Sunday, April 30, 2006

MLAs get treatment, but you suffer

The tax-payer is paying heavily for inflated medical reimbursement claims made by the state’s MLAs and MLCs. In 2004-05, Maharashtra spent Rs 55 crore to reimburse the medical expenses of its MLAs and public servants. Not an extraordinary amount for 20 lakh state employees, but questions crop up when it emerges that a sizeable chunk of this amount was taken up by MLAs and ex-MLAs, some of them for dubious health problems.

Invoking the Right to Information Act, DNA sought information about reimbursements for medical expenses made to elected representatives in the last four years, from 2001-02 to 2004-05.

A regional pattern too became apparent: Marathwada topped the claims list with MLAs drawing out consistently high amounts, while relatively prosperous regions such as Mumbai, Thane, Pune and even Konkan have had fewer claimants. One MLA claimed Rs30 lakh, presumably because of treatment abroad. No ceiling on claims: There is no bar on the amount elected representatives can claim as medical expenses for themselves and their families (including parents). This privilege is for their entire lifetime, unlike government servants and the judiciary.

Complete Article

Saturday, April 29, 2006

NGO serves notice on HC chief justice

A city-based NGO has served a legal notice on the Chief Justice and Registrar General of the Bombay High Court, challenging a circular issued by the HC denying public access to information on case adjournments under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

Complete Article

Want to see your answer sheet? Not yet!

If you've been unhappy or bewildered by your marks in the board exams and thought the Right To Information (RTI) Act would help you access your answer sheets, think again. It won't be allowed for the time being.

Following a hearing conducted on April 12, Maharashtra's Chief Information Commissioner, Suresh Joshi, has upheld the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary Education's decision to turn down Sangli Std X student Harshalini Patil's RTI request for a copy of her English paper.

Complete Article

Friday, April 28, 2006

Banks getting fewer queries

The banking industry's initial anxiety over the "reckless" use of the recently enacted Right to Information Act by the public is gradually getting dissipated. Barely six months since the Act came into force, banks are seeing a sharp decline in the number of queries on their functioning.

"Fresh applications seeking information are hardly coming of late. The initial enthusiasm among the public seems to have died down," said the Chairman and Managing Director of a public sector bank.

Complete Article

How these civic bodies put spoke in right-to-know wheel

Nothing is going right for an Ahmedabad based organisation which had sought information from five municipal corporations under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Praja Jagruti Manch had sought to know if a uniform policy existed for the purchase of cars for top office-bearers in municipal corporations. The answers from three municipal corporations had the manch dashing off a letter to the state’s chief information commissioner, alleging harassment to those who sought information.

Complete Article

Thursday, April 27, 2006

CIC seeks clarification from AIIMS

The Central Information Commission has asked the authorities of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to explain their refusal to give information requested by Chief of Protocol and Public Relations (AIIMS) B.K. Dash related to his being divulged of his primary responsibilities and the alleged sealing of his office and personal belongings.

Complete Article

Monday, April 24, 2006

Stock exchanges do not come under RTI

The Commission took cognizance of a note circulated by IC(A) on the subject "whether Stock Exchanges were covered within the definition of "public authority' under Section 2(h) of RTI Act, 2005."0 After discussion the Commission decided that Stock Exchanges though set up under Securities Contract Regulation Act, would not come within the purview of the definition of public authority.

Minutes of the Meeting at which the decision was taken

Friday, April 21, 2006

View RTI Act in broader perspective: Justice Kant

Justice Kant reiterated that the Act should be seen in a broader perspective. As regards the constitution of a functionary body under the Act, he said it should be devoid of any political interference.

“We must make an effort to equip the people with the RTI tool,” he said and exhorted that the effort of the media in this direction would be of great help.

He further said in an era of privatisation, it was the need of the hour to bring private companies into its ambit.

Complete Article

RTI workshop in Thane

Sunday, 23-04-2006 at Kashimira, mira road which is organised by Mira Bhayandar Vikas Mandal

Venue:- Saikripa Complex, ShivMandir Road,Kashi Village, Mira Road [east], Thane 401104.
Time: 5.00 PM reporting @ Venue 04.45 PM

Contact: Pramod Patil

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Workshop on RTI Act 2005 in Pune

Workshop on Right to Information Act 2005 will be held between 10.00AM to 2.00PM on Sunday, the 30th April, 2006 at Sahyadri Sadan, Behind Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya, Tilak Road, Pune. It is being organised by Prabodhan Manch & Vishal Sahyadri Trust.

Registration Fees Rs. 50/- (Including Notes, Tea and Lunch)

For Registration and other details contact
Pramod Kulkarni (24433606), Kishor Shashital (24483243), Jayant Joglekar (25389753),
Prof. Raghav Ashtekar (21712900)or Prof. Prabhakar Pandit (24332676)

Patna HC queries on implementation of RTI Act

Patna High Court today sought details from the Bihar government on steps taken for implementation of the Right to Information Act in the state. A division bench of Chief Justice J N Bhatt and Justice S N Hussain asked the state government to submit the details by May 18.

Complete Article

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

RTI woes at Vadodara Municipal Corporation

You may think that the government has armed you with a weapon by introducing the Right To Information (RTI) Act last year. But you may find the weapon without an edge if you try using it at Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC).

Complete Article

Nerul station businessmen protest against CIDCO, invoke RTI act

Shop-owners at Nerul Station Complex (both east and west side) have been facing trying times. Besides the eight-year-old dispute and a pending case against CIDCO over area loading fluctuation, there are scores of other issues that are upsetting the station based businesspersons. The Vice President of the association, Paul Raphel on behalf of NSCBA says, “We are now going to draft a letter in accordance to RTI act (Right to Information) to know about the actual shop area. The letter will also cover all the issues and grievances. We hope that our problems will be resolved soon."

Complete Article

Hand book on Right to Information Act released

Chief Information Commissioner, Kerala Palat Mohandas, today emphasised the need for creating awareness among the public on the Right to Information Act which was passed in both Houses of parliament. Speaking after releasing a hand book on right to Information Act published by Human Rights Defence Forum, here, Mohandas expressed the hope that the book would benefit people who are not aware of this Act.

Complete Article

Monday, April 17, 2006

I-T assessment orders now out in the open

In a move that is likely to cause widespread furore, the Central Information Commission has turned confidential assessment orders of the I-T department into public documents that will be released to the world at large.

Complete Article

Punjab RTI stats

Around 130 complaints and appeals have been filed in the office of Principal Chief Information Commissioner Punjab after the Right to Information Act was brought into effect in Punjab. Out of these, 35 cases have been settled between the two parties: the complainant and the department against which the complaint was made, for which the office held Court thrice a month.

Kashyap said that most of the complaints were against the information officers of various departments for not providing adequate information or simply refusing to give information.

However, no official has till date been fined in any case as when the officials were called in Court, they were ready to provide the information.

Complete Article

Together lets us create a world class Information Commission.

Addressing a meeting on the RTI Act, organised here by the All-India Management Association in collaboration with the IC-Centre for Governance here on Saturday, Arvind Kejriwal from Parivartan, an organisation that has been spearheading the RTI campaign in Delhi, said the Commission's performance had become a matter of serious concern. Pointing to delays in hearing applications, he said the first hearing of a case filed before the Commission was held only three to four months after the first application was filed. "This renders irrelevant the requirement in the RTI Act for cases to be decided within 30 days of the receipt of the appeal," said Mr. Kejriwal.

Complete Article

Text of Arvind's Speech

Saturday, April 15, 2006

IC approached to force PMO to release ministers' report on the Narmada Valley

Aruna Roy, an NAC member and a leader of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, and her colleague Shekhar Singh filed a complaint to the chief information officer of India, Wajahat Habibullah, against the PMO.

Roy and Jean Dreze, the economist, accused the government of shielding information contained in the three ministers’ report on the Narmada valley. Roy is still a member of the NAC while Dreze resigned recently.

Complete Article

Friday, April 14, 2006

RTI success case studies

Dear Friends!

From our experiences we have all learned that the Right to Information is a great tool to fight corruption, especially in cases where the common man suffers from bribery in his day to day life. We are in consultation with a national news media house to initiate an anti-bribery campaign and then a weekly programme on the Right to Information.

We would begin with a 15-day-long campaign where the media house would cover RTI success stories from across the country. This would be supported by lots of advertisements and other activities. The channel will specifically focus on success stories where common people have used the RTI to get legitimate work done without paying bribes. This coverage could really add wings to the RTI campaign in our country. But for this we need lots of success stories and case studies where people have used the RTI (where the work was not being done because of bribery) and have seen results.

The more strong stories and case studies we provide, the more powerful the campaign will become, and the better the effect on the national RTI movement.

Please collect and send us stories for this campaign – we need as many as you can find!

Please mark all the stories to


Manish Sisodia
from KABIR

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Be a speaker on RTI & share your experience

Dear all,

"Janiv Hakkachi" is a forum which gives chance to express your view and experience in various seminars held in mumbai on Right to Information Act. You can present your case studies. Our mission is to create awareness of RTI in people. Our motto is Corruption Free India. There are so many activists who are doing their excellent work in empowerment of RTI. We are very much glad to exposse them and their work in public meetings. Interested activists please contact us on & Or Mr.Pramod P.Patil on 9820011376.

Last year we achived target of 78 Public meetings,street corner meetings & seminars, Gramsabhas in urban & rural area in Mumbai & rest of Maharashtra on RTI. This is a voluntary work. We never take any money from any organiser, we contribute our time and unconditional support in RTI mission . If anybody wants to speak on the any topic related to RTI upto 15 to 20 Minutes please contact.

Thanking you,

Truly Yours,
Pramod P.Patil

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Experts lecture on Right to Information Act

Gujranwala Guru Nanak Institute of Management and Technology (GGNIMT) organised a guest lecture on Right to Information Act (RTI Act) for the students of BBA and MBA.
Director of Rayat College of Law, Dr P.S. Jaswal was the chief speaker for the day. Justice S.K. Jain (retd) of Punjab and Haryana High Court presided over the occasion.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mahto demands data under RTI

An angry leader of Opposition, Sudhir Mahto, today accused the state government of concealing information.

“I am not furnished the information that I seek,” alleged Mahto, who plans to write to the secretary, cabinet coordination department, seeking details of expenses incurred on chartering planes and helicopters during the last one year. The Opposition has already demanded a white paper on the subject.

Complete Article

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Public will lose 500 Crores on Crawford Market Development

I read about the development and privatization of the Crawford Market in the papers, and decided to investigate this transaction. The information given under Right To Information from the Market department of Mumbai Corporation of Greater Mumbai makes horrifying reading. I have obtained copies of the proposal using RTI.

Using Right To Information I have obtained a complex web of bureaucrates which refers to a number of interlinked resolutions which aim to fulfil the objective of impoverishing the City. I give below the financial implications of the proposal. All the figures have been taken from the proposal obtained from the Market Department of MCGM. I have made only two assumptions:

1. The cost of construction would be Rs. 25000 per sq. mtr (about Rs.2336 per sq.ft-which is high).
2. The price per sq. mtr. of the commercial premises would be Rs. 200000 per sq. mtr. (Rs.18691 per sq.ft.). When I calculate the financial implications of this, it means the Public,- the owner of the land,- gets free construction cost of Rs. 66 crores and allows the tenants and developer to gain nearly Rs. 500 crores! The calculations are given in the sheet. The owner of the land- the Public- is looted Publicly.

The Government bodies appointed by us are in a hurry to dispossess all that belongs to the Public, so that Privatisation can be hurried. With such policies, is there any wonder that we are poor!

My views on what should be done
1. There are enough private developers of Markets, and the MCGM should desist from developing Markets. In this case, I do not believe anybody hasanalysed the impact on the traffic and amenities when 6205 sq.mtrs. becomes 65689 sq. mtrs! We are creating a nightmare.
2. If there are strong reasons for this development, which I am not able to comprehend and the infrastructure solutions exist, at the very least the public should get around 500 crores. A similar fate as this is to be repeated across 102 Municipal markets in Mumbai- perhaps a ripoff of a few thousands of crores.

Surprisingly, the main debate on this issue in the Maharashtra assembly, Mumbai Municipal Corporation and the Media is around:
i) The question of whether all the tenants are getting a good deal. Perhaps some sections have not got their ‘fair’ share of the loot.
ii) The biggest issue now is the news that Dawood Ebrahim is behind the deal. The way in which the matter is being misrepresented, the Public will be happy when it is assured that Dawood is not benefiting.

The key issue that 500 crores are being stolen before the Public eye, is not being addressed by anyone! The Public can still stop this.

Shailesh Gandhi

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Orissa villagers clueless about RTI

But in one of India's poorest states, Orissa, there's still not much information on Right to Information. "I did hear about it on the radio and television, but I do not really know what it means," said a villager. Across Rayagada district in Orissa, people just don't know what Right to Information means. Even the sarpanch hasn't the faintest idea.

Complete Article

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Law students demand answers

Using the Right To Information Act-2005, students of Delhi University's Campus Law Centre and Law Centre-1 have joined hands to file more than 100 applications for obtaining the evaluated answer-sheets of their LLB examination, results of which were declared recently.

Students are seeking fairness and transparency in the examination process. Their demands include disclosure of names of examiners, publications of tabulation sheet and scheme of evaluation and model answers.

Complete Article

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Six PIOs fined under Right to Information law

In a major boost for Right To Information activists, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has slapped fines on six officers for inordinate delay in providing information sought by corporator Nitin Jagtap under the Maharashtra Right To Information Act of 2002. The orders were issued by the First Appellate Authority, Additional Municipal Commissioner (General) Mohan Adtani.

Complete Article

'Ab to Hum Janenge' Radio Programme by CHRI

*The road behind your house is in a bad condition, and no one cares to mend it
*The primary Health Centre of your area never has medicines or facilities
*Your pension is being stopped and you don't know whom to contact

Right to Information is the key to all these problems. Know more about Right to Information and its use in

"Ab To Hum Janenge"
Weekly Radio Programme aired by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Starting From Thursday 6th April, 2006
At 7.45 pm
On Vividha Bharati Network

Covering 29 Stations - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkatta, Ahmedabad, Pune, Nagpur, Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Bhopal, Indore, Patna, Cuttack, Rajkot, Vadodara, Guwhati, Surat, Jodhpur, Ranchi, Chandigarh, Jallandhar, Panaji, Srinagar, Jammu
Jabalpur, Jamshedpur, Varanasi & Siliguri.

Delhi listeners to tune in at 219.3 mts / 1368 Khz

RTI empowers Maharashtra farmers

Babanrao More, an 86-year-old farmer who uses his right to information to prevent his strawberry fields near Mahabaleshwar from drying up.

Complete Article

Get informed with half the cost - but most rules still illegal

The State Government has agreed to reduce the cost of providing information under the Orissa Right to Information Rules, 2005 by 50 percent. Earlier, the application fee for seeking any information from the Government was Rs 20. This has been halved.

If any person seeking information from the Government is not satisfied, he has the right to appeal to the appellate authority by paying Rs 40. The Chief Information Officer is the second appellate authority. The cost for the second appeal was Rs 50. However, this has been reduced to Rs 20 and Rs 25 respectively.

Complete Article

Red tape mars RTI crusade

The government's top man to spearhead the Right to Information crusade is Wajahat Habibullah, the Chief Information Officer. But try and use the Right to Information laws to ask the Prime Minister's office how Habibullah was appointed and you won't get an easy answer. It's this issue which led to a run in between Right to Information activists and the PMO.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hazare for transparency in admission

Raising concern against malpractices and lack of transparency in the admission processes of educational institutes, RTI activist and social worker Anna Hazare has demanded the use of Right to Information Act- 2005 to curb the menace.

All the information pertaining to the admission processes should be made available on their websites. ''Information like on what criteria admissions have been granted or refused and the merit list should be posted on the website, for greater transparency,'' he said.

Complete Article

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Aruna Roy now looks to urban India

"People are responsible for their own development and also to an extent for the discrepancies existing in the system they are part of. If they don’t stand up and ask why, the situation will prevail for generations and centuries,” says Aruna Roy. Better known as a Right to Information (RTI) activist, she asks me and people living in the so-called metros whether we have exercised our new right to ask why.

Complete Article

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