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State Level RTI: Maharashtra

Background

In 2000, a sustained advocacy campaign by social activist Anna Hazare forced the Maharashtra Government to pass the Maharashtra Right to Information Act 2000. However, civil society groups were unhappy with the Act, criticising it for being too weak and demanding that it be replaced with better legislation.

In 2001, the Government formed a committee comprising senior serving and retired bureaucrats, such as former Union Home Secretary Dr Madhav Godbole, eminent jurists and Shri Anna Hazare, to prepare a draft of a Freedom of Information Bill.

Before the Committee could release its draft Bill, the Maharashtra Government repealed the Maharashtra Right to Information Act 2000 and replaced it with the Right to Information Ordinance 2002. The Ordinance was promulgated on 23 September 2002. However, the Ordinance lapsed on 23 January 2003 because, in accordance with Article 213(2) of the Constitution of India, an Ordinance must be converted into an Act within 6 weeks of the commencement of the next session of the Legislative Assembly following the enactment of an Ordinance. In this instance, the Maharashtra Government did not convert the Right to Information Ordinance in the winter session of the Legislative Assembly; hence it lapsed.

Public pressure to enact a law on right to information continued. Consequently, in the budget session of the legislature in March 2003, the Maharashtra Government passed the Maharashtra Right to Information Act which it then sent to the President of India for assent. The Act stalled, as no action was taken for months.

Finally, on 1 August 2003, Anna Hazare wrote a letter to Mr L.K. Advani, the Deputy Prime Minister of India requesting him to advise the Honourable President to give his assent to the Maharashtra Right to Information Act. Failing such action, Sri Hazare warned he would commence a fast unto death. No action was taken, and on 9 August 2003 Anna Hazare started his fast. Within one day, the Government responded. On 10 August 2003, the President of India gave his assent to the Maharashtra Right to Information Act 2002 and on 11 August 2003 the Maharashtra Government notified the Act in the Government Gazette. The Maharashtra Right to Information Rules, which were initially prepared under the Maharashtra Right to Information Ordinance, are equally applicable to Maharashtra Right to Information Act 2002.

Law

In May 2005, the national Right to Information Act 2005 was passed by Parliament. The RTI Act 2005 received Presidential assent on 15 June and came fully into force on 12 October 2005. (For more information on the passage of the Act and implementation at the national level, click here.) The RTI Act 2005 covers all Central, State and local government bodies and applies to the State of Maharashtra.

The government has issued Right to Information Rules 2005.

Details of Fee & Costs

Application

Rs 10

Mode of payment

Application fee: Cash against receipt/ demand draft/ bank cheque/court fee stamp
Additional Fee: Cash against receipt/ demand draft/ bankers cheque or money order
Appeal fee: Cash against receipt/ demand draft/bankers cheque/court fee stamp.

Additional Fees:

A-4 / A 3 paper photocopied

Rs 2 per page

Large size paper

Actual cost

Maps, documents etc

Fixed price

Additional postal charges

No postal charges if applicant collects in person

Floppy / CD / diskette

Rs 50 per item

Printed Publications

Fixed price

Photocopies/extracts

Rs 2 per page

Inspection of records

Free for first hour and Rs 5 for each 15 minute or a fraction thereof

Appeal Fees:

First appeal to Appellate Authority

Rs 20

Second appeal to SIC

Rs 20

Second Appeals and complaints against non-disclosure of information may be filed with the Maharashtra State Information Commission.

State Information Commission

S.N.

Name of Commissioner

Contact

1

Shri Vilas Patil
State Chief Information Commissioner

13th Floor, New Administrative Building,
Opposite Mantralaya,
Madame Cama Road,
Mumbai - 400 0032
Off: 022 - 22856078
Mobile: +91-09423686770
Web: http://www.sic.maharashtra.gov.in

2

Shri. Vijay Kuwalekar(Pune)
State Information Commissioner

Mobile: +91-0982206529

3

Shri. Navin Kumar
State Information Commissioner

Mobile: +91-09423782466

4

Shri. Ramanand Tiwari
State Information Commissioner

5

Shri. Bhaskar Patil
State Information Commissioner

6

Shri. M.H. Shah
State Information Commissioner

7

Shri. P.W. Patil
State Information Commissioner

8

Shri. D.B. Despande
State Information Commissioner

Newsupdates, Activities & Advocacy

  • The Maharashtra Government recently published the Maharashtra Right to Information (Repeal) Act, 2005 repealing the Maharashtra Right to Information Act, 2002. Deemed to have come into force on 11 October 2005, all pending applications and appeals prior to this date, will be decided according to the Maharashtra Right to Information Act, 2002.
  • At a seminar on the right to information in Mumbai, Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner, Suresh Joshi has stated that he will permit demands for file notings from requisitioners of information. He also stated that the Information Commission would dispose of second appeals within four weeks.
  • Newspaper reports indicate that the Central Government will soon declare YASHADA (Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration) as the national resource center for the RTI Act. YASHADA will be tasked with training State Government Officials on the RTI Act under the Training of Trainers (TOT) programme.
  • Speaking at a meet-the-press programme organized by the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, Maharashtra Information Commissioner, Dr Suresh Joshi, expressed hope that the RTI Act will bring transparency in the administration and reduce corruption. He said there will be an Information Commissioner and 10 Information Offices in the State and their numbers would be increased as per need.
  • The General Administrative Department has issued a circular ordering all PIOs to return any applications filed under the MRTI Act from October 12 onward since the State Act has been repealed. Renowned RTI activist, Shailesh Gandhi has written to Dr Suresh Joshi, Maharashtra State Chief Information Commission, urging the Government to intercede and have the order withdrawn.
  • The Maharashtra Government has appointed Dr Suresh Joshi as the first Chief Information Officer of the state. Governor S M Krishna administered the oath of office to Dr Joshi, a 1970 batch IAS officer, at Raj Bhavan on 12 October 2005.
  • An important stakeholder in the implementation of both the repealed Maharashtra RTI Act and then new national RTI Act is the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development and Administration (YASHDA). YASHADA has previously trained 1000s of officials on the Maharashtra Act and is now working with both the State and Central Government on developing and implementing training programmes under the new national RTI Act.
    For further information: Contact YASHADA at Rajbhavan Complex, Baner Road, Pune: 411 007, Maharashtra. Tel: 91-20-25657360 / 62. Fax: 91-20-25659135. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Website: http://www.yashada.org/.
  • Hum Janenge is a web-based networking platform focused specifically on monitoring use of Indian right to information laws and providing a forum for discussing issues/problems and sharing successes. Hum Janenge's primary networking mode is via their listserve, which all members of the public are welcome to sign up to. .
    To register on the Hum Janenge listserve: click here.
    For further information: Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Website: http://www.mahadhikar.org/
  • Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI)is a voluntary, non-political, non-sectarian movement. It works both with citizen groups, as well as with government agencies, to promote transparency and accountability. AGNI focuses on the right to information, election watch and waste management. AGNI works in Mumbai at the local area level.
    For Further Information: Contact AGNI at Central Office, Peacock Palace, Ground Floor, 69, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai-400026, Maharashtra. Tel:91-22-23611327, Telefax:91-22- 23622492, E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Website: www.agnimumbai.org
  • Anna Hazare has been a key figure in the campaign for the enactment of a Maharashtra RTI law and continues to be active in pushing for effective implementation of the new national law.
    For further information: Contact Anna Hazare at Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (Maharashtra), Ralegan Sidhi, Taluka Parner, Dist. Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. Tel: 91-2488-240227. Website: http://www.annahazare.net/

Resources & Articles

Government

CHRI

  • CHRI (2005) Workshop report on the Right to Information and the Media Past Experiences and Future Possibilities, 14 - 15 May, YASHADA, Pune.
  • CHRI (2005) Forwarding Information Requests and Appeals: A Step by Step Guide for Assistant Public Information Officers under the Right to Information Act 2005, prepared by Mr Venkatesh Nayak.
  • CHRI (2005) Processing Information Requests: A Step by Step Guide for Assistant Public Information Officers under the Right to Information Act 2005, prepared by Mr Venkatesh Nayak.
  • For CHRI's posters on RTI click here.
  • For information regarding CHRI's activities in Maharashtra, click here.

Miscellaneous

Links

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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