Saturday, December 30, 2006

RTI Seminar at Gwalior and Ujjain

hi this is to inform u that there is a RTI seminar on 20th and 21st of jan 2007 at gwalior and ujjain respectively. it consists of power point presentation followed by interactive session and is absolutely free of cost. Bharat uday mission is conducting this seminar. for details contact gaurav khare.... 09993044453

[from the RTI orkut community]

RIA in action at DSIIDC

A challenge in most government offices is finding information amidst the pile of papers that have been lying there for decades. People who would use their right to information with Delhi Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation also shared similar feelings. Surinder Kapoor, CIO of DSIIC felt the need to change this and implemented a File management System to monitor and track documents

Complete Article

Information rush after showcause

The district administration of Dhubri organised a workshop yesterday to "inform" officialdom, the media and the public about the Right to Information Act.

Officers, journalists and members of NGOs participated in the workshop, conducted by election officer Animesh Talukdar and additional deputy commissioner Ranjeet Kalita at the District Rural Development Agency's conference hall. Talukdar explained the act in detail and answered questions from the participants.

Sources said it took a showcause notice from former legislator Ali Akbar Miah for the district administration to realise that it must implement the Right to Information Act. Miah, who had been denied access to information regarding the implementation of rural development schemes in the district, immediately petitioned chief information commissioner Bhaskar Mushahary.

Complete Article

RTI for civil service score

The Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC) cannot deny students information about the cut-off marks fixed for each subject in civil service examinations, observed the State Information Commission (SIC) today.

Baidyanath Mishra, the information commissioner and SIC spokesperson, said: "Though we have not received any such application, we will certainly issue a directive if anybody approaches us."

JPSC, which had earlier decided to provide the cut-off marks to students in view of an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) to the Union Public Service Commission, stopped on the ground that the Delhi High Court stayed the CIC directive.

Complete Article

Goa SIC's yet another progressive decision

the commission has also decided in one such case before it, that the non payment of Rs 10 fee is a remidiable defect and information cannot be denied only on this count.

(A Venkataratnam)

Chief Info Commr

[Posted by Mr A Venkataratnam on the GoaRTI yahoogroup]

Friday, December 29, 2006

Lessons on RTI taught to the Village School teacher

Keeping in perspective the various successful experiences of the use of Right to Information the fact is reinstated that the need of the hour today is to take the reins of governance from the hands of the so called public representatives and public servants and directly empower the common man with it. The moment a selected few get the authority to make policies for public welfare, it not only dilutes their sense of accountability it makes them irresponsible, selfish and unprofessional.

Mr. Promod Dixit, the only teacher appointed in the Pre Middle School of the Panchampur village of Banda District, Uttar Pradesh is a burning example. His appointment became a means for him to overpower the have-nots i.e the villagers and elude them with their right to learn. He was not only playing with the future of more
than 70 children but also making a complete mockery of the revered student teacher relationship. The Village Panchayat was unaware and helpless in this regard.

Mr. Dixit would not even in the wildest of his dreams have thought that the villagers would use their right to information as a weapon to teach him a lesson and force the administration to take necessary action against him.

Silence over project irks TN Info Commission

It has taken a rap from the State Information Commission for the Public Works and Highways departments to reveal information which has not been made public so far: that an elevated highway is coming up between Srinivasapuram and the East Coast Road in Chennai, and that necessary environmental clearances may not have been obtained.

This came to light when K.Saravanan of Urur Kuppam, Besant Nagar, moved the State Information Commission seeking details from the PWD about the reclamation of marshy land adjacent to Quibble Island cemetery and laying of a road near Odaikuppam south of Besant Nagar beach.

Complete Article

Thursday, December 28, 2006

RTI activist wants DoPT hauled up

Magsaysay awardee, Arvind Kejriwal, has returned to the Central Information Commission with the case that provoked the abortive attempt to pull file notings out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

Reason: despite its promise to CIC five months ago, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has failed to disclose the manner in which senior bureaucratic appointments are being made.

In his complaint to CIC filed on December 12, Kejriwal alleged that DoPT had avoided giving information relating to appointments at the level of secretary and additional secretary by claiming that those details were actually available with the cabinet secretariat.

Complete Article

4 more to join Punjab info panel

The Punjab Information Commission under the Right to Information Act is all set for expansion in the New Year. According to sources, at least four new members (the maximum number is 6) may be inducted into the commission in the first week of New Year.

Those cleared for appointment, sources reveal, are Lieut-Gen P.K. Grover (retd), Mrs Ravi Singh, Mr PPS Gill and Mr Kuldip Singh.

General Grover, who had been with the Western Command as Army Commander, is the only nominee from amongst ex-servicemen. Mr Kuldip Singh, who retired as Chief Engineer, Punjab Public Works Department. Mr PPS Gill, a former Bureau Chief of The Tribune, becomes the first representative of the media to be taken on the Information Commission.

Sources say the new members will take oath of office on January 2.

Complete Article

Now, RTI is being used in custody battle

A warring couple, a daughter, the Union home ministry and the right to information. If you wondered about the connection, take a peek into the life of the Wadhwanis of Gandhidham, whose embittered marriage has spun this strange tale. The wife, Poonam, has got the Union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal to jump into their domestic battleground while the husband, Vijay, has used the RTI Act to find facts that may have a bearing on the couple's custody battle for their daughter, Komal.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
29.12.2006

MP funds MLA, but where is the development?

Now, a citizen has demanded accountability under RTI on how an NGO, run by an MLA, has utilised funds allocated to it from MPLADS. During 2001-02, Rs 44,69,980 was given from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme(MPLADS) funds of Dr AK Patel and Gopalsinh Solanki to Vadu Juth Kelavani Mandal (VJKM) of Mehsana. This NGO is run by MLA Atul Patel. The funds were meant for purchase of computers for their BCA College, for constructing a community hall and for construction of hostel rooms for girls. Dahyabhai Patel wanted to know how these have been utilised.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
29.12.2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dearth of commissioners takes sting out of RTI Act

Right to information activists in the state are up in arms over the increasing pendency of appeals (4,612 till date) with the lone state information commissioner and the confusion over the appointment of two more commissioners by the government.

Social crusader Anna Hazare, who is starting an agitation on the issue on January 1, has sent a letter to chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, stating that the delay in appointing more commissioners would render the Right to Information (RTI) Act toothless. The judiciary is overburdened because there are not enough judges. The
information commissioner would become just like the judiciary if immediate steps
are not taken, he said.

Complete Article

RTI part of IIT alumni's for India

As the three-day Pan IIT-2006 meet concluded on Monday, nation-building still the overriding theme, alumni spelt out firm plans for campaigns touching onreforms in education and widening the ambit of the Right to Information facility.

To scale up the Right To Information campaign, IITians will also lobby for including civilians in an auditing process on RTI. Impressed by a move to install a special phone line in Bihar that allows citizens to register RTI requests for Rs 10, IITians will also work towards scaling it up in other states. Some other IITians have also pledged to adopt villages, and work in the areas of renewable energy and water supply.

Complete Article

Monday, December 25, 2006

Details on LPG supply sought from IOC

With abnormal delay in supplying LPG refills in the region, Coimbatore-based citizens' Voice Club has sought various details from the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The information sought include number of dealers and connections under each of them, number of days taken by each dealer to supply refills to consumers on an average and action taken by IOC to reduce the gap if the delay was widespread, club secretary C M Jeyaraam said in a letter to IOC.

The 'stoic silence' adopted by IOC over the attitude of LPG dealers has irked the public, who want to know whether it was consumer-oriented or favouring the distributing agency regarding supply of LPG, Jeyaraam said in the letter, a copy of which was released to the press here.

Despite highlighting the ordeal undergone by the public through the press and letters, there was negligible impact in streamlining the distribution of cylinders, the letter said.

"Some dealers have the dubious distinction of flouting all rules and regulations. Unfortunately in practice LPG refills are not supplied even after 40 days from the date of the last supply," Jeyaraam alleged.

Suggesting that records be verified to find out whether the dealers are following the numerical order in supply, he requested IOC to organise a consumers meeting to know the reality.

BHEL Education falls under RTI: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that Bhel Educational Management Board was a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and it cannot refuse to divulge information to applicants.

Asking Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited Educational Management Board to provide the requisite information in a month to an applicant, Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal rejected its contention that it did not fall under the purview of the act as it was not entirely supported by Bhel.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: After sixty years of neglect, Information Act changes UP village

In the six decades after Independence, nothing actually worked in the Naraini block of Banda in UP's Bundelkhand region. The villagers periodically protested against lack of civic amenities, bad roads and subhuman living conditions but no one listened.

Until they discovered the Right to Information Act. Things changed in just three months.

Over 14,000 villagers in the cluster of eight villages, 60 km from Banda,were cut off from the rest of the world. There was no electricity, no road and no bridge over the two rivers that flooded this low-lying area during the rains. The nearest primary health centre is 15 km away and children have to walk 2 km to reach the primary school.

On July 1, the villages filed applications under the RTI Act to the district collectorate, Banda and to the office of the commissioner, Chitrakoot division. They sought to know the outcome of the Banda DM's visit to their block on March 2 last year; what the DM's orders were after the visit; and details of how the funds meant for their villages were spent.

Within a month, they got what they wanted, and more. Work on a 7.8 km approach road and a bridge began in September, now electrification of the villages is underway.

Complete Article

In Uttar Pradesh - IPO is now an accepted mode of payment

Dear All,

On 27 Nov 2006, the U.P.Govt has issued following two Notifications :

(a) U.P. RTI (Regulation of Fee and Cost) (Amendment ) Rules, 2006 dt. 27 Nov 2006. Now in U.P. - RTI Fee and Cost of information can be paid by IPO also.
(b) U.P. SIC (Appeal Procedures) Rules, 2006 dt. 27 Nov 2006

Page 1 of 3
Page 2 of 3
Page 3 of 3

Zipped file

Best Regards,
Commodore Lokesh.K.Batra (Retd.)
Social & RTI Activist
NOIDA (U.P.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Guj SCIC imposed penalty on PIO + Appellatte Authority

Dear All,

Warm greetings.

Gujarat State chief Information Commissioner, in one of his order has imposed penalty on Applet Authority as well along with PIO. the judgment is remarkable as it interprets the role of applet authority as deemed PIO in this case, where commission had ordered AA in April 2006, to conduct the hearing and give the decision.

In three day convention held at New Delhi on the occasion of one year of RTI, one of the concern raised commonly amongst RTI concern citizens all over the country was that applet authorities are not discharging their duties, thus commission are getting overloaded with second appeals.

i think this order will make difference.!!!

with regards,
On behalf of Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel,
Harinesh Pandya
RTI Helpline: 09924085000
janpath1ad1@icenet.net

Bihar first state where you can dial a number to exercise your right

Using your right to information could not get easier than this. Soon, Bihar will be the first and only state in the country where, instead of writing and submitting your RTI application on paper, you can ask your queries orally via phone as well as receive the information the same way.

This facility assumes significance given the low literacy levels in the state helping the citizen bypass the need of drafting questions, filling oput the form and submitting it to the department

Once implemented, anybody seeking information under the RTI Act in Bihar can call on a specific phone number — which will be a routed to a call centre — from anywhere in the country and orally ask for the information she wants. The call will be answered by an executive trained in the use of RTI, who will draft and type the questions and send it to the department and public information officer (PIO) concerned.

Complete Article

Friday, December 22, 2006

Let students see their answer-sheets: CIC

Students still can’t access their evaluated answer-sheets but they are getting close. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education to give a Delhi student, question-wise marks awarded to her in the Class X science and technology paper in 2005.

The CBSE – that has been strongly opposed to showing students their evaluated answer-sheets – had responded in this case that there were no provisions in the examination byelaws of the board to show the answer-script to candidates.

An internal appeal moved on behalf of the student, Aditi Gupta, against this response was also turned down; the CBSE took cover under an exemption clause in the Right to Information clause that bars information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship.

Incidentally, the CIC had first cited this exemption clause to turn down an RTI request in February. The order had been severely criticised by RTI activists including Magsaysay award-winner Arvind Kejriwal who argued that the commission had misinterpreted this provision. In subsequent cases, the commission, however, agreed to take a relook and refer this issue to a Full Bench of the Commission to take final call.

In a brief order this week, Information Commissioner Dr OP Kejariwal kept the request for inspection of the answer-sheet pending in view of the constitution of the Full Bench but ordered CBSE to "disclose the question-wise marks obtained" by Aditi Gupta in the Class X examination 2005 within a fortnight. The commission had earlier ruled in favour of letting students see the answer-keys, the document that guides evaluators on marks to be awarded for various parts of a question.

Complete Article

Thursday, December 21, 2006

PMO refuses to furnish Netaji data

The Prime Minister's Office has refused to furnish data on documents and records it held on the mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, saying the disclosure would harm India's relations with foreign countries.

The PMO's denial comes close on the heels of Chief Information Officer A N Tiwari's warning to the Union Home Ministry that it would take stern action if the ministry did not furnish the 202 documents on Netaji under its possession.

Dhar, whose organisation is on a campaign to bring out the "truth" behind Netaji's disappearance, had earlier requested PMO's Central Public Information Officer Kamal Dayani to confirm if the PMO was holding classified records on Bose, and provide a list of all such records along with the unclassified ones.

Complete Article

RTI Camps in UP And Bihar

Friends,

There was a regular demands from some volunteers to organise Right to Information camps in some district of UP and Bihar.

Now dates of such camps are finalised:

Uttar Pradesh: January 15th to January 20 th 2007
in Banda, Ballia, Allahabad, Peelibheet, Balrampur, Lakhimpur Khiri, Sitapur, Allahabad, Sonbhadra and Meerjapur.

Bihar: February 5th to February 15th 2007
in 19 Districts including Patna, Samastipur, Siwan, Muzzeferpur, Chapra etc.
Meeting for Preparation: On 29th January in Patna.

Contact Nos: UP: M.R.Sharma 91-9415053216
Bihar: Rupesh: 91-9431021035

regards
vallabh
9415256848
[from the antibriberycampaign yahoogroup]

Govt goes soft on RTI amendments

The Right to Information Act is a landmark act which has allowed millions of ordinary citizens to assert their rights and get information from the government. When the Centre decided to amend the RTI Act so that file notings are kept out, activists strongly protested, saying it would dilute the purpose of the law. Now NDTV has learnt that under pressure the government is backing down.

As a result the government didn't put the RTI amendment bill on the Winter session agenda. The bill may now be quietly withdrawn through a formal letter or the government may let it remain on the list without taking it up, like the Delhi rent control Bill which remained on the list for nine years.

Complete Article

West Bengal IC censure for officer

The state information commission on Thursday came down on principal information officer and joint secretary of the cooperation department H.P. Roy for supplying wrong information to city-based trader Saroj Khettry.

“It appears, prima facie, that Roy had intentionally supplied wrong information to Khettry. We slapped a notice asking him to explain why he should not be penalised,” said state chief information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya.

Complete Article

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Time now to enforce RTI: CIC

Mr. Habibullah conceded that enough time had been given for the system to get attuned to the provisions of the new law. "The period training has ended. Now for denial of, or for delay in, providing information there should be a serious reason; otherwise penal action will have to be initiated," he said. The time was up not for the country's adamant bureaucracy alone. "It had been a training period for all of us. Now we have to move forward and give people what is theirs by right," Mr. Habibulah said. "This is an Act the people have accepted and adopted as theirs.

"Unless the penalty factor is not put into use the information will not come out," said Aruna Roy, whose Rajasthan-based Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan pioneered the public movement for the law. "Punish three; three thousand will fall in line," she said. Even after the legislation many officers continued to deny information to the seekers, she noted. "We need to put pressure on the State CICs to truthfully implement the Act," she added. "The Commissioners should not be cowed down by the Government in power," she said.

Complete Article

Orissa HSC examinees can get answer sheet copies

Now, students who have appeared for high school certificate (HSC) examination can get photostat copies of their evaluated answer sheets.

In a significant move on Monday, Board of Secondary Education (BSE) decided that only those students, who apply through Right To Information (RTI), will get copies of the answer sheets. They will have to pay Rs 2 per page though.

The secretary had explained to the Commission about the board’s statute but the SIC was of the view that he must provide the evaluated copies within a deadline or pay fine at the rate of Rs 200 per day per candidate. Subsequently, the Board sought the State Government’s opinion on who should pay the fine but got no reply.

As a result, in an executive decision taken on Monday, the Board decided to supply photostat copies to those who apply through RTI. But copies can be made available only within eight months of completion of the examination. Once BSE constitutes its committees when it meets on January 5, 2007, this decision would be formalised and a price fixed.

Complete Article

Monday, December 18, 2006

In Orissa, details wanted, so is officer

Finding Sudarshan Panda at Utkal University may not be the same as looking for a needle in a haystack, but it is not an easy job either. Panda, a sub-registrar of the university, is also the institute’s public information officer (PIO). But those who want to benefit from the RTI Act by seeking information from him usually have a hard time locating the officer.

“One has to be lucky to find him. I had to run from one room to another for about an hour to find him,” said B. Mishra, a student from a coastal Orissa town who had dropped in to seek information on rejection of a scholarship.

In the absence of signboards at the entrance displaying the name of the PIO, Mishra, like other visitors, do not know where to find the in-demand officer.

The situation is similar in a number of government offices where signboards are yet to be put up informing people of the whereabouts of the PIOs.

With the State Information Commission apparently lacking the resources to monitor the activities of the offices concerned, finding the right person has become more difficult in many cases than finding the right information.

Complete Article

West Bengal RTI Manch programmes postponed due to the Bandh

Dear Friends,

Most unfortunately, we have to postpone our both "West Bengal RTI Manch" proceedings scheduled/declared on both the dates, i.e. on 21st & 22nd of December, 2006 at "Young Horizon School" & "Narkeldanga" due to sudden Strike/Bandh called by the political party "Trinamul" in West Bengal for 48 hours.The latest bandh call, incidentally, could ensure a five-day holiday as the two days after the bandh are Saturday and Sunday, and Monday is Christmas.

We from the "West Bengal RTI Manch" sincerely regret for the inconveniences caused to all the invitees, participants due to this. We would accordingly let you know the proceedings & dates settled in this regard.

Thanking you in anticipation,
Sicerely yours,
(MALAY BHATTACHARYYA)
for
West Bengal RTI Manch

Babus give babus the blushes

The Central Information Commission is being flooded with RTI applications from former bureaucrats seeking potentially embarrassing information about other senior bureaucrats.

“At least five applications of this nature come before us every day, asking much more appropriate and incisive questions than an ordinary citizen ever could,” an information commissioner told The Telegraph.

Take for instance, a recent application asking for details of the foreign trips of bureaucrats from the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. And voila — from Brussels to Brisbane, Copenhagen to Cairo, the money spent on official trips in the past three years all come spilling out.

The secretary, four joint secretaries and the commissioner of the department together ran up a whopping bill of over Rs 37 lakh in 2003 for foreign visits.

Complete Article

Sunday, December 17, 2006

RTI Effect: Girl files RTI query after cop inaction

The next time a police officer refuses to act on your FIR, you can put your foot down and hold him accountable by simply filing a Right to Information (RTI) application. Shakti Tibrewal, a fifth year student from CEPT, Ahmedabad, had filed an FIR at the Navrangpura police station on November 11, after her camera and debit card were stolen from the campus.

The FIR, however, got her nowhere and repeated requests to the local police officials did not yield results. Tired of the indifferent attitude of investigating officials, Tibrewal decided to file an RTI application to keep track of the investigation in her case.

Not only did her case grab the attention of the higher-ups, but it also resulted in area deputy commissioner of police (DCP) AK Jadeja monitoring her case.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
18.12.2006

RTI to go online

People can access required information online under the right to information act from 2007, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said on Saturday. Postal and information technology departments are considering various suggestions regarding the mode of payment for accessing information under the act, he told reporters here.

A final decision is yet to be taken on the appropriate mode of payment, Habibullah said.The Commission has incorporated several suggestions to strengthen the act in its report which will be tabled in Parliament soon, he said.

The CIC said all villages and gram panchayats will be connected with computer networking and people can use online facilities from villages also. The Commission has recommended extra funds for departments for digital indexing of information and computerisation, he said.

Complete Article

Furnish data on Netaji documents: CIC to Home Min

Under the Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Union Home Ministry to furnish data about 202 documents it possesses relating to the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

During a hearing on December 12 of a complaint against the Ministry of Home Affairs, Information Commissioner A N Tiwari chided the Ministry`s Central Public Information Officer and an Under Secretary for not coming up with the pertinent responses sought by mission Netaji, a Delhi-based organisation.

Failure to come up with cogent answers in the next hearing, scheduled in March, could result in a strong order against the government, the commissioner warned.

Complete Article

RTI Act’s aid for common man: Justice Balakrishnan

When in the present scenario even the media is not serving the true facts and people are being mislead, the Right to Information (RTI) Act comes to the aid of the common man, said Justice K G Balakrishnan of Supreme Court. He was here to inaugurate Justice N J Pandya-AMA Centre for Excellence of Law on Saturday.

‘Many information were earlier suppressed by the government, giving air to the existing corruption but the Act enables the public to access any file, he said. “With information being published, there will be a clear feeling for things being done. RTI gives people a feeling of participation,” he added.

Complete Article

Friday, December 15, 2006

RTI ruling puts discoms, DERC at loggerheads

The Central Information Commission’s decision to declare power companies to be “public authorities” and therefore within the purview of the Right to Information Act appears to have set the discoms against the DERC.

The discoms say they would rather provide information through the DERC and not be brought under the RTI while the DERC says the discoms are “taking recourse to technicalities to get away from the RTI”.

Complete Article

Annaji to fight for our right!

Anna azare has decided to go on indefinite hunger strike at Rajghat in Delhi. From 1st january 2007 demanding complete implementation of RTI. He declared this yesterday (15th December) in Ahmednagar. Yesterday a processions were organised by his organization "Bhrashtachar Virodhi Janandolan" at all collectorates in Maharashtra.

His main demands are
1)appointment of all the information commissioners everywhere.
2)compulsory penalties to defaulting PIO's

RTI workshop in Patna

dear friends,

a meeting to organize RTI camps in various districts of bihar is being held on 19th december, 2006, tuesday from 11 am to 3 pm at the following address:

‘Koshish,’ Aabdeen House, Frazer Road, Patna-1, Ph.: 0612 2207912, 6415355,
Contact: Rupesh, M: 9431021035

friends in bihar who are interested in organizing camps at various district headquarters are requested to come to this meeting.

thanks,
Rupesh

CIC summons Post Master General

Irked by a series of complaints about missing mail, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has decided to ask the Post Master General of Delhi to appear before it and explain how priority mail posted "Under Postal Certificate" goes missing.

"The Post Master General, Delhi, will, therefore, be asked to appear before us together with the appellant on February 19, 2007, to explain why correspondence sent under priority of UPC remains undelivered... this has become necessary because we have been receiving a series of complaints of UPC mail not being delivered to the destination for which it is meant," observed Mr. Habibullah.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: RTI ensures widow's victory

"Give me justice or just hang me if I am at fault," says 76-year-old Laxmi Narayan Adval. Frail and fatigued, the widow single-handedly battled corrupt officials in Mulund municipal ward office for 21-long years and finally achieved justice in 2006.

Although perseverance prevailed, it was Adval's plea under the Right to Information Act which helped her retain ownership of her plot in Mulund, besides getting sanctions from the ward office for construction of shops, an assurance ignored by the BMC since 1985. Adval put up a fight with corrupt officials who tried all tricks to compel her to sell off the land to builders. "I had sat on a five-day dharna outside the ward office in 1985 as a mark of protest but it was RTI which helped me get justice after 21 years," Adval said

Complete Article

Thursday, December 14, 2006

West Bengal IC issues show cause notice

The state information commission has slapped a showcause notice on the principal information officer and joint secretary of the cooperative department for furnishing misleading data under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

State information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya stated: “We held a hearing in October this year and directed the principal information officer and joint secretary of the cooperative department, H.P. Roy, to reply Khettry’s queries.”

The RTI authorities later came to know that the information furnished by Roy was neither true nor complete. “He had only forwarded an extract when the commission had asked him to supply Khettry all the documents in full,” said an official of the commission.

Complete Article

21 IAS Officers summoned by Jharkhand SIC

For the first time in country, a State Information Commission has summoned 21 IAS officers at a time. These IAS has to appear in person before the Jharkhand State Information Commission on January 4 th, 2007. The State Information Commission summoned these officials, as they did not provide the information related to NREGS in the blocks of the state as sought by Vishnu Rajgadia under RTI.

During the second hearing on 09.12.2006, the commission felt that the Rural Development Department (Jharkhand) is not having the information on block level regarding NREGS. Therefore, the commission summoned the 20 Deputy Commissioners on 04.01.2007 to state whether they have the block level information sought by the applicant or not. The commission also wanted to know from the Principal Secretary of the Rural Development Department (Jharkhand) whether he gets the reports on implementations of NREGS in blocks or not.

Vishnu Rajgadia
Prabhat Khabar

Bicholim municipal CO fined under RTI

The Goa State Information Commission (GSIC) has imposed penalty of Rs 2500 on the chief executive officer of Bicholim Municipal Council (BMC) for not providing information to the applicant sought under RTI, Act, within a period of 30 days. The penalty imposed will be deducted from the salary of the PIO and deposited to the municipal fund.

Justifying the delay caused in giving information, PIO through his counsel submitted that, "there are various departments within the council who have to put up the letter of the request to the opponent and this is a normal administrative delay."

The GSIC consisting of State Chief Information Commissioner, A Venkatratnam and State Information Commissioner (SIC) G G Kambli, however, observed that it cannot accept the reason given for delay because while enacting the RTI, Act, a specific provision has been made under section 7(1) of the Act to furnish the information within a maximum of 30 days of making the request.

Complete Article

Inception of West Bengal RTI Manch on 21st December 2006

A few like minded people of this state have agreed to work for a cause, i.e. successfull implementation of Right to Information Act 2005. Inspired by the Magsaysay Award Winner Shri.Arvind Kejriwal, we have decided to start a forum in the name of "WEST BENGAL RTI MANCH", from 21st December 2006.

You are most welcome to join the one-day workshop on RTI Act 2005 to be conducted by Shri. Manish Sisodia, of NGO named KABIR from Delhi, on 21st Dec 06 between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Young Horizons School 220-Barakhola, Kalikapur Singhabari Bus Stop E.M.Bypass, Kolkata - 700 099 This is just 2k.m. from Ruby General Hospital towards Highland Park. You may contact me on my mobile (+9231413834) for further clarifications on the same.

Hoping to meet you there! Warm Regards,
(MALAY BHATTACHARYYA)

[from the humjanenge group]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

RTI movement makes net gains

"The unique thing about these discussions are that in many cases even babus - such as information commissioners - take part in the discussions and respond to queries immediately,'' said RTI activist Rajesh Darak.

One of the largest e-groups highlighting the cause of RTI is Hum Janenge. Started by Punebased RTI activist Prakash Kardaley, it currently has 478 members. "The site even has moderators from across the globe who update discussions and issues,'' said Rahul Mangaoker, a moderator based in Ahemdabad.

Individual blog spots like indiarti.com, which boasts of 499 members, even has a comprehensive section which provides everything a common man needs to know about the legislation. "The blog also has video documentaries on how RTI had changed the life of common man in rural districts of Rajasthan and Maharashtra,'' said a member.

Times of India, Mumbai
13.12.2006

Use RTI for criminal investigations

A police officer makes forceful advocacy for investigating officers to start liberally using the Right to Information Act to mop up evidence rather than remaining handicapped with antiquated laws. He makes profuse citations from the RTI Act and obviously knows handicaps of the RTI Act as well.

While remaining within the four corners of Cr PC, the investigating officer or agency has freedom to adopt any lawful process to collect evidence, documents and other information required for the investigation. Even the courts avoid interference in the investigation.

As regards the value of the information obtained under the RTI as evidence, it must be noted that the information is collected through lawful process.

Admissibility of the information as evidence, therefore, is beyond any doubt as it is provided by public information officers designated by public authorities while discharging their official duty,

Identification of documents is easier and examination of witnesses will be faster on the basis of the documents. Hostility rate of witnesses can also be minimised with all these documents in possession of the investigating officer. Saving of time and money on investigation will lead to better quality and professional investigation.

pune newsline, the indian express, pune - express initiatives page
wednesday, december 13, 2006

RTI is heading towards bureaucratic quagmire

The educated class in India and the affluent expatriate Indian community has routinely lamented about corruption and lack of transparency in the dealings of the Indian government. The Right to Information (RTI) Act passed by Parliament in October 2005 was a turning point for Indian democracy. The RTI Act is undoubtedly a bold step. Government organisations can now be held accountable. Bribes no longer need to be paid and fear of exposure might deter bribe-takers. Efficiency and transparency can improve. The man on the street is now the boss. The tax payer who has been the underdog for 50 odd years finally has a platform to demand answers and expect accountability. In short, if done right, the RTI Act has a Bollywood-like feel to it, where the underdog wins and the oppressors are brought to justice. It seems too good to be true.

he bad news is that there are 4,000 appeals and complaints pending and this is growing by the day. The maximum penalty imposed on principal information officers, of Rs 25,000, for delays or non-disclosure of information, was slapped just thrice under the RTI Act in more than a year.

This state of affairs is likely to worsen and can send the wrong message. The common man will soon feel that filing an application and chasing an appeal is a waste of time since the final outcome is unlikely to be of any use.

Complete Article

Monday, December 11, 2006

TOI's Right To Information Campaign

The Times of India wants to highlight instances where readers have used RTI Act to expose corruption or government apathy, to get justice, to force the administration into action or simply to ensure greater transparency in governance.

The best cases will be published each week with a photo of contributor. Please email the case details ( including your contact nos.)to righttoinfo$indiatimes.com or post it to "Right To Information Campaign, Editorial Department,The Time of India, Dr.D.N.Road, Mumbai 400001."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

RTI Expose: Effluent plant spews toxic waste

Here is why one gets to see toxic effluents being discharged into Kharikut canal from Vatva GIDC industrial area despite the presence of an effluent treatment plant.

Recent inspection records of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) reveal that the effluent treatment plant, Green Environment Services Co-operative Society Limited at Vatva GIDC set up in the industrial area itself was injecting untreated toxic sludge into Kharikut canal.

This embarrassing fact was brought forth by one of the expelled employees of the treatment plant, Vishnu Patel, who had asked GPCB the inspection details under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
11.12.2006

Many hiccups still in RTI Act implementation in state

Even after one and half years of its enactment, the RTI Act 2005 is yet to come into proper shape in Manipur. The departments within the purview of the RTI Act are yet to prepare and publish their respective manuals as required under the Act.

People of the state had witnessed not only delay in the appointment of state public information officers and assistant state public officers in the departments under the state government but also in the constitution of commission and appointment of chief information commissioner.

Even the chief commissioner himself could not know the particulars of the organization, functions and duties of the establishments of the state government which are within the purview of the RTI Act, 2005 as each departments is yet to prepare and publish the manuals mandatory under RTI Act, a source very close to CIC said.

Complete Article

ICAR scientist to inspect CBI files on computer purchase scam

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has allowed a senior ICAR scientist to inspect investigation files and records on a multicrore, computer purchase scam in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, which came to light in the mid-1990s. The case was closed in February 2004 for lack of evidence.

Complete Article

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sports Authority told to display information

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Sports Authority of India to display information regarding its public information officer and appellate authority on its premises within two months.

The Commission observed that it was a peculiar case wherein the appellant only wanted the information as to how and where the application fee was to be remitted. "SAI could have displayed a notice on the premises indicating the name, address, telephone numbers of the CPIO/AA," observed Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramanian.

Complete Article

MP without CIC, plaints get piled up

Madhya Pradesh is without a Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) since the retirement of T N Shrivastava on October 31. And the State government does not seem to be in a hurry to fill the post.

A three-member panel, headed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, was to decide on the new CIC on November 3 but its meeting was deferred without fixing a date for the next one.

Sources in the State Information Commission say that in the absence of the CIC, applications seeking information are piling up. “Each day on an average five applications are received but we are unable to take action as the commission is headless”, an official told Hindustan Times requesting anonymity.

Complete Article

RTI Expose - IAS officer's performance is immaterial

The backbone of the rule in all States and at the Centre is the elitist IAS. I wanted to check the consistency with which their performance was being appraised and evaluated. Information received using RTI, shows this a fiction! On 29th April, 2006 I asked the Maharashtra Government about the number of IAS officers in the State, and for how many of them Annual confidential reports had been received.

The Public Information Officer,- perhaps treating this as a State Secret,- refused to give the answer with the claim that 'this was not information'. Being amused at this response I filed an appeal. The first Appellate Authority from GAD, claimed that the PIO was right. For good measure she also claimed that this was personal information, and hence could not be given! When I had not even sought the name of any individual, how it became personal information was a mystery. By this time I was curious why innocuous information like this was being treated as a great State Secret. I filed my second appeal and the Information Commissioner ruled that there was no ground to refuse this information. Over five weeks after the Information Commissioner's order, the cat is out of the bag: There is no consistency or regularity or seriousness in the matter of annual appraisals of IAS officers. The ACR is supposed to be submitted to the Government by July of each succeeding year; ie. the ACRs of all officers for 2005-2006 should have been with the Government by August, 2006. They are not giving the figures for 2005-2006 so far, but the information provided shows 42% of the ACRs for 2004-2005 are overdue for over 16 months. For two, three, and even 4 years over 20% of the ACRs are not received.

The answer given by the Government after their defences to maintain this secret were breached by RTI:

YearNumber of IAS officersACRs recievedACRs not recieved Percent not recd Number of years not recd.
2001-20022682125420%4
2002-20032712056424%3
2003-20042882068028%2
2004-200530817812842%1

How then is the performance of IAS officers judged? Perhaps, by arbitrariness and corruption! How are promotions decided? How did the present Chief Secretary supercede others? How are important executive positions, and onerous responsibilities given to some? There is no evaluation, no system in place. Now we know the truth: the emperor has no clothes. Can we imagine a 'system' where students or their teachers are not evaluated for years?

-shailesh gandhi
[as posted on Humjanenge]

Rice Exporters , GM Rice Trials & RTI

The anti-GM activists are using the Right to Information Act to get government records that were beyond reach earlier.

(Pl.see the map location disclosed, of the GM Rice trial sites in India in 2006, drawn using the information obtained using RTI 2005.)

Complete Article

Anna to launch agitation for non-bureaucrat info commissioners

More than a year has passed since the Right to Information Act has come in
force, but Maharashtra Government is reluctant to implement it. The state
government does not seem to have realised that the transparency act is as
important for eradication of corruption as is the polio dose for eradication of
that disease.

The Act prescribes that the state can appoint ten information comm
missioners, but for the past 14 months it has appointed only the chief
information commissioner. Even a small state like Goa has four information
commissioners. Over 4,000 second appeals are pending disposal in Maharashtra for
want of adequate number of information commissioners.


While appointing new information commissioners, the government must assure the people that no bureaucrat be appointed in those posts. There is no dearth in the state of principals, journalists, professors, teachers, district judges, legal experts and social workers of appropriate age and experience. It is not at all difficult for the government to appoint ten information commissioners from among such meritorious persons.

Public Information Officers (PIOs) do not respond to a requisition in the mandatory period of 30 days, or give wrong, incomplete or misleading information. This is gross violation of the provisions of the Act. It is essential that such defaulting PIOs are penalised as per the Act, but no such action is seen from the chief information commissioner.

A state level meeting of district and city chiefs of Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan
Andolan held at Ralegan Siddhi on November 26 and 27, therefore, decided to
launch an agitation in protest of both the state government and the state chief
information commissioner.

Our demands:
1. In addition to the chief information commissioners, 10 information commissioners be immediately appointed at all the divisional headquarters of Maharashtra and other major centres.

2. No information commissioner should be present or past bureaucrat.

3. The information commissioner should sternly and without any laxity penalise all defaulting PIOs.

Volunteers of the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan will take out morchas to district collectorates on December 15 and submit a memorandum, pressing for these demands. The direct agitation will be launched on January 1 if the demands are not met by then.

K B alias Anna Hazare

[press release. posted on humjanenge]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Right To Information Emasculated

The amendments proposed to the Right to Information Act are a substantial roll back of the Act. The persistent manner in which the government is pushing them despite mounting public criticism, indicates that the prime minister has not outgrown his bureaucratic background. The disclosure of the text of the proposed amendments has given the lie to the statement put out by the prime minister’s office to the effect that the amendments actually for the first time empower the citizens to access file notings and that the restrictions relate only to notings on defence and personnel related matters. Apart from the fact that the central information commission had repeatedly ruled that the un-amended Act did not restrict access to file notings, it can be seen that the text of the amendment restricts access to all file notings except “substantial file notings on plans, schemes, programmes of the central government or a state government, as the case may be that relate to development and social issues.” This is done by amending the definition of records in the Act.

This amendment will by itself take the life out of the Act.

Complete Article

Cops feel the heat over RTI Act!

The next time you find the police dragging their feet in providing information on action taken on your complaints, the Right to Information Act could come in handy to activate the Men-in-Uniform and accede to the demand for information.

That the police have begun to feel the heat now is evident by the fact that the Superintendent of Police, South Shekar Prabhudesai — a Public Information Officer under the RTI Act — is facing a notice from the State Chief Information Commissioner, Goa directing him to show cause why a penalty of Rs 250 per day delay should not be imposed on him for not providing information as sought by a party.

Complete Article

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Info within 30 days or else it's free

Under the RTI Act, it is mandatory for authorities to provide information for free if it is not provided 30 days after filing an application.

Citizens can apply for information under RTI by paying a small fee. Information from the Gujarat government costs Rs 20, while one has to pay Rs 10 for queries to Central government bodies. The public information officer (PIO) can charge Rs 2 per page for information sought and has to inform the applicant about the additional fees required within 30 days.

Amit Jethwa of Gir Nature Club had sought information from the forest department on May 15. He was asked to pay Rs 1,870 as fees for 935 pages on August 4. However, he did not get the information within 30 days.

The state chief information commissioner then ordered the PIO that the information be given free of cost. The PIO was reprimanded for causing a loss to the state exchequer. If the information had been provided within 30 days, the forest department could have collected the fees, but due to the delay, they suffered a loss. The PIO was also asked to show cause as to why penalties should not be imposed on him.

Surat principal uses RTI for answers on his extension

The battle over the issue of admissions in some colleges, objected to by Veer Narmad South Gujarat University (VSNGU), is now being taken up through Right to Information (RTI) Act by Bharat Desai, in-charge principal of H R Shah Mahila Arts and Commerce College, Navsari. Desai, who is embroiled in a row over admission to an excess number of students in B Com, has sought an explanation from the university on various decisions taken by the syndicate.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
07.12.2006

RTI Expose: PMC accounts fraught with faults

A whopping sum of Rs 55 crore, drawn as cash advances by various civic departments, was 'outstanding' for seven years, from - 1997 to 2004. The civic departments, which had freely drawn the advances from the treasury, did not bother to pay the bills on time for reconciliation of accounts. This, and a series of other flaws in the Pune Municipal Corporation's accounting system have been exposed by a special government audit for the financial years from 1997 to 2004.

The office of the chief auditor, Maharashtra government, had conducted the audit in August 2004. Pune-based civic activist Vihar Durve procured a copy of the report under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on December 1. Interestingly, in an official reply to Durve, the PMC has admitted that this was the latest government audit of the PMC and the "PMC's accounts after 2003-2004 are still to be audited."

Times Of India: 7.12.06

NGO spreads RTI to Dalit masses

NGO Manav Vikas Sansthan has made it a mission to spread awareness on RTI Act to empower the Dalit masses. "Today we have an effective RTI Law but people are still not aware of it. RTI would play an important role in emancipating Dalits and prevent officials from usurping our rights," said Bapu Raut, President of the Sansthan.

More than 500 people took benefit of this workshop. Kalu Kamble from Nagpur was so impressed that he vowed to put up an application under RIT seeking information on the expenditure incurred by his village Panchayat. "I never knew that we can even ask for accounts from the authorities. This was unheard of," said Kamble.

Right through the morning corporator Manoj Sansare and Sena leader Chandrakant Kamble were busy distributing spectacles to the needy people.

Complete Article

Upright officer bares Khairlanji report

Ratnakar Gaikwad, the director general of Yashvantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), on Wednesday insisted that he had a right to conduct a probe into any incident of atrocity on Scheduled Castes or Tribes.

Gaikwad was reacting to the state government's move to initiate an inquiry into how the YASHADA report on the Khairlanji killings was leaked to the media.

Talking to the Hindustan Times, Gaikwad said he had submitted the report to the government on Khairlanji massacre on November 30 and the same was displayed on YASHADA's website the very next day. "How can I deny the information to the people under Right to Information Act?" Gaikwad asked.

Complete Article

Shailesh Gandhi on Rediff Chat

Shailesh Gandhi, convenor of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, sheds more light how citizens can make use of their right in a chat with Rediff members.

Text of Chat Transcript

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

CIC slaps penalty on DDA

The CIC (Mr. Wajahat Habibullah in the chair) has directly penalized PIO of DDA in the Appeal No. CIC/WB/A/2006/00307 & 308 dated 12.06.2006 in case of Shri Pawan Kumar Jain Vs Delhi Development Authority on 4th of Demeber 2006.

"The response to the applicant's original application was given only on 30.11.2005. It is, therefore, in excess of the time limit permissible u/s 7(1) by 7 days. PIO Shri Mishra admits that because of the high pressure of work and the number of applications made by appellant Shri Jain on various matters, he has been late in making his response. Although he apologized for this lapse, this admission makes PIO Shri OP Mishra liable to penalty u/s 20(1) of the RTI Act, 2005. He will, therefore, pay a penalty of Rs. 1750/- @ Rs. 250/- per day from 24.11.05 to 30.11.05, the date on which the response was sent to appellant purporting to be information sought. The Commission further directs the Commissioner (LD), DDA to cause recovery of the amount of penalty from the salary of Shri OP Mishra made payable in the name of P&AO, DP & PR in New Delhi, and submitted to Shri Pankaj Shreyaskar, Assistant Registrar in this Commission by January 3, 2006 for further depositing in the appropriate Account Head. "

Complete Text of Decision

Consumer activist assaulted in Salem

An incident of a 67-year old consumer activist who was assaulted by some persons seeking information under the newly enacted Right to Information Act (RTI) has come to light. Strangely, the applicant says, the police instead of taking action against the assailants obtained a commitment from him in writing that he would not file a similar petitions in future.

In this letter to the Catalyst Trust here, A. Annamalai of Chokkanathapuram in Selam district who was the district coordinator, FEDCOT, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu and Secretary of Chokkanathapuram Consumer Awareness and Environment Protection Society said he sought information under RTI Act about the waiver of loans by a cooperative society in his village. Following this he was abused and attacked by two persons, whom he identified, in front f his house on November 22. Following a complain by one of the assailants with the Malliakkarai police station , he was taken to the police station where officials told him to withdraw the application. Mr. Annamalai said on
November 24 he was assaulted by another person near the Chokkanathapuram bus stand.

Mr. Annamalai, a one-time Bhoodan Movement leader said at the police station he was asked to sit on the floor in the corner. He was abused and treated like a criminal.

Source: The Hindu: Friday, December 1, 2006

Habibullah asks govt to play more pro-active role in implementing RTI Act

Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah Habibullah said as per the provisions of the Act, every public authority should maintain all records in catalogued and indexed form, which further should be computerized and networked.

Stressing the need to make people in villages aware of their rights under the Act, he hailed the legislation saying "the very essence of democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information is vital to its functioning."

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Enroachments gone!

The Kiran Vihar RWA filed an RTI with Delhi Development Authority (DDA) seeking the status of a plot in the colony and asking what steps were being taken for removing the encroachments on it.

"After the stipulated time of 30 days, we received a reply from DDA that was irrelevant to the query," said V K Arora, President of the RWA.

The RWA then wrote a letter to the Chief Information Officer and informed him about the irrelevant information being provided by DDA. "A show cause notice was issued to the concerned DDA official to provide the right answer within ten days as per the RTI rules," Arora said.

"Within ten days, the RWA received a positive response from DDA saying that these jhuggis are totally illegal and DDA has ordered for the immediate removal of these jhuggis," he said.

Complete Article

Right exercised but no information

The law meant to sweep in transparency and improve governance finds itself mired in bureaucratic delays. Close to 5000 appeals by aggrieved citizens, denied information by the bureaucracy in response to their applications under the Right to Information law, are currently pending with the state’s highest appealing body – the State Information Commission (SIC).

The appeals currently being heard by Joshi were filed back in March-April. "The Information Commission has gone into a coma," says Bhaskar Prabhu of the Mahiti Adhikar Manch (Right to Information Forum).

"Such grotesque delays defeat the very purpose of the act. Bureaucrats are just denying information knowing it will be months before the matter is decided."

Complete Article

Monday, December 04, 2006

Transparency effect

Shashikala is a busy woman in Nagarakere of Mandya District. Maintaining the house, taking care of the family, cooking food and bringing grocery keeps her occupied during the day. When it comes to buying ration, she was always duped. “We used to pay Rs 100 for 20 kilo rice, 5 kilo wheat and 1 kilo sugar at the ration shop. But now, after Grama Sarkara informed us about the Belur Declaration, we do not fall prey to the shopkeeper’s arrogance. We get all these items for Rs 88.50. We also demand for a cash bill. Even the rate of kerosene has gone down from Rs 10 to Rs 9.60. There is no room for false declarations of 'no stock'." Shashikala is now an active member of the Food Assurance Committee which was formed at the Gram Panchayat level recently.

Grama Sarkara, a monthly wall-journal published by the Gram Panchayat, has empowered people with information. This two-page wall-journal was launched in May 2006 with an aim to bring in transparency in the panchayat administration and to enlighten villagers on various schemes and privileges. It shows how a government body can keep its people informed even before they ask for it. A right way to bring the Right to Information Act into practice.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Excess property tax waived

For over a decade, Narhari Mavlankar, a resident of Maharashtra society in Navrangpura, has been fighting a battle with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for levying additional property tax on his one-room office in his residential property.

Frequent appeals to know the grounds on which the additional tax was levied, fell on deaf ears. But then a simple application made under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to the AMC did the trick.Within two days of filing the RTI application, the AMC waived the Rs 2.5-lakh additional tax levied on him.

Taking a leaf out of Mavlankar's book, residents in his society near Mithakali bus stand, filed an RTI application inq uiring about the frequency of upgradation of roads and costs incurred by AMC in their society.

"The effect was amazing. The very next day, two workers from the AMC approached our society and informed us of a road levelling budget for our society in the next financial year. It's all about catching the officials on the wrong foot because they admit their fault on paper, which is embarrassing for babus," adds Mavlankar.

Complete Article

Sunday, December 03, 2006

RTI Activists House damaged

Dear All,

Our Activist Sri. Ravindranath Guru has sought information regarding building bylaw violation, where a residential building had been converted into a party hall and added one additional floor without having any sanctioned plan from the BMP. After a struggle for two years he was finally able to cancel the license issued by the BMP to use the building as party hall and also KIC has imposed a penalty of Rs.5,000/- on PIO Sri. Rangaswamy AEE, on 07-09-2006 for giving false information regarding set back rules of building byelaws while providing information under RTI.

Some vested interested persons (about 15) have lodged a complaint against Sri.Guru, alleging that he had violated the building by-laws, the AEE had issued notice to Sri. Guru to submit sanctioned building plan etc. within three days. Guru had submitted the building plan etc., within the stipulated period and got inspected his building by the AEE and obtained the inspection report on the spot. He also lodged a counter complaint with the concerned to verify all the building plans of the 15 complainants, but no action was taken by the concerned, stating that the address given by the complaint was not traceable except Two, The two complainant has stated that their building was very old and they didn’t have sanctioned plan. Sri. Guru stated before the commission different yard stick used by the AEE in enquiring his case and others. The KIC directed the BMP to produce standard procedure to be followed while enquiring into complaints of building bylaws’ violations, if there is no such standard procedure existing in BMP it shall be evolved within one month and made known to citizens so that there are no such complaints of discriminations while initiating action on violation of building byelaws as stated by Sri. Guru, and the hearing was adjourned for 12th October thereafter to November 27th. Wherein the KIC has sought explanation why penal action should not be taken against the concerned PIO(AEE) and adjourned the hearing.

On 27th November night around 1-00 AM, Sri. Guru was awaken by loud noise and shocked to see that almost all the glass shutters of his building were broken and the street light control wires were cutoff. He had called the police and lodged complaint about the matter.

We met the Information Commissioner Sri. Thippeswamy on saturday the 2nd December 2006 and apprised him about the incident. The Information Commissioner has directed KIC undersecretary to write to the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore to provide Police protection to Sri. Ravindranath Guru.

This is for the information of the Activists.

With regards,
Anil Kumar
Convenor-KRIA KATTE

`Political appointees making RTI weak'

Political appointments in different of 'information commissioners' in various states is making the Right to Information (RTI)machinery weak, feels the 2006 Magsaysay award winner and RTI activist, Arvind Kejriwal.

According to Kejriwal, as in most states, the appointment of chief information commissioner was on the basis of a bureaucrat's closeness to the powers-that-be in the state—in most cases, as a post-retirement reward. Such appointments should be scrapped and caution followed in respect of future appointments, he adds.

"We are taking legal opinion on the subject," said Kejriwal, who heads Parivartan, a social group, which is into spreading awareness about RTI.

Complete Article

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Information pains in Orissa

Manoranjan Joshi, a reporter with a local TV channel, had sought certain information from the Balangir district rural development department under the Right to Information Act.

Joshi was asked by the department to deposit over Rs 1.21 lakh before he could be supplied with the required information. The journalist had wanted to know the name, status and allotment of funds of several projects including those under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana for the years 2004-05 and 2005-06 in the district.

But officials of the department did not find anything surprising in the matter. "Joshi applied for information concerning over 2,100 projects under four packages and 20 packages under PMGSY which amounted to 60,560 pages," Tripathy said.
"As we charge Rs two per page of information, it amounted to over Rs 1.21 lakh," he said.

Joshi, however, said that he had only wanted to access information about the names of the projects, their present status and funds allocated during the two years. "They could have given these bare information as I never wanted to have thousands of pages of details," he said adding it amounted to "harassment".

Complete Article

TN PIO faces penal action

The State Information Commission is taking steps to penalise State Public Iformation Officer K.K. Ramani, an Additional Secretary to the Government, for disobeying its order.

The commission has, as the first step, ordered Ms. Ramani to appear in person before it on December 12 and explain why penalty should not be imposed on her, under the Right to Information Act, for not complying with its order.

If penalty were to be imposed, it will be the first time that an official is punished for disobeying the commission's order to provide information sought by a citizen under the Act. Section 20 of the Act provides for a penalty of Rs. 250 for each day of delay in providing the information sought.

Complete Article

UP SIC raps Noida Authority over RTI

Uttar Pradesh's State Information Commissioner Gyanendra Sharma today reprimanded Noida Authority officials for "imposing barriers against RTI applications".

The reprimand came against the Authority's order issued yesterday that fixed a fee of Rs 400 for filing an appeal and another Rs 100 for getting a copy of the order in case of RTI applications. Sharma had summoned Noida Authority's Public Information Officer (PIO) Zamil Ahmed to Lucknow today.

Speaking to Newsline, he said, "The Noida Authority is not a competent authority to decide on the charge for an appeal. Consequently, I've asked the PIO to immediately withdraw the controversial order and report with a compliance report before December 6."

Complete Article

Friday, December 01, 2006

With unfriendly ex-babus in charge, info a pipedream

You fight them to get information and in just one day they become custodians of your Right to Information. The State Information Commissions, the final appellate bodies for RTI Act 2005, have become a favoured retirement option for babus in most states.

RTI activists have been pointing out that this is a wrong trend because the same bureaucrats who have been in service would never part with information about their decisions or any corrupt practices. This has, however, become a norm despite the fact that the Act itself gives a wide choice in naming a state's information commissioners.

Section 12 (5) of the RTI Act says: "The Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance." The same criteria has been set for SCICs under Section 15 of the Act.

Complete Article

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