Friday, November 16, 2007

Andhra Collectors asked for details regarding RTI implementation

The State Chief Commissioner of the Right to Information Act, C. D. Araha has on Thursday reviewed in detail the status of the implementation of the Right to Information Act and asked all the Collectors to send him a detailed before the month end on the position.

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'Info on bank account details exempted under RTI' - CIC

Noting that agreements entered into by banking enterprises with its customers were matters of ‘commercial confidence’, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled out disclosure of information pertaining to bank account details under the Right to Information Act.

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The Samatha Law Society is conducting a programme to evaluate the RTI Activities in Kerala as part of its Annual Meeting on 25th of this month. All are welcome.

Date: 25.11.2007
TIME : 10 AM to 1 PM~
VENUE : Old IMA Hall - Opposite Lotus Club, Near Dubar Hall Ground, Ernakulam.
Topic : Evaluation of the RTI Activities in Kerala.

For inquiries : 94470 72461 - HARIRAJ M.R.
09447061457 - P.A. Kumaran, Secretary, Samatha Law Society.

UP SIC summons cabinet secretary

The State Information Commission (SIC) on Thursday asked Cabinet Secretary to appear in person before it by December 12, with details of expenditure incurred on renovation of Ambedkar Udyan. The decision came after officials of Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) and Rajkiya Nirman Nigam (RNN) failed to convince the commission with documents detailing map and expanse of the udyan.

This is the first time that the Cabinet Secretary has been summoned by the commission. A Right to Information (RTI) Task Force has moved the commission seeking details of the expenditure incurred on chief minister Mayawati's dream project.

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RTI Effect: IIM-B makes evaluation public

The Right to Information Act has changed the way everybody looks at everything; from governance to transparency in entrance examinations. For the first time in its history, the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIMB) has gone pro-active and disclosed the details about the break-up of marks and evaluation procedure, on its web site. All details, from what it looks for in a candidate to basic nitty-gritty regarding the weightage given to different criteria, have been disclosed. The web site declares that this is specific to IIMB and has been formulated in consultation with experts and looking at applicants so as to avoid bias. There has always been speculation about the procedure as such. While it is common knowledge that it is a two-phase process, IIMB has come out in the open about the weightage given to prior academic records and the scales used to evaluate work experience. It states that candidates with work experience are preferred over others.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Govt orders fresh studies to probe PDS diversion

Perturbed by a TOI report in September 2007 on PDS diversion to the tune of Rs 31,500 crore in the last three years, the Union government has commissioned two new studies to investigate leakages in the public distribution system across the country. At the same time, not too keen to accept the news report and yet unable to say that it is incorrect, the department of food and civil supplies has denied access to relevant files on PDS diversion under the Right to Information Act, claiming "the matter is still under examination at the appropriate level."

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Implementation of RTI Act reviewed

Chief Information Commissioner of Right to Information Act CD Arah has advised the officials to initiate steps to implement the Act effectively. Reviewing the implementation of RTI Act with the officials of Krishna, East and West Godavari districts here on Tuesday, he asked the officials to submit the district-level annual report on the implementation of the Act by December-end as the Commission has to submit its second annual report to the Government.

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No dog trainers in LMC

The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, whose mandate under the Pet Dogs and Street Dogs - Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules 2001 includes control of stray animals, has no trained dog catchers, no dog vans and driver for these vans. LMC, which incidentally is the richest corporation in the state, has incinerators for disposal of dead animals. According to records of the Municipal Corporation, the city has a total of 21,735 stray dogs in the city. The information was furnished by LMC in reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by the well-known social scientist and a resident of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Dr Harish K Puri.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

PIO fined 25k for misinformation

The State Information Commission, Punjab, has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Public Information Officer Paramjit Singh, of the GMADA, Mohali, for not providing information to Bippinjit Singh, a resident of Sector 70, Mohali, within the stipulated time period. The commission has also recommended appropriate administrative action against the PIO.

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Govt decision to amend RTI Act not complete: CIC

Noting that Centre's decision to bring in amendments to the right to information act was yet to be effected, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled out disclosure of any related information till such amendments were actually adopted.

"... A decision on a cabinet note cannot be treated as complete unless the matter of the decision has been completed, which in this case would mean moving an amendment to the RTI Act as per the cabinet decision."

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Monsanto - mahyco intervenes in disclosing information under RTI

The case was heard by the CIC in April, 2007. the CIC gave a decision asking the CPIO to provide the data. (every argument on the IPR, was analysed and heard in this hearing, it was proved to be against it). The DBT did not comply and gave incorrect data (result summaries of data) for brinjal and said the data for other crops is not even generated. ( 14 months after application). We complained to CIC for non- compliance to the decision and malafide intention of the DBT not to give the data. A hearing was held on 12th November 2007 at the CIC, to decide on non-compliance.

Out of the blue the company Mahyco (Indian Partner of Monsanto), with its counsels filling the room, were present to implead to the CIC citing that the case has been heard without their involvement and there is immense commercial confidence and their position will be affected by competitors if the data is disclosed. ( this is after 20 months the first application!). The CIC has reserved the decision.

Refer to the decision of the case (April) in the CIC's website. case no. is No.CIC/ WB/A/2006/00548.

[Posted by Krishna on HJ group]

'J&K State Act needs to be amended in line with Central Act'

Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act (RTI) should be amended in the light of Central Right to Information Act 2005 so that the provisions incorporated in the latter which provide freedom of accessing official information without any bar be facilitated for the common citizenry in the state as well.

This was the one day workshop on Right to Information Act organized by the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), in which legal experts from Parivartan, a Delhi based NGO which campaigned for this Act in other parts of India before it received the assent from the
President of India on June 15, 2005, participated.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Commission hauls up Phillaur cop

The State Information Commission (SIC), Punjab, has summoned the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Phillaur Police for not providing information sought by a journalist under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The police had put the journalist's name in the bad character (BC) list and not removed it despite directions from the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) in October 2000.

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GMAS sets deadline to reverse decision on SEZs

Goa's Movement Against SEZ (GMAS) will launch an agitation if the government fails to announce the cancellation of all Special Economic Zones in Goa by the earlier-set deadline of November 20, 2007. Announcing this at a press conference today, the GMAS convenor Mr Mathany Saldanha said that the GMAS will meet the Chief Minister, Mr
Digambar Kamat on November 12 and present him a memorandum demanding the cancellation and withdrawal of all SEZs in Goa.

He said that according to information obtained from the government under the Right To Information, the government is projecting that 9,77,100 jobs will be created in Goa from the 18 SEZs. But Goa has only about 80,000 people who are unemployed. So the balance about 9-lakh people will have to come from outside Goa to fill the vacancies. This will burden the existing infrastructure such that Goa will not be able to sustain the burgeoning population.

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Don't accept RTI petitions, SIC tells Palakkad RDO

The repeated filing of applications under the Right To Information (RTI) Act on various issues by a retired Army official from Palakkad have irritated the State Information Commission (SIC) to the extent of it issuing an order to the Palakkad Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) not to accept RTI petitions from anyone from the district and ordered to send them directly to the public authority concerned or the commission.

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Govt policies cannot be questioned through RTI Act: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that citizens cannot question government policies and plans by utilising the Right to Information Act. The Commission noted this while dismissing an application filed by a Mumbai resident Amin Merchant who had sought information from Finance Ministry as to why certain tariff policy was framed by the Centre. " is not open to citizens to question the government about why a certain matter was handled in a certain way and not differently. The public authority owes him no explanation," the Information Commissioner A N Tiwari said.

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CIC pulls up AIR for laxity & negligence of officials

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up All-India Radio for 'laxity and negligence' of senior officials and for 'harassing staff for no justifiable reason', which has forced them to seek information under the Right to Information Act.

In a strongly-worded decision, information commissioner M.M. Ansari has said, "The director-general, Prasar Bharati, AIR, is directed to review and strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism so that the complaints of the employees could be duly redressed within the reasonable timeframe, lest they should be constrained to resort to the provisions of the RTI Act."

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Friday, November 09, 2007

When axed, turn to act

An officer at Delhi University’s Shri Ram College for Commerce has turned to the Right to Information Act for help, after the college suspended her for being violent with other staff members. Surinder Kaur has asked for copies of all records and files pertaining to her suspension. After the university turned down her plea, Kaur has now turned to the Central Information Commission and sought its intervention.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Employees can access their ACRs: Panel

Rejecting government’s submission that an annual confidential report (ACR) is sacrosanct, the Punjab State Information Commission has in a landmark verdict upheld the right of an employee to have access to his or her ACR. An application moved by Faquir Chand Sharma, an office superintendent in the Public Works Department (Buildings and Roads), to his executive engineer for supply of copies of his ACRs for six years - from 2000 to 2006 - under the Right to Information Act (RTI) was rejected on the plea that the information sought was exempt from the purview of the RTI Act.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

UGC fined for delaying grant to girl

Upset with the way the Indira Gandhi Post-Graduate Scholarship Scheme — meant for promoting education among girl children — is being implemented, the Central Information Commission has fined UGC Rs 25,000 for delaying the scholarship in one case, issued show-cause notices and asked it to review implementation of the scheme. The CIC directive, a copy of which is available with TOI, came after a Meerut student, Charumita, sought information on the scholarship under the RTI Act. Charumita won the scholarship in November 2005, but did not get it even after one and a half years as the UGC did not release the amount.

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RTI effect: Netaji papers to be released

The government is finally preparing to make public a selection of secret and controversial documents relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s reported death and subsequent events. The documents include communications to and from then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the chiefs of intelligence, which had been given to the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee of 1956 and Justice GD Khosla Commission of 1970. Both had concluded that Netaji died in an air crash in August 1945, a conclusion trashed by the Justice M.K. Mukherjee Commission in its November 2005 report.

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COAI seeks more govt documents

Giving a stronger indication of its distrust of the government's motives, the COAI went ahead and filed for additional documents through the Right to Information (RTI) Act on Friday. This is its second filing under RTI within a week. The move comes amidst tough negotiations designed to move towards a compromise between COAI and the DoT, embroiled in bitter litigation over the controversial crossover spectrum policy of October 19.

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RTI applicant gets irrelevant info

In what could be said to be a mockery of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Friday issued 224-pages of 'irrelevant information' to an applicant, including a copy of a court petition filed by the applicant himself!

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar, who was the recipient, has demanded that Municipal Commissioner Pravinsinh Pardeshi impart training to the municipal information officers about the procedure laid down for providing information to RTI applicants

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Friday, November 02, 2007

HC directs govt to clarify on exemptions under RTI

The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu Government to clarify whether the exemption granted under the provision of Right To Information Act (RTI) and a government order could be made applicable to cases in which information relating to corruption charges were made.

Justice V Dhanapalan gave the direction while disposing of a petition of one Vishwanath Swami, seeking a direction to the Commissioner of Police and Superintendent of Police, CBCID to supply information sought by him and to take departmental acton against officials who failed to furnish the information.

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Medical tests exempted under RTI

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled out disclosure of any information relating to medical tests under the RTI Act, while terming the relationship between a doctor and his patient as "fiduciary". Arjesh Kumar Madhok, a resident of Jhansi, had filed a Right to Information application with Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA
Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) seeking disclosure of reports of certain tests conducted on his son, following a request from his wife.

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Industries Department failed to provide full information: NGO

A non-governmental organisation has requested the State Information Commission to take action under section 18 (3) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act if the Industries Department failed to provide access to information sought on the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) projects in Tamil Nadu. Following a complaint by an applicant Madhumita Dutta, Coordinator, Corporate Accountability Desk of The Other Media, that the Public Authority had consistently avoided furnishing information despite repeated orders of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission (TNIC), the Commission had directed the Industries Secretary to produce all documents asked for in the Commission’s premises without fail for inspection by the applicant.

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