Anil Galgali has raised serious concern in a letter addressed to the Governor, CM & CS about a recent controversial order issued by an eqally controversial Chief Information Commissioner, which exceeds his brief and powers conferred by the RTI Act to actually thwart and throttle the implementation of the RTI Act to meet aspirations of the common man. RTI Act was implemented by the Govt to bring transparency in its activities and to ensure empowerment of common man to protect its interests. But it has now come to notice that the various positions created by the Act to protect the basic tenets of provisions in the Act are assuming the role of Law making body bypassing the Govt and Parliament / Legislature to pass rules which are against the framework of the Act as well as impediments in the deliverance of justice through the Act.
Recently on 26/09/2013 the Chief Information Commissioner Mr Ratnakar Gaikwad passed an order addressed to The Principal Secretary, Urban Development Dept, Govt of Maharashtra stating that Under RTI Act Section 19(8)( c ) & Section 25 (5) all the public Planning Authorities like Municipal Corporations, Municipal Council’s and special planning authorities like MMRDA, SRA, Region wise Planning Authorities should refuse to give information about Sanction plans of Buildings and structures belonging to Govt / Semi Govt Offices, Hotels, Gymkhana, Hospitals, Malls, IT Buildings and commercial buildings.
Mr Anil Galgali in his representeation addressed to the Governor Shri K Shankarnarayan, Chief Minister Shri Prithviraj Chavan & Chief secretary Shri Jayant Banthiya has questioned the wisdom of the Chief Information Commissioner in issueing such an Order which is bad in law, without application of mind, illegal and Unconstitution & against RTI Act. The role of any Information Commissioner is to allow dissemination of Information on Case to case basis, The position of the Commissioner has quasi – judicial powers. The Commissioner has to pass orders within the purview of RTI Act on a case which is presented before it. It has no powers to pass any General Orders / Law (which is vested with either the Govt or the Legislature). The Order issued is not on the basis of any matter / case before it. Hence the order is illegal, bad in law and unconstitutional, without application of mind, added Galgali.
The contents and implications of the orders has now raised questions about the intentions and the actual purpose of such an order and also leading to speculations of the actual beneficiaries of the orders, as this has come on a occasion where the Country is discussing the illegalities in the Campa Cola compound, it has also to be noted that almost 52% of buildings in city like Mumbai do not have OC’s. Such order will ensure that the illegalities committed by the builders in collusion with corrupt babu’s and neta’s are always buried. The Common man will never ever get to know about illegalities committed in a building in which he proposes to buy a flat / shop which in future, it will ensure repetition of Campa Cola type incidents, said Galgali.
Mr Galgali further pointed that the RTI Act provides the Public Information Officer with powers to decide / allow or reject information to an applicant on the basis of its merit. If the applicant feels aggrieved by the decision, then he has the right to appeal before the 1st Appellate and if necessary the 2nd Appellate - the Information Commissioner himself. But instead to allowing the procedure to function as per the Act, Mr Gaikwad is trying to thwart the procedure to throttle the dissemination of information and also impinging on the powers conferred to the Public Information Officer as well as the 1st Appellate Officer. This Order, which has been issued with malafide intentions to protect vested interests of certain people is compromising the interests of Common Man. Mr Galgali also demanded to know which structure’s security interests was compromised by giving away the building plans and drawings? Mr Galgali finally demanded before the Governor to cancel the illegal order, which also impinges on the Powers of the Govt & Legislature to formulate.Information Commission which was formed to ensure transparency and deliverance of information assumes role of lawmaking.