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Madhya Pradesh Information Commission takes to social media for speedy disposal of cases

Photo: rti.gov.in

Photo: rti.gov.in  

Now, it is admitting complaints, passing orders and levying fines on Twitter

Even before the order copy from Bhopal reached his college in Rewa by post, Ramavatar held the marksheet gleefully, thanks to WhatsApp. The Madhya Pradesh Information Commission, on his appeal, had ordered that the marksheet be released. He just had to carry the printout of the order copy to the college, received on the mobile application.

“This is a way to ensure speedy disposal of cases,” said Rahul Singh, Information Commissioner. “Applicants come to us harassed. And a hearing takes months, even years. If we follow the same bureaucratic methods, and not adapt to technology, the harassment will continue.”

Aggrieved appellants

With the mandatory condition to provide information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 within 30 days often flouted, aggrieved appellants are left to grapple with long drawn out hearings, fiendish paperwork and delayed communication. To expedite proceedings, the Commission is admitting complaints, disposing of cases on Twitter too, and serving notices on government officials through WhatsApp.

“The Act doesn’t rule out the use of technology for conducting hearings. As a result, video conferencing has become a norm. Similarly, we are leveraging social media and telephone to speedily dispose of cases,” said Mr. Singh. More than 7,000 cases, dating as far back as 2012, were pending before the Commission.

‘Set ball rolling’

However, social media wasn’t an alternative to postal correspondence, he cautioned. “That takes weeks, allowing some officials to mislead or discourage applicants. Even so, the original order is sent by post. But at least the possession of their copies by us can set the ball rolling,” said Mr. Singh.

Earlier this month, Manoj Kumar Dubey was asked by officials of the Water Resources Department, Rewa, who had already violated the 30-day window, to prepare a bank challan of merely ₹2, to get a reply to his query. He filed a complaint with the Commission on Twitter, and within hours it served a notice on the Chief Engineer of the Department, ordered disciplinary action against him, and directed him to pay the complainant ₹2,000 in damages, all first done on the social media site.

Handling complaints

According to Section 18 of the Act, the Commissions can look into complaints from any person who has been refused access to information, not provided with it within 30 days, required to pay an “unreasonable” amount or given misleading information, among other reasons.

As filing appeals requires a fee deposit and three copies of the application, the Commission hasn’t yet begun admitting them on the social media. “We may admit them if the challan copy is shared on our handles along with application,” said Mr. Singh.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 7:35:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/madhya-pradesh-information-commission-takes-to-social-media-for-speedy-disposal-of-cases/article30099403.ece

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