Yet another first in India from Bihar has come to make the Right to Information (RTI), Act, people friendly. This pertains to launching of a
new helpline, by using which people can file complaints against the government officials who harass them for seeking information using the RTI tool.
CM Nitish Kumar dedicated the helpline (0612-2219435) for public use here on Thursday during a programme organised by state information commission (SIC), Bihar, to felicitate the performing public information officers (PIOs).
The CM himself made the first complaint using the helpline against Rajnagar block supply officer in Madhubani district.
"The CM secretariat has received complaint from one Dhirendra Mahto of Karaiya Panchayat in which the complainant claimed that an FIR was lodged against him with the Rajnagar police station in August this year after he tried to seek some information about public distribution system from the the block supply officer," Nitish informed the person attending the call on the newly launched helpline and asked the call attendant to inform his secretary about the action taken. He immediately got a complaint number (0001).
Incidentally, all such complaints received would be monitored directly by the state home secretary and DGP and emphasis would be to expedite the complaint redressal.
"Officials found guilty of harassing applicants would be dealt with sternly and, if needed, the government would not hesitate to dismiss such officials from the service," Nitish told the gathering which responded with thunderous applause.
Nitish also launched the Phase-II of Jaankari which would allow applicants to file RTI applications using e-mail. For this, one needs to open the website biharonline.gov.in/rti in which one would get an icon for filing RTI application through e-mail.
Incidentally, Bihar has the distinction of being the first state in India which set up a call centre, christened `Jaankari' using which applicants file RTI applications by making phone call to the number 155311. It became functional on January 29, 2007.
As many as nine PIOs were felicitated at Thursday's function where Bihar legislative Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and chief information commissioner Ashok Kumar Choudhary among others were also present. Chanchal Kumar, secretary to the CM, too was given a special award for his active role in setting up Jaanakari helpline and the helpline launched for registering complaints against officials.
Appreciating the move, Nitish said it would introduce an element of balance as people know the SIC mainly for its pronouncements against the PIOs.
"Now it is upto the PIOs whether they want to be rewarded or punished. There is no third way for them," NitiSh said.
Winners of essay and painting competitions, organised by the SIC to spread awareness about RTI among school and college students, were also felicitated at the function.