declaration and flat wise bills are ready now and appellate authority passed an order to share the information within 15 days of this order. This particular issue is almost resolved with the use of RTI Act 2005 but exposed serious lapse in the record management of Pune Municipal Corporation. Many state information commissioners under RTI act 2005 have taken serious view of documents not traceable, files lost and such submissions by PIO’s and hence this case was one more out of the blue jolt to E-governance savvy PMC. The writer has helped file these RTI applications. He can be contacted at avinash@murkute.com. 9
  10. 10. 3. Nagpur Corporation to drain sewage in three days Nagpur Corporation to drain sewage in three days Published ~ Avinash Murkute (Intelligent Pune, April 11, 2008) RTI IMPACT: NMC to clean sewages in 3 days Published ~ Avinash Murkute (Times of India, April 19, 2008) 10
  11. 11. 3. Nagpur Corporation to drain sewage in three days For all those who wish to get there septic tank cleaned here is good news, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) health department will carry out the work within 3 days. This is not all; zone officers will monitor each request and inform the applicant for delay if any. R.Z Siddique, Appellate Authority under RTI act 2005 cum Controlling Officer of Health Department of Nagpur Municipal Corporation was not afraid of admitting departmental mistakes but also paved the way for better governance and public service. Thanks to RTI appeal filed by Avinash Murkute, a resident of Wandongri Nagpur, who suffered a lot, but was committed to lead by examples. In city areas there is sewerage infrastructure in place. Wherever drainage system to remove sewage is missing, captive septic tanks are in use. NMC provides facility of sewage removal from stinking septic tanks in city and in adjoining city areas. Murkute submitted a request to Laxminagar zone of NMC for sewage removal from septic tank situated at his Wanadongri residence situated 10 km away from city. He paid rupees 1200 as fees on November 01, 2007 for the work which was promised to be executed within seven days and before Diwali. 11
  12. 12. 3. Nagpur Corporation to drain sewage in three days In a sorry state of affairs, nobody bothered to look his request and his telephonic reminders went down to drains till he filed RTI query on November 22, 2007. Number of applications received in last 3 months, date of application, amount of fees charged, date of execution of work, name of complaint officer and status on his application were prayed as information items. Work got executed within two days of receipt of RTI application but information prayed was not shared till he visited Laximinagar Zone office on January 09, 2008. As per RTI act 2005, it is mandatory for public information officer (PIO) to share information to information seekers within 30 calendar days. Finally information was home delivered on January 11, 2008. Although information was requested by postal mode it was delivered by misusing government vehicle-n-resources, information is incomplete and there was delay of 20 days in supplying information were the reasons for filing the appeal cited Murkute. To contain corruption and mismanagement, there is need to formulate standard operation policy (SOP) for executing septic tank cleaning requests was also suggested by Murkute. 12
  13. 13. 3. Nagpur Corporation to drain sewage in three days 13 Appeal was decided on February 21, 2008 at NMC headquarters where PIO, Assistant PIO and appellant were present. During last September 2007 to November 2007 only twelve applications were received by Laxminagar Zone but PIO failed to comply with the provisions of RTI act 2005 by providing incomplete information as date of execution of septic tank cleaning requests is not provided. Information was supplied in haphazard manner and delay in providing the information has been confirmed on the basis of perusal of papers. After inquiry PIO is liable to be fined with per day fine of rupees 250 for his lapse – was the order passed by first appellate authority. R.Z. Siddique, controlling officer Health found merit in prescribing SOP for septic tank cleaning requests and also passed below order so that other citizens are not harassed.
  14. 14. 3. Nagpur Corporation to drain sewage in three days All cash receipts should bear a rubber seal that septic tank cleaning will be done in 3 days. Such cash receipts should also have mobile number of zone officers. For effective monitoring, an internal circular should be issued that all requests should be presented to health inspector or zone officer on the same or very next day of its receipt. Delay in executing the work due to administrative or machinery failure should be duly informed to applicants and this responsibility will rest with zone officer. Order passed by NMC appellate authority is in harmony with letter and spirit of RTI act 2005 and I am happy that first appellate authority has set the right precedent – said Murkute. 14
  15. 15. 4. PMT authority do not appreciate honesty Published ~ Avinash Murkute Intelligent Pune, February 22, 2008 Sakal, March 16, 2008 Indian Express, March 1, 2008 15
  16. 16. 4. PMT authority do not appreciate honesty A citizen who returned to Pune Municipal Transport authorities, the Rs 500 note lying on the floor of the PMT bus in which he was traveling wondered what happened after that. He invoked RTI and found that appreciation for honesty takes a backseat. Read it in own words. We read stories of honesty in newspapers. People express gratitude to honest auto drivers, police felicitates honest citizens who help them nab thieves, bankers are thankful to those who return excess money. But when it comes to, PMPML, honesty takes a last seat. While commuting in Pune public transport, I found a rupee five hundred note lying on bus floor. Sense of honesty prevailed and the issue was brought to the notice of bus conductor. Both of us decided to hand over the currency note to traffic controller (TC) office at Congress Bhawan Pune and I obtained an acknowledgement from conductor and TC. This incident happened on May 31, 2005. 16
  17. 17. 4. PMT authority do not appreciate honesty PMPML office supplied information vide letter number PMPML/ ADM / Mahiti dated December 13, 2007 that currency note found entry has been made in lost and found register. Entries like conductor number, route, bus number, date, time, report number, date of filing report and remarks of article like note number is found in the information. There is no mention of person who found it. My friends and colleagues laughed at me when I returned a five hundred rupee note to transport authority. Forget appreciation letter, thank you note or certificate of honesty, transport authorities apathetic attitude towards honesty compelled me to spend more on correspondence, RTI application and postage to ascertain facts of matter. However, PMPML officer was extremely courteous and acknowledged the suggestion of incorporating thank you notes to honest commuters of Pune municipal transport. 17
  18. 18. 5. RTI plea exposes technical glitch in I-T department Published~ Avinash Murkute The Herald Jan 15, 2008 Management Times, Feb 2008 Sakal Times Pune 18
  19. 19. 5. RTI plea exposes technical glitch in I-T department Thanks to the Right to information (RTI) applications filed with the Income Tax offices in Pune and Patna, the technical lacunae in the regional and the national server systems of the department came to light. Avinash Murkute, a city based business development manager, had to undergo a Herculean task to get his tax refund from Income Tax office at Pune. Murkute had filed his IT returns with the Pune office on September 27, 2006. He then visited the office on April 18 and July 12 in 2007 to enquire about the tax refund. In July 2007, he wrote his query to the IT commissioner, which was replied by Prachi Kakade, deputy commissioner, Pune. Based on the reply, he filed an RTI application with the Pune IT office on October 24, 2007. In the reply to the application, the department claimed that it had sent permanent account number (PAN) migration request to the Patna office, where Murkute registered his PAN while working there. 19
  20. 20. 5. RTI plea exposes technical glitch in I-T department After this development Murkute filed another RTI application with the Patna income tax office on November 20, 2007 to enquire about PAN migration request. “The Patna IT office got in touch with me and the Pune office after receiving the RTI application regarding the IT refund. It then manually downloaded the request from national server and after processing directed the Pune office to issue a cheque of Rs. 720 to me,” Murkute said adding, “both offices realized that automated request for PAN migration was being addressed for want of synchronization between the national and regional servers.” However, Murkute finally got his IT refund on December 04, 2007. When The Herald contacted Kakade, she said, “I don’t have technical information about the national servers operated from Delhi office.” 20
  21. 21. 5. RTI plea exposes technical glitch in I-T department What is PAN migration? If one’s PAN card is registered in Mumbai but he files his IT returns at Pune, then the Pune office sends an automated request to Mumbai office for PAN migration. This automated request from Pune regional server reaches Mumbai regional server via national server. After that Mumbai office directs the Pune office to issue the cheque of the refundable amount 21
  22. 22. Avinash Murkute 22 Avinash Murkute is faculty to various Management, Media. Commerce and Law Colleges of Pune and teaches :- • Business Laws • The Right to Information Act • Cyber Laws • Media Laws • International Business • Ecommerce and other subjects He can be reached on email avinash@murkute.com or mobile: 9822698070 He runs an Advertising Agency & Legal Documentation Agency named Galaxy4u. You can visit his Business Websites at www.Galaxy4u.in and www.Galaxy4u.co.in Disclaimer: These are few of the published case studies. For more details please contact Avinash Murkute. He provides free consultation on Corruption Matters only.

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