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RTI : Priority for appeals by senior citizens, differently abled
Express News Service
Pune, June 01: Second appeals filed by senior citizens and differently abled persons under the Right to Information Act (RTI) will now be taken on a high priority basis, according to a directive of the Central Information Commission (CIC) in response to a petition by city-based activist Vihar Durve.

The commission issued the instruction on June 19, after an email by Durve to the Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah on June 17. “The issue was discussed and agreed upon ahead of the agendas for that day. However, I had also made an appeal to consider people below poverty line which was not looked into,” said Durve.

RTI petitions are first filed with the public information officer and then the first appeal is filed with the first appellate authority; the time limit in case of the reply for both the petition as well as appeal being 30 days.

If the petitioner is unsatisfied with this reply, the next resort is a second appeal with the CIC or the SCIC.

Durve said that the CIC which used to take four to six months to hear Central Government related second appeals and more than one and a half years to hear State related second appeals will now be giving priority to the cases in the two categories.

“The demand was to fix a time limit of 30 days for the second appeal too, but the CIC has not committed to this. There are more than 2,000 second appeals pending before the city information commissioner. At least now it becomes mandatory for the State information commissions to give high priority to senior citizens and differently abled persons,” he said.

Durve had sent the email on the basis of a 1996 High court circular, which said, “precedence would be given by courts for hearing and final disposal of cases wherein one of the parties is of advanced age who has crossed 70 years of age.”

However, Durve said that the petitioners should send their age proof and differently abled medical certificate along with the RTI application.

“For, senior citizens and physically challenged if appeals are already pending with the CIC/SCIC, they should write to the CIC/ SCIC about their status,” he said.