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Monday, July 9, 2012

Right to Information Act

Recently I filed my first Right To Information (RTI) application against Election Commission of India and it showed result.

Few years back when I shifted to Hyderabad, applied for registration of my name in electoral roll manually by submitting forms and photographs but it never got listed at Chief Election Officer's website . Every time I gave a call , I got a response that name will be listed next month but it never happened. Even the acknowledgement copy of the application did not have any status tracking number to follow up. Only way was to search by Name and House Number. From my friend's experience I knew that that letters in my name will be defiantly  jumbled up and I will not be able to search even if it comes up in the list

Finally when 3 years passed, I filled up the E-Registration form and submitted my photo and personal details in February 2012. Again the status remained as pending for months. I got no response to the email of Chief Election Officer of local constituency.

Now I was forced to file an RTI  (Right to Information ) at the Central Information Commission's website. As per the website RTI stands for Right To Information and has been given the status of a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the  Constitution. Article 19 (1) under which every citizen has freedom of speech and expression and have the right to know how the government works, what role does it play, what are its functions and so on. I also had both  tracking number and RTI complaint number this time to follow up with election office.

Finally after filing the RTI the chief election officer of state instructed the district collector and election officer of the constituency to let me know that status of the application ASAP. In next few days I got a call asking the address proof document, photo identity proof and color photo. I had uploaded the photo in the e-registration portal already but they asked for color photo again for preparing the Voter ID Card.

After giving all the required document I checked the status of my application online after couple of weeks  and found that my application is accepted and an EPIC ( ELECTORS' PHOTO IDENTITY CARD) number has been generated. I knew that e-seva centers could print the card for me if I quote the  number but I got a response from e-seva that they do not information about the  list of voters in my constituency. Hence I followed up again with my district's election officer and got to know that there are different branches of e-seva [MS Word DOC] who could print my card.

Today I visited my nearest branch of e-seva centre and got my Voter ID Card printed for Rs 10/-. Surprisingly it has the photo which I had given in the online application, then what did they do the new photos I have later ?

However status of my RTI application says "Signed Copy Awaited", there was no instruction in the RTI website while submitting the complaint to send the hard copy to anywhere. I think its just the power of the act which expedited the process.