Housing societies not under RTI yet: Info chief

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The 97th constitutional amendment made RTI activists happy because they believed that it brought co-operative housing societies under the purview of the RTI Act.

In February, the state passed its own ordinance implementing the amendment.

State chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad does not stand with the activists’ consensus.

He spoke with dna’s Ashutosh Shukla about cooperative societies, pending second appeals and voluntary disclosure.

Your opinion on housing societies coming under RTI?

I don’t think that they come under RTI Act. One has to read section 2h of the RTI Act to see what it covers. Just because an amendment enables something to come up, does not mean it is established by the government. Societies are a body formed by 20 people. Where is the public interest in that? Even if it did come under RTI, whom will we fine as public information officers? Private companies too are formed under Companies Act but that does not mean they come under RTI unless they are financed or adhere to some of the provisions.

What is the status of second appeals?

There are around 23,000 second appeals in all benches. In my bench, people will be able to get orders within two months if they file an appeal today. Due to vacancies the pending appeals in greater Mumbai region are over 3,000, of which, around 1,500 are of 2011 and 1,600 of 2012. By December, 1,500 appeals of Greater Mumbai bench will be cleared.

Voluntary disclosure under section 4 of the RTI Act has not improved much.

There is nothing much the commission can do. The state government, collectors and people heading the authority will have to take most of the initiative. We had issued directions to all public authorities to properly implement section 4. This time, a reminder will go a warning that disobedience of the commission orders will attract serious contempt under section 166 of the IPC (deals with imprisonment of public servant or fine or both)