Saturday, March 31, 2007

State RTI chief shoots letter to Buddha, slams authorities

Nearly 14 months after the West Bengal Information Commission was set up, it is clear that no government department is interested in maintaining transparency as laid down in the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

Arun Kumar Bhattacharya, the state Chief Information Commissioner, has written to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee detailing the troubles he has been facing because of the attitude of various government departments as well as the logistics and human resources constraints he has to deal with.

“The Commission is more and gravely concerned about the role of the public authorities in not fulfilling its statutory responsibilities which have been categorically and unequivocally enshrined in the Act,” Bhattacharya writes.

Complete Article

RTI Meet in Pune

We meet on first sunday of every month for RTI sec 4, share success, problems in rti implementation etc.

It was suggested in the first meeting on 12 th Nov 06 that subjects of common interest be discussed and the possibility of use of rti in addressing the problems faced in these, should be explored.

after 18 months of rti in force ,variety of situations are coming to light; of successes, failures, uses, abuses confusions, revelations, potenetials oppositions etc.

as such it is thought to experiment the idea of focus a topic of common interest every month and use of rti in this regard.

this month the focus topic is ELECTRICITY. I am glad to inform that the efforts of PRAYAS and SAJAG NAGARIK MANCH have yielded some results.the MAHADISCOM has accepted the blunder in billing formula in costly power supply and agreed to adjust the same in the future bills.

the subject: ELECTRICITY CONSUMER, SOPstandard of performnce and RTI speakers : VIVEK VELANKAR of SNM and NIKIT ABHYANKAR of PRAYAS
time : 5 pm

your attendance is earnestly requested.

the book on RTI; the forms of appln-appeal; the SOP-MAHADISCOM will be available
at the venue.

jugal s rathi (9370066937)
vivek velankar (9850063480)
Sajag Nagarik Manch

RTI Effect: Centre's U-turn after GIC order

Thanks to an order of the Gujarat Information Commission(GIC), the Centre's Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has done a complete turnaround and issued a notification which calls for 'full disclosure' of the 'full annual performance appraisal report'.

Until recently, DoPT had managed to keep the annual confidential reports (ACRs) out of reach of bureaucrats, with even the Central Information Commission (CIC) supporting non-disclosure.

Now, DoPT has brought out the 'All India Services (Performance Appraisal Report) Rules, 2007', a notification that asks for disclosure of ACRs to IAS, IPS and IFS cadres across the country.

This notification calls for disclosure of the 'full annual performance appraisal report', including the overall grade and assessment of integrity, to the appraisee after finalisation by the accepting authority.

Times of India, Ahmedabad

Friday, March 30, 2007

J&K High court demands explanation on non-implementation of RTI in J&K

The State High Court on Friday asked the government to explain why the Right to Information Act has not been implemented in the state so far. Sources said one Dr Raja Muzaffar had e-mailed a complaint to the High Court about non-implementation of the Right to Information Act. He said he had approached the Commissioner Secretary, General Administrative Department and the Chief Secretary seeking information under the Act.

However, the information was not furnished to him. On this he approached the Chief Information Commissioner of India. The officer in reply said he had no jurisdiction to take appeals from the Jammu and Kashmir state regarding Right to Information Act.
The Chief Justice, Justice BA Khan entertained the complaint as PIL. The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice, Justice Khan and Justice JP Singh heard the case and issued notice to the Chief Secretary directing him to file government opinion over the issue with a detailed explanation why it has failed to implement the Act.

Complete Article

"DoPT is against the concept of RTI" - O. P. Kejriwal

In an interview with Vidya Subrahmaniam, Information Commissioner O.P. Kejariwal speaks out on the working of the RTI Act. In response to a question, he said "That is obvious. It would seem to me that it is against the RTI concept, at least against a very vital element of that concept."

Complete Interview

RTI Effect: PMC to refund excess property tax from today

After wrongly collecting property tax from hundreds of citizens for over a decade, the Pune Municipal Corporation will now refund the amount. Citizens can recover their money paid in excess of the property tax — wrongly charged to the tune of Rs 3.59 crore — from the main headquarters at Shivajinagar, ward offices and contact offices between 10 am and 4 pm from Saturday.

The PMC’s blunder was brought to light by activist Vihar Durve when he sought details under Right To Information to know the year-wise cases filed by people in courts contesting their tax assessments

Complete Article

RTI Act should apply to all sections of society: Madras HC judge

The Right to Information Act should be the first step towards spreading a "culture of transparency" across Indian society, Madras High Court Judge Prabha Sridevan said here on Thursday.

"Ideally, the new [Right to Information] Act should apply to all sections of society. NGOs, charitable trusts and trade unions should be just as accountable as the Government," she told students and teachers at an UGC orientation programme on the Act at Madras University.

Ms. Justice Sridevan urged the Government to make available technology citizens could use to search for information. "Advanced information technology tools will help in providing access, but for that the Government should have the will to make the shift from being niggardly in providing access to a climate of transparency... But for this all the stakeholders should make a concerted effort."

Complete Article

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DoPT portal "misleads" President`s office on file notings

The department of personnel and training (DoPT), which is the government's nodal agency for instructions on the RTI Act, has been "misleading" several government offices with its website saying that file notings do not come under the law's ambit.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has made it clear through its decisions that disclosure of file notings under the RTI Act could be made to information seekers.

"We have earlier advised DoPT to remove this misleading information from their site. We expect them to do so immediately if the result of this inclusion on their site has been to mislead even so august an office as that of the President of India", said Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah in a recent order.

Complete Article

Govt employee faces music for invoking RTI

Muzibur Rahman worked for 15 years as chief laboratory technician in a hospital in Chhattisgarh. His impeccable service record now has a black mark — a chargesheet served on him by his employer South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL). The reason being that he dared to use Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, and dragged senior officials withholding information to Central Information Commission (CIC).

Rahman's struggle began in November 2005, when he was working in SECL's Nehru Shatabdi hospital in Ghevra area of Korba. SECL had promoted some persons in the same year. Rahman sought information under RTI Act about the norms followed for these promotions. When his application and first appeal did not get him the requisite replies, he approached CIC in March 2006.

On March 27, 2006, CIC found the public information officer (PIO) guilty of delay in giving information and served a showcause notice on PIO and SECL's general manager (personnel and administration) S P Choubey asking them ‘‘as to why a penalty of Rs 25,000 should not be imposed".

Immediately after CIC held SECL guilty, on April 24, Rahman was served a chargesheet by SECL.

Complete Article

Of 60, the RTI cell has not answered a single query yet

The Right to Information (RTI) cell at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has received 60 applications till date. But, that’s about it! Interestingly, none of the applications received under the RTI act by KMC has so far been answered.

The mayor, though, seems unaware of this unnecessary delay in people’s right to information. “I am not aware of the fact that responses have not yet been given to the applicants. The responsibility of handling the RTI cell is solely in the hands of DMCP,” said mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.

The DMCP has all authority to send reminders to these departmental heads in case of delays. “We need to refer to old documents before providing answers to applicants. This is a time-consuming process because the RTI cell is just over a month old and it is difficult to find out decades old records,” said S Das, the deputy chief engineer, North, of the KMC buildings department.

Complete Article

GOI ignorant of Netaji's role in freedom struggle

In a shocking revelation, the Government of India has said it has no information in its records about the contribution of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose to India's freedom struggle.

This admission has come from a senior government officer in response to an application by Delhi-based Dev Ashish Bhattacharya under the Right to Information Act.

"It is a common knowledge about formation of Indian National Army and that it came within the striking distance of Indian mainland before being pushed back from Moreh in Manipur," he said.

But the government was reluctant to put this historical fact on record in response to my application, Bhattacharya added.

Complete Article

Rs 1500 cr in PM's Relief Fund lie idle

Close to Rs 1,500 crore contributed by the public to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund is lying unused, a right to information (RTI) application has revealed. Another fact which came out in the query filed by Mumbaibased RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi was that the PM's Relief Fund, which was instituted in 1948, swelled by Rs 239.68 cr last year but only Rs 64.77 crore was utilised.

An analysis of the last three years' income and expenditure sheet of the Prime Minister's Relief Fund shows that Rs 1,460.96 crore was lying unused in 2005-2006. In the year 2004-2005, the fund had Rs 952.8 crore. Of this, Rs 111.6 crore was utilised, leaving a balance of Rs 1,286 crore.

In December 2004, when the tsunami hit the southern coastal states, crores of rupees flowed into the PM's relief fund. "It's shocking that even after 24 months, the funds have not been used properly,'' Gandhi said.

Times of India, Mumbai

Farmer bashed up for seeking info under RTI

A farmer was allegedly beaten up by the sub-divisional agriculture department officials on Monday evening in Yavatmal district. The farmer had reportedly gone to the department office to seek details about the prime minister's relief package.

Sandesh Rathod of Gawli Heti village (Yavatmal), wanted to know whether electrical agriculture pumps were included in the PM's package or not. Rathod also claimed that despite there being a provision for agriculture pumps in the PM's package, the farmers were yet to get Rs 5,000 as subsidy to install the same on their farms.

The farmer got into an argument with an employee for not providing details of the scheme. Later, he was allegedly beaten up by officials. The police have registered an FIR.

Complete Article

Monday, March 26, 2007

Greenpeace takes RCGM to info panel

A case of Greenpeace against the refusal of the Department of Biotechnology to provide data on biosafety tests of the GM rice and other crops is coming up before the Central Information Commission, on April 5, 2007.

Under the RTI Act, Divya Raghunandan, representative of Greenpeace, had asked for three important informations: a list of filed trial locations of GM brinjal, okara, mustard and rice approved by RCGM for multi-location trials; Toxicology and allergenicity and other relevant data on these GM crops and the minutes of the RCGM meeting between February 2005 and February 2006.

DBT provided a list of field trial locations of these crops. However, it refused to offer information about the other two queries under Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act

Complete Article

RTI fear works in MSU: Most queries heard

If the Right to Information Act has brought any change in the functioning of MS University, it is only that the university officials have become more vigilant to avoid RTI applications at their doors.

On Sunday, when the senate members received revised statement of budget for the annual senate meeting scheduled on March 31, they found that the university officials had admitted around 1,070 questions out of the 1,085 questions asked by them. Unlike the past, where the university officials have avoided or rejected hundreds of questions asked by senate members before the annual senate meeting, this year, the officials have tried to admit as many questions as possible.

Times of India, Ahmedabad

File on judge's appointment to be made public

CIC has asked law ministry to release details of appointment of Justice Virender Jain as a senior judge. Jain, Chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court is now at the centre of a controversy that is brewing between the Information Commission and the Law ministry. The Information Commission wants the ministry to release all the details related to his controversial appointment.

Jain's file had once been returned by President Kalam on the grounds of “suspicious conduct”. Former Chief Justice of India YK Sabarwal intervened and Kalam had to give his assent. The InformationCommission has now given one month’s time to the law ministry to comply with its order.

Complete Article

Sunday, March 25, 2007

RTI Effect:Civic body willing to show property tax documents

Citizens can now access property tax documents at the Pune Municipal Corporation building. Legal advisor of the PMC Dilip Pingale agreed to this after a debate over section 4 of the RTI Act at a meeting on Sunday.

RTI activist Vivek Velankar had argued that citizens be allowed access to the public documents at the PMC office and demanded an explanation from the officials for not allowing it. The issue grew into a debate because of the PMC tax department’s wrong assessment of several properties and serving citizens with inflated tax bills. The practice of collection of excess tax was brought to light after RTI activist Vihar Durve moved a requisition seeking to know year-wise cases filed by people in courts contesting tax assessments. The requisition revealed that the PMC had charged excess property tax for over a decade without making a correct assessment of the properties. The Small Causes Court directed the PMC to refund over Rs 1.83 crore including interest of Rs 4.3 lakh to citizens.

Complete Article

RTI Expose - Nat employment scheme a failure in UP

The ‘Movement for Right to Food and Employment’ which recently conducted a survey in 30 districts of the state claimed that the Central government’s National Employment Guarantee Scheme has been a complete failure in Uttar Pradesh. The survey was conducted in 15 districts of the total 22 covered under NREGS. 30 districts were surveyed for assessing the condition of the mid-day meal schemes. The technique of ‘Social Audit’ was used to gather the data in 8 districts, in which the muster roll copies were obtained by using the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Around 20,000 villagers participated in Jan Sunwai (public hearing) programme conducted in Sonbhadra, Chitrakoot, Saharanpur, Kushinagar, Sitapur, Lakhimpur Khiri, Gajipur and Jaunpur, one of the largest surveys in the state.

Complete Article

Taxed Kaushambi in protest mode

Appalled at the municipal corporation's inaction to repair potholes on road, poor streetlights and bad sewer system in their area, the residents of Kaushambi have decided not to pay housetax till their grievances are addressed.

Earlier, Times city report on February 24 had pointed towards the worsening civic amenities in the area. To add to the problem, facts that have come in response to the applications filed by the residents under the Right to Information Act are shocking. Response to a resident and Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal's application reveals that the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation (GMC) has spent Rs 40.26 lakh in maintenance of roads in last two years that still have potholes and are dugged up at many places.

Notwithstanding the amount which was meant for maintenance of roads, there is no account of Rs 1.77 crore, which was meant for the dense carpeting of roads. Residents, on other hand says that they have seen any repair work in their area since long.


TRUE PICTURE: An RTI response shows that GMC has spent Rs 40.26 lakh on road improvement To see the video documentary on current status of Kaushambi, click here

Info seekers must use decent language: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has cautioned people seeking information under the RTI Act against the use of objectionable and indecent language in their information applications.

"The Commission takes grave objection to this (use of objectionable language) and would like to send a message to all the appellants not to cross the borders of decency and propriety in use of language in their appeals," said Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal in a recent order.

Complete Article

Common man unaware of RTI

The Right to Information Act (RTI) is a powerful tool in the hands of a common man provided he is aware of it. But that does not seems to be the case at present. So opined the delegates who had assembled at a workshop on "RTI and Good Governance" organised by the Institute of Cooperative and Corporate Management Research and Training (ICCMRT) in association with the Lucknow Management Association (LMA) here in the state capital on Saturday.

Complete Article

Saturday, March 24, 2007

RTI workshop in Kolkatta

The West Bengal RTI Manch is organizing a RTI Work Shop/ Interactive Session to be held on Saturday, 31st of March 2007 at 17:00hrs. over the premises of the “Drive Inn Restaurant”, 10 Middleton Street, Kolkata-700071. This restaurant is located near Jeevan Deep building.

For any further clarifications, please feel free to call:
Ashok Mansata at 9830054660, Malay Bhattacharyya at 9231413834 or Ashish Biswas at 24278451

[posted by Malay Bhattacharya on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gujarat RTI statistics

What RTI has done in Gujarat so far...
Complaints pending with the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) - 1,319
Appeals pending with the Gujarat Information Commission - 508
Public Information Officers trained through SPIPA - 2,600
Public information officers fined for denying information - 14
Average time taken to get information after filing a RTI application - 90 to 120 days
Government department that has maximum RTI applications - Revenue

Times of India, Ahmedabad

Leading a silent revolution

If bureaucrats in Gujarat have finally started fearing the common man, it is largely because of one man - state chief information commissioner RN Das. He is leading a silent revolution of empowering citizens through the Right to Information Act, opening doors for them that had remained shut for years together. For him, every application under RTI has the potential to expose a scam or lead to the framing of a people-friendly policy.

And if public information officers (PIO) deny information, he comes down on them heavily. So far, 14 PIOs have been fined, which is one of the highest in the country. Such PIOs have had to shell out fines ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 25,000 from their own pockets.

"I respect the common man who musters up a lot of courage to drag a government officer to the Gujarat Information Commission to seek justice," says Das. "Right from access to file notings of government files, demanding accountability from co-operative societies, public trusts, to access of Annual Confidential Reports (ACR) of bureaucrats, this was possible only because citizens asked for the information and fought their cases well," he adds. "Frustrated citizens want to be heard, and the commission gives them an ear." Speaking of the attitude of public information officers and appellate authorities Das says, "The response ranges from proactively providing information, to denying information because of technical constraints, such as poor record-keeping and inadequate resources."

Das himself has been a no-nonsense bureaucrat as the director of enforcement with the Ministry of Finance who retired only in July 2006.

Times of India, Ahmedabad

RTI - Gujarat has stolen a march

The state is way ahead of even the Central Information Commission in bringing in transparency through RTI, says well-known activist and Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal

The Central Information Commission (CIC), Delhi should learn something from the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC). Not only has the role of the CIC been regressive in its decisions, it has always acted as agents of the government and sympathisers of the bureaucracy. Whereas GIC on the other hand has been progressive, and has always stood by genuine citizens who have used the RTI Act to make difference to society and their surroundings.

Times of India, Ahmedabad

Medical records of convicts accessible under RTI: Bombay HC

In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court on Friday said the medical records of convicts or persons facing trial who are admitted to government-funded hospitals can be disclosed under the Right to Information Act, irrespective of what regulations under the Indian Medical Council Act say. A division bench of Justices F I Rebello and R M Sawant gave this ruling while dealing with former Maharashtra Forest Minister Surupsingh Naik`s petition.

Complete Article

CIC lands in court battle with BHU

Central Information Commission's directive to Banaras Hindu University to admit a student in MPEd course and slapping it with a penalty of Rs 25,000 has landed the information watchdog in an unsavoury court battle, with questions being raised whether it had the powers of a judicial court beyond the ambit of RTI Act.

BHU has flatly refused to obey the CIC's admission diktat while Allahabad High Court has stayed the penalty. And the case is mired in personal allegations going back and forth. Under a cloud is more than the legality of information commissioner O P Kejariwal's admission-and-penalty order, as it is alleged to be motivated by his 'bitter experience' with BHU before joining the elite commission. It is alleged that Kejariwal was denied a position in the university for which he had lobbied hard and the order was a result of his personal pique. While Kejariwal denied all "personal allegations," he admitted to TOI that the order may be an "error in semantics."

Complete Article

People told to make use of Information Act

Bantwal taluk panchayat president Sunitha Padmanabha said Right To Information Act has provided every citizen the right to keep himself abreast on the progress of development works in government departments.

"People should make use the Act to know the pace of public works in their villages," she said inaugurating a seminar on `Right To Information (RTI)-2005' organised by Information Department in association with district administration, DK ZP Mangalore Jana Shikshana Trust, Bantwal taluk panchayat at Bantwal taluk panchayat hall on Thursday.

Complete Article

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Guarding cheating tips

For all you know, Bhavnagar University (BU) may soon want a patent on the methods of cheating used by its students in exams! As preposterous as it may sound,BU recently refused to give information sought under the Right to Information Act on copying methods used in exams, stating that it was a "trade secret and intellectual property."

Kishore Kantaria used the RTI Act because he wanted to find out how many copying cases occurred in the arts and commerce faculties of BU's examination department during exams held between March and April last year.

He also wanted to know what methods of cheating were used, whether students talked to each other, wrote on their clothes, or smuggled books into the exam centre.

However, BU's public information officer (PIO) denied the information citing Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, which states that information can be denied if it relates to "commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which could harm the competitive position of a third party."

Complete Article

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

RTI Expose - Bungling in Pune MC property tax bills

Civic activist Vihar Durve has brought to light how citizens have been harassed by the municipal property tax department through wrong assessment of their properties and inflated property tax bills.

To drive home his point, Durve has gathered information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) about 80 court cases filed by taxpayers who had moved court challenging the wrong assessment of their properties.

In an official reply to Durve on March 2,2007, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) admitted that all 80 cases — decided by the Pune small causes court and the Pune district courts from 1999 till 2004 — had gone against the PMC. In all 80 cases, the court directed the PMC to refund the additional amount collected as taxes along with interest. The PMC said it has so far refunded Rs 1.83 crore, besides paying Rs 4.3 lakh as interest.

"The very fact that the PMC did not dare to challenge the lower court order by moving the high court and refunded the amount proves that the tax assessment was grossly incorrect," Durve told TOI.


RTI Act is an important tool - Punjab SIC

Terming the Right to Information (RTI) Act as an important tool in the hands of people in a democracy, Rajan Kashyap, the Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab said that the RTI has empowered the common man and has brought changes in the bureaucratic mindset.

“The RTI has made the common man the master now while the public servant has become that actually. It is time people realise the importance of this act and use it for a positive changes in the society,” said Kashyap, speaking in a seminar ‘Implementation and Understanding of the RTI Act 2005’, at Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID).

Complete Article

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

IIT scholar uses RTI to crack stipend delay

The Right to Information Act has come to the rescue of hundreds of IIT research scholars who were unable to get their research grants on time due to an accounting problem.

The application software cell of IIT Powai has now developed an accounting software to streamline the system after a research scholar used the RTI Act to find out the reason behind the delay in getting his stipend on time. Jariwala, under the guidance of his head of the department, Professor S K Maiti, eventually decided to file an RTI query. In his RTI query, he asked the procedure laid down by the institute for the payment of the stipend.

After this, the deputy registrar sent a circular to the accounting department to look into the matter. A proposal was then sent to the application software cell to design a 'time bound software'. "The ASC is now giving finishing touches to the software and it will be implemented in the coming months,"Jariwala said.

Complete Article

Journalist arrested for Graft (misuse of RTI)

The Nagpur crime branch officials on Saturday arrested Vishal Nagpal, a journalist with a local Hindi newspaper while accepting Rs 1 lakh from a builder. Nagpal had allegedly used Right to Information Act to discover that the owner of Vasthu Vihar Developers, Prafulla Gadge was illegally sanctioned an Urban Land Ceiling (ULC) project with the help of the collectorate. Nagpal threatened to publish this and demanded Rs 5 lakh from Gadge.

Complete Article

Cost redeemed, tax still takes its toll here

With no guidelines from the Government of India about the amount of money to be redeemed through tax at the toll plaza near Vishala Hotel, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has so far collected double of what it had spent on Shastri Bridge and the road linking the bridge with NH-8 at Narol.

And the authorities are yet to decide when to stop collecting toll from the vehicles passing through the bridge. In a response to an application filed under the Right to Information Act by one Sapna Patel of Thaltej, the NHAI executive engineer at Ahmedabad has informed her that while the total cost of construction (of the bridge and the link road) was Rs 15.1454 crore, the authorities had collected Rs 31.8124 crore from tax between February 15, 1998 and June 1, 2006.

Complete Article

Delhi HC seeks civil services exam screening 'formula'

The Delhi High Court Tuesday directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to submit the 'formula' it was adopting for screening the candidates for recruitment to the civil services. Justice B.D. Ahmed asked the government's recruitment agency to submit its contention in a sealed cover by March 28 as the UPSC has refused to concede to the demands of the candidates for revealing the marks.

The UPSC counsel submitted that the commission was adopting a scaling system, which could not be revealed to the students. 'Revealing of the marks would infringe intellectual property right of the commission. The coaching institutes might decipher short-cut methods to the advantage of its students,' said the UPSC.

The CIC had asked the UPSC to reveal the cut-off marks in optional papers of the shortlisted candidates, who made it to the main examination. The CIC also directed the UPSC to disclose its scaling system, saying: 'It involves larger public interest and provides level-playing field to all aspirants.'

Complete Article

Monday, March 19, 2007

Awareness camp on the RTI Act for Education Department officials held

The public can be allowed to peruse the files in the government offices free of charge for one hour as per the latest amendment to the TN Right To Information rules, according to T. Sivakumar, Field Publicity Officer, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Vellore. Mr. Sivakumar said as per the new rules, Rs. 5 per hour should be charged for enabling the petitioners to peruse the files beyond the first one hour. Photocopies of the files could be given by the designated Public Information Officers (PIOs) to those who want the same after perusal, after charging Rs. 2 per page.

Complete Article

K'taka CIC seeks more teeth for RTI

While Chief Information Commissioner K.K. Misra strongly favours the Right to Information Act and is all for giving more teeth to it, Chief Secretary P.B. Mahishi is concerned over its misuse.

Arguing that the Act should have more teeth, Mr. Misra urged the Government to amend it so as to empower the commission to initiate contempt of court proceedings. This would have salutary effect and solve the problem of non-compliance of commission's order. "We do not know how to deal with non-compliance at present," he added.

Complete Article

Now, babus can steal a dekko at ACRs

In a verdict that would help bring transparency in the appraisal of government officers, the State Information Commission (SIC) has ruled in favour of bureaucrats being allowed to view their Annual Confidential Reports and find out how they have been rated against benchmark grades. Till now, officials were only allowed to view the document if there was an adverse comment against them and not if they secured grades below the benchmark levels. A difference that the SIC verdict has now blurred.

Complete Article

Manipur: Rights body files complaint under RTI Act

In the first instance of its kind in the state, Human Rights Alert has filed a complaint with the Manipur Information Commission against the information officer, department of home, government of Manipur for failing to furnish information sought under the Right to Information, RTI Act.

The information sought by the HRA included, total number and particulars of inquiries instituted since 1980 by the state government, total number of inquiry reports submitted to the government and action taken thereof, total number of inquiries whose report have been submitted but not considered by the government.

The HRA had also sought copies of the inquiry reports concerned by the government of Manipur along with the memorandum of action taken.

Complete Article

Sunday, March 18, 2007

RTI used to monitor Delhi municipal councillors' use of public funds

An information camp organised by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) Sunday brought together residents from slums as well as those from higher income groups to provide a forum where the concerned councillors' expenditure was examined against development needs.

Using the Right to Information Act, SNS accessed information of how municipal councillors were utilising public funds. It said the councillors from Malviya Nagar and Gulmohar Park spent absolutely nothing on drainage and sanitation while half of the funds were used to improve parks in one of the wards. According to the organisation, during 2002-07, the total sum allocated to city councillors was approximately Rs.52 billion.

Complete Article

Pune Cops block RTI query on Centre Street chowki

The Pune Police Commissionerate has stonewalled a query submitted under the Right to Information (RTI) Act put up by (indian express) reporter on February 20 related to the illegal construction of the first floor of the Centre Street Police Chowki and who sponsored it.

The query comprised a questionnaire seeking information on the violation of the Floor Space Index (FSI) for the illegal construction of the first floor, who sponsored it, copies of the building plans, criminal cases registered against the sponsor if any and was prior government permission taken before getting the sponsorship.

While submitting the RTI query at the reception desk in the commissionerate, the staff avoided taking the application. “Why do you want the information. Address the application to the respective information officers of the police department instead of addressing it directly to the public information. We have no orders to accept applications addressed in the name of the PIO, Pune Police Commissionerate. You keep coming to us every now and then with an application,” were some of their responses.

Complete Article

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Nithari killings - When NCW failed Delhi's women

The desperate kin of girls missing in Nithari pinned their hopes on the National Commission for Women. But the mockery continued.

I have made every effort to trace my sister, but in vain. If it had been a politician or a bureaucrat’s daughter, the police would have found them at any cost. We poor have neither the resources nor any backing to support us. We can only hope for help from (you).” Rajesh, a resident of Nithari village, wrote this on July 29, 2005 to the National Commission for Women (NCW).

At the time, in mid-2005, six girls had gone missing from Nithari in just four months. After losing all hope of any help from the police, the shattered parents and kin knocked at the doors of the NCW.

And, despite its claims to the contrary, the NCW did next to nothing to help them. The NCW’s handling of Nithari was characterised by indifference and ineptitude.
According to the information provided by the NCW in response to an RTI application, after receiving several complaints, the NCW constituted a one-member committee on August 10 to look into the case. The sole committee member – Nirmala Venkatesh — first visited Nithari on August 24, 14 days after she was appointed.

Complete Article

Activists condemn the functioning of State Commission in UP

Miffed by the functioning of the SIC, the RTI activists held a protest situp (dharna) at Lucknow and shouted anti - SIC slogans. at Patel Statue Hazratganj, Lucknow on 16 April 2007.

The functioning of SIC and its clerks had been on the firing line ever since it was created. It is alleged that bribe is being asked by the clerks to fix early hearing and even the SIC was not performing to the people's expectation. He is known to be protecting the state machinery. It is reported by activist Dr. VD Sharma that the activists even shouted slogans of SIC GO BACK and have made strategy to stage protest within the office of the SIC.

The activist Dr. VD Sharma who attended this demonstration can be contacted at 99190 21952 for more details.

Sachin Agarwal
Society for People's Action, Change and Enforcement (SPACE)
Phone: 0 094152 55042
[posted on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

Friday, March 16, 2007

'PIO offices should be accessible to common man' : UPSIC

In a landmark judgment, the State Information Commission has ordered setting up of offices of Public Information Officers (PIOs) in a place accessible for the common man in the secretariat.

Till now, people wanting information from PIOs sitting in the Vidhan Bhawan, Annexe Building and other such offices, were unable to do so as these buildings were out of bounds for the common man.

Information Commissioner Gyanendra Sharma heard the plea filed by Afzal Ansari. The latter had filed the petition against PIO/chief secretary, UP, on the issue.

Complete Article

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Provide info or pay fine, CIC tells Estate Office

Sitting on an application of a local resident seeking information under the RTI Act on the number of “tuition shops in residences” and violations in shop-cum-flats (SCFs), has cost the Chandigarh Estate Office dear.

Owing to the delay, the Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, has now directed the Estate Office to either provide the information within 10 days, or pay a penalty of Rs 25,000 for failing to do so within the stipulated time.

Complete Article

RTI Expose - Remuneration for no work

A simple application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 filed by Mr.G.G.Hegde Kadekodi, an RTI activist trained by CREAT and CHRI has been able to unearth a case where a lecturer has been on the rolls of the college without teaching a single student for the past three years. Mr.Hegde filed an application in November 2006 under RTI to the M.M.Arts & Science College, Sirsi and sought details about a lecturer appointed for teaching Geology. In his application he asked whether the college has a lecturer to teach Geology and the number of students who have taken up this subject. He also asked the salary paid to the lecturer.

The reply given by the college speaks of the efficiency of the Department of Collegiate Education. It has come to light that one lecturer has been appointed in MM Arts & Science College (aided by the Government) for teaching Geology. He has been drawing a salary of Rs.27,490 per month. But there is not a single student in the college pursuing Geology for the past three years. The lecturer is being paid the salary for no work.

[posted by Venkatesh Nayak on humjanenge]

Unending wait for a report

Out to use the much-talked about Right to Information Act, an applicant has been running from pillar to post for almost nine months even as the state home department headed by the chief minister and the Information Commission continue to wrangle over providing the information to him.

It relates to social activist Mr Biswapriya Kanungo's petition for a copy of the Justice PK Tripathy commission report relating to Sorono police firing of 1999. The Commission heard his plea and asked the officer concerned of the home department to appear in person on 5 April. Mr Kanungo's initial application for the report had been rejected by the home department. His subsequent appeal was upheld by the State Information Commission and after several hearings, orders were passed in January that the report should be given to Mr Kanungo.

Complete Article

IFS officer seeks info under RTI

For the first time, an IFS officer is using the right to information act to challenge why she was superceded for the foreign secretary's job. Veena Sikri is unhappy that Shiv Shankar Menon got the top job last October, even though he was her junior. Now she wants to know why.

Complete Article

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Open bribery

The week-long visit of Singapore and Malaysia in two groups by 129 municipal councillors beginning March 17 is part of an "exposure cum training" programme, expenses for which will be reimbursed from a special R&D fund created by HUDCO, insist AMC officials. This fund is 0.25 per cent of the loan amount sanctioned which is retained by HUDCO, they say.

On their part, HUDCO officials here are tight-lipped about this. While Executive Director P S Khurana was not available for comments, neither on phone nor in person, another official to who he had directed this reporter to meet, asked for a written request for details under the Right to Information Act, if any were required.

Complete Article

Workshop on RTI : Assert your rights

Applicants need to assert the privileges accorded to them, if they want implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) in its true spirit. This is what the activists had in the offing at the workshop on RTI conducted by Burning Brain Society in association with other NGOs from across the region at the Central State Library here today.

Addressing the gathering, consisting of members of NGOs from Haryana, Punjab, H.P. and Chandigarh, and general public, Hemant Goswami, the chairperson of the Burning Brain Society, explained in detail the powers accorded by the legislation to general public.

Hitender Jain of the Resurgence India, Ludhiana mentioned that the information commissioners have to take a much more responsible and strict role if the RTI Act is to be successful. He pointed out that though the quantum of penalty in the RTI Act is fixed at Rs.250 per day subject to a maximum of 25000 for delay in providing information, but despite that the Commission uses lenient discretion and rarely imposes penalty. Such leniency has resulted in the RTI Act not been taken seriously by the departments. Information is now rarely provided in timely manner, he added.

View slides of the workshop

The Hindustan Times,
Chandigarh, March 13, 2007

Cell phone operators in RTI loop

Thanks to Right to Information (RTI) Act, one can now demand accountability from the mobile service providers (MSPs), which is what AL Aggarwal did recently. He sought to know from TRAI whether his MSP was competent to charge any amount own its whims without written consent from the customers. He asked how many customers were being charged.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act was passed in 1997 to regulate the telecom industry. TRAI's status as a public authority is unquestionable while MSPs it regulates may claim immunity as non-public authorities under RTI.

The TRAI Act also states that TRAI can "call upon any service provider at any time to furnish in writing such information or explanation relating to its affairs as they may require; or appoint one or more persons to make an inquiry in relation to the affairs of any service provider."

Therefore to make MSPs accountable, ask TRAI.

Times of India,. Ahmedabad

Naik moves court against RTI order

Maharashtra’s former minister for Forest and Environment Surupsinh Naik locked horns with the State Information Commission (SIC) on Wednesday when he challenged the March 6 order of a full bench that had directed the J J Hospital to submit the medical reports of Naik’s stay in May 2006 to Shailesh Gandhi, a social activist. Naik’s move comes on a day when the one-week notice period given to authorities at the JJ Hospital ended.

Complete Article

ACR row: IAS lobby dents iron curtain

Babus from Gujarat's power corridors locked horns with the General Administration Department (GAD) at the state information commission and demanded copies of their annual confidential reports(ACR) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Industries' commissioner Arvind Agarwal, who was refused a copy of his own ACR, appeared on behalf of the IAS fraternity and argued before state chief information commissioner R N Das that there was no fiduciary (holding something in trust for another) relationship between senior assessing officers and the GAD. He added that every officer had the right to know how he was assessed by his senior in a particular tenure. Agarwal then demanded a copy of his ACR. The GAD, while citing its fiduciary relationship with the assessing officer, had long been refusing IAS officers a peek into their ACRs. Besides, GAD's November 14, 2005 circular had prohibited giving ACRs and related records under section 8(e) of the RTI Act. This circular, Agarwal argued, was void as the RTI Act superceded the circular.

Times of India, Ahmedabad

Right to information service centres in Tamil Nadu

`5th Pillar', an organisation that aims at mobilising volunteers to fight corruption, will launch Right to information (RTI) Service Centres on Sunday at a function to be held at Kamaraj memorial hall in Teynampet. Vijay Anand, president of Washington Tamil Sangam, who is currently in the city, will head 5th Pillar Right to Information Act Service Centres in India.

The organisation's website is:

Complete Article

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Is state info commision RTI-illiterate?

In an irony straight out of some fictitious handbook on babudom,officials of the State Information Commission themselves are clueless about ways to dish out information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

"We have realised (from interaction with people visiting the camp) that the state government is perhaps not very serious about implementing the RTI Act," said Izher Ahmed, one of the organisers. "For instance, there is an appeal procedure rule which
clearly defines the method of sending summons — summons to officers should be either handed over personally, sent through the applicant, or through registered post.

"But the State Information Commission has been sending summons through ordinary mail ever since its inception. Since there is no record of a particular officer receiving the summon, he/she can always deny that summons were ever sent. As a result, applicants would have to keep waiting indefinitely."

Complete Article

TN Information Commission taken to court

Chennai based social activist Vishwanath Swami has taken the Tamil Nadu Information Commission to court, accusing it of scuttling transparency. Vishwanath says that two years ago there was an attempt to kidnap him allegedly on the instructions of a godman. But when he sought information under the RTI to identify the people involved, the Chennai police denied him the details.

Later, he approached the State Information Commission, which ordered a showcause notice to the police in a hearing, but no written order was issued. Subsequently, the police gave him part of the information he had sought, but withheld many crucial details. Left with no option, Vishwanath has taken the TN information commission to court.

Complete Article

RTI used to obtain logs and conversation of control room

In a first of its kind use of RTI, the Goa BJP asks for Log Records, Voice recordings of a conversation that happened between the Goa Police Control Room and Goa Congress MLA from Pernem Jitendra Deshprabhu. It is alleged that Mr Deshprabhu used his clout to keep the police and Anti-Narcotics Squad from raiding his private party.

Complete Article

To see the RTI application, see the IBN-CNN video. Click Here

RTI for transparency in public dealings: Haryana CIC

In a democratic set-up, people have the right to know how and where the money paid by them as taxes was being spent as all development activities were undertaken with public money. This was stated by Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Haryana G. Madhavan while addressing a seminar on the "Right to Information" (RTI) at Panchayat Bhavan here today.

He said so far 400 cases had been resolved under the Act in Haryana.He said that there was the need for proactive disclosure of information under section 4 (1) (b) of the Act. NGO Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA) convener Shalender said their
organisation would work hard to make people aware for their rights under the RTI.

Complete Article

HC asks reason why Govt denied information under RTI

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notices to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Central Information Commission and the Tariff Commission on a petition filed by a Pioneer correspondent, who had sought to know from the Centre the cost it incurs in buying condoms from private and public manufacturer.

Health Ministry had rejected to answer the query sought citing exemption from disclosure of information under Right to Information Act clause dealing with protection of trade secret and intellectual property. Tariff Commission had also classified the report 'confidential'.

Complete Article

RTI rath yatra in Vizag

Sri Bhujanga Rao ,from S.P.A.C.E., a voluntary organization in Vishakhapatnam city in Andhra Pradesh has been doing tremendous work in disseminating the message of openness among common people. He has filed more than one hundred applications under the Right to Information Act during the last one year. But not complacent with that, he conducted many public meetings in the city to create mass awareness. As part of the campaign he recently hired a van, decorated it with attractive banners with catchy slogans written on them. This 'R.T.I. Rath',as he aptly calls it, has been wandering through all the streets within the city. It has become a major piece of attraction in the city now.

Click here to view photographs

[as posted by Srinivas Madhav on Humjanenge]

RTI training campaign in Kerala

District Collector N. Ayyappan said here on Monday that the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) would help make governance more transparent and efficient.

Addressing a gathering in front of the Secretariat to inaugurate a campaign organised by the Sahayi Centre for Collective Learning and Action, he called upon the public to invoke the Act. He also urged officials to be prepared to implement the Act in right earnest.

The state-wide campaign has been organised by Sahayi, Kerala Voluntary Agencies League (KAVAL) and other NGOs in connection with the National Voluntary Day. Presiding over the function, Sahayi director G. Placid said 600 volunteers would be trained to educate the public on the RTI Act. He said the campaign was planned in all district headquarters. Sahayi volunteers helped the public to fill up applications seeking information under the RTI Act and imparted training in eliciting information.

Orissa NGOs brought under RTI Act

In a press note released to the media on Monday, the State Government said that it had framed the Right to Information rules prescribing certain procedures, forms and fees for the purpose.

Stating that Section 2 (h) (d) (ii) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 defined an NGO as `public authority' if it is substantially financed directly or indirectly by Central or State Government, the State Government said that as a public authority an Ngo was required to disclose on its own the information pertaining to the organisation for information of the general public, as required under Section 4 of the Act

Complete Article

Monday, March 12, 2007

Two weeks, 35 applications at Kolkatta MC’s RTI cell

Two weeks after the first Right To Information (RTI) cell was set up in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) premises, the State Public Information Officer (SPIO) of KMC claims that the response of the people has been phenomenal.

“We have received 35 applications till date, of which, 15 are queries regarding buildings and constructions. The number of questions on assessment and licence are eight and four respectively,” said Pashupati Barik, the SPIO of KMC and the Deputy Municipal Commissioner (personnel).

Complete Article

Camp to voice grievances against UP Info Commission

If you are dissatisfied with the functioning of the [Uttar Pradesh] State Information Commission or have a complaint which is pending with the commission under the Right to Information Act, then here is an opportunity for you to voice your problems. National Alliance for People’s Movement is organising a camp at the Indira Bhawan lawns, the building which houses the office of the State Information Commission. The camp started off from March 9 onwards and will continue till March 15.

The camp starts at 10.30 am and continues till 3.30 pm. On March 16, a Jan Panchayat will be held at the Patel Park, where all complainants would be present.

Complete Article

NHAI, Managlore invites the Citizens to inspect the Roads

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Mangalore Division has invited the Citizens and Citizen Groups to inspect the undergoing construction work and to place their grievances, if any. It can be noted that construction work for the 4 lane road has been going on in the National Highway No. 17 near Mangalore at an expense of Rs. 14.6Crores.

Mr. B.S. Balakrishna, the Executive Engineer of this division of NHAI has officially written to various NGO's and Consumer forums and requested them to inspect the work at their own time and to place their grievances of any kind. Copies of the letters have also been endorsed to the local MLA's and the Minister in charge.

Earlier many citizens have filed application/s under RTI regarding poor road conditions and their maintenance. Now, It is a welcoming step that NHAI have themselves invited the common Citizens to check the work at any time. Meanwhile NHAI has also put a condition that it should not cause any interruption for the ongoing work while inspection.

[Based on the News Reports published in the Mangalore Edition dated 12th March
2007 of Vijaya Karnataka (Kannada News Paper now owned by TOI Group)]

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Crawford Mkt clock gets a hand from RTI

Before it stopped short in 2003, the clock at Crawford Market had faithfully kept time for 134 years. For the last three years, however, its hands have stayed still. But help has now come from the most unexpected quarter-the all-powerful Right to Information Act. Pained at the sight of the silent clock, furniture trader Aziz G Amreliwala made repeated attempts to get the municipal authorities to fix it.

His pleas fell on deaf ears, so he finally lodged a formal complaint with the Lok Ayukta in early 2005. The Lok Ayukta replied, quoting civic officials, who maintained that the clock was working. "This was a lie. The clock was working properly until 2003. It then stopped functioning, although it was repaired for a brief period in 2004,"said Amreliwala.

But, he applied three times under the Right to Information Act, asking if there if was any intention of setting the clock right and, if so, how much time it would take to do so. Finally, the assistant engineer (markets) replied in January this year stating that the annual maintenance contract for the clock had expired and that the proposal to renew the contract was under review. "The correct timewill be set as soon as the annual contract is finalised,"came the reply. Ward officer-in-charge Anand L Waghralakar also confirmed that he was in the know about the RTI query. "The repair work will begin soon,"he said.

Complete Article

RTI Workshop in Kolkatta

The West Bengal RTI manch is organizing a RTI Work Shop/ Interactive Session to be held on SATURDAY, 10TH of MARCH 2007 at 16:00hrs. over the premises of the Advanced Center for the study of Philanthropy and Development Affairs, Azad Palace, 2nd. Floor, 81C, Narkeldanga Main (New C.I.T.) Road, Kolkata - 700054. This building is located diagonally opposite to Swabhumi (The Heritage Park),
just behind Subhas Sarobar.

Time: 16:00 HRS 2 (two) episodes of “Ab to hum janenge” by CHRI (20mins. Approx.)
Individual interaction with the participants, sharing experiences, RTI success stories in West Bengal & outside.

For any further clarifications please feel free to call
Malay Bhattacharyya at 9231413834 or Ashish Biswas at 24278451

Thursday, March 08, 2007

RTI Effect: Year old sationary file moved in 4 days!

S Dorai Raj, a senior citizen of Sholavandan, approximately 500 km from Chennai. He had filed an appeal on 2 February 2006 before the Hon’ble State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. For over an year no progress was made in the appeal because the relevant record has not been received from the District Forum, Chennai (South) which is situated just one floor above in the same building.

The delay inspite of the fact that SCDRC, Chennai is situated on the second floor sandwiched between the District Forum (North) on the first floor and the District Forum (South) on the third floor. There are a number of appeals pending for months in the State Commission against orders passed by the two District Fora, merely because the relevant case files/records have not been received from the two District Fora - one one floor above and the other one floor below. The inordinate delay in the two fora sending the records to the Commission is baffling. The procedure followed by all the three wings in this respect is not transparent. It is generally agreed that one of the breeding grounds for corruption is delay. He used the RTI Act, 2005, so as to find out the reason for such delays, and if any one can be held accountable. He filed one RTI application each with the President & PIO, District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Chennai (South); and The Registrar & PIO, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissi0n, Chennai.

Within four days of his filing of the RTI application, he received a communication from the President & PIO, DCDRF had been dispatched. Yet another example of "Ghoons ko Ghoosa RTI ke saath!"

To view his applications to DCDRF Chennai and SCDRC Chennai

[input from emails from Mr Dorai Rai]

RTI Expose: R J Shah Committee fixed fee of professional courses in Guj w/o physical inspection

Manish Doshi Member of Gujarat University Syndicate has come out with sensational, but true information about the R J Shah Committee which regulates fee structure in 400 odd private colleges in Gujarat. The committee fixed fee without really visiting the premises of the Colleges.

This is in clear violation of the norms laid down by the Supreme Court regarding fixation of fee by the Committee headed by retired judge R J Shah. The Committee has admitted that it has not done physical inspection of the colleges for fixation of the fee in the information given to Doshi under the Right to Information Act.

The Committee has fixed the fee on the basis of accounts submitted by the colleges without hearing students, parents or other affected persons, Doshi said. The committee has fixed fee of 25 degree engineering courses, 27 diploma engineering courses, 36 degree Pharmacy courses, eight Diploma Pharmacy courses, 24 MBA, 18 MCA, 107 B Ed and 128 PTC courses.

Complete Article

RTI clinic every Saturday in Mumbai

An RTI clinic is opened at St. Andrew Church Compound, Hill Road Bandra West Mumbai Every Saturday from 9.30 to 11 am Room No 3. At present there are two experienced volunteers who help out citizen file application under RTI Act. The clinic has all the prescribed forms including the information required from the courts. The forms are free of cost, there is no mandatory charges for the advise and help citizens need to file the applications. People come from far off places. Only one has to pay for the court fee stamps of Rs 10 for Annex A Rs 20 for appeals and Rs 12 for obtaining information from various courts. However more volunteers are needed who could offer their services. This is not a NGO or Trust run but run by individual experience citizens who have started the same under the guidance of Shri Shailesh Gandhi. Any volunteer willing to help out could contact Mr Leslie Almeida on Tel No 26436107 or 26431939


[posted on the humjanenge yahoogroup]

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Top five city colleges flunk students’ RTI examination

The students, attached to a student organisation Samatawadi Chhatrabharat allege the colleges – Wilson College, St Xaiver’s College, Elphinstone College, Bhavan’s College and Ramnarayan Ruia College – failed to provide the required information.

The students sought information on topics such as the grants received by the colleges from the state government and details about its utilisation, amount of fees collected, the admission process for the academic year 2000-2006, implementation of scholarship schemes and donations taken by colleges.

They also wanted to know if the deposit amount collected from students during the admission process has been refunded to them. Having failed to secure the information in the stipulated period, the students have now decided to meet the concerned officer of the institution for not furnishing the details.

Complete Article

SIC seeks action against Bhavnagar SP, DySP

For the first time in the history of the Gujarat state information commission, the state chief information commissioner RN Das recommended disciplinary action against the superintendent of police, the deputy superintendent of police and an office superintendent of Bhavnagar district police, issuing a showcause notice as to why a fine of Rs 25,000 not be imposed on them.

The officers were reprimanded by the commission for intentionally refusing to provide information to an applicant. The officers have been pulled up under section 20(2) and 20(1) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

In August 2006, Patel had applied under the RTI Act to know the progress of investigation carried out by Bhavnagar district police. Patel was not given the information for several months. Subsequently, a fine was imposed on the officers.

Times of India,
Ahmedabad 07.03.2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Forget info, now RTI files go missing

Filing an appeal against errant babus holding back information has become an uphill task for the common man. Applicants filing appeals at Central Information Commission (CIC), the final appellate body for Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, are facing a problem as their files and documents are getting lost mysteriously in the office.

Dr B K Mishra, a resident of Bihar, filed 32 appeals in CIC in December. He was called for a hearing on February 22. When he reached CIC office on the hearing date, he was told that his case files were untraceable. Mishra travelled twice from Bihar only to follow his case.

Information commissioner O P Kejariwal blames shortage of staff and increasing workload of the Commission for this problem. Applicants, however, refuse to buy this infrastructural problem explanation. Jalani alleges that there is collusion." had filed RTI about a case involving huge corruption in Shipping Corporation. When I inquired about my papers at CIC, interestingly, everyone knew my name and about my case but could not locate my file. This means that every staff has read my papers."

Complete Article

Govt feels we are letting out too much information: CIC

The government is dissatisfied with Central Information Commission (CIC) for letting out "too much" official information, according to CIC chief Wajahat Habibullah.

"The government feels that we are letting out too much (of information), and as a result they are not satisfied", Habibullah, the Chief Information Commissioner, told a news agency in an interview.

At the same time, Habibullah acknowledged that the CIC was being accused of colluding with the government and not delivering as expected.

Complete Article

Orissa Info panel takes home dept to task

The home department headed by chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik appears to have landed itself in a soup with the State Information Commission directing it to furnish the Justice PK Tripathy commission report to the applicant by 9 March and also show cause why a penalty of Rs 250 per day should not be imposed for the delay caused thus far.

The matter has turned interesting with the state home department initially expressing its reluctance to give the report, rejecting the application of Mr Biswapriya Kanungo and then saying it will move the High Court challenging the order of the Information Commission.

Five persons, including a woman, were killed in police firing in Sorono in May 1999. The then government had ordered a judicial probe and Mr Justice PK Tripathy had inquired into the incident. He submitted his report to the government in 2005. Since then, the government has been sitting over it, alleged Mr Kanungo. The government refused to give the report.

Complete Article

Awareness crusade for right to facts in West Bengal

Poor implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act has prompted various non-government organisations to join hands and launch an awareness drive on the piece of legislation in the city.

Starting mid-March, four mobile RTI camps will do the rounds of the city to make people aware of the provisions of the act, how to avail of them and also about certain security schemes, like widow and old-age pension.

Complete Article

Public interest overrides privacy over medical records

In a path-breaking order on the Right to Information (RTI), the State Information Commission asked the Public Information Officer (PIO) of JJ Hospital to give all medical reports, including ECG pertaining to his hospitalisation, along those made at the time of discharge within seven days.

The appeal was filed by city activist Shailesh Gandhi seeking medical records of former state forest minister Surupsinh Naik. The order held that larger public interest would be served by disclosure of information rather than creating doubts in the public mind.

The full Bench consisting of Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi, Vilas Patil (Nagpur), Vilas Borge (Aurangabad) and VV Kuwalekar (Pune) argued that the case had contradictory points - right to privacy vis-à-vis right to know, which need to be weighed to arrive at the decision. “People feel that those in high places or have money power when imprisoned get shifted to hospitals under one pretext or the other and spend their jail term in the hospitals. However, there could be genuine requirement also for the imprisoned person for specialised medical supervision”, reads the order.

Complete Article

Monday, March 05, 2007

RTI Effect: NRI uses RTI to beat bribe, gets refund

This is one problem that most tax-payers in the country may have faced at some point in their lives. The income tax department directly deducts your tax at source, but when it comes to refunds, it sends you on a wild goose chase. An assessee has now shown a way around the problem through the use of the right to information (RTI) act.

Tushar Dalvi used RTI and managed to get his refund, which was pending for five years, in a week's time. Dalvi, an NRI, who settled in Santa Cruz a few years ago, has a non-resident ordinary account(NRO) from which the bank was deducting tax at source (TDS) on the interest accumulated on his deposits. Although he had filed returns and applied for a refund with the central international taxation department from 2002 onwards, he had not got a single reply from the IT department.

Dalvi decided to file an RTI query with the IT dept's central public information officer (CPIO) in December last year asking about the status on his pending refund. "The officer in charge forwarded my request to the CPIO for international taxation. I got both my refunds in a week. Later, I also got the interest and my assessment orders from them which they had missed initially with the original refund cheques," he said.

Complete Article

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mizo students' want Info Chief out!

The Mizo Students’ Union has demanded the resignation of the Mizoram state information commission chief Robert Hrangdawla and the termination of the appointments of other employees recruited unfairly on or before March 15, 2007.

A press release issued by the union stated that if their demand is not met on or before the deadline, the organisation would take to the streets.

H. Zothanpuia, president of the union, said his organisation is concerned about the administration in the commission since posts of the secretary and deputy secretary are lying vacant. He added that a meeting under the governor concerning the state information commission was convened on March 1 but his organisation was in the dark about its outcome.

Complete Article
For the first time, a full Bench of the Maharashtra Information Commission has been called on Monday, March 5, to hear an appeal made by activist Shailesh Gandhi, asking for the medical reports of S Surupsingh Naik, former state forest minister. According to a Supreme Court order on May 10, 2006, Naik was to serve a month-long term in Thane prison, but he, instead, was transferred to the plush Critical Care Unit of JJ Hospital. The former minister had been found guilty of allowing saw mills to operate on prohibited forest lands.

Having waited for over 10 months in vain to get a redressal, Gandhi now fears the worst: he may not get the medical reports at all, or the those handed over to him would be tampered documents.

Gandhi filed an RTI, asking for the medical reports, on May 27 last year - 11 days after Naik was shifted to hospital because of irregular blood pressure and diabetes. Though an individual’s medical reports are covered by an exemption under section 8(j) of the RTI Act, Gandhi argued that it was in the interest of the public he had wanted to know how and why a convict was allowed to stay in the air-conditioned comfort of hospital. He claimed that the action helped Naik to escape the punishment imposed on him, and he wanted the reports to prove his point.

Complete Article

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Goa BJP's use of the RTT Act

The Goa BJP has filed corruption cases against six top state bureaucrats with the Vigilance Department in connection with the recruitment process. The cases involve departmental selection committee heads of police, archives and museum, fire, public works department, health and registration.

The cases were filed under Section 13 (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act based on the documents collected from various departments under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Complete Article

Friday, March 02, 2007

South Goa Police dept fined for info lapse

In an interesting case the Goa Sate Information Commission (GSIC) has ordered the police department to pay a compensation of Rs 2000 to the appellant who was not given information on time. Samiro Pereira of Orlim Salcete had prayed for a compensation for the metal agony he was put to by the police demand.

On August 17, 2006 Pereira had approached the Superintendent of Police (SP), Margao with a request for information regarding the cases filed by him with the police. Interestingly, information sought was regarding his complaints against some police officers themselves in addition to some other persons.

Complete Article

RTI Expose - Union Minister involvement in illegal transfer

Union Minister of state food and processing Subodh Kant Sahay's involment has been exposed in Public Sector Transfer and Posting policy- Thanks to RTI.

1st time union Govt. has admitted that an Officer (Hitesh Verma) of Central Coalfields Limited Ranchi was transfered to North East (Assam) at the behest of Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay .

The information followed an application filed by Hitesh's mother Saroj Bala Verma under RTI Act.

Verma apparently fell faul of the minister following the death of his wife Sanjana (related to Subodh kant Sahay)after protracted illness. Criminal case were loged against Verma apparently at the behest of minister and further Subodh Kant Sahay sought to abuse his office and transfered Verma from CCL Rancti to North East(Assam).

Coal India and CCL both admited the minister's exert pressure to transfer and posting, only due to this VIP pressure Ritesh Verma was transfered to Assam from Ranchi out of the way posting .

Show cause notice served on tahsildar in Tamil Nadu

TN State Information Commissioner issued a show cause notice to the Srivaikundam tahsildar and disciplinary action was also recommended against Thoothukudi District Public Information Officer and Srivaikundam tahsildar for the same.

Thoothukudi district CPM secretary K Kanagaraj, in his complaint, said that he was not furnished the information sought in August 2006 regarding the extension work of Srivaikundam Government Hospital though the Srivaikundam town panchayat gave away 11 cents of land for the work in 1997.

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Delay in information, PIO fined Rs 10,000

Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC), Ahmedabad, has been fined Rs 10,000 for delay in providing information sought under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005, by the State Information Commission (SIC).

The case pertains to a dry fruit vendor at the Bharuch central station of GSRTC, Abdul Latif Rajak Sheikh, who had sought from the then PIO, A L Shah, a copy of a notification that stipulated guidelines on selling eatables under license. Observing that it was a fit case for a maximum fine of Rs 25,000 the Commission however took a lenient view as Shah was only holding an additional charge of PIO, and ordered the money to be paid within a month of the order made on Friday.

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