A poor prisoner in Kolhapur in Maharashtra had to approach the CIC for a simple piece of information - the PIN code directory of postal department - as he did not have access to Internet to know the correct code for sending letters to his family.
Taking cognisance of humanitarian issues involved in the plea, Information Commissioner Basant Seth directed the postal department to provide a printout of the PIN code directory to Jitendra Anandrao Chouhan free of cost.
In a sad commentary on the hassles faced by RTI applicants while seeking information, Chauhan was not provided with All India PIN code directory by postal department as it claimed that after digitisation it has done away with providing hard copy.
Chauhan pleaded that he is a poor person who is lodged in jail and has no access to computers but the postal department officials did not budge and kept telling him that the only way he can access PIN codes is through Internet.
He kept telling the postal department that great hardships are being faced by him and other prisoners as many times the letters mailed by them are returned undelivered for the want of PIN codes.
Chauhan also told the postal department that poor prisoners have no means for communicating with the family other than letters but postal authorities did not furnish requisite information to him or find a way to solve the problem faced by prisoners.
"The appellant has submitted that poor prisoners face great hardships in sending letters to their family members as they have no access to the PIN code directory displayed on India Post web site. This is, therefore, a humanitarian issue concerning larger public interest since the prisoners face hardship in communicating with their families," Seth said.
He asked the postal department to look into the issue and take appropriate steps to provide access to PIN codes to prisoners lodged in various jails.