x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Indian Embassy urges expatriates to bring it their problems

The Right to Information Act mandates a timely response to Indian citizens from government agencies.

ABU DHABI // The Indian Embassy is spreading awareness about the Right To Information Act among Indian citizens in the UAE.

The 2005 mandate requires a timely response to citizen requests for government information. The RTI has been given the status of a fundamental constitutional right, under which all citizens have freedom of speech and expression.

Many Indians living overseas are unaware of the benefits of the act, and too often do not follow up their pending cases at home, leaving them with little hope for justice.

For such persons, the RTI is a great tool to monitor progress.

The Indian ambassador, MK Lokesh, said the mission's goal is to inform residents so they can get the quickest possible response from authorities to their different queries.

"The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi urges community members to seek the mission's help in addressing issues to concerned authorities in India through the RTI," he said.

The embassy said four to five people a month lodge complaints and seek help.

Mr Lokesh offered as an example a man who sought the mission's help in recovering funds from a bad cheque.

"This is very useful for those who are here and facing some problem in any parts of India. They can seek help through it," said Anish Rajan, second secretary of passports and general public information officer at the embassy.

Once a complaint has been registered and there is no action, then using RTI a citizen can find out that what action has been taken, Mr Rajan said.

There is no specific complaint form, people need only to note the correct postal addresses in the concerned states. Then, the responsible RTI from that region will respond within 30 days about the status and the required information.

There is a fee of 10 Indian rupees (Dh1) to submit the request. It can be in the form of a postal order, demand draft cheque or regular cheque. Those who cannot afford the fee would be exempt.

When a situation is urgent, the RTI can provide information in 48 hours.

"If a person fails to get a reply or is not happy with the answers, he can approach the Central Information Commission as well as the appellate authorities of India, which include the Indian Union government, parliament or Indian embassies across the world," Mr Rajan said.

Those who wish to lodge a complaint can log on to http://rti.india.gov.in/rti_direct_complaint_lodging.php or navigate the website rti.gov.in.

anwar@thenational.ae