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Maharashtra Information Commission Orders Immediate Review & Release Of Bhupendra Vira’s RTI Pleas

In the wake of RTI activist Bhupendra Vira’s gruesome murder, former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi’s letter addressed to Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra Ratnakar Gaikwad has been accepted and registered as a complaint under section 18 of the RTI Act.

The Commission has directed the authorities to carry out immediate review of the slain activist’s pending RTI applications and put the sought information in public domain latest by 31st October.

The Information Commissioner has issued strict orders designating authorities for the task and carry out the orders within the stipulated time period. Following are the specific orders issued in respect of pending RTI application filed by Bhupendra Vira in last one year:

  1. He has ordered the BMC municipal commissioner to review all pending applications filed with various PIOs in BMC and ensure that information sought is put on the website of BMC before 31st October, 2016, without fail.
  2. GAD Additional Chief Secretary has been directed to review pending RTI applications with authorities other than the BMC and upload the information on the government website before 31st October, 2016, without fail.

He also stressed that putting up of the sough information in public domain was of prime importance and directed all the public authorities, especially the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), to do the needful immediately.

The IC has also directed the Chief Secretary, Govt of Maharashtra, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Commissioner of Police to immediately conduct thorough probe into the murder of Bhupendra Vira and take the investigations to logical conclusion urgently.

The order stated, “The gruesome murder of Mr Bhupendra Vira needs, therefore, to be probed on top priority and the guilty be punished without loss of time so as to send right message to anti-social and corrupt and criminal elements.”

The IC expressed deep regret over the hardships RTI activists have to face to uncover the truth. He stated: “It is extremely serious, sad and unfortunate that RTI activists, who play a very important role in ensuring effective implementation of RTI Act, have to face violence, intimidation and resistance from unscrupulous and corrupt elements in the society and it is the duty of government and public authorities to ensure full protection and safety of RTI activists to support transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities.”

The former information commissioner, in his letter, had sought urgent action of the authorities in releasing information sought by Bhupendra Vira’s pending RTI applications.

He had requested that the letter be accepted as a complaint under section 18 of the RTI Act. He had sought immediate action and also police protection for Vira’s family.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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