Saturday, September 30, 2006

BHU admn in the soup for denying admission

Authorities of Banaras Hindu University seems to have invited another problem allegedly by denying admission to Dhananjay Tripathi — who raked up the issue of the controversial death of BHU student, Yogesh Rai, at Sir Sunderlal Hospital in BHU on January 11, 2005.

Central Information Commission secretary Pankaj Shreyanskar on Saturday met faculty members, students and employees of Physical Education Department in Arts Faculty besides director of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Prof Shivraj Singh to investigate the charges of Dhananjay Tripathi.

Complete Article

Report of public hearing on the functioning of Central Information Commission

A public hearing took place on 24 th Sep 2005 on the functioning of Central Information Commission from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm.

Letters were sent out to 824 people, who have had some kind of experience at CIC. List of such people was obtained from CIC under RTI Act. They were asked to share their experiences, both good and bad, in dealing with CIC. Response was received from 182 people, out of which 3 people expressed satisfaction, while the balance 179 people expressed varying degree of dissatisfaction with CIC’s functioning.

Violation of principles of natural justice by the CIC:
The CIC received 3059 cases till 8 th Sep 2006. Out of these, CIC claims to have disposed 1531 cases. But the website of CIC contains only 800 cases. The balance 731 cases were rejected without any hearing by the staff themselves.

Of the 1531 cases disposed by the Commission so far, penalties have been imposed only in two cases (this is as on 8 th Sep). One of them has been subsequently withdrawn. The other one is in the process of being withdrawn.

Out of turn disposals:
When a person files an appeal with the Commission, he does not receive any reply, not even an acknowledgement. An analysis shows that many cases were dealt within a few weeks of filing when so many others were languishing for months. Many cases of out of turn disposals have come to light.

Information denied on grounds of fiduciary relationship etc:
Many letters have been received and many people complained during hearing that the cases were being rejected by the Commissioners in an arbitrary and whimsical fashion. Many cases have been dismissed on the ground that information asked for was fiduciary in nature. Some guidelines should be made on the terms like “fiduciary”, “private information” and “public interest”, which should be uniformly adhered to by all the Commissioners.

Read complete Report

Friday, September 29, 2006

In UP, RTI on overdrive as govt officers seek info on pay, transfer

Hailed as the definitive answer to make the thickly veiled bureaucracy answerable to the public, the Right to Information (RTI) Act is now being used in Uttar Pradesh by state government employees, including police officials, for information about transfers, service matters, promotions and even salary restructure.

An employee of the state Education department, asked why two days of salary was deducted despite the fact that he was present on duty on the said days.

A Scheduled Caste clerk of the Social Welfare department has asked the director why she was transferred to Kushinagar despite a vacancy available in Mirzapur, where she wanted a transfer.

Complete Article

TI launches new publication: Using the RTI as an Anti-corruption Tool

In recognition of International Right to Know Day on 28 September, Transparency International (TI) has released a new publication, Using the Right to Information as an Anti-corruption Tool. It includes the experiences of TI’s chapters in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Peru in 2004 and 2005.

The report focusses on:

- lessons and pitfalls in the design of access to information laws
- challenges and obstacles in implementation and how they influence anti-corruption work
- how appeals and litigation can support implementation of the law while supporting anti-corruption work
- transparency at the international level: how can international financial institutions improve access to their information?
- access to information as a preventive anti-corruption measure in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Read the entire Report

Maharashtra tops in RTI use

In the one year since the Right to Information Act came into effect, public information officers (PIOs) of government organisations in Maharashtra have received around 60,000 RTI applications, says Suresh Joshi, chief information commissioner of the state. Although he does not have the figures, Joshi says that Maharashtra "is way ahead of other states".

"Maharashtra got around 12,000 first appeals and 3,000 second appeals which shows that we are clearly ahead of the CIC too," Joshi said

Complete Article

RTI awareness spreading in Manipur

On the third day of the public information campaign (PIC) being carried out by PIB Imphal Office as part of the Bharat Nirman programme of the Centre, a discussion on Right to Information Act was facilitated at Malom Community Hall here today.

Giving the introductory speech, Deputy Director General of PIB Guwahati B Narzary said Right to Information Act would ensure not just transparency and accountability in the governance of the State, but it would also put an end to corruption.

Complete Article

Vadodara MC rebuked by RTI chief

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) officials got yet another admonishment from the state information commissioner, for providing vague information, sought under the Right to Information(RTI) Act. Indicting the civic authorities including the deputy municipal commissioner, state information commissioner RN Das has ordered to provide the information immediately.

Bharat Acharya, a resident of Raopura, had sought information from the town planning department of the VMC in November 2005, related to the fee recovered for removing encroachments. Acharya had demanded details of the amount of fee recovered from Lakshmi Kunj Society in Sama area and Alankar and Aradhana Societies in Gotri area, along with the receipts of recovery.

Times of India, Ahmedabad

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Capital’s hero: The RTI Act

September 28 is celebrated as the Right to Know Day across the world. And the day has special significance for the Capital, as it’s been five years since the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into being here. 10,200 cases have been registered in the past five years and Delhi has proved to be a model to follow for the country.

So what have Delhiites achieved through that Act since it came into effect in 2001? Quite a lot, say activists working in this field. In South Delhi and East of Kailash, roads full of potholes were repaired. Streetlights started working miraculously and all simply after submitting an application. Across Delhi a lot of ghost projects (projects only on paper) actually started being implemented after RWAs demanded their status report.

Complete Article

RTI Expose: Ministers wrote to get cops transferred

While the state government has always maintained that there is little political interference when it comes to transfer of police officials, the Mumbai police commissioner and the Maharashtra director-general of police have received a record 481 written recommendations for transfers from MLAs and ministers in just 19 months.

This blatant violation of the Bombay Police Manual was exposed following queries filed under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Recommendations for transfers had in fact come down in 2004, after the joint commissioner of police (administration) issued a strict warning to 71 police officers and 64 constables for trying to use political clout. Also, two departmental circulars were issued stating that any violation of the rule 413 rule of the Police Manual would be strictly dealt with.

Rule 413 states that "government servants are forbidden to approach officials of other departments or non-official people for support and redress. They are liable for disciplinary action if MLAs or non-official persons approach the government on their behalf," the rule says.

Complete Article

RBI squarely within the purview of RTI

The Right to Information Act (RTI) covers all bodies owned, controlled or ‘substantially financed’ by the government. Which should be clear enough, but the Reserve Bank of India didn’t think so. It sought exclusion from the scanner, contending, “We do not come under the Act, as we are the sole financier of the government; the government does not finance us!”

In response, the Central Information Commission has firmly put the Bank in its place by reminding it that RBI was constituted by an Act of Parliament and was therefore squarely within the law’s purview.

Complete Article

Tamil Nadu RTI Activists welcome RTI fee cut

RTI activist members of the Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign (TNRTIC) welcome the Tamil Nadu Government's move to reduce Right to Information Application Fees from Rs. 50.00 to Rs. 10.00. They said this would pave the way for more poor people to use the RTI Act.

The TNRTIC hopes that the fee reduction is the first positive step in a series of changes that can be expected from the State Government to improve citizens' access to information. Many departments of the Government still continue to violate the Act by failing to appoint PIOs, accept applications or fulfill proactive disclosure
requirements. The Government should take steps to bring these Departments in line with the law.

The second most urgent requirement is the simplification of payment of RTI Application Fees. Presently only DD or cash payment in Treasury is acceptable. DD charges cost more than application fees, and treasuries are refusing the fees stating they have no instructions. TNRTIC has demanded that payment through court fee stamps or postal orders must be made acceptable.

For more information, contact: Tamilnadu Right To Information Campaign. c/o 22353503 or 42115995/42115698

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

CIC wary of giving info on itself

The RTI watchdog — Central Information Commission — has chosen to shift responsibility to PMO over information on appointments of its commissioners.

A request was submitted by a Delhi resident, Vishaish Uppal, who sought information on files and papers related to the appointment of five information commissioners presently in the CIC.

Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah observed that in this case, "Denial of information is under orders of the public authority and it is open to the public authority to deny information provided such denial can be justified under Section 8(1) of the Act."

Complete Article

Delhi gears up for Right to Know Day

Civil rights activists in the capital are preparing to hold meetings, distribute publications and send text messages to city residents to encourage them to stand up for their rights on International Right to Know Day Thursday.

‘We have decided to send SMS messages to people and distribute our publications on ‘right to information’ and ‘right to know’, so that people can demand their fundamental rights,’ said Datta.

She added that preparations were also on to organise a national conference Oct 12 against the amendment of the right to information bill by the government.

Civil society members working at the grass-roots level in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi are also likely to take part in the conference.

‘Some of the leading activists in the country have been invited to speak on the subject and we would try to highlight people who have benefited using their right to information,’ said Datta.

Complete Article

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

PSUs want to be out of RTI Act purview

Public sector undertakings have pitched hard for exemption from the mandatory disclosure norms under the Right to Information Act, saying these could affect their commercial interest. They want to be treated on par with private companies, which do not fall under the purview of the Act.

According to the PSUs, they should be allowed to withhold sensitive commercial information pertaining to pricing, patents, R&D, contracts and employee details under the Act. Divulging such information, they say, would put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis the private sector.

Complete Article

Monday, September 25, 2006

Access to police information made easier

With an aim to make the process of obtaining information from the police department more convenient under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, the city Police Commissioner K R Kaushik has issued an order and accorded responsibilities to different officials in the various departments.The order will be effective from October 1.

All the police stations:
APIO - the Police Station Officer (PSO), PIO - Senior Police inspector, AA - Concerned Zone DCP

Office of the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP):
PIO - ACP, AA - Concerned DCP.

Office of the police commissioner:
APIO - Head clerk of the Registry Department, PIO - Incharge office superintendent of each branch, AA - Deputy Administrative officer of the branch

Police Headquarters at Shahibaug:
APIO - Head clerk of the Registry Branch, PIO - Office superintendent of respective branch, AA - ACP (Admin) of the Headquarters

Traffic police branch:
APIO - PSO, PIO - Police inspector (admin), AA - ACP

Licence Branch:
APIO - Head Clerk, PIO - Police inspector (Licence), AA - ACP (traffic).

Complete Article

Imposition of heavy penalties will save the Act from becoming ineffective

Taking part in a first-ever "Jansunwai" (public hearing) on RTI Act organised by non-government organisation Parivartan, Mr. Habibullah said the government authorities also cannot deny information on a sub judice matter and should follow all rules and regulations. This aspect was very important when it comes to cases dealing with human rights and corruption and it was up to the Information Commissioners to decide on the merit of a case, he added.

Parivartan's head and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal expressed concern over the weak clause regarding penal action against lax Information Officers and demanded strict action against those who deliberatively deny information or mislead applicants. "Imposition of heavy penalties on guilty officers would send a clear message and save the Act from becoming ineffective," he asserted.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: RTI exposed MP top cop's fraud

Swaraj Puri, who was ejected last week, from the post of Madhya Pradesh DGP, is the first major casualty of the one-year-old Right to Information Act in India.

On the basis of the information obtained under the RTI Act, a special court in Indore, directed state government to register a case of corruption, forgery and cheating against Puri.

The information provided three months ago, led to a complaint alleging that Puri had filed a false certificate in order to obtain admission for his son in 2001, under 'NRI-sponsored quota' in an engineering college of MP. It led to a series of events, forcing government to take action against the DGP.

Complete Article

Sunday, September 24, 2006

RTI Effect: RTI works in Pune MC!

Dear All,

The following is the sucess story of using RTI in PMC.

We are staying in the Gokhalenagar area, and the building is developed by MHADA. Some of the members illegaly built a shed in the premises of the society.

We approach to the Muncipal Commr, anti Encroach dept, giving applications is the Lokshahi Din, but in vain. Only the PMC officials sent the notices to the society and then the matter is managed. The PMC issues the notice to remove the illegal shed on 26.5.2006. But no action is taken till 18/9/2006.

At last we give the application of 16/9/2006 at 2.30 hrs though it is saturday! under RTI questiong the following information:

1. How many notices are issued after 26.5.2006 regarding similary cases?
2. Does really PMC demolishes the illegal shed?
3. what is the period of notice?
4. whether the period is over?
5. If the period is over, why the action is not taken and who are responsible for that?
6. Please give the names and designations of the responsibnle officers.

And surprisingly, withinn 24 (working) hours, i.e. on 18/9/2006, the anti encroachment squad appears with police bandobast and the said shed demolished !!!!!

Satish, Pune

Successful RTI Seminar in Pune

A RTI seminar organized by the Poona Catholic Association and Express Initiatives, was held this morning( Sunday, September 24, 2006) at 10.30 am at the Echatt Hall in St. Patrick School, Pune. About 150 people attended the seminar which was addressed by me. Prominent among those present were R.S. Anand (IAS) retired and former additional secretary 9industries) in the federal government, Lt. Col. Gohar and reputed architects Silvera and Bala, journalism students, and large number of senior citizens. The seminr generated a lot of interest. A 45 minute documentary produced by Hum Janenge was also screened to give the audience a indepth knowledge of the RTI. This was followed by questions and answers session and success stories of three citizens who used RTI. In short, it was a very successful seminar on the subject.

-Shahid Burney, Pune

No hearing for over 54% RTI applicants

In just one year of implementation of Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, your right is already in trouble.

An examination of appeals pending with Central Information Commission (CIC), the final appellate body for RTI Act, reveals that on an average an applicant has to wait at least seven months to be heard. And experts predict that at this rate within two months, this waiting time is all set to increase to two years.

If this is shocking, then wait till you see how CIC has been disposing these cases. According to a survey conducted by Parivartan, an NGO, of 568 appeals before CIC, 309 cases were disposed of without even being heard.

According to RTI Rules 2005, it is upto the appellant to decide whether he wants to be heard in person or in writing or not heard at all. The appeal rules lay down that it is the duty of CIC to give them an opportunity to be heard.

Complete Article

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Meghalaya Govt makes minor amendment to RTI facilitate IPO

In yesterday's cabinet meeting, decision was taken to make a 'minor amendment' the right to information rule by which a citizen can also pay the fees by postal order for obtaining an information from the government.

Earlier, the povision of paying by postal order was not there in the RTI rule.

Complete Article

Fine makes no impact on 11 BMP engineers

As many as 11 Assistant Executive Engineers in Bangalore Mahanagara Palike have failed to furnish the information sought under the Right to Information Act even after being fined and given a 48-hour deadline to comply.

Chief Engineer (South) N Devaraj had on September 5 had imposed a fine of Rs 2,500 on each of them and asked them to furnish details within 48 hours. At a hearing chaired by Mr Yeshwanth, Joint Commissioner (South), on Monday it was found that the AEEs had not furnished the information.

The AEEs have now been given time till September 26.

It is learnt that the AEEs had even made an appeal to the applicant-- the NGO by name Nivarana Seva Trust-- to withdraw its application. Sources said that the AEEs fear that they would be exposed if there were any violations.

Complete Article

Tardiness in RTI responses, dy civic chief, TPO fined

Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) town planning officer Sailesh Mistry and deputy municipal commissioner C R Kharsan may have to pay a fine of Rs 25,000 yet again after directions from the state information commissioner.

With city architect Suresh Jaiswal filing 30-odd petitions seeking information in different cases under the Right to Information Act, the delay in responding to some of them had resulted in matters being taken to the state commissionerate.

According to Jaiswal, this petition pertained to a notice issued by the town planning department to a building owner in Raopura. ‘‘I wanted to know what details they had sought from the building owner and on what grounds the notice was issued. But they never replied back in time,’’ said Jaiswal

Complete Article

Is CIC just a paper tiger?

In the 11 months since the law came into force, CIC has been rather lenient with erring officials and used the penal provision only twice. While the first penalty order was withdrawn on a review plea, the second has exposed a schism within CIC on this sensitive issue.

In a bid to take advantage of that precedent, the public authority involved in the second case, Delhi-based Jamia Hamdard University, filed a similar review petition before Habibullah seeking waiver of a fine of Rs 13,750 slapped on its registrar, Prof Akhtar Majeed, by CIC member O P Kejariwal. Though a review is meant to be done by the very Bench that passed the original order, Habibullah did not refer Jamia's case to Kejariwal and instead posted it before himself.

This has created a piquant situation as Kejariwal shot off a letter on Monday directing the Jamia VC to explain why he had not reported compliance of the penalty order by the stipulated date, September 15.

Complete Article

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Maharashtra appoints 2 more Info Commissioners

from the indian express, pune
wednesday, september 20, 2006

The State Cabinet decided at its Aurangabad meeting today to appoint two information commissioners for faster processing of appeals under the Right to Information Act (RTI) Act. They will be based in Nagpur and Aurangabad.

``With the appointments, there will be faster disbursal of complaints and appeals,'' Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi said. The Act allows appointment of 10 commissioners in a state.

During the past year, the chief information's office - the second appellate authority - has received 3,200 appeals under, of which only 300 have been processed. They also received 500 complaints and dealt with 7,000 communications over one year.

State govt disowning its liability in enforcing RTI Act

from pune newsline, the indian express. (express initiative page)
wednesday, september 20, 2006

Right to information activists from across Maharashtra who had assembled at a daylong workshop in Pune called by YASHADA and the state information commission took the opportunity to protest against the total absence of interest evinced by the state government in sincerely implementing the Right to Information Act, 2005.

At the end of the day's deliberations, they unanimously adopted a serious of resolutions expecting the government to pull up its socks and start acting.

Complete Text of Resolution

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Home Ministry refuses Netaji papers

The Home Ministry has refused to supply the Central Information Commission (CIC) with copies of documents presented before two panels that enquired into the disappearance of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose.

It said that the records dated back to over 20 years.

This was reported by a research group, Mission Netaji, which appealed to the CIC, the apex body under the year-old Right to Information Act, to get the Ministry to share records produced before the 1956 Shah Nawaz Committee and GD Khosla Inquiry Commission of 1974.

Complete Article

Saturday, September 16, 2006

UPSC candidates file appeal for sharing information

With the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) rejecting applications by aggrieved candidates asking it to share information with them under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on cut-off marks, model answers and individual marks pertaining to the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2006, the candidates have now filed an appeal with the appellate authority in the Commission. They also met the Chief Information Commissioner on Thursday

Complete Article

CM discusses RTI implementation

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday discussed the issues linked with implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Chief Information Commissioner Ranjit Sekhar Mooshahary and Information Commissioner BK Gohain.

According to an official press release here this evening, the Chief Information Commissioner explained the need to train the information officers and to create awareness among the people on the legislation. The Chief Minister assured all possible steps to implement the Act in a proper manner. The meeting, which was held at Gogoi’s office, was attended among others by Minister Bhumidhar Barman, Chief Secretary S Kabilan, Additional Chief Secretary AK Arora and Commissioner and Secretary to the Chief Minister, TY Das.

The Assam Tribune
Guwahati, Sunday, September 10, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

IIT Kanpur's nation wide essay competition on RTI

Cut the Tape, a national level essay competition, challenges the best and the brightest, to imagine the shape of society, of what ought to be and how it can be. It is your passport to the domain of a corruption-free and transparent society. We ask you to see and ask, to ask and know, to know and tell; tell to spread the power of knowledge.

If unanswered questions confuse you, if you long for clarity, if you have a voice that needs to be heard, surely this competition is for you. Antaragni challenges you to leap into the unknown to find the new. Come forward and contribute your thoughts and ideas for the betterment of entire society. If you have the power of original thought, of clarity and content, of depth and style; come, envision laterally……Pick up your pen and start.

RTI : Crystal Clear

Word Limit: 1500, space: 1.5.
Entries should concentrate on:
1. Why will RTI succeed where others failed.
2. How to create awareness about RTI across various strata of Indian society.
3. How to provide more teeth to RTI.
4. How to safeguard the fabric of RTI( Especially in the wake of govt. proposed amendment).

Graduate and post-graduate students can submit their visions of RTI by any of the following means:
1) .doc or .pdf files to be sent via email.
2) Typed or neatly written, on one side of a blank A4 paper, to be sent through post.

Prizes: First - Rs. 5000/-, Runner-up - Rs. 3000/-, Second Runner-up - Rs. 2,000/-

Competition Website

Civil services aspirants approach CIC

Claiming that their career was "at stake", a group of civil services aspirants today appealed the Central Information Commission after the UPSC refused to divulge details regarding the 2006 preliminary examinations sought under Right to Information Act.

About 50 applicants, along with RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, met Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and filed their appeal against the UPSC decision not to publicise answer key, individual and subject cut off marks of the 2006 civil services preliminary examinations.

The candidates are meeting the CIC, ten days after it asked the UPSC to disclose to candidates their cut-off marks of the examinations it conducted.

Complete Article

5th Meeting of Mahiti Adhikar Manch

Mahiti Adhikar Manch
(Citywide group for Right to Information of F-South Ward Citizens Forum)

5th Meeting will be held on Friday 22nd September 2006 at 5.45 PM at:

St. Joseph High School
Junction of David Barretto Road and Nathalal Parekh Marg,
Wadala (West), Mumbai 400 031
Nearest station Wadala Road(Harbour Lane)

1. Read and approve the minutes of last meeting.
2. Report on Anti-Bribery Campaign & Follow up
3. Mobilising for protest to Ammendments for Dilution of RTI.
4. Submission of documented RTI Applications.
5. Follow-up on application for SUO-MOTTU declaration at wards.
6. Follow-up on applications for Potholes & road repairs
7. Any other matter related to RTI with the permission of the Chair.

Please come in time so as to conclude the meeting by 7:30 pm

For and On Behalf of Mahiti Adhikar Manch
Bhaskar Prabhu

Thursday, September 14, 2006

UPSC won't share public info

TOI put in an application to the UPSC under the RTI about a month back, asking for information on the domicile, educational background, gender and such details of candidates selected for civil services.

After almost the full 30-day period given under the RTI for the concerned body to respond, we have got a list of those selected without any of these details. The reason cited: All of these are, according to the UPSC, "personal information".

What does not seem to have struck the UPSC is that almost all of this information — and more details like cadre, salary and current posting of IAS and IPS officers — are made available to the public on the websites of the Department of Personnel and Training and of the home ministry.

If the information is "personal", therefore, the privacy of the people concerned has already been violated by the government. It is also not clear how UPSC is able to argue that educational qualifications of bureaucrats is a matter of no "public interest".

Complete Article

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Public hearing on CIC decisions

To what extent has the Central Information Commission (CIC) lived upto the expectations of the public in the last year? In order to discuss this, a public hearing is being organized on 24th September from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm at Indian Social Institute, Behind Sai Temple, Lodi Road, New Delhi. It would be an opportunity to share experiences, both good and bad, in dealing with CIC. Mr Wajahat Habibullah has kindly agreed to be present at the hearing with two of his Commissioners, Mr O P Kejriwal and Mr M M Ansari.

It is proposed to divide the day into following sessions:
1. Discuss some of the landmark judgements passed by CIC so far.
2. CIC has been hesitant in imposing penalty on officers who violate RTI Act. Are public expectations unrealistic and contrary to law?
3. In many cases, information has been denied on grounds of privacy, fiduciary relationship or that it is bulky. What constitutes private information, what is a fiduciary relationship and what is bulky?
4. Are principles of natural justice being observed by the CIC? Are appellants being heard before dismissing their cases?
5. Areas related to administration of Central Information Commission – Issues which deserve attention

Each session is expected to last about an hour. A session will start with some cases being presented by the appellants related to that topic. It will be followed by reactions from experts, reactions from Information Commissioners and a discussion on that.

KempeGowda Fete: BMP spends a bomb on Crakers

Dear Friends ,

Now it is enough that you make an RTI request in BMP and Officials will be suspended. The following story Appeared in Page 3 of Vijay Times of 12/09/2006:

"Another Scandal Surfaced in Scam Ridden BMP, This time Tax Payers Money was looted not in name of Civic works but in the Name of Bangalores Creator - Kempegowda. Account bills related to the expenditure made during the celebration of Kempegowda day held on may 8 and 9 show BMP whopping amounts on funny heads.

Take for example the spending of Rs 2.5 lakhs for fire crakers, believe it or not according to BMP seven boxes of fireworks cost Rs 1.75 lakha . On top of it no BMP clarified that fireworks were used during the Celebration. What is more surprising is that much of the payments was paid in cash though the Civic authority is bound by a law to float a tender for any project worth over Rs 1 lakh,

1. Single day rent for Four Bullok carts and 8 oxen ----- Rs 36000/-
2 Expenditure for Culture Programmes ------ Rs 2/- lakh
3 Pitiching Tent----------- Rs 8 lakhs
4 Compering and Narrators of Programme ------ Rs 1.5 lakhs
5 Supply of Flowers ---------- Rs 2lakhs
6 Filiming of Programme --- two Companies ----- 2lakh and 1.5 lakh each
7 Advertising Programme ------- 29.88 lakhs
8 Musical Band ------ Rs 75000/-
9 Supply of Tea & meals ------- Over Rs 10/- lakhs
10 Banner Putting 3x10 feet Rs 4.5 lakhs
11 Decorasting Buildings with Colured lightings Rs 3 lakhs

The Bills were given by to Vijay times by BMP . The Documents which Vijay times obtained under RTI act have more such heads of expenditure which just do not make sense.

RESULT: The BMP has suspended four officials including one Executive Engineer and PIO.

POST SCRIPT: Vijaytimes could pin point and get these Bills and get the four BMP officials suspended for failing to give bills within 15 days of withdrawal of money, after an Painstacking work from MAHITHI HAKKU ADHYANA KENDRA.

N Vikramsimha
KRIA Katte

UPSC candidates remain unsatisfied

Aggrieved civil services aspirants -- whose applications filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information from the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on cut-off marks and model answers sheets pertaining to the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2006 have been rejected -- said on Tuesday that they were not satisfied with the reasons provided by the Commission for rejecting the applications.

In its rejection letter, the Commission has specifically mentioned that the information sought by the candidates formed part of the Commission's crucial secrets and intellectual property under Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act.

The aggrieved candidates said the information sought did not constitute intellectual property as it was the candidates who had written the answers and the Commission itself had not generated them. "We have written the answers and we want to know whether they are correct or not," said one of the aggrieved candidates. The candidates, who are now exploring legal options, also pointed out that many State Public Service Commissions had been providing the mark sheets as well as the cut-off marks to all the candidates appearing for various examinations conducted by them.

Complete Article

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Its a Question of Your Answers

The results of the Board examinations might have changed the lives of students dorever, but now they have a chance to make this process more accountable with a little help from the Right to Information Act, 2005. An unusual campaign titled "It's the Question of Your Answers" has been launched by this year's Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal to make the system more transparent for students.

Under this campaign, students can ask the Public Information Officers (PIOs) to furnish information about the examination that they have taken. From the criteria of marking, their marks break-up, reasons for delay in examination and results, model answers and even the name of the examiners and tabulation sheets submitted by these examiners, the students will be able to literally get answers to everything.

Campaigners website Josh4India

Complete Article

RTI Expose: RTI reveals Dalit IIM students get less moolah

New Delhi-based research organisation Cfore, which conducts an annual B-school survey for a national weekly, used RTI Act to expose the fact that SC/ST students are paid way below general category students during placements and also that the recipient of lowest salary offered is usually a Dalit.

The survey found that the average salary for a Dalit is at least 2 lakh less than the average salary at IIMs. At IIM-A, while the average salary was Rs 9.6 lakh per annual, Dalit students were offered 7.8 lakh.

Complete Article

Monday, September 11, 2006

File of the matter

The dust has settled, but may rise again. The government announced that it would not bring in Parliament the Bill for proposed amendments to the RTI Act, 2005. But the assurance was only for the monsoon session. The public agitation was, however, for setting aside the very idea of amendments.

Since the threat to force these amendments into law remains, it is necessary to understand their implications. They revolve around four basic elements: Nondisclosure of file notings, except in social and developmental issues; non-disclosure of identity of individuals who put down file notings; non-disclosure of information pertaining to any examination conducted by any public authority; and nondisclosure of ministerial decisions till the matter is complete or over.

If these amendments are carried, they could render the Act limp and infructuous. Although there are four amendments proposed, the basic one relates to file notings.

Complete Article

Tripura State Information Commission Ruling on ACR/DPR

In a landmark decision relating to the bureaucracy, the Tripura State Information Commission has ruled that the Annual Confidential Reports (ACR)and minutes of the Departmental Promotions Committee (DPR) would be accessible to the officer concerned who had applied for copies of all ACRs pertaining to his own performance and inspection of the recommendations of the DPC relating to all IAS and non-IAS officers of his batch, which was not provided to him by the PIO.

The Appellate Authority rejected had also rejected his appeal on the grounds that ACRs and DPC meeting minutes were of personal nature. ACRs and DPC's have long been kept as confidential documents because many bureaucrats fear that transparency, would discourage senior officers from expressing their frank opinion freely which in turn would adversely affect cordial relations between senior and junior officers thereby ruining the cohesiveness of the administration. However, the Tripura Information Commission relied upon a 1971 circular issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) of the Government of India that had clarified that a gist of the good points and the entire adverse remarks contained in the ACR may be communicated to the officer concerned thereby recognising that the very nature of ACRs and DPC recommendations requires them to be made public. With this ruling, Tripura Information Commission has now therefore set a high standard for access to these 'confidential' documents something from which the Central Information Commission itself shied away in many of its earlier rulings.

Complete decision

Kind Regards

Aditi Datta
Media and Communications Officer
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Central Information Commissions disposals of appeals and complaints

Official suspended for delay in furnishing information

Bangalore Mahanagara palike Commissioner Sri. K. Jaiaraj has suspended Sri. Jayasimha, Offiicial of Town planning Department for delay in furnishing information under RTI, due to which KIC has imposed token compensation of Rs.500/- to the complainant Sri. C.N.Kumar our member of KK. Once again congradulations to Mr. Kumar


Sunday, September 10, 2006

RTI only hope for accident victim's son

Twenty-three year Ajay Kawshik lost his father in a bus accident three-years ago. He files an RTI application to get the compensation money after being delayed for years now. "Three-years ago, my father was killed in a road accident by a public transportation bus in Coimbatore. The bus hit my father and he died on the spot," says Ajay.

The city court in Coimbatore had announced in its verdict a year-ago that the transport corporation must pay Rs 3,47,000 as compensation to the aggrieved family within a period of three-months. However, it's been three-years now since the accident took place and despite repeated attempts, Ajay and his family have not been able to get the compensation money.

"The reason why compensation was announced was to help the family at the time of
need. But it's been three years now. What is the reason behind this delay?" asks
Ajay. He hopes that the tough questions he has asked in his information request will
force the transport officials to finally pay up.

Complete Article

RTI reaches DU exam process

I had answered correctly, why have I been marked so poorly? How do I know whether the answer scripts were sent to the right person for evaluation or not? Why were the re-evaluation results delayed? You can officially demand some answers.

All you need to do is to file an application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act demanding transparency and accountability in the examination system. A campaign for this is being launched on Monday. Students from many colleges, including St Stephen's, Lady Shri Ram, Janaki Devi Memorial, Kamla Nehru, Shri Ram College of Commerce and Hindu, have been trained by members of two NGOs — Kabir and Josh — on how to file the application.

Complete Article

Goa SIC pulls up police over RTI Act violation

Police Department is either unaware of procedures under the Right to Information (RTI) Act or is deliberately misleading citizens, observed Goa State Information Commission (GSIC) in its order

One Joao Pereira of Utorda had filed a complaint against the police authorities stating he was denied certain information applied under the RTI Act. When he approached Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Police Department for information, he was told to approach Appellate Public Information Officer (APIO). His plea was rejected by APIO. Calling this behaviour of police authorities as highly irregular, GSIC comprising the State Chief Information Commissioner, A Venkatratnam and the State Information Commissioner, G G Kambli has made it clear that APIO is not an authority either to give information or to refuse the information.

Complete Article

RTI a varsity course now

For the first time in India, the Right to Information (RTI) is being introduced as a course by the Department of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension which works under Delhi University. The Department also plans to extend a simplified version of the course to all slums and urban villages in Delhi.

Technical Assistant Ravi Sharma said a three-month formal course will begin next month at a nominal fee. preference will be given to disadvantaged sections of society. It is being hoped that people from such backgrounds will spread the message among their communities

Complete Article

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Water tank death: Councillor denied information

Citing wrong format for seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as the reason, Municipal Councillor Chander Mukhi Sharma was not provided information by the Central Public Information Officer of the MC today. Sharma had asked MC about the responsible officials and the number of open manholes and water tanks in the city after a four-year-old boy died due to drowning in the water tank earlier this month. Since the matter dealt with the death of a person, Sharma had demanded the information within 48 hours, as per the RTI Act's provisions.

Complete Article

Details of duty exemption denied to RTI

The order made on September 1 restricts public from looking in to funds worth Rs 3 crore. The Central Information Commission has ruled that details of the duty exemption scheme, which runs into Rs 3,457 crore for the year 2004-2005, is out of bounds for the public under Right To Information (RTI) Act. The order to this effect was passed by Central Information Commissioner M M Ansari on September 1, 2006.

The CPIO and the Appellate Authority have denied the information as per section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI act, a decision, which has been upheld by the Ansari. Now the RTI will no longer facilitate the public who wants to find out if Customs officials under the scheme are complying with its rules and regulations.

Complete Article

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

RTI scores a first: 2 officials fined

If you are worried that officials coming between you and your right to information will go scot-free, don't.

Two officials have been slapped with fines — one Rs 500 for not giving information and the other Rs 5,000 for giving misleading information — under the Right to Information Act (RTI). The penalty amount will be deducted from their salaries.

In the first-ever instance, the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has imposed a penalty of Rs 500 on Eashwarappa, then public information officer in the Tumkur City Municipal Council, for denying information to B R Panduranga Rao. Rao had sought certified copies of building plans and building licence, but Eashwarappa turned him away, saying records were unavailable.

In another case, the commission has rapped the Byatarayanapura CMC commissioner for furnishing misleading information. Commissioner C K Dashwanth has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 5,000. B H Veeresh of Bhrastachara Nirmulana Vedike had filed an application on November 16, 2005 with the CMC, but the information was not only delayed but wrong information was supplied.

Complete Article

CIC: Selection process should be transparent

"The procedure and technique followed to determine the cut-off point to draw the line between successful candidates and others should be disclosed for each category of aspirants. The action relating to determination and application of cut-off point, being a critical factor for an aspirant, should be put in public domain.

On the selection committee, however, the information commissioner ruled against disclosing the names of members in what is sure to reassure the examiners. The order contrasted with the one the commission had issued in July on an application from a Delhi University student seeking the name of the examiner.

The panel had allowed the name of the examiner to be disclosed, but rejected the plea for being allowed to see the evaluated answersheet. In the latest instance, Chaudhary had alleged that the panel was not constituted as per law.

Complete Article

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

RTI Effect: Fear of RTI helps prof get ration card

ou might think the only way to get work done in government offices is greasing palms and pulling strings. But Prateek Kanchan did neither. He simply filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and his application for a ration card was cleared in three days flat!

Kanchan, a faculty with a leading business school, was forced to use the Act after his ration card application at the Motera gram panchayat was not cleared for about three months, despite the rule stating that it must be cleared in 45 days from the day it is submitted.

Times of India, Ahmedabad

Notice to Officials for Not Providing Info Under RTI

The Punjab State Information Commission (PSIC) has issued notices to state government officials in about a dozen cases filed before it regarding non-compliance of Right To Information (RTI) Act.

Mr Kashyap said that a total of 483 cases had so far been lodged before the commission since December last year. Of these, 63 are appeals filed against the decision of respondent officials on the complainants' requests while remaining 420 cases were complaints, under section 18 of the act, against the officials.

He said that 88 cases had already been disposed of during 27 hearings held by the commission so far.

Complete Article

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