Thursday, November 30, 2006

Facts officers with no faces

A year has passed since Parliament put its seal of approval on the RTI Bill, but the state government is yet to inform the people of the names of its 150-odd principal information officers (PIOs).

The RTI Act makes the government responsible for publicising the names of the officers through newspapers, TV channels or any other form of mass media, or by displaying them at a proper place.

But the people have got to know the names of barely five PIOs, and that, too, through the dedicated websites of their departments.

“The government has made a list of the officers in various departments. We will post their names on our website once it is ready. Till then, people have to write to us for the names or approach the home (PAR) department,” said chief information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya.

Complete Article

Pay Rs 400 for your first RTI appeal

The Noida Authority today said it will charge Rs 400 for filing an appeal if the information requested under the Right to Information Act is not provided. But Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has said that it has no authority to do so.

If the Noida Authority has its way people will need to pay Rs 100 to get a copy of the judgment. However, the rate for filing an RTI application under Section 6 of the Act remains unchanged at Rs 10.

Saying that the "decision was taken according to the provisions made in the act", Noida Authority Additional CEO K.Ravindra Naik said the fee would deter non-serious applicants and save on time and money.

But Habibullah has said: "Such a move should be challenged straightaway since the public authority (Noida Authority) is unauthorised to make such rules. Rules regarding fees can be framed only by the competent authority."

Complete Article

RTI in Mumbai schools

Today I visited Indian Education Socity ,institution haveing 70000 students in their different schools spread over Maharashtra.

First saw in one of their schools in Dadar whether they have appointed PIOs and Appelate Authority. Management even after holding RTI workshop, they have not appointed PIos and AA and they are reciving RTI applications, I have already told them they are supposed to appoint PIOs and AA. Management refferd me to Legal dept and hope the trust appoints now PIOs and AA, we will follow up. I also met one of the Principal for other issue , she told about the grace marks which most of the Schools do not follow.

The grace marks at present for schools, rule is 20 marks to be distributed to all subjects if students score less than passing marks and not just for three subjects. This rule many of school principals do not know and follow. This is the rule all over Maharashtra.

We hope to do this RTI exercise in rest of the schools, our active volunteer Mr. Anand Castelino has taken workshops for covent schools Principals in Mumbai, we expect to get results soon with appointments of PIOs and AA. Mr. Anand Castelino is a silent activist for RTI , to keep track of his RTI awareness workshop is difficult, as his suo-motto meeting record changes every day. Hats off to Anand who takes minimum 3 to 4 awareness workshops in a week. Some times he has taken 3 to 4 workshops in a day.

Mera Salam.
Bhaskar Prabhu

[posted on Humjanenge yahoogroup]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Maharashtra State CIC guarantees more penalties in the year to come.

State Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi has given an undertaking in public that he would not spare defaulting public information officers and penalise them as per the provision of the RTI Act during the current second year of the Act. It is for us to ensure that this promise does not vanish in thin air.

This is assurance directly to the people, given while participating in a live telecast `ghatana chakra' (wheels of the times) on Sahyadri channel of DoorDarshan. The episode on right to information was telecast live on Saturday, November 25, at 8 pm and re-telecast on Sunday afternoon.

from pune newsline, the indian express, express initiatives
wednesday, nov 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

'NGOs accountable under RTI' - Gujarat SIC

If government departments are accountable under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, so are NGOs which are fully or partially funded by the government.

In one of the first such cases in the state on Monday, the state chief information commissioner RN Das imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the public information officer (PIO) of an NGO based in Vadu village of Mehsana who failed to provide information to an applicant. The petitioner had demanded information on how MPLAD funds allocated to the NGO were spent.

Das's decision, however, comes in the wake of a recent central information commission, Delhi (CIC) order, in which as per provisions of section 20(h) of RTI Act 2005, NGOs substantially financed directly or indirectly by government funds are considered a public authority and are expected to comply with various provisions of the Act.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
29.11.2006

IOA is under the RTI Act: CIC

Overruling the Indian Olympic Association's plea that it was not governed by the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the sports body to provide information on the expenses incurred at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games'closing ceremony in April.

Information commissioner Padma Balasubramanian noted that since the IOA was "substantially funded"by the government and since it "discharges public functions... that it is the nodal agency though which alone citizens could participate in international sports, it should have no hesitation in keeping its functions transparent".

The CIC held that "being a public authority in terms of RTI, does not... in any way compromise its position or functioning in relation to the Olympic Charter".

The Central Information Commission has asked Indian Olympic Association to provide the required information and designate information officers. The sports ministry has been asked to ensure compliance.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Shining example of proactive disclosure in Vadodara

A village woman notes down the number of pregnant as well as lactating mothers, number of health check-ups, birth and death registrations and, most importantly, the number of talati visits, along with the days the aanganwadi remains open.

In an innovative experiment of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, where health data is put up in a public realm, the efforts of NGO Deepak Foundation's health workers has led to monitoring of as well as creating demand for health services.

The grassroots innovation of the RTI Act, to give a boost to mother and child care, has village walls sporting 15-point data, which are put up every month, with a comparative account of three months available at a glance.

Complete Article

HP Panchayat dept asked to incorporate RTI in training schedules

Directions have been issued to Himachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Department to incorporate the Right to Information Act in all training schedules to enlighten public representatives in particular and people in general, the state Chief Information Commissioner said today.

Complete Article

CU 'fails' RTI test, registrar summoned

After having failed the first test for Right to Information (RTI), Calcutta University (CU) is going to face the court of the State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC). The commissioner has summoned the varsity's Registrar for a hearing which will be held on November 30.

The varsity is charged with having failed to provide "information" under the Right to Information Act to one of its student, Utsab Dutta. The hearing will be held at SCIC's office in Bhawani Bhaban, where Dutta will also be present.

According to official sources, the commission had asked the university authorities twice before to settle the case of Dutta, who filed a petition under RTI asking for details on how his answer script was marked. Dutta, a B.Com. student, was not satisfied with his results. For the past two months, Dutta has been running to the university authorities, trying to get a look at his answer script.

Complete Article

RTI Expose: Babus costing Railways 500 crores!

Using the Right to Information Act to access Ministry files and armed with petitions from MPs, Congress MP Naveen Jindal is campaigning for the Railways to purchase rails from his Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) but the Ministry isn’t buying.
Instead, it’s citing the 1998 train accident in Khanna — which claimed over 200 lives — as a reason.

JSPL has obtained internal correspondence via RTI to show that Rail Bhavan bureaucrats have taken the unusual route of quoting the Khanna inquiry report following another round of presentations by the company.

The leakage of the internal correspondence — in which the top brass of the Railway’s Civil Engineering wing conclusively say there is no justification for even setting up a committee to re-examine JSPL’s bid — has raised temperatures in Rail Bhavan.

Complete Article

Govt staff in dock can't use RTI in case: High Court

Will a public servant, against whom criminal investigation is pending in a court of law, be entitled to information regarding his prosecution under the Right to Information (RTI) Act? The answer is no, said the Delhi High Court recently as it upheld a decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC).

The HC's response came on a petition filed by the in-charge, Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise at Guntur, Surinder Pal Singh, aggrieved by the CIC order of August 21, 2006.

Singh, accused of abusing his official position by fraudulently reducing the excise duty to the tune of over Rs 34 lakh in 2001, had filed an application under Section 6(1) of the Act.

Complete Article

RTI in aid of consumers

When it comes to its own interest, the electricity department invokes the provisions of the Electricity Act to nail down consumers. But it often turns a blind eye to the law when there is a question of the consumers' interest.

The Lucknow Electricity Supply Administration (LESA) is virtually cheating its consumers by paying them lower interest on their security deposits in violation of the Electricity Act 2003. Though the Act requires a distribution licencee to pay its consumers at the prevailing bank rate or more, the LESA is paying at half the rate. And the power department was paying no interest at all to the consumers in the rest of the State, sources said. According to a senior official, the UPPCL is sitting on around Rs 100 crore security deposits received from consumers all over the State.

Lucknow Jan Hit Manch, with retired High Court Judge Justice RC Deo Sharma as its patron, has been writing regularly to the UPERC, asking why the consumers were not being paid interest on their security deposits at the bank rate.

The body has now filed an application under the Right to Information Act.

Complete Article

Seminar Report on 1 year working of RTI in Kerala

The Seminar on "One year of working of the Right to Information Act in Kerala" was organised by the Niyama Sahaya Kendram of Ernakulam Karayogam, Peoples Council for Social Justice and the Samatha Law Society on 26.11.2006

So far, 400 complaints were received by the commission, of which 104 are disposed. Out of 183 appeals filed, 44 are disposed off. 20 cases are pending proceedings for imposition of penal fine on various authorities among the above.

The Moderator told the meeting that the Samatha Law Society had offered its free assistance to the Government to conduct awareness classes across the State which is mandatory as per the provisions of the Statute. But, they are yet to get any response. The President of the PCSJ pointed out that the PCSJ had also made a similar offer, and to the utter shock, the proposal was rejected by the Government!

Adv. D.B. Binu, ointed out that the administrative side of the Judiciary has been more aggressive against the Act. He pointed out various provisions of the rules of Kerala High Court under the act which is apparently against the provisions of the parent act. He pointed out that even cases filed against the same are not being considered in the proper perspective.

[from the full version posted by Mr Hariraj on Humjanenge]

Sunday, November 26, 2006

UPSC moves High Court for stay on Information Commission order

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has approached the Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on the Central Information Commission (CIC) order on disclosure of cut-off marks and individual marks of candidates who took the Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2006. The move follows the expiry of two weeks given by the CIC to implement its order.

In its application, listed for Monday, the UPSC said the disclosure of information would undermine the entire examination procedure. It would be impossible to undo the damage.

On November 13, the CIC, after hearing both sides, directed the UPSC to furnish information sought by candidates.

Transparency Seekers argue that with many State Public Service Commissions making their processes transparent, there is no reason why the UPSC should not do the same. The group is likely to challenge the stay application in the High Court.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Duty to disclose supersedes duty to maintain confidentiality: Chennai HC

The Madras High Court has held that banks have a right to publish the photographs of defaulters in newspapers and that such publication will not amount to invasion into the privacy of the individual.

The judge held that with the advent of the Right to Information Act, 2005, the banks had a duty to inform the public and that would not amount to violation of the Right to Privacy and dignity of the borrower.

He said "the duty of the bank to disclose information to the public or the interest of the bank requiring disclosure supersedes it duty to maintain secrecy and confidentiality".

"Right to Privacy fades out in front of the Right to Information Act and larger public interest. If borrowers can find newer and newer methods to avoid repayment of loans, the banks are also entitled to invent novel methods to recover their dues", he added.

Complete Article

Kerala CS directive to PAs to designate PIOs

The Chief Secretary has given a 15-day ultimatum to all heads of departments to appoint assistant public information officers and State public information officers as the case may be in all offices, establishments and administrative units under them as mandated by the Right to Information Act.

Complete Article

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Arvind Kejriwal running across the country

Bihar, Kejriwal pointed out, is putting in place "the most advanced system" of RTI implementation. "The government there will soon introduce a tolled phone service to register complaints under the act. The fee for registering the complaint will be included in the telephone bill of the caller."

In town early this week, the 35-year-old former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer expressed shock over the "progress of the RTI movement" in Bengal.

Complete Article

Guns 'n Gujarat, 40,000 and counting

The number of gun licences issued to individuals in Gujarat, ostensibly for protecting life and property, could well be a reflection of the law and order situation in the state.

An application under the Right to Information Act, seeking details of the number of licensed gun holders in the state, has thrown up some startling figures. In 21 districts, a whopping 40,579 civilians have 40,831 guns. A gender break-up shows that 40,151 men and 398 women feel the need to have a firearm by their side.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
23.11.2006

IAS officers use RTI to know their ACRs

IAS officials, usually at the receiving end when it comes to applications filed under Right to Information (RTI) Act, too have found it to be a useful instrument in digging out information. Some in the IAS lobby have decided to pierce the iron curtain shrouding their annual confidential report (ACR) - which is a leash in the hands of politicians to ensure that bureaucrats tow their line - with the help of RTI.

Complete Article

Opposition parties seek Sudhakar Rao's removal

State Information Commissioner K. Sudhakar Rao has charged Telagana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leaders with hatching a `conspiracy' to malign him by linking his name to the seizure of cash and cricket kits in Karimnagar district early on Tuesday.

Mr. Sudhakar Rao told reporters: "There is a strong conspiracy to malign me." He accused the TRS leaders of colluding with Tirumala Rao, who claimed to be his driver. "The person nabbed by the TRS worked for sometime as my attender," he said. Tirumala Rao was sacked long ago as he was not regular in work.

At a press conference, TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu sought a probe into the seizure and demanded criminal action against the Commissioner. He recalled that he had insisted on verification of Mr. Rao's antecedents at the time of his appointment. Mr. Rao should be asked to quit and criminal proceedings initiated against him.

Complete Article

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

RTI Expose: Wages of power

The figures procured by The Times of India from the Lok Ayukta office under the Right to Information Act for 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. Documents show that labour minister Iqbal Ansari’s annual income, which stood at Rs 39.20 lakh in 2005 when he was in charge of medical education, has now jumped to Rs 1.99 crore. His colleague N Chaluvaraswamy’s annual income has clocked a 50% increase from Rs 6.09 lakh when he was health and family welfare minister to Rs 12.65 lakh now when he is in charge of transport.

Home minister M P Prakash’s assets have remained unchanged since 2004, while rural development and panchayat minister C M Udasi is the poorest among his colleagues with an annual income of Rs 48,000.

Complete Article

A citizen meeting to discuss `Section 4 offensive'

A citizen meeting has been convened on Thursday to discuss next action under what the RTI activists call `Section 4 offensive'.

For example:
Vijay Kumbhar has decided to inspect files on properties leased out by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Such leases, he contends, fall under `` concessions, permits or authorisations'' granted by the public authority – that is, the municipal corporation.

Vivek Velankar has decided to inspect files on authorisations granted by the Income Tax department to certain charitable organisations to pass on tax benefit to their donors under Section 80 G of the Income Tax Act.

The venue: Maheshwari Vidya Pracharak Sabhagriha,
Third Floor, Above UTI Mutual Fund Office
Next to Hotel Chetan,
Model Colony
Date and time: Thursday, November 23 at 5.30 p.m.

The activists will also discuss a proposal to accord a public felicitations to Dr Nitin Karir, Municipal Commissioner of Pune, for being the first head a public authority in the country who has allowed inspection of records under Section 4 of the Right to Information "Act.

vijay kumbhar 9850434351
vivek velankar 9850063480
jugal rathi 9370066937

[as posted by Mr Kardaley on Humjanenge]

Monday, November 20, 2006

Only info panels can slap RTI fine

In a recent order, the KIC ruled that penalty under Section 20 (1) can be levied only by the information commissions and that too only on public information officers.

State chief information commissioner K K Misra and state information officer K A Thippeswamy ruled this while hearing a complaint filed by nine officials from Kolar.

The KIC held that the first appellate authority has no powers to impose penalty under the RTI Act, but held that they can initiate disciplinary proceedings for dereliction of duty against the officials concerned.

Complete Article

RTI Meet in Mumbai

Dear Friends,

The Right to Information has been spreading and creating Citizen empowerment, largely because of the efforts of Citizens. All freedoms require a great level of vigilance to defend them, and the same is true of RTI as well. There are some immediate threats, which we need to address, and some friends suggested a meeting of organizations and individuals to discuss and evolve a common strategy to defend our RTI.

The agenda for the meeting is to discuss these threats and also any other matters, which might be of very serious concern impacting the survival of the RTI Act. The agenda is as follows:

1. Issue: There is a pendency of over 4000 second appeals and complaints with the Maharashtra Information Commission. The sole Information Commissioner disposes about 70 to 80 every month. Two more Information Commissioners have been selected by a completely opaque method.

The Government must be persuaded to appoint more Commissioners - and in a transparent manner.

The Government and the Information Commission must also find ways of reducing the inflow, by ensuring a more effective disposal of RTI applications as also by the Information Commission improving its disposal rate.

We would like to discuss ways of how this can be achieved, and what course we should take to ensure this happens.

2. Issue: There is a reasonable possibility of the Central Government amending the RTI act, to dilute its provisions and effectiveness.

How should we tackle this threat?

3. Any other issues.

This meeting is being held at the BCAs office at 7, Jolly Bhavan, New Marine Lines,
MUMBAI – 400 020-( very close to Churchgate station). Tel: 5659 5601 - 05

On Monday, 20 November, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.

Do come and also tell others who are concerned with defending RTI to come

Love
shailesh

RTI Seminar in Kerala

Hi

There will be a seminar on Right to Information Act on 26th November, 2006 Sunday, 3.30 PM, at TDM Hall Kochi, Kerela. It is being organised by Niyama Sahaya Kendram of the Ernakulam Karayogam, Peoples' Council for Social Justice, & Samatha Law Society.

Any one interested may please be present at the venue. Admissions are open and not restricted in any manner, including registration fee.

regards
Rashim

[as posted by Rashim Singh on AID rti-vol list]

Sunday, November 19, 2006

RTI helpline launched in memory of Manjunath

A year after IOC executive Manjunath Shanmugham was killed in Uttar Pradesh allegedly by the oil mafia engaged in adulterating petrol, the trust devoted to his memory and today started a helpline to build awareness on the Right To Information Act.

The Manjunath Shanmugham Trust and 'Parivartan', an NGO promoting the RTI Act, jointly launched the helpline and and callers could ring up the number 9250400100 for assistance, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said here. He said they came up with the idea of the helpline as Manjunath had unstintingly fought against corruption and for the people's rights.

The alumnus of IIM-Lucknow from where the Indian Oil Corporation Sales Executive graduated said they remembered Manjunath who was murdered on this day last year following his efforts to curb petrol adulteration.

The helpline would "disseminate RTI Act knowledge nationally and empower the common man to seek accountability in public administration" and would be serviced by a professionally-trained call centre team.

The young executive was gunned down in Lakhimpur-Kheri district of UP on November 19, 2005 for his crackdown on on fuel adulteration. The trial in the case is on in the District and Sessions court against eight accused.

In Kolar in Karnataka, Manjunath's 59-year-old father M Shanmugam demanded the guilty be hanged while his mother Pramila is still in a state of shock.

Complete Article

REVIEW: Universal's Handbook on The Right to Information Act 2005

Title: Universal's Handbook on The Right to Information Act 2005
Author: P K Das
Publisher: Universal Law Publishing Co
ISBN: 81-7534-476-8
Price: Rs 350
Pages: 460+xvi pp
Genre(s): Law/Bare Acts
Reviewed by: FN http://fn.goa-india.org

Another of those compiliations, on India's relatively new Right to Information Act, ironically, filling in a gap of not-so-easy-to-access official information on this topic. This is a thicker version of other "bare acts" (as the plain-text of the law is called), and contains a lot of details and parallel laws.

Apart from the Right to Information Act of 2005 itself, it contains laws like the Official Secrets Act of 1923, the Public Records Act of 1993, the Freedom of Information Act of 2002, Supreme Court judgements on the Right to Information, varied State laws (including Goa's) on the RtI, related rules, and more.

It's comprehensive, neatly printed, and fairly slickly produced. After a 14-page brief introduction, it goes straight to the laws. A large chunk of the book is devoted to the Supreme Court's and High Courts' decisions on the RtI.

One section that strikes you as being particularly useful is the 'specimen forms for obtaining informations' (sic).

But overall, this seems a rather lawyer-focussed book... or, at best, one meant at the 'serious information activist'. If you believe that you need to understand the logic of this law and related laws, then it might be worth an investment. It makes you wonder though why such useful information couldn't be made available via, say, cyberspace ...

still an elitist media in a country like India maybe ... but at least one that connects a scattered-but-growing number of people across the length and breath of the country (and beyond)!

[as posted by Frederick Noronha on GoaRTI yahoogroup

Right to fleece: Rs 50 to furnish information

The Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) is violating rules by collecting Rs 50 as fee from applicants seeking information under the Right to Information Act. As per rules issued by the State government, the maximum fee that can be collected from a person seeking information under the RTI Act is Rs 10. This is applicable to all government agencies. For persons below the poverty line, there is no application fee at all.

The APIIC, however, is insisting on Rs 50 from everyone and that too in the form of demand draft or cheque. The RTI Act says that the fee can be paid as cash. “We have been asking Rs 50 to cover the cost of post or courier to furnish information,” said APIIC chief general manager B. Rajender Rao, who is the designated public information officer.

“In case the applicant has to pay excess we will inform him and furnish the information after receiving the additional amount.” The government had issued GO Ms No. 454 prescribing fee rates on October 13, 2005. As per Rule 3, there is no fee for information sought in offices at village level. The fee is Rs 5 at mandal level and Rs 10 for offices at the division-level and above. “Under no circumstances can the government agencies collect more than the prescribed registration fee,” said State Information Commissioner R. Dilip Reddy.

Complete Article

RTI meet in Goa

Goa State Coop Housing Finance and Federation Ltd organises a meet on 'Right to Information and Cooperatives' as part of its co-operative week celebration. Saturday Nov 18, 2006, at 3 pm.

Cooperation minister Ramkrishna Dhavlikar to inaugurate. Goa Chief Information commissioner A Venkatraman to be guest of honour. Registrar of Coop Societies R Mihir Vardhan to be special invitee.

Speakers include: Nandkumar Kamat, GCCI president Nitin Kunkolienkar, High Court advocate Surendra Dessai, FN, Roland Martins, and Goa State Coop Housing Finance & Fedn Ltd chairman Suresh Sardessai will preside.

From 3 to 6.20 pm.
Venue: Sahakar Sankul, the Goa State Coop Bank Ltd, Patto Plaza, Panjim.

[as posted by Frederick Noronha GoaRTI]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

CIC commits to 90 day deadline

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share a positive development. Shri Wajahat Habibullah has given a commitment that the Central Information Commission will ensure that the pendency of Second appeals and Complaints in their Commission will not exceed 90 days after February, 2007. He had said this at a meeting at IMC when I had raised the issue, and he has now confirmed this in writing.

[as posted by Shailesh Gandhi on Humjanenge]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Applicants/complainants are being targetted in B'lore

Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:01 pm (PST) Dear all,

Many of the PIOs in Bangalore Mahanagara Palike have made it a practice that whenever information relating to illegal construction of buildings are sought, invariably they are supplying a copy of the application to the building owner. This is resulting in building owners contacting the applicants and building pressures on the applicants to withdraw the applications. As soon as an application is filed in the RTI cell of Bangalore Mahanagara Palike copies will be given to some unscrupulous elements who are trying to intervene in the process of application. This matter should be taken up with the Commissioner BMP before taking it up with the Information Commission.

from the kria yahoogroup by veeresh bellur

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fact rights panel falls silent - Lack of data, facilities

The state commission for the right to information has suspended hearings barely 10 months after it was formed. It has blamed lack of infrastructure and poor — often erroneous — information flow from government departments for the forced break in
proceedings.

"It is almost impossible to interact with all the departments under 35 state government ministries and extract the information demanded by the petitioners," complained state information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya.

Complete Article

Forest dept asked to simplify reply

State chief information commissioner (SCIC) RN Das, in a recent complaint against the state forest department, has suggested that the department should assign an identity number or 'subject' in any communication letters to its applicants from now on.

The issue was brought forth by one Mahesh Pandya before the SCIC, who apprised the commission of the problems he faced while filing replies that he received from the forest department.

After going through Pandya's application, which sought information from the forest department on various aspects related to radio collar tracking systems of Gir lions, SCIC suggested that for academic queries, the government department should go an extra mile while providing information to the applicant.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
16.11.2006

Massive RTI campaign in Orissa

In Orissa "Orissa Suchna Ka Adhikar Manch" driving a Ten days (10th to 19th Nov) massive awareness campaign in 30 District headquarters and 6 Six major cities "Orissa Suchana Sdhikar Abhiyan".

The poorest district of Orissa, Kalahandi continued its victorious march and registered 1046 applications and more than 2000 visitors to its credit. And issues has taken prominence during the camp Mr. Kalyan Anand state coordinator of yusuf meherally centre visited the camp and addressed the participants. The entire western Orissa has got taste of RTI campaign as large number of applications filed and visitors enlisted in last Six days Kalahandi(2252 applications), Bargard (841 applications), Bolangir (1079 applications), Sonepur(746 applications), Keonjhar(337 applications), Nabarangpur(459 applications), Sambolpur(1773 applications), Nvapada(266 applications).

In Jharsuguda the district collector came and sat in the camp to encourage the participants the ADM, Puri also encouraged the camp participants at Puri. In Deogarh the district administration collected the RTI forms from the spot. But, in Nabarangpur the Chairman, Municipal Corporation created huddles for the public to file RTI applications. In Talcher the Municipal Chairman declared to publicly display BPL list to restrain the surge of RTI applications. In Rayagada a helpless woman got Rs. 500/- as assistance and a promise for Indira Awas (Singarimajhi). In cuttact the campaign picked up after the initial hick ups and 52 cases got registered on the 6th day of campaign. The role of information commission, orissa is praise worthy in the entire campaign it not only provided training and camp assistance lost also provided active support by directing all district collector to expedite acceptance of RTI applications. Support of concern world wide for secretariat and CYSD forsecretariat space is highly commendable. Mr. Jagadananda, member secretary CYSD has played a vital role in shaping the campaign.

For Further Information: Contact: Nishikant Mohapatra - 09861117243

[as posted by Bibhav kumar on Humjanenge yahoogroup]

Janane Ka Haq this week

Dear All

This week on "*Janane Ka Haq*" weekly programme on Doordarshan on Saturdays, Saurabh of JOSH and Bibhav of Kabir talk about use of Right to Information Act in problems related to youth. In the programme, Saurabh and Bibhav talk on transparency in examination process- including competitive examinations, unemployment and other youth related issues.

Don't forget to see "*Janane Ka Haq"* on Saturday (18th of this month), 10:30 AM Doordarshan News Channel

[as posted by Divyajyoti Jaipuriar on Humjanenge]

"Go public with answer scripts" - K'taka SIC

In a landmark decision, the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has ruled that evaluated answer scripts should be made available to anybody who wishes to see them and cannot be kept confidential for the benefit of the examiners.

The commission has ordered the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) to make available the answerscripts free of cost to applicant E Ramamurthy, who sought copies of four answer scripts of the Gazetted Probationers Examinations, 1998.

"It is clear that KPSC as the owner of the information (including the answer scripts and the marks awarded) is under no responsibility or obligation to keep it confidential in trust and for the benefit of the examiners. Opening up of the evaluation process including making the evaluated answer books available to anyone, who wishes to see them is very much necessary as a confidence building measure and reviving the faith of citizens in these august institutions," KIC observed.

Complete Article


Complete Article

RTI tiff: CIC asks MEA to intervene

Following a 90-year-old woman’s stand-off with the regional passport office over a Right To Information application filed by her, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Ministry of External Affairs to intervene. A showcause notice has been issued to the regional passport office for its “callous” attitude.

A separate showcause notice is being issued asking as to why a penalty of Rs 250 a day should not be imposed on the Regional Passport Officer, Delhi, who is also the PIO.

Complete Article

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Assets & Liability statement of Public Servants is Public Info

The First Appellate Authority allowing our appeal on supply of assets and liability statement of a public servant. On the basis of this order we were successful in securing Assets & Liability Statements of Public Servants working in Karnataka State. This order is being accepted by all the public authorities. The Karnataka Information Commission has also ordered for supply of Assets & Liability Statement of public servants including inspection of files.

Speaking Order issued by Smt. Vatsala Watsa, now Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department, is well drafted and can be used as a model format for training of Public Information Officers and First Appellate Authorities.

[posted by mr veeresh bellur on the humjanenge yahoogroup]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Two fined for holding back information

It does not pay to deny information under the Right to Information Act. A Central government official learnt that the hard way when she had to part with Rs 12,500 from her salary for blocking information to a citizen.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) had found KD Bansor, an additional public information officer and an under-secretary in the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and her colleague Tikam Singh, a section officer, guilty of delay in divulging information and harassing an applicant, Mukesh Kumar.

When the Commission failed to provide the relevant information even after a CIC order, Information Commissioner OP Kejriwal invoked the penalty clause in September against the two officials. They were fined Rs 25,000 — the maximum amount under the RTI Act.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Five government staffers held for flood relief scam

Five government staffers, including a Suprintendent of Gardens, were today arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in connection with last year's flood relief scam here, an ACB official said.

Those arrested are Satish Salunkhe, the garden superintendent, Nanashankar Loke, who works with the education department of the Mumbai municipal corporation, Vishnu Nagam, a clerk at a sales tax office in suburban Bandra, Ashok Salunkhe, a driver with transport undertaking BEST, and Raghunath Bansode, employed with a government-owned dairy in subruban Kurla.

According to the ACB official, they have allegedly mismanaged funds to the tune of Rs 90,500 meant as relief for the families residing in Kurla who were affected by the torrential rains in July last year.

The scam came to light after a resident in Kurla used the Right to Information Act to find out details about the amount of money disbursed by the revenue department.

Complete Article

Government official deposits fine under RTI Act

Finally, a government official had to pay for blocking information to a citizen sought under the RTI Act.

The official, KD Bansor, also created history of sorts, as she became the first Central government official to lose Rs 12,500 from her salary for violations under the RTI Act. The RTI Act even made the government to work on a fast track. In just two months, fine was deducted from salary of the official held guilty of denying information and deposited with the Central Information Commission.

Complete Article

Monday, November 13, 2006

First ever RTI youth festival

Satark Nagrik Sangathan, in collaboration with MKSS,Josh and other RTI organizations, is organizing the First ever Right to Information Youth Festival on the 23rd of November 2006 in Delhi University to create awareness about the RTI act and to create pressure on the Government to discourage it from introducing the amendments.

The Right to Information festival will include events and competitions characteristic of any youth festival - debates, street theatre, creative writing competitions, and Jam sessions etc and will also have activities that create awareness and support for the Right to Information – RTI training and a panel discussion. It will also give an opportunity to the youth to work with activists like Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Shekhar Singh. The festival will culminate in a rock-show by the popular rock band- Indian Ocean.

The events of the Festival are as follows:
Ghotala Rath Yatra at 10 a.m.
[Starting Delhi Univ Sports Complex (next to Vice-Chancellor's Off)]

Music, debate, street theatre, banner signing "Hands for RTI"
[Delhi Univ Sports Complex from 12-2 p.m.]

Public Debate on proposed RTI Amendments with activists and Parlimentarians[St Stephens Auditorium, 2.30-4 p.m]

Indian Ocean ROCKS for RTI
DU Sports Complex (next to VC's office) 4 pm onwards **FREE ENTRY**[/red/]

Satark Nagrik Sangathan - [http://www.snsindia.org/]
SNS BLOG [http://www.satarknagriksangathan.blogspot.com/]

Meghalaya bureaucrats find ways to scuttle RTI Act

Guwahati, Tuesday, November 14, 2006
NORTH EAST

It would require a genius to decipher meaning into a cryptic scribble like, ‘as discussed earlier’ or something enigmatic like ‘as appeared in the meeting’. ‘Babus’ in the government offices in Meghalaya have smartly wriggled out from giving information from file notings under the Right to Information Act. File notings are views, advices and recommendations put out by bureaucrats, as per laws, rules, norms and orders, regarding project proposals, tenders, and concept for a policy or any such official matter.

Freedom project, one of the NGOs here, after filing under the RTI, was stonewalled with cryptic notings of officials from Meghalaya. Some of the classic file notings stumbled upon were ‘as per verbal discussion’, ‘we will discuss’, ‘noted ... please go ahead ... Please speak!’

State Information Commissioner, GP Wahlang, expressed his helplessness at such smart tactics of bureaucrats.

RTI Effect: CIC asks UPSC to disclose marks to IAS aspirants

Overruling the plea of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Central Information Commission has reaffirmed its earlier decision that the former provide cut-off marks and individual marksheets to civil service aspirants.

However, CIC has not given immediate access to model answer papers and UPSC's "scaling system", restricting itself to an advisory role on that count. The decision taken by CIC's full Bench on Monday comes as a relief for civil service aspirants.

But by merely recommending and not directing UPSC to reveal its scaling system, the order is open to be exploited by UPSC. "RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal sounded a note of caution. He said only the "final, scaled down marks" will be revealed to candidates and this would not help them.

Complete Article

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Manjunath Shanmugam Trust launches RTI Helpline

We all remember Manjunath Shanmugam, the IIML alumnus murdered on Nov 19th, 2005 following his efforts to curb petrol adulteration. It shocked all of us; many joined hands to form The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust and many more contributed money, time and effort.

On Manjunath’s first death anniversary, Sunday Nov 19th 2006, the Manjunath Shanmugam Trust is launching two activities at an event in Delhi. Mr. Narayana Murthy and Ms. Kiran Bedi will be calling in with messages of support. Alumni, do attend in strength for this unique IIM alumni initiative. Extensive media coverage has been committed.

Send us a confirmatory email (h.jaishankar@gmail.com/akhilkrishna@gmail.com)please, so we can plan logistics accordingly. Delhi contact for queries: Amitabh Singh: +91.98102.91809/Amrit Singh (HAPS):+91.98116.25685

1. National Right To Information Act (RTI) helpline in association with noted NGO Parivartan (www.parivartan.com). The vision of the Helpline is to disseminate RTI Act knowledge nationally and empower the common man to seek accountability in public administration. The helpline will be serviced by a professionally trained call center team; funding efforts are on. The RTI helpline has initially been envisaged to operate in English, Hindi and Tamil.

Details of the Event
Date: 19th November, Sunday
Time: 10.30. a.m: PLEASE be on time!
Venue: Sparsh India BPO Services; 1st Floor, Plot 409, Udyog Vihar; Phase 3,
Gurgaon - 122016; Off NH-8 (close to Trident Hilton, next to Tele-Performance
Office)
Inaugural Call: Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor, Infosys will make the inaugural call from South Africa; Ms.Kiran Bedi will call in with a message of support.
Other attendees: Senior IIM alumni from across the corporate world will attend, along with members, Trustees and supporters of Parivartan and The Trust.

Schedule for the Event: (Total 60 minutes)
1. Remembering Manjunath
2. About MST and Parivartan
3. How the RTI Act impacted a life – narration
4. Announcement of the Manjunath Memorial Award
5. Call – message of support, Ms. Kiran Bedi
6. Inaugural Call by Mr. Narayana Murthy, followed by media message
7. Media interaction – open floor

RTI Commissioner pulls up Noida, Gr Noida authorities

The state Chief Commissioner for Right to Information (RTI) is understood to have reprimanded the Noida and Greater Noida authorities for having introduced a wrong format for the application and issuing wrong guidelines under the RTI Act.

The insistence on documents like ration card, PAN card, passport and voter identity card numbers as proof of identity from those seeking information under the Act was decried by Mr Justice M. A. Khan, RTI Chief Commissioner, UP. Both the authorities were told to cancel the wrong form by November 15.

Compelte Article

RTI Effect: CIC comes to aid of student, tells BHU to grant admission

In an order that is the first of its kind, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to admit a student who was denied admission earlier.

Dhanajay Tripathi, an applicant for the Masters in Physical Education course had complained to the commission that the university had denied him admission as he had filed an Right To Information (RTI) application seeking certain information that the university did not want to divulge. In its order, the commission has directed the university to not only admit Dhanajay, but also ensure that he is not victimised in the future.

Complete Article

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wake up call to Goa Govt officers: SCIC

Mr Menino Peres, director of info&Publicity, goa Govt is directed to compensate a complaint a nominal amount of Rs 1000 from his salary and the Govt is directed to initiate disciplinary action against him.

The Goa State information commission imposed penalties on a number of officers of Goa government for non-complaince of the RTI Act. The details are as under:

1. Police department imposed compensation of Rs 1000 to be paid to a complainant. (Case Appeal 9/2006/Police)
2. Mr. S.N. Kotwale, Cief Officer, Mapuca Muncipal Council is imposed a penalty of Rs 250 per day from 16-10-06 till the information is given to the complainant. It could be more than Rs 3500. Compensation of 2000 payable by the muncipal council. (Case Comp 10A/MMC)
3. Penalty of Rs 2500 imposed on Mr. Shetye Asst Registrar of coop societies, Panaji(Case Comp 12A/Coop)
4. Penalty of Rs 2500 imposed on Mr Afonso, Asst Director of Transport, Margao.&
compensation of Rs 1000 by the dept.(Case Comp31/ADT(S))
5. Compensation of Rs 1000 payable by Mr Menin Peres, Director of Information &Publicity. Disciplinary Action is recommended)

In Progress

1.SCN for penalty against Nirmala Institute OF EDUCATON stayed by the High Court.(Case Appl 5/ NIE)
2.SCN against Mr. Anil Parulekar, SSW, PWD issued for Penalty.
3.SCN against Mr Bykod. Town Planner, Margao issued for penalty.
4.SCN against C.O. Bcholim mucipal council issued.

Details are available on web site http://egov.goa.nic.in/rtipublic/sic.aspx

from the GoaRTI yahoogroup

Make encroachment policy clear in Gandhinagar: SCIC

Amid an ongoing anti-encroachment drive that has seen smallest of vendors thrown away from Gandhinagar's pavements and roads, the Information Commission passed a judgement on Tuesday asking local administration to make its encroachment policy clear to all.

Using his powers under Section 19 of the Right To Information (RTI)Act, 2005, State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) R N Das asked the collector's office to frame and duly publicise a proper policy on encroachment for Gandhinagar that is run by bureaucrats in the absence of a local self governing body.

Complete Article

RTI Clinics in Mumbai every 15 days

An interactive talk was organised at the Indian Merchants' Chamber (IMC), yesterday to create an awareness among the general masses and the Non Government Organisations (NGOs) regarding the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Julio Rebeiro, Ex-cop and trustee of Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT) aid, " Government officials want to rule the general public by not disclosing information and RTI has emerged as an important weapon in the hands of masses. Now, the government has to share the information with the public. To facilitate this, we are organising clinics in Mumbai once in 15 days, where our volunteers can learn how to file an RTI and get redressal. The first clinic will commence on November 16."

Complete Article

RTI to be applied to Maharashtra courts soon

Courts in Maharashtra would come under the purview of Right to Information Act very soon, state advocate general Ravi Kadam informed the Bombay High Court today. The Act would become effective for courts as soon as govenment announces it through the official gazette, Kadam said. He was replying to a PIL filed by Sanjeev Chimulkar, which had asked for introduction of RTI for the courts

Complete Article

Thursday, November 09, 2006

State CIC surmounts odds slowly, but surely

Spearheading this change is state chief information commissioner (CIC), RN Das, who resigned from the Indian Administrative Service to serve the SIC. Having taken charge in July this year, Das has brought about changes with just a skeletal staff. His main challenge, however, was an adamant officialdom, totally opposed to the provisions of the Act.

To top it all, there was a literal mountain of RTI complaints and appeals that stared him in the face. The decisions and attitude of SIC officials during this period, apart from its poor record, were also questionable. Pending appeals and complaints aside, officials refrained from levying penalties on government staff.

But with Das taking over in July, things have improved drastically. For starters, Das acknowledges that citizens have every right to use the RTI to redress their legitimate grievances. He takes the trouble to guide applicants and complainants on how they can redress their grievances when their case is not appropriate for using the RTI.

Now, file notings can be more easily accessed. Penalties have been imposed on erring officials and police protection has been provided to harassed RTI applicants. If any department does not provide information within 15 days, a showcause notice is issued.

Though access to information through RTI seems slow, Das is slowly getting there.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
09.11.2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Inquiry held under RTI Act

The officials of the State Information Commission have conducted an inquiry into the issue of six officials failing to provide information sought by the public under the Right to Information Act.

State Information Commissioners G Ramakrishnan and R Rathinasamy conducted the inquiry at the collectorate here yesterday. The officials concerned and the parties who sought information were present during the inquiry.

Complete Article

Passport applicant wields RTI power

The Right to Information Act has gone through several stages from being nascent to taking on people in authority head-on. After a lifetime of travel, 90-year-old Krishna Devi Jhalani has many more dream destinations.

A spirited Krishna Devi used the Right to Information to ask for an update on her passport. She appealed to the Central Information Commission (CIC) but two reminders and a summons later there was no answer from the government

The CIC finally sent a show cause notice to Delhi's regional passport officer asking why it should not fine the officer Rs 25,000 from her salary for failing to renew a passport nine months after an application.

The commission also asked the government to take action against the officer.

The letter reads:

"Could there be a more callous and apathetic attitude of a government servant towards not only a member of the public but also a statutory body like the information commission? It is such officers who bring a bad name to the entire bureaucracy and tarnish its image."

The maximum number of applications under RTI are for information concerning passports.

Complete Article

Gandhian seeks refuge under RTI

Denied information by a Gandhian institution, a Gandhian seeks refuge under the Right To Information(RTI) Act, 2005, to get his grievance redressed.

Gandhian and a senior Congressman Harisinh Chavda, representing Banaskantha in the Lok Sabha, had sought information from the Ahmedabad-based Gujarat Vidyapeeth regarding a departmental inquiry against an officer in October 2005 Chavda had also sought a copy of the one-man inquiry commission report that was set up following his complaint regarding certain irregularities at the prestigious Gandhian institution set up way back in 1920 by the Mahatma himself.

Upholding Chavda's contention, the SCIC held that the Gujarat Vidyapeeth, though substantially financed by the UGC, was a public authority that also received funds from the Gujarat Government, and thus came under the jurisdiction of the SIC.

In his judgement of November 6, Das allowed the petition of Chavda and ruled that with the departmental inquiry already over, points 1 to 4 in Chavda's complaint be responded to within 15 days; as also a copy of the inquiry report of the one-man commission be furnished to Chavda within 15 days.

Complete Article

Information requested in the past is made available on the Web!

I would like to share with the group, a site where information requested by the info seekers is made available on the website. This will save future info seekers the process of asking for information, if it is already asked by some else in the past.

The site is that of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas. If you click under subject the entire information provided to the applicant is made available. http://petroleum.nic.in/rtiact2005.htm

Posted by Ajay Madhusudan Marathe on Humjanenge yahoogroup

Rajasthan SCIC functions without an office

Information seekers face problems, as State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) ND Korani does not have an office at present. The government had got the SCIC's chamber vacated on October 24 to accomodate the Director, IT. The SCIC enjoys the status of the Election Commissioner and is crucial for the implementation of the RTI Act.

Social Activist Aruna Roy has written to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje urging her to provide an office, infrastructure and full time staff to the SCIC, which are crucial for implementation of the RTI Act. In her letter October 28, she said it does not require much intelligence to discern how much harm the lack of office space for the commission can do. To what address will citizens send their appeals or complaints? Where do they come to meet the Chief Information Commissioner, if he has no office? It is a fallacious argument that very few appeals have come to the commission, orthe commission has little work. If no one is aware of his whereabouts, how does one contact him in the first place?

The Hindustan Times,
New Delhi (Rajasthan Edition), November 8, 2006: (page no.3)
Ajmer, November 7:

RTI Expose: Public money going to cows? Here's how

Stray cattle which still have free rein to roam about on the city roads may not be the best testimony to the fact that the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is spending lakhs to contain the menace. However, a harassed Barodian found out under the Right to Information (RTI) Act that the VMC spent Rs 10.02 lakh in 2005 only to maintain cattle pound staff, an amount that minimally increased from the Rs 7 lakh average between 2001 and 2004. Also, the VMC admitted that it had impounded 2,379 stray cattleheads till October 10 this year.

Complete Article

Teacher gets police protection over RTI query

Jaisinh Parmar, 31, a primary school teacher in Bavla, has been getting some unusual visitors - police personnel accompanying a builder and some of his relatives in tow - ever since he tried to dig up information on the sale of a property under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. On Tuesday, when Parmar's case came up for hearing before the state chief information commissioner RN Das, the teacher finally got some respite - police protection.

"Parmar was not present when his application was taken up today. There is a possibility that he may have been prevented from appearing before the commission. Nobody should be allowed to obstruct the right to information of any individual. Police protection should be provided to Parmar," said Das. This is the first order issued by RTI's appellate authority of Gujarat, where an applicant has been given police protection to ensure that he gets his right to information.

The teacher's troubles began when he raised questions about a plot of land that belonged to his father, who has been suffering from mental ailments for the last 10-15 years. A couple of years ago, this land was sold off by his uncles.

Parmar then filed separate applications with the mamlatdar in Bavla, who had primarily dealt with the sale of land. He also filed an application with the Bavla police enquiring about the progress of investigations in his complaint.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
08.11.2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

An opening chapter

The Central Information Commission’s decision to allow right to information activist Arvind Kejriwal to inspect all cabinet files and notings on FDI in brand retailing is a landmark decision. This is for the first time that cabinet papers have been accessed under the Right to Information Act, 2005. By over-ruling the objections raised by the central public information officer on the issue, the CIC has sent across the right signal to the public and to public servants. One of the many impediments before the implementation of the RTI — in spirit, and not just in letter — has been the attitude of the bureaucracy. While corrupt officials have a stake in trying to keep potentially damaging information secret, many honest officials also resent having to divulge information due to an ingrained culture of secrecy that views answering the public’s questions as an attack on their personal power and esteem.

Complete Article

Calcutta University fails the RTI test

For the past one month, Dutta has been walking the corridors of Calcutta University four days a week, every week, trying to get a look at answer scripts of his BCom Part II examination. Dutta filed his application under the RTI with the SPIO on September 26 this year, but he is yet to get any reply even though the mandatory 30-day deadline has passed.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: ``India marginally less corrupt than in 2005'': Transparency International

Thanks to the Right to Information (RTI) Act and the efforts of civil society groups, India is perceived to be marginally less corrupt than in 2005 - climbing to 70 of 183 countries, graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) said Monday. This means India has also improved its position from 88 out of 159 countries, TI said.

"The marginal improvement in India has been brought about by the untiring efforts of civil society groups like Parivartan, Lok Satta, Public Affairs Centre and many others," TI India head Admiral (retd) R.H. Tahiliani said while releasing the report.

"There is a direct linkage between poverty and corruption. If India is to be relatively free from poverty for one-third of its countrymen, corruption will have to be tackled on a war footing," Tahiliani maintained.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Investor gets back 'dead' investments

The Right To Information (RTI) Act has come to the rescue of an investor who had been fighting to get his 'dead' investment back for the last 10 years.

In 1996, Kothari had invested Rs 3 lakh in Suman Motels' two holiday charter schemes. In the scheme that Kothari invested, his capital was supposed to increase
one-and-a-half times. The amount was to have matured in 2001.

Kothari then filed a case in the district consumer forum in 2002. The forum directed the collectorate office to repay the investor Rs 5.28 lakh, which included the interest.

"I provided a copy of the order to the collectorate officials, but for three months the authorities did not take any action,'' Kothari claimed. He then filed a query under the RTI Act asking why attachment proceedings have not been initiated against the company.

In 15 days, he received a reply from the collector's office stating that the recovery procedure has begun Last week, the company came forward and settled the claim and deposited the amount at the collector's office.

"The company had duped 62,552 small investors to the tune of Rs 300 crore. I
have also filed a winding-up petition against the company at the Bombay high
court so that all the investors get back their money'' said Kothari, who is also
the convener of Suman Motels Investor Forum

ToI, Ahmedabad
06.11.2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Future managers at IIM (A) take RTI lessons

Future managers at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) have found an effective weapon in Right to Information (RTI) Act to deal with bureaucratic red tape and bring in transparency and healthy competition in business environment.

These students have not stopped at that. They are planning a campaign where they will spread the Right to Information message to students of different colleges in the city through streetplays, poster exhibitions, films.

IIM-A marketing club called 'Niche', which had organised special sessions on RTI, said the new Act is extremely relevant to the corporate world.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
06.11.2006

CIC penalises babu for delay in divulging info

For the second time since the implementation of Right to Information Act 2005, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has imposed a penalty on an officer of Delhi government's education department for wrongfully delaying information sought and giving defective information to an applicant.

The CIC has also written a letter to chief minister Sheila Dikshit, attaching a copy of its judgement in the case, and apprised her that the education department is not enforcing the rules for "reservation of economically weaker section (EWS) in schools in the union territory" and has advised that "the government may consider suitable action against those responsible for this default".

Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has imposed a penalty of Rs 3,500 on Dharamvir Singh, former deputy director (education), for delaying information sought by applicants, Manju and others.

Complete Article

Information panel pulls up TN govt

The Tamil Nadu State Information Commission has come down heavily on the state Chief Secretary and the Public Department for their failure in coordinating in the implementation of the Right to Information Act.

It also criticised them for not providing information on the Principal Information Officers and Appellate Authorities for various departments in the state.

Passing orders on a complaint from a city resident, Dharnesh Shah, the commission said the information regarding the PIOs and Appellate Authorities for the government departments had to be provided immediately to all those who sought for it.

Complete Article

Now, use RTI to access Cabinet documents

For the first time, the Right to Information has become a key to Cabinet documents on important public issues. The Central Information Commission has not only allowed copy of the Cabinet note on Foreign Direct Investment in single brand retailing, it has also instructed government to permit inspection of all files related to FDI in retailing. The CIC has also observed that matter is complete once the Cabinet decides on the issue.

In a decision announced on October 19, eight months after the RTI application was filed, Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramanian told the Ministry of Commerce to allow applicant Arvind Kejriwal to inspect all the relevant files and file notings on the issue of allowing FDI in retail sector.

The decision will bring the entire decision-making process of the government out in the open as the applicant will be able to take notes from the files and notings in them.


Complete Article

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Panel not liberal towards govt officials: Central Information Commissioner

Central Information commissioner O P Kejriwal said that so far none of the petitioners exercising their rights under the Right to Information (RTI) Act had made enquiries about the departments known for high rate of corruption prevailing there.

He said the petitioners did not prefer to make enquiries about the corrupt practices prevailing in a particular department. People appeared to be more concerned about their personal well being rather than the well being of the society as a whole.

He, however, said that as the awareness about the RTI would grow the number of applications would go down. Officials would become alert and ensure transparency in the records. He said though the bureaucrats and politicians were not very happy with the passing of the RTI, it seemed that under the public pressure government would not dare to make any amendment in the Act to make it ineffective.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: 2 revenue officials held for embezzlement flood funds

Two revenue department employees have been arrested for allegedly embezzling money meant for people ffected by the July 2005 floods here after three locals uncovered their acitivities by using the Right to Information Act.

"I was surprised to see my father's name on top of the beneficiaries' list. We had been given relief of Rs 5,000 on aper but the ground reality was otherwise. We were not affected at all," said Pawar, a Marathi theatre artiste.

"Senior clerk Kisan Nalawade and clerk Prakash Waghmare were responsible for survey of the Kurla area and distributing relief. During investigations, we found they had given at least Rs 27,500 illegally and hence they were arrested," said an Anti-Corruption Bureau official.

Waghmare and Nalawade were produced before a local court that remanded them to police custody till November 8.

Complete Article

Friday, November 03, 2006

UPSC candidates' case: CIC reserves verdict

The Central Information Commission on Friday reserved its verdict in the case pertaining to the Union Public Service Central (UPSC) filed by some candidates who had appeared in the Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2006.

The full five-member Commission, headed by the Chief Information Commissioner, reserved the order after the final hearing. The verdict is expected to be delivered by Monday or Tuesday, said Sunil Don of Transparency Seekers, a group of candidates that had filed an appeal with the UPSC to reveal details about the preliminary examinations and a simultaneous complaint with the CIC after the UPSC had declined its request.

Complete Article

After SCIC, State cracks whip on PIOs in Gujarat

Close on the heels of reports of State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) cracking the whip on errant government functionaries taking the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005, lightly, the State Government has requested Public Information Officers (PIOs) and their appellate authorities of all government departments to follow the RTI mandates properly.

The circular sent to all offices of the government says that it has come to notice that verdicts given by the SCIC are not followed in given timeframe, making the Commission slap fines on PIOs and appellate authorities

Complete Article

Thursday, November 02, 2006

CIC may force UPSC to reveal rating system

Just how does UPSC ensure a level playing field in the civil services examination for candidates appearing in subjects as diverse as mathematics, history, animal husbandry and Pali literature? It does so through a "system of moderation"which has been a closely guarded secret for over five decades.

But that secret is now under threat as all the five members of the Central Information Commission will hold an extraordinary hearing on Friday on UPSC's request to exempt the moderation formula from the purview of the Right to Information Act.

Complete Article

HC issues notice to Bihar govt on information officers

The Patna High court has directed the Bihar government to file a reply, within six months, stating reasons why Information Officers were not appointed in various departments as required under the Right to Information Act.

The counsel for the petitioner informed the court that the state Information Commission had not been provided with required infrastructure and staff, although it had been constituted about two months back.

"Information officers have not been appointed in various departments of the state government as yet, thus defeating the very purpose of Right to Information Act," the petitioner alleged.

Complete Article

E-system for info panel to send appeals in Orissa

In a bid to facilitate easy access for citizens preferring second appeals or complaints under Right to Information Act, 2005, the Orissa Information Commission put in place an e-Information System yesterday with the help of the National Informatics Centre.

While ensuring faster and easy disposal of complaints/second appeals, the system will help create a supporting system for citizens living in far off places to get
benefits as envisaged in the RTI Act in a more convenient and comfortable manner. Inaugurating this e-Information system, Mr DN Padhi, the state chief information commissioner, underscored the need to use information technology extensively for efficient and effective functioning of any progressive organisation.
Referring particularly to Orissa Information Commission, he revealed that expeditious steps were being taken to improve the functioning of the commission both on the legal and administrative front.

Complete Article

Babus get back at seniors with RTI!

Sulking bureaucrats have started using the Right to Information (RTI) Act to get around their seniors. These bosses waste no time ordering a vigilance inquiry, seizing salary benefits for unknown reasons and ordering frequent transfers of their subordinates on whimsical grounds.

For instance, GM Chauhan, a junior authorised representative (AR) with the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) on Ashram road in Ahmedabad, had sought elaborate information on vigilance inquiries initiated against him since 1995. Besides this, he had also demanded reasons for not transferring him to his chosen posting between 1996 and 2001.

Complete Article

RTI muddle: Higher authorities not leading by example

Times of India, Ahmedabad
02.11.2006

Under Right to Information (RTI) Act, every public authority (PA) has to designate public information officers (PIO) and these officers are responsible for providing information to citizens. The question is, do these individuals, once designated as PIOs, consider this as punishment posting and feel that they are being made scapegoats, especially with fines being imposed as penalty under RTI?

Though this may be the common perception, the fact is that all officers of the PA are equally responsible for discharging their obligations under RTI. Section 5 (4) of the Act states that the PIO "may seek the assistance of any other officer as he or she considers it necessary for the proper discharge of his or her duties."

Therefore, the designated PIO is not the only person who is responsible or has the sword of penalties hanging over his head. Everybody, including the designated appellate authority (AA), is equally responsible.

CPI to seek its 'right', ask CPM to come clean on Singur deal

The CPM will face pressure from Left Front allies to be transparent on the Tata deal in Singur. Citing the Right to Information Act, the CPI will ask the CPM to spell out details of the agreement and will insist that fertile land should not be used for the project.

Complete Article

Mamata threatens Buddhadeb with RTI, attacks with Dunlop

from Economic Times, Ahmedabad edition
2.11.06

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that reopening of Dunlop's Sahagunj unit was nothing but a farce and the plot to reopen the unit was designed by none other than West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the CPM for reasons best known to them.

The party chief also said that she will try hard to force the Left Front government to reveal its agreement with the Tata Motors. "I will take recourse to the Right to Information Act to force the government to make the agreement public. It is really strange that a the Left Front government which claims itself to be a transparent one is trying to hide the agreement," the Trinamool leader pointed out.

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