RTI a key tool to gather info, help curb corruption: Shailesh Gandhi

MUMBAI: “If people start filing RTIs, then 30 per cent of corruption would be reduced,” says former information commissioner and renowned Right to Information (RTI) activist Shailesh Gandhi. He has chosen to remain at the forefront of activism even after retirement, trying to educate and inform people on how to use RTI.

On Tuesday, he held a Right to Information (RTI) session to educate and inform a gathering including a bunch of young budding journalists on how to use this tool to efficiently gather information from govt officials. He holds similar sessions in slum areas, housing societies and educational institutions on a regular basis. The 90-minute session conducted at the Mumbai Press Club on Tuesday, the importance of RTI was stressed and its use as a tool discussed. Gandhi encouraged everyone to file an RTI plea every week and make officials answerable.

Furthermore, he stated, RTI should be not turned into a Right to Interrogation, a common mistake committed while filing an RTI query. Correct phrasing and formation of sentences and then submitting queries to the right department will yield the desired result. When filing an RTI, people ask why the work was not done, and the reply from authorities is they have no answer. Gandhi added, “The reply given in such cases is genuine. RTI queries only elicit answers which are on record. So putting a question is not on record and hence such replies are given.

So, the query raised should not be in questionnaire format but instead, be framed in simple sentences — provide details of the work carried out, the officials associated with it and the action taken against if any illegality found.” People who want to file an RTI can do so by filing an RTI query online at www.rtionline.maharashtra.com, the website introduced by the state government. The application fee is Rs 10 for first appeal and Rs 20 for a second appeal.

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