Monthly Meeting

We meet every 3rd Sunday from 11 AM to 1.30 PM at Upper Ashankur Hall , Holy Family Church , Andheri East.
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Monday, May 5, 2008

BMC plays ping-pong with RTI appellants

Citizens have complained to Commissioner Phatak about Ward Officer Ranjit Dhakne delaying RTI hearings, citing reasons of meetings with higher-ups

Activists from K/ East ward are fed up of the administrative irregularity in attending to appellants seeking details under Right to Information (RTI) Act. Informs James John, AGNI (Association for Governance and Networking in India) member and coordinator for K/ East ward, “The Municipal Commissioner has fixed Wednesdays between 3 p m and 5 p m as the appeal timings under the RTI Act 2005. Though this time is reserved specifically for RTIs first appeal hearings, it is not being followed, and appellants are turned back, as the Ward Officer has either gone for some urgent meetings or because the Additional Municipal Commissioners have summoned them.” So agitated are the citizens that they have written to Municipal Commissioner Dr Jairaj Pathak complaining about Ward Officer Ranjit Dhakne leaving citizens in a lurch for a meeting with Additional Municipal Commissioner R A Rajeev. Says John, “They must be made to compensate to appellants and the Ward Officer must be reprimanded.” Says Samiullah Chaudhary of Marol, “I am a security guard, and almost lost my job waiting for Ward Officer Dhakne, who didn’t turn up.” Says an angry Ravi Nair, “We are not fools to wait for hours, and go back without an answer, because the ward officer doesn’t spare us time. I had to come here thrice for my appeal to be heard.”Says a senior official, “Ward officers cannot do much, when higher-ups call them. There should be a stricture that no meetings are to be attended during appeals. We would be more than pleased to follow it.”Responds Ranjit Dhakne, “We have to go if the meetings are urgent. We are not delaying RTI hearings intentionally, to skip the appeals. If there’s an important issue that needs immediate attention, we have to look into it.” Affirms Commissioner Phatak, “Ward officers must be present for the appeals, unless they have some urgent meetings to attend.” virat.singh@timesgroup.comTake this forwardAdvises RTI activist Advocate Vivekanand Gupta, “If an appeal is not heard within 45 days, one can lodge a complaint with the State Public Information Officer (PIO). Appellate authorities never bother to inform appellants, if they are unable to conduct the appeal. The Municipal Commissioner must issue a circular asking all senior officials to avoid any meetings during the appeal timings.”

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