Saturday, April 17, 2010

Appeal to PM to allow RTIs from Indian citizens all over the world


Appeal to PM to allow RTIs from Indian citizens all over the world

Appeal to PM
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
Ms. Meera Shankar
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.,
Washington D.C.

April 2010

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh,

We the Citizens of India staying abroad would like to thank the UPA Government for enactment of the ‘Right to Information (RTI) Act’ in 2005. We also trust that you can recognize the legitimate desire of Indian living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a voice in the governance of India.

However, we regret to inform you that even after over 4 years of RTI act in place, Indian citizens living abroad are unable to access information as per their right, in the absence of procedure/rules to be framed by the government for payment of RTI fees in foreign currency from abroad.

It is to be appreciated that the issue applies to all Indian Citizens’ abroad that includes citizens who may be residing abroad for a short visits, long stay for education and job purposes, and even officials posted in Indian Missions or on deputation to International bodies and so on.

Our suggestion is that just as the government has facilitated APIOs by the postal department in India for all Central Public Authorities, along similar lines, the government should facilitate an APIO in each Indian Mission/Post to act as nodal officer for accepting RTI and appeal applications for onward dispatch to concerned Public Authorities in India. The RTI fee as applicable can be deposited by the applicants in the respective mission/post in local currency (FE) equivalent to rupees. If required, applicants may be asked to pay for postal charges for dispatch of applications to concerned public authority in India.

Alternatively, we suggest arrangements may be made by the MEA, the administrative ministry for Indian Missions abroad, for missions to accept RTI fees in foreign currency from applicants filing RTI to central public authorities using the same procedure as they are hitherto doing for RTI applications concerning their own ministry. In this case mission’s role would be to accept the fee along with a copy of passport to verify citizenship (as they do now) and to issue a receipt/E-receipt to the applicant for the fee. Thereafter either the mission or the RTI applicant with proof of fee paid, can forward the application to the concerned central public authority (PA) online (where facilities exist) or by post and deal directly with the PA. Any additional costs for providing the information can be remitted to the mission in the same way and the receipt/E-receipt given by the mission can serve as proof of payment.

In this context, we have also written to the Hon’ble Ministers of MEA and MOIA respectively. Presently, Central Information Commission (CIC), MEA, MOIA and DoPT are all alive to this problem. Social & RTI Activist Commodore (Retd.) Lokesh. K. Batra living in Noida (INDIA), conversant with the issue, has agreed to liaise with the authorities.

Since the issue involves multiple agencies, we humbly seek your intervention to resolve this issue speedily and enable our right to know as bestowed by the RTI Act to all citizens. It is with information that citizens living in India and abroad can participate more effectively in nation building activities.

Indian citizens residing abroad.

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