RTI activities of Goa – different news in capsule form
RTI Activist Sudip Tamankar arrested in Goa
The president of a private bus owners association in Goa, Sudip Tamankar, was arrested by the police for alleged theft of photocopies of official documents and for misbehaving with an officer of the law department in the secretariat on October 15.
It was alleged in a complaint that Tamankar had come to the office of a law department official on October 15 and used filthy words against her to prevent them from discharging her lawful duties as public servant. A charge of Tamankar using "criminal force" against law department staff was also made.
Sudip Tamankar is Congress spokesperson and RTI activist who had used the transparency law to criticise of the government using information obtained under the act. FIR was registered against him on October 25 after a complaint was lodged of the ten day old incident. He was picked up by the police on his way to address a press conference in Panaji.
The chief minister's office (CMO) of Goa does not have a public information officer
Addressing a press conference, the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said that the chief minister's office (CMO) does not have a public information officer (PIO) as it was only an approving authority which does not keep any files. The chief minister office forwards all the RTI applications to the joint secretary, general administration department (GAD). While being in opposition, Manohar Parrikar was a prolific RTI activist himself.
Circular demanding proof of citizenship amended
The circular issued by the Goa state government making it compulsory for an applicant filing an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to swear their Indian citizenship through an affidavit before a notary has been amended. Now, a citizen seeking information has only to declare in the application that he is an Indian citizen. However, if demanded by the public information officer (PIO) or assistant public information officer (APIO), the proof of citizenship shall have to be submitted. In the amended form, the circular says that if the APIO/PIO has any doubt about the applicant's Indian citizenship, he could ask for a copy of passport or EPIC card or any other official document, including a sworn affidavit.
Activists have criticised the move claiming that such an action may delay information as PIOs may ask an applicant to produce documents in support of his Indian citizenship. No other state has a format demanding declaration that the applicant is a citizen of India.
Will Leena Mehendale be able to deliver at SIC Goa?
The chief information commissioner of the Goa State Information Commission (SIC) Leena Mehendale was sworn in on October 24. With nearly 1,300 RTI complaints and appeals pending with the SIC, she would have to work hard to lower the pendency. The post was vacant for about 15 months before being filled while the post of state information commission is still vacant.
She had earlier worked as a member of central administrative tribunal in Mumbai and will have about 15 months term. She also has to work on basic infrastructure aspects like internet connection for her office computer.