In a proactive response to recent controversies surrounding Right to Information (RTI) disclosures, the Railway Board has implemented stringent guidelines aimed at enhancing transparency and maintaining high-quality responses. This strategic move comes in the wake of concerns raised over the transfer of an official who revealed the cost of selfie booths featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi in response to an RTI query. While a senior railway officials assert that the transfer was routine and unrelated to the RTI disclosure, the incident has sparked a renewed focus on improving the overall handling of RTI applications.
Milind K Deouskar, Secretary of the Railway Board, took a decisive step by issuing a comprehensive directive on December 28, underscoring the need for utmost caution and strict adherence to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. The Free Press Journal has obtained a copy of the letter, which was addressed to General Managers of Zonal Railways, Production Units, and Divisional Railway Managers across all divisions.
What does the letter say?
"In order to address the above situation on the Zonal Railways, it has been decided that timelines for disposal prescribed in the RTI Act 2005, should be adhered to and to maintain the quality, replies to all RTI applications shall be approved respectively at the level of General Manager on the Zonal Railways and DRM in the Divisions. Similarly, replies to first appeals received under the RTI Act need to be shown to the concerned GM and DRM," read the letter written by Deouskar to the all zonal railways and production units.
The crux of Deouskar's communication revolves around the pivotal aspects of improved response quality and the timely disposal of RTI applications. He emphasised the gravity of maintaining organisational credibility.
Controversy around official who revealed cost of selfie booths
The controversy surrounding the transfer of the official who disclosed the cost of selfie booths featuring the prime minister highlights the delicate balance between transparency and administrative processes. While senior officials of railway board insist that the transfer was a routine administrative decision, the timing has raised eyebrows, prompting a closer examination of the incident.
"The Railway Board's decision to reinforce guidelines is a positive step toward instilling confidence in the RTI process. By urging caution and adherence to legal provisions, the Board aims to ensure that RTI applications are handled with precision, providing accurate and timely information to the public," he said.