Monday, May 29, 2006

An office for Justice Khan, against wife’s wishes

Three months after he was appointed State Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Justice (retired) MA Khan regrets having taken up the job. "I have no office of my own. No `chaprasi' or a babu. Just a secretary, who is retiring in a couple of months from now. And yet I am told that the post I occupy is on par with that of a Supreme Court judge," he said.

Complete Article

Now penalties will have to be imposed

Outlook Magazine (Hindi Edition) June 05, 2006
(Translation from Hindi into English)

It appears that the bureaucracy is making fun of the decisions of the Commission. Now penalties will have to be imposed - Habibullah

Question: A very long time is being taken in the disposal of cases, which is leading to unrest among the citizens. What is the reason for this delay?
Habibullah: It is true that too much time is being taken for disposal of cases, but then that was due to shortage of staff, and time was also taken for the building of the remaining infrastructure of the Commission. Now some appointments have been made, and we hope that within a span of one month, things will come under control. Old cases have piled up and new cases are coming up. The oldest pending case before us is of 141 days old.

Question: In 43 cases the Commission has accepted that the concerned departments have illegally delayed in furnishing information, but yet, did not impose penalty in a single case so far, Why?
Habibullah: In our view this is a new law and the bureaucracy does not know much about it. They do not understand what they should do or how to do it. Thinking about this factor, we gave them time and also gave them strong notices, but it appears, that they have started making mockery of the Commission. Therefore now we would impose penalties on them.

Question: In several case you have summoned the appellants twice or did not inform him as to what response has been received in his case. Isn’t this violation of fair justice?
Habibullah: According to the case or according to the information sought, the
Commission decides whether to summon the appellant or not. Still what you said is correct that the appellant should be informed as to what reply is received towards his complaint from the concerned department.

Question: In several decisions, the Commission has questions about government decisions like why, how and when should not be asked. If such questions are not qwked, then what purpose remains left of the Right to Information Act?
Habibullah: What you mentioned is correct. If such thing is stated in a decision, that is not correct. It is not correct to deny information. Give me information of such decisions and I will personally look into it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Madhya Pradesh Govt official fined for not giving information

A sub-district administrator in Madhya Pradesh has been fined Rs 25,000 for not complying with the Right to Information Act and ignoring the State Information Commission.The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Mr T N Shrivastava imposed the fine on Mr H S Chouhan, tehsildar of Gyaraspur in Vidisha district, as “he failed to provide the information to an applicant within the prescribed one month time limit,” a state official told IANS

The CIC has also recommended disciplinary action against the first appellate authority and sub-divisional officer (SDO) of Gyaraspur, Mr Sharad Shroti, for his conduct that was unbecoming of the dignity of his office.

Complete Article

Friday, May 26, 2006

Andhra SIC Arha unhappy over RIA implementation

Chief Information Commissioner CD Arha expressed concern over the callous attitude of officials in implementing the provisions of the Right to Information Act.

Reviewing the implementation of the Act with officials of various departments at
Sub-collector's office here today, he said that he found that officials of 15
departments in the district were implementing the Act and there was sluggishness
in the implementation.
Complate Article

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Harassement and Use of RTI counter to it

To all
Today in valedictory of RTI programme our SCIC, Mr Mishra, spoke of an interesting Order he had made to a question on the very subject of personal use of RTI getting things done.

The Case he cited: MR X an Doctor Turned advocate had applied for Building Licence to Mysore Muncipal Corporation . He was instructed to Show National Saving Certificates to the tune of Rs 35000/- Purchesed recently to get the santion.

Party applied under RTI for the Rules /Notification/Circular on this condition. No reply from PIO. Party files Complaint with Info Comm . Case heard PIO & Party present. PIO express inability to produce the Circular and states Oral Instructions with Target to Mobilise on NSC's. Case disposed to immediatly Sanction and grant Building Liecence without NSC's being insisted.

-Vikram

Bureaucrats are the biggest stumbling block

The law gives every Indian citizen the right to information. But, very few among even the educated people are aware of this right. Parivartan, a Delhi-based non government organization, is on the forefront of a mass awareness drive to let the common people know about their right to seek information from the government on issues that affect their lives.

Interview with Arvind Kejriwal

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Whither Right to Information

Information is power. And that is why every administration, whatever be its political colour, tries to withhold or manipulate information. People need information to enforce accountability of their rulers. This was recognised by our Supreme Court in its landmark decision in S P Gupta’s case way back in 1980, much prior to the enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The Court ruled that ‘‘No democratic government can survive without accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that the people should have information about the functioning of the Government. It is only if people know how the Government is functioning that they can fulfill the role which democracy assigns to them and make democracy a really effective participatory democracy.’’

Complete Article

Monday, May 22, 2006

Only babus get the info Act right

Guess, who is making the most of the Right to Information Act? It is the state bureaucrats. They are making maximum use of the Right to Information Act 2005 and not citizens as was conceived, while instituting the law.

Almost half of the requests filed under RTI are from bureaucrats relating largely to promotions and leave. The RTI has also failed to percolate down to the rural parts of the state with bulk of the requests coming from urban areas.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 21, 2006

RTI Act not for us: Gujarat Officials

"This Act is not applicable to us". This is one of the many hostile reactions of government officials to Right to Information (RTI) Act inquiries.

This came out in an analysis of the calls received on the RTI helpline launched on May 11 by a collective of voluntary organisations and activists working on the RTI Act - Gujarat Information Gujarat Initiative for Right to Information (GIRTI).


Complete Article

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Right to information will provide information to citizen

Himachal Pradesh Chief Information Commissioner P S Rana today said Right to Information Act was aimed at providing access to information to the citizens and promote transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government.

He said that anyone can seek information about any state government department and added that the government officials should not ask why it had been sought but should take adequate care that it was provided early.

Complete Article

Friday, May 19, 2006

RTI aspirations growing in Kashmir

This refers to recently declared results of M.D/M.S 2006 Entrance Test. At the time of declaration of results BOPEE claimed that they have deleted all the controversial/ambiguous questions strictly according to the expert opinion. But the fact is reverse, they have deleted some correct questions (for eg q no.80-c-series) and instead retained some confusing questions.(for eg.q no.21&140)

Till date no student is able to get information about the deletion/revision of Qs which is their right (RTI Act)

Complete Article

Andhra Police records to be available on website: DGP

The state police will `seriously implement' the `Right to Information Act' under which the public would have access to all the information relating to the First Information Reports and case diaries, which would be available on website, according to Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 18, 2006

4 new members join Punjab SIC

Four new members of State Information Commission (SIC) were today administered oath by Punjab Governor Gen (Retd) S F Rodrigues. These include two retired IAS officers and one IPS officer and one technocrat. SIC now has four members and one Chief Information Commissioner.

Rupan Deol Bajaj, a 1969 batch IAS officer who had retired on December 31, 2005, as Financial Commissioner Revenue (FCR); PK Verma, a 1970 batch IAS officer who was due to retire on November 30, 2006; RK Gupta, a 1969 batch IPS officer who had retired on January 31, 2005, as ADGP (Security) and Surinder Singh, a retired Chief Engineer.

Complete Article

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Seniors’ RTI query hits deadend

Ask 103-year-old Vidyagauri J Thakore and her 81-year-old sister-in-law Khuswantiben K Desai, who had been for years in vain seeking information from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about the proposed development plans of their residential society, Ashawadi, in Andheri (west).

BMC says as she lives in an old society, the relevant files are ‘missing’

Complete Article

Bihar Information Commission constituted

The State Information Commission has been constituted in Bihar and a notification to this effect has been published by state Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department.

The Commission would have a 14-member staff, including Chief Information Commissioner and two Information Commissioners. The term of the Commissioners would be of five years each, official sources said.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Divulge information on tax evasion, CIC directs IT department

The Central Information Commission has rejected the claim of the Income Tax department that information relating to investigations of tax evasion by an assessee was "confidential" and hence cannot be disclosed to the complainant. The commission directed the Directorate of Income Tax (Investigations) to disclose to the complainant findings of an investigation once the process was completed.

Complete Article

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Central Information panel draws flak for its inaction

The Central Information Commission today came under sustained criticism for the "tardy" progress in disposing of a huge number of complaints filed before it under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Speaking at the panel discussion on "information and development" of the grassroots summit-2006, Arvind Kejriwal, member of the Parivartan, an NGO, said out of the 911 complaints filed before the commission since the act came into force in October 2005, only 83 orders have been passed by the panel.

Complete Article

Friday, May 12, 2006

A day old,and RTI helpline already flooded

When a resident of Olpad, M S H Shaikh, sought information from Surat Urban Development Authority (Suda) on their waste disposal projects under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, he was asked to pay Rs 50 as application fee,while the stipulated fee under the Act is Rs 20.

When they do, more often than not, it is misleading and inadequate information. This is reflected in the fact that the helpline started by Gujarat Initiative for Right to Information (GIRTI), an NGO collective, on Friday received over 100 complaints in just the first couple of hours.

Complete Article
The Punjab government had decided in principle to lower the application fee for procuring any information with the state government departments under the Right to Information Act. The fee will now be the same as notified by the Centre. The Right to Information Act was much debated here today and several ideas were put across by eminent personalities, including Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, on how to ensure maximum results.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Why most are denied the right to know

Passed on March 12, 2005, and enacted three months later, the Right to Information Act is a year old. But who in India can read what it says? Five per cent of the population that reads English and another 20 per cent who can read Hindi, Gujarati or Marathi.

And where the Act is available in a local language, the Users' Guide is not, turning the legislation into a non-starter for most people.

Complete Article

Mizoram RTI Act in final stages

Mizoram is moving towards full implementation of the Right to Information Act, according to an official statement issued by the Zoramthanga government yesterday.

The Mizoram government has so far appointed 290 state assistant public information officers, 139 state public information officers and eight first appellate authorities and/or departmental appellate authorities. The names and addresses of these officers can be seen in the records of the directorate of information and public relations, the nodal department.

Complete Article

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Launching of RTI HELPLINE – 9924085000

We are happy to inform you that "Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel is launching helpline for Right to Information (9924085000) from 11th May 2006. Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel is forum of organizations and individuals working on RTI in Gujarat.

Currently, this initiative is hosted by JANPTAH (A state level network of voluntary organizations in Gujarat) at its Ahmedabad Office. The time of operation will be 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Helpline will be supported by team consisting of activists associated with Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel and Post – graduate students from Gujarat University and Gujarat Vidyapeeth.

Along with helpline, Pahel has also set up Facilitation Center which will be operational from 12th May 2006 onwards, to focus on training and capacity building of citizens, awareness generation on RTI and advocacy efforts with media, government and society at large.

Yours,

Harinesh Pandya
Secretary –Janpath
B-3, Sahajand Towers, Jivaraj Park, Vejalpur Road, Ahmedabad-51, Gujarat,
HELPLINE NUMBER - 9924085000
Email: rtigujratpahel@yahoo.co.in

JANPATH NETWORK OF VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATION IN GUJARAT
B-3, Sahajanand Towers, Jivaraj Park, Vejalpur road, Ahmedabad 380051,
Gujarat-India.
Email:janpath1ad1@icenet.net
tel: mobile: +91 - (079) -26821553, 26820719, 26821190 +91 (079) 9824048842

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Firm no to access to answer sheets under the RTI Act

Central Information Commission had on two occasions in the past refused to allow requisitioners to have copies of their examination answer sheets under the Right to Information Act. This was followed by the Maharashtra State Information Commission’s refusal to a similar requisition by a Sangli-based girl. Now the central commission for the third time has reaffirmed the refusal. The message is clear: do not hope to use the RTI Act to access your answer-sheets unless you get decisions of the information commission reversed by the higher judiciary.

Complete Article

EC wrong on Right to Information?

The Election Commission is a great votary of transparency and the rule of law. But when it comes to itself the poll panel knows how to obstruct information and throw a veil of secrecy.

This attitude has made the Central Information Commission tell EC "to be more cautious in administering the law on the right to information than the handling of this information would show."

Complete Article

Using `third party' clause BrihanMumbai MC refuses to disclose McKinsey's report

If the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissions a high-profile international consultant to work out a report outlining internal reforms and a five-year vision for the 1.1 lakh-strong BMC, then isn't the citizen entitled to see what comes of it?

Apparently not, the Right to Information (RTI) Act notwithstanding. Invoking RTI on February 17, businessman Rajkumar Sharma asked the BMC for the report drawn up by McKinsey which had been commissioned and given a year-long brief in November 2004 for a price of Rs 10 crore. However, when it came to telling citizens what the consultant suggested in the report, the BMC—it has already paid Rs 8.5 crore to McKinsey—isn't playing ball.

Complete Article

6 months on, only 200 RTI claims in city

It has been over six months since the government armed the residents with the Right to Information Act, but only few shots have been fired till date.

Since the implementation of the Act, departments of the Administration have received only 200 applications, of which the majority sought information from the Estate Office and the Municipal Corporation, while other departments recorded zero response.

Complete Article

Directorate General of Vigilance violates CVC circular

Friends,

Some of us had filed RTI applications on 5/4/2006 and we received the replies on 6/5/2006. Please find attached herewith scanned copies of the same.

The CVC norms have been thrown in the winds. Most of the officers are continuing in violation of the guidelines for sensitive postings, beyondt he stipulated three year period. Perhaps this explains why the Vigilance Dept. has become a hotbed of corruption.

Please note that the Directorate General of Vigilance, Customs & Central Excise has furnished part information only. They have avoided straight answers for two of the very pertinent questions, viz.
a) Has there been a violation of the circular stated in 3 (i) above in case of such officers?
b) In case there has been a violation of the said circular, the names and designations of the persons responsible and punishable for the same.

To know the answers please read thru' the attached reply.

RD

CVC circular no: 98/VGL/60 dated 15th April 1999     Application to DGV    Reply from DGV

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pvt discoms not public authorities: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has stayed the Central Information Commission�s direction that declared private discoms BSES Rajdhani Power, BSES Yamuna Power and North Delhi Power as public authorities under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 07, 2006

IT assessments: former chairman CBDT differs with CIC

The I-T Act has elaborate provisions for disclosure of information regarding assessees and, therefore, prima facie, RIA should have no application in the context of the I-T Act, as it has no non-obstante clause stating that RIA is to apply, notwithstanding any other provisions contained in any other enactment. Hence, RIA cannot be said to have overriding effect on the I-T Act, which may make it sub-servient to RIA.

Complete Article

Answer sheets cannot be made public: CIC

The Central Information Commission has held that answer sheets cannot be made public as the process of conducting examinations and selecting candidates is a "highly confidential activity". The decision was given on a petition by an appellant who had sought various details of an examination to the post of traffic casting inspector with the Railways.

Complete Article

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Corrupt, yet promoted, officials to be named

In an order that is likely to send many senior customs and excise officials running for cover, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has allowed to be made public names of officials suspected of corrupt practices who still got promoted or were given sensitive posts.

Information commissioners M M Ansari and O P Kejriwal came the direction on an appeal by S R Sawant from Mumbai.

Complete Article

Any citizen including a NRI can seek info under RTI

"Any citizen of the country including a NRI can seek all types of information and use it for any purpose. The PIO in each government department cannot raise questions and objections regarding the use of the information," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 04, 2006

‘Right to Information Act has empowered citizens’

Noted lawyer Amrut Kansar has stated that the Right to Information Act has empowered citizens to obtain information from government authorities, who are bound to furnish the required information within a specified limit.

He was delivering a lecture on the ‘Right to Information Act and Consumer Protection Act’, organised by the Giants Group of Porvorim, in the Panchayat Community Hall at Alto-Betim.

“In the past, it was no possible to question certain actions and decisions of the government. But with the Right to Information Act, all such decisions can be challenged after obtaining the facts and figures from the concerned government departments,” remarked Mr Kansar.

Complete Article

Your right to info gets a boost

If you are a government employee and want to know how your appraisal, assessment or promotion went this time round, you will be well within your right to do so. And never take a no for an answer.

A Lucknow scientist has gone ahead and proved just that. On his complaint, the Central Information Commission has in fact pulled up two officers of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for denying information to the scientist under the Right to Information Act and ordered that the same be provided to him within 15 days.

Complete Article

Newsline Impact: RTI's plot unfolds, info after 3 months

Getting his information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act after waiting for nearly four months, Suresh Kumar's first reaction today was an enormous sigh of relief. The triumphant smile cracked soon enough.

Kumar, well into his 50s, got the information from PUDA after Newsline highlighted his problem on May 1. According to him, PUDA officials informed him the next day that the report would be ready by Wednesday

Complete Article

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Section 4 non compliance of Education Dept

CCS is currently studying the Section 4 compliance of the Education Departments of around 10 States/UT's. I am attaching here our Analysis of the Section 4 compliance of the Education (Admn) Department of the NCT of Delhi. This information has been obtained from the Delhi Government's RTI website.

I would be grateful if you could spare a few minutes to go through our analysis and send me your valuable comments, as it will be immensely helpful to our study, which we hope to publish.

Renu Vinod

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Plans Of Under Construction Building Can't Be Refused By MCD

In a ruling which could have wide ramifications for checking unauthorised constructions in the capital, the Municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) was today directed by the Public Grievances Commission to provide a copy of the sanctioned plan of a building under construction in Karol Bagh in central Delhi.

The MCD took the stand that such information could only be supplied to the owner of the said property and nobody else.

However, the applicant, in support of his contention, showed to the commission newspaper advertisements published by the MCD directing owners of buildings under construction to prominently display sanctioned building plans along with details of floors and coverage on each floor on the construction site.

Complete Article

Punjab Info Commission indicts Urban Development Authority

The Punjab State Information Commission (PSIC) has indicted the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) for its refusal to supply the information sought by a Mohali-based senior citizen despite lapse of six months since the date of application made under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.

Complete Article

Workshop on RTI in Sangli in South Maharashtra

A workshop on Right To Information was organized at Sangli on 23 April 24, 2006 jointly by Grahak Panchayat,Sangli and Rotary Club of Sangli. 125 participants from different fields & area were present for four hours. Shri.Prakash Kardaley of Indian Express,Pune has given key note speech in which he appreciated the systematic work done on R.T.I. by Grahak Panchayat,Sangli for last four years. He specially explained provisions of section 4 & stressed importance on 'Right to inspect documents' which is fast result orienting & expense free. He also discussed the issue regarding applicability of Act to Co-operative societies,Urban banks & educational institutions with reference to information & copies of answer sheets.

Shri.Bhaskar Mohite,a consumer activist,explained the importance of workshop. Shri.Kishor Lulla has taken a unique interview of Shri.Prakash Phadake in which all provisions of RTI Act were explained. About 45 questions of participants were
answered. Dr.Patil has quoted examples of cases under RTI in Sangli District. While concluding the workshop, Shri.Vasant Apte has explained the precautions to be taken while asking the information.

The next day all newspaper gave a very wide publicity. Same type of workshop can be arranged everywhere.

Thanking You

Yours Faithfully
Adv.Kishor Lulla.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ludhiana MC sleeps as unattended RTI claims grow

Is the Municipal Corporation serious about implementing the Right to Information Act? A big no would be the answer, going by the number of pending applications lying with the department. And the figure is multiplying like nobody’s business.

In fact, Surinderpal Singh, the district co-ordinator for the Lawyers for Social Action, said the group is planning to lodge a formal complaint against the MC commissioner and RTI commissioner against the pending, and unattended, complaints. “The MC commissioner’s ignorance of the procedure for information under the RTI Act is shocking,” he said.

Complete Article

Red tape: Officials show one excuse or the other for delaying information

It seems the Right to Information Act is a joke for the departments like Municipal Corporation (MC) and Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA). Despite being asked by the people, they are not ready to share any information, thereby violating the norms.

Complete Article

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