The Delhi government has roped in noted activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal as an advisor to ensure better implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in the administrative machinery.
|Subhash Chandra Agrawal|
Working with the Administrative Reforms Department, Agrawal will also suggest ways and means for better implementation of the RTI Act.
“The Delhi Lt Governor is pleased to appoint Subhash Chandra Agrawal as consultant in AR Department with immediate effect for a period of one year,” the order from Deputy Director of AR Department Amitabh Joshi said.
Agrawal is known for his path-breaking applications which brought the office of the Chief Justice of India under the ambit of the RTI Act.
His application, along with Association of Democratic Reforms, was also responsible for bringing six national political parties under the ambit of the RTI Act. Agrawal is known for his applications on Padma awards which brought changes in the way records of the coveted civilian awards were maintained.
When contacted, Agrawal told PTI that “I, with my own experience, am aware of several shortcomings with the Delhi government in handling RTI petitions, and of course efforts will be made to remove those.”
“I will also contact former and existing Central Information Commissioners dealing with petitions filed at CIC in respect of public-authorities concerning the Delhi government for their valuable feedback,” he said.
He said he felt honoured that the Lt Governor of Delhi has appointed him as a consultant.
“I will try to include the Delhi government and its arms amongst the best-rated public authorities to respond to RTI petitions,” he said.
Brief Profile of Subhash Chandra Agrawal
With a brilliant academic record, Subhash Chandra Agrawal’s observative mind inspired him to fire his first ‘letter-missile’ in a national capital-based Hindi ‘Hindustan’ in 1967 while facing pocketing of ticket-money by a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus-conductor without giving him a proper ticket.
Quick response by DTC authorities made him realize the impact of print-media, which resulted in his achieving “Guinness World Record” as he began writing almost daily to the “Letters to the Editor’ column in different newspapers and magazines, highlighting the areas concerning the woes of the common man.
Over the years, the authorities in legislature and bureaucracy began admiring his suggestions through his letters which carried no personal agenda. Once, the then Vice President of India, Mr. M. Hidayatulla, gave him a unique honour by sending him a hand-written letter saying that “…because you think so seriously and sincerely in public interest, you are my personal friend, and I will not use official machinery in communicating with you!”
|Subhash Chandra Agrawal with wife Madhu|
May it be the constitution review, finance, banking; communications, posts, railways, transport, consumerism, radio, television, civic problems or any other field, his suggestions have been appreciated and recognized at highest levels as well as by the public.
RTI Act added more shine to his passion for letter writing for public causes, and he started using it from October 2005 itself when the Transparency Act came into force. He utilized the RTI Act to reveal crucial information from all wings of governance including judicial system, having filed about 6000 RTI petitions, all in the public interest, with about 600 of these having reached to the Central Information Commission (CIC). It is a matter of fact that almost all the CIC verdicts have gone in his favour – a remarkable achievement indeed!
Response to his RTI petitions is being regularly and prominently highlighted in media. He also interacts with the Public Information Officers at various platforms, learning further by their experience and dealings with various kinds of problems in the RTI petitions. He has also been awarded an award of rupees twenty five lakhs (one crore prize-money shared amongst four) by Sitaram Jindal Foundation for his crusade against corruption.
He has been invited by several prestigious organizations including Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy (Mussoorie), Railway Staff College (Vadodra), Defence Research & Development Organization (New Delhi), National Academy for Defence Production (Nagpur) to educate their officers handling the RTI petitions.
Indian School of Mines (Dhanbad) invited him to give a key-note address on the RTI Act. He has conducted seminars at educational institutions like Birla Institute of Technology (Pilani), Delhi University’s Law Faculty, Miranda House, Delhi School of Social Work etc., to educate students about RTI Act. He has addressed gatherings at the Rotary Clubs and other social organizations. He is a regular invitee at National Law School (Dwarka – New Delhi) to speak on RTI-related issues. Only recently he was invited to be in a panel at annual convention of Central Information Commission being held in September 2013. He was also invited for key-note address and Chief Guest at prestigious Symbiosis International University Pune. He was amongst the six nominees for ‘Indian of the year Award 2013’ by CNN IBN.
Law schools’ text-books have prominently included his RTI petitions especially relating to the Supreme Court. His RTI petitions have resulted in landmark reforms including like introduction of ‘Judicial Accountability Bill’ in Parliament.
He has always utilized the RTI Act with a positive attitude for reforms which is admired by all Central Information Commissioners (past and present). The media trusts him for his independent and professional views on the Transparency Act as well as aspects of corruption and irregularities in different forms of governance.
So, the scribes are constantly after him to interview him for their newspapers and magazines or get his ‘sound bytes’ for their television channels. He is also a regular writer for newspapers on various issues related to the RTI Act. These write-ups are also uploaded on CIC website. He is also a regular invitee of several TV channels to participate in their panel discussions.
Soon after their marriage in 1975, they took a bold decision of not to have a child. The cheating in family business by his uncle made him rise above the materialistic world, and he started liking the philosophy of the Parsi way of life – work for the society, and not for yourself. His wife supported him in adopting ‘no-child’ policy.
It gives them sufficient time to devote themselves for taking up public-interest causes through letters to the media and the RTI queries. For powerful mediums – letters to the Editor and the RTI applications – Subhash says: “No subject is too trivia – small-small corrections in the society can make a big difference.”