RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi has said Maharashtra under Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad has one of the best records in disposing RTI pleas and praised the former IAS officer for his promptness in dealing with queries related to Government.
Gandhi, a former Central Information Commissioner, said Gaikwad’s approach shows his commitment to cut down delays and keep the landmark RTI law relevant.
“I have no hesitation in saying he (Gaikwad) is one of the best Information Commissioners in the country. He has been disposing around 6,000 cases a year – which is more than my average of 5,400 (at the Central Commission).”
“He decides most cases in less than 45 days. Besides he has acted with extraordinary promptness and taken decisions within 24 hours when complaints were made about the murders of RTI activists,” said Gandhi, who served as Central Information Commission from 2008 to 2012.
Sharing his experience based on numerous interactions with Gaikwad, the 69-year-old entrepreneur-turned-activist said the Maharashtra CIC has shown empathy for applications and recognised that delayed decision making by Information Commissions will make RTI irrelevant.
A 1975-batch IAS officer, Gaikwad served in various capacities, including Chief Secretary of Maharashtra and head of Mumbai planning agency MMRDA, before taking over as State CIC in June 2012.
Gandhi said, “There are many applications who are upset with some decisions given by him (Gaikwad). I would myself be guilty of some bad decisions as Commissioner (at the Centre), but would say that human beings are not perfect.”
“It is necessary to point out defects and deficiencies in working of public servants. We should demand accountability and raise issues of bad orders or judgements by judges or commissioners, but should also be willing to appreciate good work done by them.”
Gandhi, however, qualified his praise for Gaikwad, saying the latter may too have misinterpreted the law in a few cases but that does not take away the good work he has done.