Wednesday, January 31, 2007

RTI Effect: People of Gaisilet Block in Orissa get PDS rice!

People of Gaisilet Block in Orissa got back the misappropriated BPL rice thanks to Section 4 of the Right to Information Act 2005! Gaisilet Block of Baragarh district is one of the most backward and drought-prone districts in the State of Orissa. Most of its population depending as they do on agriculture, suffer various kinds of hardship due to frequent occurrence of drought and subsequent loss of income.

A local network called Lok Vikash Sangathan sprung up at Block level comprising various village level organizations to carry forward the campaign for streamlining the operation of PDS. First of all, the representatives of the network went to Gram Panchayat office to demand information under Section-4 of the Act about the reasons for non-distribution of BPL rice for a stretch of four months. Denied of the said information at Panchayat level the activists moved to the Block Office demanding the same information. Denied again of the information at Block level, they visited the office of the Sub-collector to get the same. After a long dialogue, the Sub-collector assured them to provide the required information within seven days. What the Sub-collector disclosed thereafter was a shocking revelation, though it was the tip of the iceberg. According to Sub-collector, a total 2698.86 quintals of rice was somehow hijacked by the concerned officials and agents in stead of reaching to the people.

Again, the people coming in large numbers from each village gheraoed the Block office on 16.10.06 and declared not to leave the area unless and until they are provided with the rice that was due to them. A day-long Dharana continued. In the late evening, a written agreement was signed by the BDO, Chairman Panchayat Samiti and Civil Supply Officer in the presence of the OIC of local police station that the pending rice would be distributed and the supply of BPL rice in future regularized. Besides the Supply Inspector of the Block was suspended, and a case filed against the concerned Store Agent. As per this agreement, the people got back their pending quantity of 2698.86 quintals of rice which had been misappropriated by a corrupt nexus of officials and agents, and the disbursement of PDS rice was hence forth regularized.

from report by
Mr. Kahnu Ch. Majhi
RTI Activist, Member of Right to Food campaign, Baragarh district, Orissa

RTI applicant police chief selection rules

Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, assistant general manager with a private company even filed an RTI in December last year and when he did not receive any reply, filed his first appeal as why the information was not given to him within stipulated time period of one month.

Making use of Right To Information Act, 2005, he had filed the RTI with the Ministry Of Home Affairs (MHA) to know who all were in the race for the top post. Bhattacharya said he requested for the specific criteria for selecting the commissioner other than seniority-level and if there are any others, the general public should be made aware of it.

Complete Article

Disclosure of file notings: CIC asks DoPT to amend website

Putting an end to ongoing debate over disclosure of file notings, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to amend the contents of its website which stated that file notings cannot be divulged under the Right to Information Act.

The CIC, by this order, made it clear that the file notings may be asked to be provided to information seekers under the act.

In a major embarrassment to the DoPT, the nodal government body under the RTI Act, the commission sternly directed it to "suitably amend its website" in a month and remove all such instructions which were contrary to CIC's earlier decisions pertaining to disclosure of file notings.

Complete Article

College principal gets CIC notice for holding info

Government College of Arts principal Brahm Prakash has been issued a show-cause notice by the Central Information Commission (CIC) on charges of “malafide suppression of information under the RTI Act”. Allegedly, Brahm Prakash had refused to furnish information sought by Dr Jayanti Dutta Roy, Deputy Director, Academic Staff College, Panjab University.

In the notice, the CIC wrote, “As, in this particular case, the principal becomes the custodian of the information, he becomes the deemed Public Information Officer. The Commission, therefore, decides to issue a notice for penalty for malafide suppression of information, which could have been easily supplied to the appellant. Besides, the Commission recommends the college authorities to ensure that they have senior persons to act as the Central Public Information Officer and the Appellate Authority.”

Complete Article

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Audit is public document: Gujarat SIC

In connection with denial of information regarding pollution in industrial estates of Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of the State R N Das summoned appellant authority of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to explain why information sought by one applicant pertaining to Ankleshwar Effluent Treatment Plant was not provided.

Complete Article

Monday, January 29, 2007

RTI survives another attack

A quiet second attempt to maul your right to information has been put down.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has tossed out the government view that individual commissioners had no powers to decide appeals and issue directions to government bodies, saying this interpretation would make the law 'meaningless'.

"No such interpretation can ever be accepted which will make the Act, which confers the right on a citizen to access information, totally unworkable," a full bench of the commission headed by Wajahat Habibullah held on Monday, staving off the second attempt by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) to take the sting out of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

RTI survives another attack

A quiet second attempt to maul your right to information has been put down.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has tossed out the government view that individual commissioners had no powers to decide appeals and issue directions to government bodies, saying this interpretation would make the law 'meaningless'.

"No such interpretation can ever be accepted which will make the Act, which confers the right on a citizen to access information, totally unworkable," a full bench of the commission headed by Wajahat Habibullah held on Monday, staving off the second attempt by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) to take the sting out of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

RTI seminar on Feb 2nd at ICSSR- Delhi

A panel discussion is being jointly organised by the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit (CPSU) and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on 'Pushing for Transparency in Governance: Advocating for the Right to Information in India' on February 2nd, 2007 at the Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi from 10 am to 1:30 pm (followed by lunch).

The purpose of this panel is to share the successful advocacy experiences and explore the challenges faced by a diverse group of RTI advocates including researchers, activists and government officials who are all utilizing the Right to Information Act (2005) in various contexts in India. The speakers will include:

Nida Kirmani, CPSU and the University of Manchester
Shailesh Gandhi, the convener of the NCPRI
Rakesh Ranjan, Sandhan
Anjali Bhardwaj, founder Satark Nagrik Sangathan
Rajan Kashyap, Punjab Information Commissioner

The panelists' presentations will be followed by a half hour discussion moderated by CHRI's Sohini Paul, which will involve both the panelists and audience members. Lunch will also be provided.

Directions to the venue at the ICSSR can be found at
http://www.icssr.org/roadmap/roadmap.htm.

Bihar govt makes RTI accessible

Bihar on Monday became the first state in the country to open a call centre for facilitating use of the Right to Information (RTI) by people.

Aptly christened 'Jankari', the call centre was inaugurated by CM Nitish Kumar in presence of RTI activist and Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal. Speaking on the occasion, Kumar said RTI would prove a milestone in taming corruption and red tapism, and help government tone up administration. "It will help in bringing Ramrajya in real sense of the term," he said.

Since a large chunk of rural population is unable to read and write, the call centre would prove a boon for them as it would virtually write application on behalf of the complainants. A sum of Rs 10 as fees (under the RTI provisions) would automatically be charged in the caller's telephone bill. The call centre's number is 155331.

Complete Article

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Biggest deniers of info in Orissa: Depts of Finance, Energy, GA, Forest

The departments of Finance, Energy, Home, General Administration and Forest and Environment are the biggest denier of information sought under Right to Information (RTI) Act as per the data provided by the State Information Commission (SIC) till March 31, 2006. The Department of Finance has denied providing information to 15 applicants against 24 sought (62.5 per cent). The Department of Energy has denied access to information in five out of eight cases (62.5 per cent).

Complete Article

RTI Expose: Why politicos are cops best friend!

Startling details have emerged in response to an RTI application filed by activist Shailesh Gandhi, which say politicians have a hand in the lives of hundreds of policemen in the state.

In fact, Maharashtra politicians are abusing their office and openly indulging in the business of sifaarish (recommendation) for the transfer of cops, starting right from assistant commissioners of police down to constables.

The RTI findings reveal that some 407 police transfers were recommended through political offices between January 2005 and February 2006.

Out of these
* 19 recommendations came directly from the Chief Minister
* 189 came from the Deputy Chief Minister, who is also the Home Minister
* 199 from other Ministers and Secretaries

The RTI findings reveal
* Four transfer requests came from the personal secretary to the Chief Minister
* While three requests were received from the personal secretary to
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar

Complete Article

RTI Effect: RTI prompts show cause notices to school on poor performance

Following the RTI application, filed by one Raja Ram Jatav, a Banda resident, the department 'realised' that eight aided schools here are drawing teachers' salaries worth lakhs every month but their pass percentage is below 20.

On Thursday, the district secondary education department served notices on managers of all eight schools and asked them to take appropriate action against non-performing teachers. In a significant first, the school managers have also been asked to inform the department with an action-taken report within two weeks.

Complete Article

Demand for departmental inquiry against AA of Noida Developmental Authority

Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) condemn on act of Noida Developmental Authority and Noida Police of arresting Bibhav Kumar and his colleague Rajeev yesterday. Bibhav and Rajeev had gone to appear for first appeal before Noida Development Authority, where in they was insulted and threatened by Appellate Authority, Noida Development Authority. Upon raising objection to the words used by AA, the both were arrested.

Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) strongly condemns against this incident. MAGP also demands for an departmental inquiry against the Appellate Authority. Right to Information is Citizen’s rights and shall be honoured. Citizens will not tolerate this behavior of AA of Noida development authority.

After 58 years of Independence, RTI is making system accountable to people, who are master in democracy. RTI today is being used by Common man to question the system ‘WHY’? Obviously corrupt elements in the system are scared and try threatening citizen to prohibit them from using RTI. This act of AA of Noida development authority on the eve Republic day shows his colonial mindset.

MAGP demands strict action and departmental inquiry against the appellate Authority, Noida Developmental Authority at the earliest.

On behalf of: Mahiti Adhiakr Guajrat Pahel
Harinesh Pandya 09824048842

Friday, January 26, 2007

Right to Information Camps in Bihar

friends,
pl find list of volunteers
http://www.prajanet.org/partners/nrti/files/RTI_Bihar.pdf

who are starting Camps on RTI from 5th Feb for 10 days in Bihar under the banner of "Soochna Ka Adhikar Abhiyan, Bihar" if u can participate in any district of Bihar, u r most welcome.

regards
vallabh
asha varanasi

K'taka Gov calls for proper implementation of RTI

On the administration, Mr. Chaturvedi said the time had come to reorient and reinvigorate the administrative delivery system. This could be done by having citizens play a larger role through the Right to Information Act. Administrators needed to understand the impact of the Act for effective administration. It "is a tool for better administration and not a stick to beat the administration with."

Complete Article

SC Bar Association for non dilution of RTI

Much to the embarrassment of judges, the Supreme Court Bar Association is set to vote on a resolution stating that the judiciary should not be exempted from the purview of the Right to Information Act.

Over 150 lawyers requisitioned the Bar Association to convene a general body meeting to pass the resolution, which runs counter to the efforts being made by the Supreme Court to dilute the application of RTI upon itself.

Since such a large number of lawyers signed the requisition, the president of the Bar Association, M N Krishnamani, told TOI that he was bound by it "regardless of the judges' feelings" and therefore he was planning to hold a GBM over the RTI resolution in the first half of February.

Complete Article

RTI Workshop at Narkeldanga on 23rd January 2007

Dear Friends,

The RTI Workshop/Interactive Session organised by West Bengal RTI Manch at Narkeldanga in the benign presence of Shri.Arvind Kejriwal is a "News" in today's, i.e.25-01-2007, "Prabhat Khabar" ,an eminent Hindi Daily News Paper. Click or Cut & Paste the below link over the URL to read the same. If it doesn't work then access it from the e-paper link further below.

http://www.prabhatkhabar.com/kitspress/?p=32762

Warm Regards,
(MALAY BHATTACHARYYA)

RTI activists detained on false charges on the Eve of 58th Republic Day

The NOIDA authority and the police making a complete mockery of the Constitution

When a country was preparing for its 58th Republic Day celebrations, the office of New Okhla Development Authority, Uttar Pradesh was witnessing a servant of the same country's official machinery making a complete mockery of its republic. The Additional CEO of the Authority Mr. Ravindra Naik was threatening two social workers and went to the extent of lodging FIRs against them by framing them under false charges and getting them arrested.

Information regarding the development of park in NOIDA had been seeked from the authority. NOIDA resident, Retired Commodore Lokesh Batra had filed RTI application regarding the same with the Authority. The Public Information Officer had given a very vague reply to the questions asked in the application to suppress the matter. Thus, the first appeal on the same matter was filed and it reached the Additional CEO and the first Appellate Authority. The hearing for the same was scheduled on the 25th of January, 2007. Commodore Lokesh Batra had authorized Bibhav Kumar (of Parivartan and Kabir) to represent him at the hearing. Bibhav was accompanied by his
coworker Rajeev for the hearing. When Bibhav and Rajeev reached for the hearing at 4 pm Mr. Ravindra Naik, objected to the presence of Rajeev and reprimanded Bibhav by commenting, "Can't you move without a bodyguard?" When Bibhav tried to explain, Mr. Naik lost his cool and started hurling abuses at the two of them. He shouted, "You are trying to teach me the law. I'll get you killed……" He then called Inspector Bhaduria, posted at the police cell of the authority and ordered him to lodge false charges against them and put them behind the bars.

Instead of the "hearing" authority police detained them at the office for hours. Not only that Mr. Bahduria snatched their purse, mobile phones, money etc. and kept them in his custody. Bibhav somehow managed to inform his other co-workers. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and other RTI activists reached the Authority where they were stopped from meeting Bibhav and Rajeev. Both of them were then locked up at the Sector 20, police station. Till 9 pm nobody was informed on what charges were they arrested. On the contrary, when Bibhav and Rajeev tried to file complaints against the Officer who
misbehaved with them they were not allowed to do so.

The media and other social workers started crowding around the Sector 20 police station. The police then informed them that Bibhav and Rajeev have been detained on the basis of an FIR filed by constable Mahesh of the authority police for disrupting the official work process. The FIR stated that Bibhav and Rajeev forcefully entered Mr. Naik's room and also misbehaved with him !!!!!!! The Question here was that of the users of Right to Information and the attitude of the Information Officers towards them by falsely implicating them and getting them arrested. The police was ready to bail them out. But Rajeev and Bibhav refused for bail as they said that they
were arrested under false charges and that the case should be taken back and a complaint against Mr. Naik should be filed. The police and the administrative machinery kept trying to suppress the matter till late night. They also proposed that the complainant constable would be made to plead forgiveness and that his FIR would be taken back. But the RTI activists remained firm on their stand and around 2 am a compliant against Mr. Naik was lodged and filed.

It is evident from the above incident that the NOIDA authority has no regard for the word of the constitution. On the other hand the attitude of the NOIDA police reinstates the fact that the common man is still far from receiving his long due justice. Nithari killings is a case in point.

For Further Details contact : Manish Sisodia : 09868875898

RTI activists arrested in Noida

Two RTI activists, Rajeev and Vaibhav, who are members of Parivartan, a Delhi based NGO, were arrested by the Noida police on Thursday. The arrests came after the Noida authorities complained against them to the police. The authorities claim that both the men had created a scene and disturbed the peace at the municipality office in Noida.

The two men had gone there for an RTI hearing asking the city authority why
no development work had started at a local park. Thirty-five residents of the city had filed this RTI, but so far there has been little response from the Noida civic authorities.

Ironically when NDTV also tried to find out from the authorities about the case, our camera team was also pushed.

Complete Article

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Punjab Guv administers oath to Info Commissioners

The Punjab Governor, Gen. (Retd.) S.F. Rodrigues,Thursday administered the oath of office to Lt. Gen. Promod Kumar Grover (Retd.), Mr. Kulbir Singh, Mr.P.P. S. Gill, and Mrs Ravi Singh, as members of the State Information Commission, Punjab at a brief but impressive ceremony at Punjab Raj Bhavan.

All the four new members have a distinguished career in their respective fields. Lt. Gen. Promod Kumar Grover (Retd.) is a highly decorated Army officer and retired as Chief of Staff of Western Command. Mr. Kulbir Singh is a retired Chief Engineer of the Punjab PWD B& R, Mr.P.P.S. Gill, a senior Journalist and Mrs. Ravi Singh, an eminent educationist and philanthropist.

Complete Article

Ministry milks NTPC

Disclosure under the Right to Information Act reveals that Power Ministry officials have been milking PSU NTPC of creature comforts worth lakhs.

The list of consumables includes a leather Sofa worth Rs 1.18 lakhs, 12 carpets worth Rs 1.83 lakhs, an office table worth Rs 1.03 lakhs and 20 visitor chairs worth Rs 2.77 lakhs. The list further goes on to include coffee makers, shredders, photo copiers, xerox machines, heaters, ACs and mobile phone handsets and accessories also supplied.

This apart, lakhs were also spent on hiring cars and providing to officials of the Ministry of Power.

Power Secretary R V Shahi ran up bills worth Rs 2 lakhs, while M Sahu Joint Secretary and financial advisor to the ministry ran up bills worth Rs 1.23 lakhs. Joint Secretary Thermal Harish Chandra also ran up bills worth Rs 2.4 lakhs.

Complete Article

Come Jan 29, call centres in Bihar to provide info

From January 29 the state information commission would set up call centres in Patna to help the public get information.

One simply has to make a call and provide his/her address and the type of information he/she wants to get. The call centre will then pass on the application to the department concerned for the information. The commission also has a website, www.bsic.co.in.

Lamenting the fact that people are still not aware of this particular Act, he said NGOs and the media can play a vital role in apprising the people about it. State information commissioner P N Narayan said they have also held talks with some NGOs for apprising the people about the Act.

Bihar State Information Commission (BSIC), since its inception last year, has settled 72 out of 240 complaints received by it so far. It has also served notices to at least five officers under Sections 20 (1) and 20 (2) for their failure to provide informations to the people.

Complete Article

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

EAR ruled as public document

Times of India, Ahmedabad
23.01.2007

Ahmedabad: Environmental audit report (EAR) pertaining to functioning of Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), established across the state was ruled as a 'public document' by the state chief information commissioner, RN Das on Monday.

Das reasoned that since the audit reports were mandated by the high court to bring in transparency in monitoring pollution in industrialised areas, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), being the owner of these reports and a public authority, cannot refuse a copy to any citizen who demands it under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Books Available on Right to Information

Latest Release: RTI in Hindi: Soochana ka aadhikar: Khuuch Samajik ve kanooni Pehlu It is all about the Right to Information, the process that went behind making of law besides features of law in simple language. The book also describes about the need of such law, provisions on Right to Information in other countries and also tries to capture the vibrancy of the Right to Information law in India. It also deals with some experiences aftre the law became operational in India and briefly analyse several cases being adjudicated by the Central Information Commission constituted under the Right to Information Act 2005.
soft cover Price Rs. 100/- pgs 160
postage and packaging extra

For order write to:
We The People Publishers, PostBox 3123, Lodhi Road HPO, New Delhi 110003

email wethepeople_apc@yahoo.co.in

Our Other related publications:
1. The Book `About Your Right To Information' deals with what, why, how, where, when of the Right to Information in India. Written in simplified from, the book also carries details about Information Commission, State Information Commissions. This book is enriched with several decisions which have been made by the Information Commission since it came into inception in October 2005.
Cost Rs. 100/- soft cover p. 167/-
2. Our Fundamental Rights and Duties. This book is a simplified version of constitutional rights and duties. Written in question and answer from it simplifies the whole aspect and is recommended for training programmes. Price Rs. 60/- soft cover p. 56

These books are also available at

Central News Agency P 23 Connaught Circus New Delhi 110001
and
Indian Social Institute, 10, Institutional Area Lodhi Road New Delhi 110003

AA in Goa tries to intimidate applicant ... in vain

In a recent case before the Goa State Information Commission, which found the Mapusa deputy collector and North Goa additional collector (first appellate authority) denying information to a Moira resident Donato Armando Lobo on flimsy grounds.
On October 10, 2006, Lobo sought to present an application to Mapusa deputy collector seeking certain information relating to his village. However, he was not allowed to submit it unless he affixed a Rs 2 court stamp on the same. However, under the RTI Act no court stamp needs to be affixed on an application. When Lobo tried to explain this, it was not heeded to. Eventually, a court stamp was affixed.
Moreover, an application fee of Rs 10 was also not accepted from Lobo, instead he was asked to pay processing fee – but RTI Act does not prescribe processing fee. Lobo refused to pay processing fee, instead he preferred an appeal before the additional collector who is the first appellate authority.

Later, Lobo was served notice (by first appellate authority) asking him to show cause as to why a fine of Rs 250 should not be imposed on him till the disposal of his appeal.

Following this, Lobo lodged a complaint with the Goa State Information Commission.
The Commission, after hearing the arguments of both the parties and verifying the evidences presented before it, ruled the action of the Mapusa deputy collector as “illegal and not justified.”

As for the show cause notice of the first appellate authority, the Commission said: the first appellate authority “erred in directing Lobo to justify as to why a fine of Rs 250 per day should not be imposed on.” The Commission also pointed out that, “the Act does not provide for payment of fine by the applicant.”
Lobo’s case was argued by members of Moira legal aid cell before the Commission.

Complete Article

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bring judiciary under RTI: former chief justice

The judiciary should not be given immunity from the Right to Information (RTI) Act and judicial appointments should be opened to public scrutiny, a former chief justice of India who also headed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says.

'To ensure transparency and accountability in public eye, I strongly feel that judiciary should be brought into the ambit of Right to Information Act,' he maintained. 'When hearing of all the cases is done publicly, decisions are pronounced publicly, the administrative actions of the judiciary, especially judicial appointments, should be made open to public scrutiny,' Verma added.

Complete Article

Sonia urges tribals to use Right to Information Act

In a bid to woo the tribals back to the party fold, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday lambasted the incumbent BJP Government in the State and urged its tribal party workers to use the Right to Information Act in order to check the proper utilisation of the Central fund by the State BJP Government.

"Congress workers across the state should use this Right to Information Act effectively to know whether the money given to the state government by the Centre is being properly used or not," Gandhi told in her concluding address at the end of the party's tribal camp here.

Alleging the Narendra Modi government in the State of gross misuse of Central funds, Sonia said, "Huge funds have been allocated to Gujarat under various central government schemes. But they are not being utilised properly."

Urging her party workers to spread the awareness about the RTI among the tribals, Sonia said the new enactment (RTI) introduced by the UPA government, "is a very strong tool".

Complete Article

Thursday, January 18, 2007

RTI Workshop in Chennai

Probus Club of Chennai has proposed to conduct a Right to Information (RTI) workshop for senior citizens at the Russian Cultural centre, Kasturi Road, behind Hotel Chola, Alwarpet, Chennai from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday 27, 2007.

The workshop will be conducted by Kris Dev, an ICT and e-Gov Consultant and RTI Activist.

Probus Club of chennai: 2483 8806.
Kris Dev: 98 408 52132.

[posted by Mr Kris Dev on Humjanenge]

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Right to see script won in West Bengal

Getting to see their corrected answer sheets on demand looks possible for Calcutta University (CU) students, thanks to Right to Information (RTI).

The state information commission on Tuesday directed the university to show a former student his evaluated answer script. The student was unhappy with his marks in the B.Com Part II Accountancy (Honours) examination of 2006.

The commission, however, added that the university should protect the identity of the examiner and scrutiniser who marked the answer script.

Complete Article

Disclosure of scores in CS exams: Delhi HC extends stay

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday further extended till March 20 the stay on the Central Information Commission's (CIC) order to disclose the individual scores of the candidates who appeared in the civil services examinations, 2006.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul extended the stay and fixed March 20 for the final hearing of the matter.

Complete Article

Zee Kannada Channel starts a weekly RTI Programme

Zee Kannada Channel has started a weekly RTI Programme and have covered interviews of several activists andsuccess stories of them .

The programme is going to aired every Tuesday at 11 pm.

[thanks to Mr Vikram Simha's post on Humjanenge]

Monday, January 15, 2007

How corporators spend, drain away your money

The largest chunk of corporators' funds—roughly Rs 99.3 crore—went into drainage projects over the past five years. Though the spending may be indicative of the actual demands of various wards, allegations of funds being misused also indicate that while a lot of money has gone into drains, large amounts have also gone down the drain.

It can be surmised that roughly Rs 99.3 crore was spent on drains, 22% (or roughly Rs 62.4 crore) was spent on community development and only 1% (roughly Rs 2.8 crore) on open spaces.

Complete Article

Sunday, January 14, 2007

RTI Effect: Citizen uses RTI to get elusive pension

The beaming face of Laxmi Devi says it all. The 80-year-old has finally got her pension after she'd almost given up hope, thanks to the Right To Information Act.

Laxmi Devi lives with her daughter, who works as a domestic help, in Khirki village. In May 2005, she applied for an old-age pension to MCD. But despitenumerous visits to the office, there was no sign of a pension.

Finally, she approached an RTI camp organised by Satark Nagarik Sanghathan, anNGO. She was told her application was missing and she would have to apply again. She did. And promptly got approval for a monthly pension of Rs 350 in December. She will receive a cheque of Rs 1,750 (for five months) this month.

Sangeeta and Sultana of Begumpur didn't get their ration entitlements for over two years as their ration cards weren't being renewed by the Food and Civil Supplies Department. Though touts offered to help them for a 'fee', they decided to take the RTI route. By November 2006, both had got their ration cards

Complete Article

Saturday, January 13, 2007

RTI Effect: How RTI Act came to his rescue

A residents' welfare activist from Pattabiram has used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to settle a 15-year-long dispute with the Avadi Municipality over property tax assessment. Augustine Roy Rozario, a resident of Cholan Nagar in Pattabiram, said he had disputed the municipality's assessment of his annual rental value and subsequently the half-yearly property tax in 1989.

"I was made to run from pillar to post despite a court ruling in my favour. Ultimately it was RTI that helped me."

Even though it was the questions he filed under the RTI that finally helped Mr. Rozario resolve the tax dispute, he said the procedures he went through were not easy. "It was not easy to file the application, as I had to obtain the treasury challan from the Chennai Collectorate, get the head of accounts from the general-secretary of the Thandurai-Pattabiram Consumer Protection Council, remit Rs.10 in cash at the State Bank of India, Treasury Branch, in Thousand Lights, and finally send the application by registered post."

Though the Municipal Administration Department had forwarded the RTI application to Avadi Municipality, Mr.Rozario did not get a reply within the stipulated 30 days. He then sent an appeal under Section 19(1) of RTI to the Appellate Authority.

Finally, the revenue officials of Avadi Municipality visited Mr.Rozario's residence in December and he was able to get the property reassessed.

Complete Article

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Colleges are open to your scrutiny now

For Rs 10, you can now probe the multi-crore education business, dominated by Maharashtra’s rich and powerful politicians and so far conducted behind closed doors.

State Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi’s ruling last week against the Chetana Trust — penalising it Rs 25,000 for withholding information on how it spends its funds — means that trusts and deemed universities, which enjoy public grants or are covered by the state’s rules, will have to open their procedures and accounts to public scrutiny.

Educational trusts have been mired in controversies like donations, bribery, non-adherence to norms and running unrecognised courses. The biggest grouse is profiteering, which led the Supreme Court to direct states to appoint fee monitoring committees.

Complete Article

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Order to furnish panel report

The Information Commission today directed the state home department to furnish a copy of the Justice PK Tripathy commission report on Sorono firing of 1999 to the petitioner free of cost within 15 days.

In a glaring instance of how use of the Right to Information can make a rather reluctant government act, the Commission overruled all pleas of the department concerned and upheld petitioner Mr Biswapriya Kanungo’s right to get a copy of the probe report. The firing had taken place on 29 May 1999 and four persons, including a woman, had died during a fishermen struggle.

Complete Article

Officer fined Rs 3,500

The State Information Commission, on Monday, imposed a fine of Rs 3,500 on the Public Information Officer at Kozhikode District Industries Centre, P K Narayanan, for his failure to provide the information sought to be given under the Act.

After its sitting held here, the Commission said that it had so far received 471 complaints from the state and 120 of them were disposed of while 351 were pending disposal.

Complete Article

Make Soochana Dwar at high security buildings

High security government buildings like the Secretariat and Shastri Bhawan may become accessible to those seeking information under the Right To Information Act (RTIA) following State Information Commission’s (SIC) directive to the Government to make necessary arrangements within a month in this connection

Complete Article

RTI publications in Jharkhand

Prabhat Khabar has endeavoured to do through the two handbooks, State of Governance — Jharkhand Citizen Handbook and Jharkhand Development Report, 2007, both of which try to “take the issues of development and governance into the public domain for intense discussions.”

This, Harivansh, editor of Prabhat Khabar, points out, has always been their objective. “It’s the duty of responsible journalism to take the main issues of BIMARU states to the public,” he explains in Why We Did This Study (Jharkhand Development Report). Getting experts from different fields to write on topical issues, has always been one of their initiatives, it says.

Books: (i)Jharkhand Development Report, 2007 and (ii) State of Governance-Jharkhand Citizen Handbook. Publisher: Neutral Publishing House Limited, Ranchi. Price: Rs 150

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Monday, January 08, 2007

HUGE HUGE opportunity in Mumbai

Dear Friends,

Thanks to the proactive and positive approach of the current Secretary GAD, - Shri Sanjay Ubale,- we have got permission to start a RTI helpdesk at Mantralaya, Mumbai.
We propose to have volunteers who have recieved adequate training in RTI every afternoon from 1.30pm to 6.00pm.
The volunteers will help Citizens file RTI applications for various issues which concern them. About 5000 to 7000 Citizens come to Mantralaya daily. Many are from rural areas and a large number
have issues which RTI could resolve. The helpdesk will be started from 25th January or 26th January.

This is the plan for implementing this activity:
  • Every day three volunteers: atleast two of whom must be profecient in Marathi- will attend from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.

  • Regular Volunteers: One specific day ever week, or atleast every alternate week.
    This would mean a requirement of about 30 Regular volunteers.

  • Casual Volunteers-about 20,- who may not want to commit regularly, but would be willing to come occasionally.


  • The list of all volunteers would be available with all the 50 (30+20). If anyone amongst the regular volunteers is unable to come on the committed date, she will persuade one of the 20 Casual volunteers to take
    her place.
    No money or reimbursement would be paid to any of the volunteers, and I believe we will conduct this activity as our commitment and contribution to RTI.

    It is proposed to have a full day training workshop for all volunteers on January 20 and 23. Volunteers should attend one of these days.

    If there are any volunteers who are keen on participating, but are not able to come on one of these days, we will try and arrange for a separate session for them.
    Please spread this message to your friends who might be willling to join in this.

    Request all volunteers to send the following details as soon as possible to
    Nimita Marfatia and me:
    Name:
    Address:
    Telephone numbers:
    email address:
    Can you read and write Marathi? Yes/No.
    Wish to be a Regular Volunteer Every week on ........Day/ Every
    fortnight on ...........Day.
    Wish to be Casual Volunteer
    Will come to the training workshop on January 20/23.
    The timings for the training workshop will be from 10.00am to 5.30pm.
    Venue for the workshop will be intimated by 17th January

    Love
    shailesh
    shailesh2@vsnl.com
    022 32903776

    Sunday, January 07, 2007

    CIC asks AAI to show cause reasons for delay in RTI redressal

    Taking a serious note of the failure to respond to a right to information application, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a show cause notice to a senior official of Airports Authority of India (AAI) for providing incomplete information.

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    Tracking bungled money

    The power of a Rs 10 Right to Information (RTI) application to probe how authorities are using public money is on display again, this time in the Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation entrusted the 89-sq km township on Mumbai's northern edge.

    Accounting consultant and Mira Road resident Pramod Patil's RTI application to the corporation in December threw up the names of over 70 officials and organisations whom the civic body has awarded advances, but who still haven't reported back with the money's use.

    Public funds worth Rs 80 lakh of, handed out to officials since 1993, is still unaccounted for. Officials also have to account for a further Rs 64.5 lakh they have drawn till November of current financial year. According to the corporation's rule, officials who take money in advance, should account for its expenditure as soon as they spend the money, and within that financial year.

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    Friday, January 05, 2007

    Govt College of Art denies information under RTI, pulled up

    The Government College of Art is in the dock for allegedly denying information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to a Deputy Director of Panjab University.

    The Central Information Commission has pulled up officers Anand Sharma — Appellate Authority in the college — and Mohan Lal Arora — Public Information Officer — and has directed them to appear in person in the office of Central Information Commission in New Delhi on January 17 at 2.30 pm.

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    Differences between the authorities executing the rural job guarantee programme surfaced today when the State Information Commission (SIC) tried to ensure transparency in executing the biggest social security exercise.

    The deputy commissioners (DCs) and the deputy development commissioners (DDCs) of 20 districts tabled before the commission a block-wise fact sheet about how the scheme was implemented across the state. The programme was started on February 2, 2006, to ensure jobs to the poor for 100 days a year.

    The commission, thereafter, summoned the DCs under the RTI Act and told them to spread awareness about the programme and install a centralised system to furnish information from the grassroot level.

    Latehar and Sahibganj DCs, who did not respond to the commission’s summons, would be showcaused, said information commissioner Baidyanath Mishra.


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    Operating parts of inquiry report need to be disclosed: CIC

    Operative parts of an inquiry report prepared by law enforcing agencies should be disclosed but details of investigation should not be made public, the Central Information Commission has said.

    "...Between the need for protecting such information from disclosure and the right of the citizen to access information, it has been consistently decided that the concluding parts of such reports need to be disclosed to the requesters", Information Commissioner A N Tiwari said.

    However, the Commission, while recognising the need to protect the names and particulars of deponents who assist the authorities in their investigation, has asked the law enforcing agencies not to disclose information relating to investigation details.

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    RTI a dead letter in J&K

    The Right to Information Act of Jammu and Kashmir is in a state of suspended animation. The government has promised that it would be revived to its full blooded life soon, but it has ruled out extension of the Central RTI Act of 2005 to the state.

    The Article 370 confers special status on Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian union. No central law finds its automatic jurisdiction in the state unless approved by the state legislature.

    Jammu and Kashmir was the first state to enact Right to Information law in 2004, much before the Indian Parliament passed it for rest of the country. But the law never really took off. Though it was put on statute book, its institutional mechanism was not worked out.


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    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Govt sends CAG notings to SEWA

    The Gujarat government has finally sent the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's (CAG) audit comments on the Jeevika Project to the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA). After sitting on the observations for over a month, it was when TOI carried news about the issue on Tuesday, that state government decided to send the report to SEWA.

    The CAG-SEWA file was finally sanctioned to be sent to the NGO by outgoing rural
    development commissioner Vipul Mittra, and was posted on Wednesday, said sources. TOI had acquired a copy of the CAG observations under Right to Information Act.

    Times of India, Ahmedabad
    04.01.2007

    Legal workshop on RTI

    KANNUR: A legal workshop on Right to Information Act and Right to Information Parliament organised by the People¢s Council for Civil Rights will be held at Thalassery on January 8.

    Addressing media persons here on Tuesday, T Asafali, president of the council, said that the workshop will be held at 2 pm on Monday at the Hotel Pearl View Regency, Thalassery.

    Palat Mohandas, State Chief Information Commissioner will inaugurate it and P Fasaludheen, State Information Commissioner, will deliver the keynote address.

    The workshop will be followed by a question-hour session. A presidium of Parliament consisting of OG Premaraj, T Asafali, Vijith Viju, Raveendran Kandoth, Biju V Joseph, Sajith Kumar Chalil, Madhu Menon and P Sherafudheen will lead this session.

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    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Maharashtra official fined for delaying response

    The Maharashtra Information Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on an official of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Board (MHADA) for causing inordinate delay in providing information sought by an RTI applicant. This is the highest fine imposed by the Commission in the state since the RTI Act came into effect last year.

    Kandivli resident S K Nangia had filed a RTI query with joint chief officer, MHADA in March 2006 asking for details on proposed plans to develop gardens, playgrounds and hawking zones in the Charkop locality of Kandivili (west). Over the last few years, Charkop residents have been fighting for civic amenities that will improve their quality of life.

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    Annaji postpones agitation

    Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday said he was postponing his agitation to press the demand for effective implementation of the Right to Information Act till January 26 as his demands have been accepted in principal by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

    In a press note, Hazare said the decision of postponing his agitation was taken after he had a meeting with Deshmukh in Mumbai on Sunday. He said the meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil, Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi and other senior officials

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    Somaiya beats state, central govts. with the SEZ stick!

    Somaiya alleged that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has started giving approval to SEZ projects in the state at the places where the state government had reserved plots for various purposes. At some places even the reservation is clearly violated.

    Somaiya said, “I know at least three cases where the state government did not recommend the project but somehow it got approved. Surprisingly the Centre also cleared these projects in principal without raising any objections and doubts. The whole exercise is not only suspicious but shocking.”

    Somaiya obtained this information from the government itself through the Right to Information Act. Projects of Kumar Builders, Dewan Investments Pvt. Ltd., Gorai SEZ (to be developed by the Subhash Goyal group) have got the nod from the central government, but they are yet to be recommended by the state government. “Without the permission of the state how did the centre clear these projects,” he asked.
    He further alleged, “In some cases, the approval from the centre came too fast, as in the case of the Gorai SEZ. The application for Gorai SEZ was submitted on March 14, and the centre’s approval came within a record breaking 72 hours! This project was given the green signal on March 17. In some cases, SEZs are coming up on land under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) or under forest-reserved land, violating all rules and norms.”


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    Monday, January 01, 2007

    RTI has become a waiting game

    The Right to Information Act was supposed to bring transparency and accountability in all government transactions, but that has not happened. Apart from a few satisfied customers, a majority of residents are still waiting for their applications to be processed. As of November 2006, the state Information Commission (IC) had 4,551 pending complaints and appeals.

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    GIDC official pulled up for delay

    The guardian of the Right to Information Act in Goa, the Goa State Information Commission has pulled up the chief general manager of the Goa Industrial Development Corporation for failing to provide information within the stipulated period of 30 days to its own employee.

    After examining the case and the written submission from the GIDC PIO, the Commission decided to partly allow the appeal and directed the PIO to provide the correct information on duties, powers, facilities etc within a week from the date of the receipt of the order.

    The Commission also directed to show cause why a penalty of Rs 250 per day for the delay should not be imposed on the GIDC Public Information Officer. The State Information Commissioner, Mr Kambli said the Commission has just received the GIDC reply and will decide on the matter shortly

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    SEZ land allotments raise a stink

    Questions over proposed changes in land use are piling up, even as the commerce ministry and Maharashtra government are rushing to give in-principle approvals and conditional no-objection certificates to special economic zone (SEZ) developers.

    Among the proposals that have received provisional approval are SEZs on tribal land and ecologically sensitive coastal areas.

    Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who recently shot off letters to the Maharashtra government and commerce ministry seeking information under the Right To Information Act, said, "I have found 87 cases of violations in allotment of SEZs, from approvals granted for land that falls under the coastal regulation zone and tribal land, which don't even meet the minimum land criteria, being given approvals."

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    Manipur govt makes RTI appellant rules

    The Manipur government has made rules called the Manipur Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules, 2006 even though the departments within the purview of the RTI Act are yet to prepare and publish their respective manuals as required under the Act.

    State authorities, while notifying the same, stated that the rules will come into force on the date of publication of the rules in the official gazette of the Manipur government.

    The rules indicate the procedure to be followed while a person or persons go to appeal against the state public information officers to the State Information Commission.

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    CIC gives accused the right to know

    Even the accused has a right to know and the victim’s family can seek information about ongoing investigations, the Central Information Commission has ruled, in two different cases.

    In the first case, Nahar Singh, against whom Delhi Police had initiated externment proceeding, wanted to know the basis on which the externment process was started. The police refused information pleading that revealing such information may lead to interference with on-going magisterial proceedings.

    In his decision, Information Commission AN Tiwari said that report of lower police officers to their superiors on his externment should be shared with the accused in normal course and is not barred from disclosing under Section 8 (1) of the Right to Information Act. However, the police can protect the interests of witnesses or any other person, whose name is there in the report, by not providing them to the accused, Tiwari said, while asking Delhi Police to provide information to Singh within two weeks.

    In the second case, Mangto Ram, had sought information about the investigations into death of his daughter under unexplained circumstances. Delhi Police refused information citing section 8 (1)(h) of the RTI Act that exempts sharing of information that can impede the outcome of ongoing investigations.

    Information Commission AN Tiwari differed with the police and said the exception to the section can be applied as the victim’s family doesn't want any obstacles in the on going investigations. "Far from impeding the investigation, taking the appellant into confidence will give a positive direction to the investigation and enable the authorities to swiftly reach at the truth," Tiwari, said in his order.

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