Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CIC does a u-turn on Citizens' Helpdesk proposal

On 22.01.07, we had submitted a proposal to set up a Citizens' Helpdesk at the CIC which was quickly accepted by Shri Wajahat Habibullah in an email written to Shri Prakash Kardaley. However, in a meeting held on 20th February, the Commission (minus Mr. OP Kejriwal) decided against it. Full blow by blow account is posted on www.nyayabhoomi.org.

I would like to hightlight a few points here.

1. First, IC Kejriwal's train from an outstation arrived late and he was not present in the meeting.

2. The Commission did not offer a reason for its decision as required under section 4(1)(d) of the Act.

3. The Commission literally overturned the decision of the Chief Shri Habibullah.

4. In the absence of any explanation, the Commission's decision amounts to shutting the doors on civil groups and RTI activitists who are working for the cause of RTI across the country.

[posted by Rakesh Agarwal on Humjanenge]


Rakesh Agarwal

ACR shall be disclosed after retirement: CIC

CIC/WB/A/20006/ 00497 to 508

... However, since she is still in service such disclosure could harm inter personal relationship inside the organization which can certainly be defined as a protected interest u/s 8(2) of the Act. Were appellant Smt. Prem Vati retired from service this would no longer apply and she would be eligible to receive copies of the ACRs that she has asked for. On the other hand, it is open to the public authority i.e. MCD to take a decision on whether the protected interest in this case i.e. the inter personal relationship in the Education Department of the MCD would be harmed through disclosure of this information and if MCD, the public authority in question, feel that this is not so the information may be disclosed.

[posted by Darshan on humjanenge]

RTI Effect: Villagers push for work benefits in Orissa

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is being implemented in Orissa in stops and starts. But by pressing for information on NREGA benefits using the sunshine law, citizens are able to hold officials accountable and are able to remedy the situation by themselves in some cases.

In Elengabalsa village of Bandhugaon Gram Panchayat of Koraput district, the Panchayat authorities issued 40 job cards within seven days of an RTI application.
They also promised to deliver the rest and requested the applicant to withdraw the RTI application.

Complete Article

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A GET WELL SOON to MM Ansari, Esq., IC/CIC, from Sabarmati

----- Original Message -----
From: Darshan Shah
To: mm.ansari@nic.in ; pbala@nic.in
Cc: veereshmalik@gmail.com ; pkgera@nic.in
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 9:57 AM
Subject: Fwd: [HumJanenge] Victims of CIC, Week 2, Day 1


Hon'ble Information Commissioners,

At this mement while applicant is in JUDICIAL CUSTODY and the request of Information seeking under RTI act (7 applications and one complaint) sent in JULY 2006 claiming LIFE AND LIBERTY sub clause of RTI act, even after 8 months INFORMATION is AWATING, (though to respond/provide info within 48 hours as per LAW.)

With contention the applicant is at the age of 65 years, in the judicial custody for last 3 years, BANK is supressing FACTS of the INNONCENCE of the applicant...(One letter is provided as DA's recommendation ubder RTI itself...stating "NO MALAFIDE INTENTION PROVED AGAINST APPLICANT.....)

After hon'ble IC(PB)'s direction vide letter dated 2 Feb, 07 (CIC/PBA/2006/440/476-481), fresh application sent to CPIO of the BANk (all 7 applications) on 10th Feb, 07...DENIAL from CPIO received yesterday for all 7 applications...First appeal to AA of the BANK sent TODAY (i.e. 27th Feb, 07)

With this I would like...let any government BABUS shall not FACE desciplinary proceedings...

wish "GET WELL SOON" "GOD BLESS YOU"

REKHA SHAH
MANHAR SHAH
Central JAIL, Sabarmati, Ahmedabad

[From the Humjanenge mailing list]

Money tied up, widows read RTI Act

Widowed during the post-Godhra riots, Juhapura - resident Yasmeen Sheikh is having trouble coming to terms with bringing up four children alone and battling brain tumor. But where she has most trouble is understanding the terms of the compensation package given to her by the State Government in June 2002, she says.

The 30-year-old is among 24 women who were widowed during the riots and who have filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking the status of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) bonds worth Rs 60,000, which were part of their compensation package. They have sought information on the official rate of interest on the bonds and reasons for 'irregular and delayed' disbursal of the interest which was to be paid to them.

Complete Article

Gujarat SIC reads RTI Act to MSU

The Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) authorities have received a rap from the State Information Commission (SIC) for having failed to furnish properly the details sought by Senate member Narendra Ravat. Ravat had sought information under RTI Act of the audit exercise for which the authorities had paid about Rs 8 lakh. Ravat had been objecting to the audit exercise done by a private auditor contrary to MSU norms.

When MSU authorities failed to reply properly, Ravat appealed to SIC. In the notice issued to MSU following hearing on February 19, the SIC rapped MSU authorities for having excused itself from giving the information on the grounds that the information sought was there in the university handbook.

target="_blank"> Complete Article

Monday, February 26, 2007

'IIM-B has mind block on sharing information' - KIC

Hitting out at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B) for denying admission information to a blind candidate, the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) on Monday said the premier institute has a mind block on sharing information.

Based on a complaint by Vaishanavi Kasturi, visually impaired B Com student, KIC bench of chief information commissioner K K Misra and information commissioner K A Thippeswamy asked the institute to be more forthcoming in putting information on admission, selection, merit list and ranking in public domain.

Complete Article

RTI pioneer locks horns with info commission

For the past one week, several RTI activists have been camping outside the office of the Central Information Commission (CIC) in the capital which is slated to continue for a month.

Kejriwal and his associates are recording the experiences of the people who have filed for RTI with CIC, but have failed to get the requisite information from barious government ministries and departments. Although CIC must provide the information sought within 30 days of filing the RTI, many petitioners are complaining that they have failed to get a reply even after one year or more.

Complete Article

See photos from the "Did you get justice from CIC" Desk ... Click Here

DD Ahmedabad Director fined Rs 25k under RTI

The Central Information Commission in New Delhi has ordered the director of Doordarshan, Ahmedabad, to pay a fine of Rs 25,000 for failing to provide information sought by an aggrieved employee.

The Director, Laxman Manderwal, had transferred an engineering division staffer Manoj Pai. But Pai objected to it and wanted some details from his boss to fight his case. Pai used the right to information (RTI) Act to seek necessary information from Manderwal. When the Doordarshan chief didn’t bother to respond to his application and two reminders even for six months, Pai complained to the commission. Under the RTI Act, Manderwal should have sent his reply to Pai within 30 days.

Complete Article

Sunday, February 25, 2007

PCB under fire for blocking info

Construction activity and talks of a new high-rise building coming up at Convent Street in the Pune Camp area has taken the authorities of three schools as well as residents of 11 housing societies by surprise. What has shocked them even more is the Pune Cantonment Board's(PCB) 'unwillingness'to furnish information regarding the upcoming project.

The residents and the schools fear that a high-rise building with a mall will create traffic chaos, leading to inconvenience to school children and even accidents, besides spoiling the atmosphere for learning. The residents alleged that the PCB was unwilling to furnish information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act regarding the project.

Complete Article

Right to information book released

In the third Palkhiwala Memorial Public Meeting, a book 'Right to Information — A Route to Good Governance?' was released. Justice Dr. Dhananjay Chandrachud, Judge, Bombay High Court and the speakers Rafiq Dada, Senior Advocate and Kewal Semlani, RTI activist were part of the panel who briefed the audience about the importance of Right to Information (RTI).

The meeting was organised by the Bombay Chartered Accountants Society jointly with a few other organisations, including the M.R. Pai Foundation and the Forum.

Complete Article

'Odd rebel' gets a potent weapon in RTI

She is 61, single and the pen-name 'Odd Rebel'-short for Audrey Rebello-couldn't have summed her up better. A former IIM-A fellow, she just can't sit back and watch in wry resignation the endless indignities heaped on common citizens.

She fights for consumer rights, takes up cudgels against policemen on basic safety issues, battles against encroachments and for sanitation requirements in the city. Today, she has taken on the mobile and the WLL service providers as toll free emergency numbers like 100, 101, 102 are rarely accessible to a common citizen from public phone booths and sometimes even from mobiles.

Rebello, who otherwise bombards authorities with letters, now relies on the Right to Information Act to make the authorities confess on paper that they did wrong.

"In Gujarat, writing letters to government officials is like tickling a dinosaur's tail. It will take ages before the dinosaur realises it was tickled. With RTI in force, I know exactly what went wrong when, be it a law and order problem in a neighbourhood or inefficiency of the municipality in collecting strewn garbage," says Rebello.

"RTI alone cannot redress problems of individuals. You have to use a combination of tools and laws along with it to make any authority do its job properly. Babus generally take advantage of our ignorance of laws and procedures. In fact, with the RTI, I make them confess on paper that they are not doing their work, which is embarrassing for them," says Rebello.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
25.02.2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Charge on public funds subject to public scrutiny: CIC

Permitting disclosure of allowances drawn by employees of public authorities under the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that any charge relating to public funds is subject to public audit and scrutiny.

"A public servant making a claim from public funds for duties performed cannot claim personal status for such transaction," said Information Commissioner A N Tiwari in a recent order.

The order came on an RTI appeal filed by G R Singh seeking copies of TA (travelling allowance) bills of certain officials of National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCCL).

Complete Article

Friday, February 23, 2007

When RTI failed, harassed farmer ends life inside power company office

Ramrao had dug a bore well in his farm after the old well dried up. But he could not use the water pump on the new well as the MSEDCL staff had severed the power connection, saying it was illegal. Already under a heavy burden of debt, Ramrao was faced with the prospect of losing his rabi crop as he could not irrigate it.

Deciding to fight it out with the MSEDCL, Ramrao filed several complaints about the 'arbitrary' disconnection and persistently sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Failing to get any response to his complaints or to get the power reconnected, Ramrao gave up the fight Friday and consumed poison.

Complete Article

Thursday, February 22, 2007

RTI Effect: RTI helps them get appointment letters

Three youths, after being interviewed for the post of assistant public prosecutors (APP) in Rajkot and Morbi, had to wait unnecessarily for almost oneand-half-year just to get an appointment letter from the legal department.

After their frequent rounds to Gandhinagar and reminder letters, their appointments never came through. It was only when a senior lawyer of the Rajkot sessions court Harshad Pandya sought the names of the officers responsible for the delay under the Right To Information Act that the appointments were made.

The case had come up for hearing before state chief information commissioner R N Das recently where the public information officer of the legal department admitted that the delay was caused due to in action of the administration

Complete Article

"How to file RTI" workshop in Kolkatta

Hi all,

One fact we all will agree upon is that there's a lack of transparency in our governance system in India. We never take accounts from the governments. And also it was not possible to do so within the existing legal and administrative frameworks. But now we have a right to question the governments.

If you are not able to get your legitimate work done in Government departments, do not pay bribes. Use RIGHT TO INFORMATION (RTI). It will help you to get a pending ration card, tax refund, any license, any certificate, a water connection, a pending grievance, PF, pension etc without paying bribe. And to help you to file an RTI and get your job done, West Bengal RTI Manch and AID Kolkata chapter have arranged a workshop on "How to file RTI" on Sunday 4th March 2007 near Jadavpur University from 4pm.

Learn what is RTI and how do you use it to solve your problem. It's your right. Practice it.

Thanks,
Satabdi
Be the change you want to see in the world
[posted on the humjanenge yahoogroup]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Govt rings in Airtel to spread RTI awareness

Desparate to erase the state's poor RTI record, the government has now tied up with a private telecom service provider to set up a call centre to respond to all RTI-related queries.

The call centre is part of a UNDP-funded project undertaken by the Union Ministry's Department of Personnel Training (DoPT) to create awareness regarding the Right to Information (RTI) Act in the state.

The state government has appointed and funded an NGO called PUBLIC to run the Administrative Training Institute (ATI) and set up this helpline in collaboration with Bharati Telecommunications, owners of Airtel mobile service. ATI is the state implementing agency, responsible for executing RTI programme in West Bengal.

Complete Article

Goa SIC rules - Devasthans are public authorities

In a landmark ruling delivered here on Monday, the Goa State Information Commission has held that devasthans are public authorities within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the Right to Information(RTI) Act, 2005.

The State Chief Information Commissioner A. Venkataratnam, while looking into a complaint by Guiri S. Pai Raikar of Margao v\s Public Information Officer(PIO), mamlatdar of Ponda taluk in Central Goa, directed the said Mamlatdar to give the information sought by the complainant

Complete Article

Open House with Karnataka Information Commission

Dear all,

We discussed with the Karnataka Information Commission about holding a meeting with the RTI Activists, the Karnataka Information Commission has suggested that an open house may be convened by KRIA KATTE and KIC will participate and also suggested to invite the Principal Secretary (DPAR-AR) and Chief Secretary of GOK for the open house meeting.

The open house have been convened on 10th March 2007 between 11-00 Am to 1-00 Pm. The venue of the meeting will be informed later.

We request all the activist to send their views and suggestion on the open house.

With warm regards

M.V.K. ANIL KUMAR
CONVENOR, KRIA KATTE

[posted on the humjanenge yahoogroup]

RTI Effect: Bank Officials return excess interest

Right to information act" is powerful weapon in the hands of a commonman to fight against problems arising due to Red Tapism and corrupt Bureaucracy. I experienced and realized the power of Right to Information Act to fight against the injustice, corruption, Delay due to Red Tapism and Bureaucracy.

my experience -
Om Critical care Center, a renowned Intensive Care Unit from Dhule had taken term loan of Rs.20 lac (Rs.20, 000,00) on 30th June 2000 from Bank of Maharashtra, City Branch, Dhule.

Dr.Manish Jakhete-myself, Chairman of Om Critical care Center felt something wrong with rate of interest. To confirm, I enquired Bank Officials and asked for reassessment of interest rate and payment of principal amount. Bank Officials verbally told to me that interest rates are okey and are according to contract of term Loan, no overpayment is done it is a misunderstanding and he was mistaken for the same.

Finally Dr. Jakhete lodged a written complaint against the management of bank Of Maharashtra. Again the Bank clarified that this Hospital is esteemed client of the bank and no overpayment is taken by the Bank. But no details regarding interest rate and principal amount were furnished.

Seeing no way out from this problem, Dr. Jakhete applied and asked the information under Right to information Act-2005, on 24th aug.2006. The information asked was-

1. What action is taken by management of Bank of Maharashtra for the complaint by Om Critical care Center?
2.Name and Posting of the officer responsible and looking after -to solve this problem.
3.How much time will it take to solve this problem?
4.At present on whose desk the file of complaint is pending?
5.What and how the rates of interest are applied to this "term loan"?

To above demand ,Bank Officials accepted their mistake on 12/09/2006 and agreed that Rs. 7238 - were additionally charged as interest.

This experience of proves that in the era of Right to information it is not easy for the the Bureaucracy to corrupt or to fool the common man.

[posted by Dr Jakhete on the RTI orkut community]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

K'taka SIC a softy!

Popular expectations of the Much Vaunted RTI Act ,ushering in transperancy in
governance lay dashed . Despite Complaints galore, no RTI official in Karnataka was given a rap on his knukle while in punjab , for instance , recently fined an official Rs 50000/- and Jarkhand Slapped a penalty of Rs 25000 on an erring official.

It is alleged that PIOs do not respond to Information commission 's summons. More often than not, PIOssend Court clerks to attend to the cases . To make matters worse, ther just two courts for the entire state and both are in Bangalore.

Karnataka Information commission is seen to be too soft to recalcritant officials. Elite Citizens ,active in RTI matters , now plan a dharana against KIC's avuncular approach. The Commission continues to maintain that the officers should be given a grace period to get accoustomed to the new Act, irrespective of the act came into being. This is seen as a ploy to protect corrupt officials.

But the irony is that the Govt.never shows such leniency towards the Common an .When babus decided to impose the Helmet rule, It was made effective instantly without giving adequate time to the vehicle owners to acquire a helmet.

Note : This Article was Made Possible on Providing Various EMails From KRIA Activists through Mahithi Hakku Adayayana Kendra , Bangalore

City express : with the New indian Express Tuesday Feb 20.2007

RTI Effect: Editor gets copy of Vidhan Sabha rules

State Information Commission has directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) and Deputy Secretary of Gujarat Vidhan Sabha Secretariat to send a copy of Gujarat Vidhan Sabha Rules, free of charge to Satubha Waghela, editor of Surendranagar Times from Sayla, Surendranagar.

Waghela had sought some information on three points from the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat under the Right to Information Act on December 30 last. Though the secretariat had provided him adequate information on the first two queries, it advised Waghela to procure a copy of the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha Rules, which is a priced publication.

Subsequently, Waghela sent Rs 300 by postal money order (MO) to the secretariat as a price of the publication. However, the secretariat refused the MO. Waghela complained to the commission, saying that the return of the MO was not proper and adequate action should be initiated against the PIO.

The matter came up for hearing on January 18 last. The PIO pointed out that the secretariat rules do not permit accepting MOs, the State Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) R N Das observed that to procure the Rule book Waghela would be disproportionately burdened to come all the way to Gandhinagar from Sayla.

While State CIC asked PIO to send Waghela a copy of Gujarat Vidhan Sabha Rules free of any charge, it also asked the PIO to consider revising the rules, instructions and information at least under the Right to Information Act.

Complete Article

Monday, February 19, 2007

AP SIC fines registrar

Information Commission expressed anger for the delay caused in providing information by the Registrar of Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupathi and imposed fine. The present V.C. of S.V. University earlier worked as Principal of S.V. University Arts and Science College. One Ravisankar requested details of some activities of the V.C. when he was working as Principal, under RTI Act. The Registrar delayed furnishing of the required information. Approaching the A.A. was futile. Hence, Ravisankar complained to the SIC which enquired into the matter. SIC held that the Registrar deliberately delayed the matter and imposed a fine of Rs.662 to be recovered from the Registrar's salary and ditected that the information required by Ravisankar be provided immediately. The Commission also found fault with the style of functioning of the Registrar in another matter. Ravisankar filed another application for some information relating to S.V. University. As the same was not provided, he approahed the SIC which issued summons to the Registrar to appear before it.

(Source: Eenadu, Telugu Daily, dt.19-2-07)

RTI effect: Publicity hoarding taken down!

Dear All,

In my city, i.e Hassan, we the residents were forced to tolerate the Banner / Cutout menance. Huge publicity posters(all pertaining to political leaders) exhibiting birth day wishes, anouncing some poltical rally,some one welcoming to a village function etc wer put up in a prominent circle of our city. It was very akward to have these posters covering the whole area around the circle. And surprisingly the vinyl posters used to remain even after many a months,not days, after the purpose was served. There are many examples of a poster covering an year of around 10 feet wide and some 20 feet heigh standing for last 8-9 months. Muncipal authorities were not taking any action. But.............

I filed an RTI application seeking:-
1. The rules and regulations governing the erecting or putting up of publicity hoardings in public places like Roads, Circles etc
2. Details of Fee collected from such users
3. Is there any violations in this regard and what action has been taken against the violaters?
4. How many individuals, associations, parties have been given permission to put up publicity hoardings in that particular area. Etc... Etc...

This application was filed on 05.02.2007 and today morning at 7.00 I saw about 10-12 muncipalty staff demolishing all the huge hoardings. It was one of the most memorable morning of my life. Thanks to RTI !!

--
Javeed A J
P B No.181
Hassan 573 201
KARNATAKA
[posted on the humjanenge group]

Sunday, February 18, 2007

RTI Effect: RTI brings justice to man sacked by trust

The Right to Information Act has come to the rescue of a former trustee of a charitable educational trust who was illegally removed by presenting signatures of dead and fictitious members.

The original papers of the trust's no-confidence motion, which were in the charity commissioner's office, were substituted with the forged papers in alleged collusion with the office staff. The charity commissioner's office then passed an order to oust Qamar S Qazi, the trustee.

However, despite directives from the magistrate and later the Bombay high court, the charity commissioner's office did not subsequently take any action on the issue of the forgery committed by the existing trustees.

Qazi then filed a query under the Right to Information Act in 2006 asking about the status of the case. "The charity commissioner's office replied stating that they did not have the police inquiry report with them and hence could not take action.

I then filed a complaint with the state information commissioner who directed the law and judiciary department to look into the matter,"Qazi said.

Within a month, Qazi got a reply from the Charity Commissioner which stated that the earlier fake no-confidence motion passed by the trust was set aside and a fresh enquiry had been initiated against the trustees.

Complete Article

Want a passport? Wait for 95 days

At a time when the government is making it easy and simple to get passports, in Pune the story is altogether different. The regional passport office here that caters to six districts has over 2,201 pending applications (on a quarterly basis) with it and disposes them off with a time lag of over three months.

On an average, there are 8,845 applications received from the six districts — Pune, Satara, Solapur, Kolhapur, Sangli and Ahmednagar — every month. Though the passports are supposed to be issued within a month, the regional office here takes at least 95 days to issue them. The reason: Shortage of staff, with only 28 employees catering to the 8,000-odd applications every month.

The inefficiency of the regional passport office came to light after Right to Information (RTI) activist Vihar Shivajirao Durve sought information on the delay in issuing passports. “There is no public information officer (PIO) to accept the RTI application. I had to send it via a registered post to the superintendent of the passport office,” Durve told Pune Newsline.

Complete Article

RTI violations: B'lore activists want zero tolerance

Activists and individuials seeking transperancy under RTI act 2005 ,have demanded strict adherence to the Act. Responding to the Report in this Paper on Friday about Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials Demanding Rs 4.22 lakh for information that was to be furnished free of cost , KRIA Katte Member Vikramsimha said BBMP was lax in implementation of RTI Act.

The situation is only aggravated with Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) taking a soft stand on lapses. The KIC has not penalised any official for violating RTI so far. The officials have been given a long grace Period. He said other civic agencies too needed to get serious about the Act. He qouted an instance where Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) had demanded Rs 15 lakh for information.

The New Indian Express : CITY EXPRESS
Bangalore ,saturday , Febrauray 17,2007 .

RTI activists to now act as watchdog over info panel

From Monday, applicants dissatisfied by the Central Information Commission's style of functioning will find help at hand. A group of NGOs, including Parivartan and Delhi Right to Information Manch spearheaded by Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal, will camp outside the CIC office to record people's experiences and help them get redressal.

"In the most grave cases of injustice, we will approach the high court to get information for the ordinary people", Kejriwal said. Some of the issues that NGOs plan to take up are the lack of transparency in proceedings besides the pending cases. According to CIC records, the number of cases as of January 2007 are 2,371.

The commission received 608 cases in January but was able to dispose of only 297. Civil society activists also feel that cases are disposed of without calling the applicant or giving people a chance to be heard. "The commission has not issued more than 7-8 penalties despite hearing over 2,000 cases. This is a pittance and shows its huge sympathy for the bureaucracy,"Kejriwal said.

Complete Article

CIC cracks the whip on Daulat Ram College staff

Failure to satisfactorily comply with an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and a delay exceeding 100 days over disclosure of information under Right to Information (RTI) Act, have led to imposition of a fine of Rs 1,25,000 on a city-based college.

The Commission took strong exception against concerned authorities of Daulat Ram College after they failed to show adequate compliance to CIC's earlier order which came in light of five RTI appeals filed by one Pramila Sharma, a retired professor of the same college.

"The Commission directs the Principal of the college to initiate strict disciplinary action against those members of the staff who had not acted in response of the Commission's order", it said in a recent order.

Reacting to the Principal's contention that the concerned staff of the College did not act responsively to her repeated requests, the Commission permitted her to file an affidavit clearly identifying the names of the guilty officials.

Earlier, Pramila Sharma had filed five separate RTI applications with the College seeking information on her service-related matters, on denial of which she moved five appeal petitions before the Commission.

Complete Article

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Info act comes to judge's rescue

Rotary Club (Rotary District 3180) and Dakshina Kannada district administration are jointly organizing training on "Right to Information Act - 2005" on Wednesday February 21. The training will be held in Town Hall.

The training will be inaugurated by deputy commissioner Maheshwar Rao. Rtn S Sadanand Chatra, governor of Rotary district 3180 will preside over the inaugural fucntion while Rtn K Krishna Shetty and Jnanaratna Dr Shankar Khanderi, retired judge will grace the occasion as chief guests.

Complete Article

Friday, February 16, 2007

The heftiest penalty under the RTI was imposed by Punjab SIC

The heftiest penalty under the Right to Information (RTI) Act was imposed in Punjab Thursday when a government official was asked to deposit a fine of Rs.50,000 for failing to provide desired information to a citizen. Manjit Singh, who works with in Punjab Housefed - the state federation of cooperative house building societies - as project officer and public information officer, was asked to deposit the penalty within 10 days. If the officer fails to deposit the penalty, it would be deducted from his salary, state information commissioner P.K. Verma ordered.

Under the RTI Act, the maximum penalty that can be levied is Rs.25,000. But in this case, the officer was levied two fines of Rs.25,000 each for failing to provide information to a person within the time stipulated in the law.

Complete Article

RTI not right forum to question Army`s historical data: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has disposed of a RTI appeal wherein the appellant sought a formal apology from the President of India over Indian Army's alleged failure to acknowledge the heroics of his late Brigadier father during a military operation in Kashmir, on grounds that it beyond its purview.

"It may be stated straight-away that under the RTI Act, it is not possible for this commission to direct the Ministry of Defence to carry out amendments or to mount fresh research on the contributions of Brigadier Rajendra Singh", said Information Commissioner A N Tiwari.

Taking note of Singh's grievance against the Ministry of Defence, the commission expressed that the RTI Act is not the proper avenue to realize his objectives.

Over the issue of access to historical records, maps, war diaries, as also sought in the RTI appeal, the commission has permitted Singh to approach the army headquarters to permit him access to historical records kept by the historical division of the Ministry of Defence.

Complete Article

RTI Act makes going tough for officials

The efforts initiated by State Information Commission to sensitise the public on the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, seem to have borne fruit in the district, with applications flooding all departments seeking answers under the Act.

Revenue Department has received 190 applications in 2006 and 20 in 2007 till date. District education office received 75 applications in the educational year 2006-07, while city Police Department received 39 applications in 2006 and 17 in 2007 till date. KSEB received 26 applications in 2006 and 8 so far this year.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Ward office authorised to register marriages in Pune

From March 1 onwards, marriages can be registered at the local ward office of the Pune Municipal Corporation, as also at the Cantonment office. With this, Pune will have additional 14 marriage registration centres and four in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Residents in the Cantonment areas of Pune, Khadki and Dehu Road can directly approach the Cantonment Board Office.

Till now, marriage registrations could be done with the Registrar of Marriage Bureaus where people faced severe hard­ships due to heavy rush prevailing all times. The task had to be completed mostly through agents operating at the bureaus.

(Maharashtra Herald, Dtd. 16.2.07, Page no A3.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

RTI workshop in Lucknow

The Right to Information era spells an era of transparency and openness where the common man has the implicit right to information in order to eliminate corruption, said Justice SC Verma, chairman, Good Governance Forum, addressing the training workshop on implementation of `Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005' organised by Lucknow Management Association (LMA).

"No longer a slogan, this act is a harbinger of change — a torch bearer in this age of information," said Jayant Krishna, president, Lucknow Management Association (LMA). A change in attitude and mindset has to be brought about through training of officers regarding transparency and responsibility in order to provide information to the public. This will change the way the government works and gives it an opportunity to reinvent itself," he said.

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
[abridged version]

Noida authority ‘not coming clean on RTI’

Noida Authority, which is responsible for the hygiene and cleanliness of the town, including maintenance and cleanliness of the city drains, seems to be binding itself into knots as it is not coming clean in reply to a number of queries, sought by residents and social activists under the RTI on Nithari drains.

“If Noida Authority were to be believed, no human skeletons or bones in the Nithari drain around house No D-5, were found up to a week earlier or as late as December 20 and 23, 2006, when Noida staff had reportedly cleaned the drains around Moninder Singh Pandher’s house in Sector 31,” says social activist and retired Naval Officer Commodore Lokesh K Batra.

Complete Article

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Institutions attempt to dodge RTI

At least six institutions in Gujarat in the last one-and-a-half years have approached the Gujarat High Court challenging their status as a public authority after the Right to Information Act (RTI) came into force in October 2005.

Out of the six, at least three institutions have challenged various decisions of the Gujarat State Information Commission (GSIC) on grounds of natural justice for being refused a hearing by the commission.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
15.02.2007

‘Open’ Nithari drains cleaned on Dec 20

The Noida Authority, in its reply to an RTI filed by a Noida resident Commodore (Retired) LK Batra, has stated that the drains in and around House No D-5 (owned by Moninder Singh Pandher)were cleaned between December 20 and 23 prior to the unearthing of the bodies.

The Authority states that the “open part” of the drains was cleaned regularly in 15 to 20 days and the garbage extricated out of the drains was dumped in Sector 54. The Authority also states “no activity was noticed at the time of cleaning of drains”.

Commodore Batra, however, termed the reply as incomplete and misleading but Noida Authority officials refused to comment on this.

Complete Article

Village talati fined for delay in furnishing information

In a proactive verdict, the State Information Commission (SIC) has fined Rs 5,000 on a village talati for delay in furnishing information. It has also asked the Mehsana District Development Officer (DDO) organise a training for all talati-cum-mantris in the district for the Right To Information Act, 2005.

On an appeal by Prahlad Rambhai Patel of Kukarvada village, Vijapur taluka (Mehsana), State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) R N Das, slapped the fine on Kukarvada panchayat talati, after disagreeing with the respondent’s argument that he was constrained by workload. Resenting that despite a year of implementation, public servants at the cutting edge are not fully equipped with the provisions of the RTI Act, the Commission has also asked DDO Mehsana to organise a training camp for all talatis within three months of the order.

Complete Artice

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Infighting in West Bengal Information Commission

Five of the seven members of the State Information Commission, who all enjoy pay and perks of high court judges, are learnt to have signed the petition against the Chief Information Commissioner, Justice (Retired) Harishankar Prasad.

The petition to the Governor has raised a stink by alleging that the commission itself is not promoting transparency, although it is supposed to ensure transparency in public administration.

Complete Article

Palamau District Consumer Forum Chairman fined under RTI

S.D. Singh, the chairman of Palamau District Consumer Forum, today invited wrath of the State Information Commission (SIC) for violating the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The SIC slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 for his refusal to render information to the Palamau DC. It was the first-of-its-kind action taken by the SIC of imposing penalty. Singh happened to be an additional district judge rank officer before being appointed the head of the district consumer forum.

One Vinod Prajapati had moved the deputy commissioner, seeking such information that related to the district forum. The DC, thereafter, shot off three letters to the district forum chief for furnishing the information.

Complete Article

Monday, February 12, 2007

DDNews to have a programme on RTI named "JANANE KA HAQ"

Dear Friends

Do You know about the programme on DDNews named "JANANE KA HAQ".Its a half an hour programme on Right To Information. Day of Telecast-Saturday Time of Telecast-10: 30 A.M. Duration-30 Min.

Plz watch this programme.we welcome your suggestion as this programme is yours.we can make it better.you can send your suggestion on our Email ID-jkh@dd.nic.in

Thanking you
Anil Dubey
Correspondent
DDNews,Delhi

[posted on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

RTI fees reduced in Karnataka

Government of Karnataka has put into effect the second amendment to the Right to Information Rules(RTI) 2005 through its latest order issued on Saturday.

The fee per page of information given to seekers under the Act has been reduced from Rs. 2 to Re. 1.

According to the rules under the Right to Information Act 2005 of the Government of Karnataka, public can inspect the records of Government Departments. No fee is chargeable for the first half-an-hour of inspection. A fee of Rs. 20 has been fixed for every subsequent 30 minutes. After the amendment, that fee has been reduced to Rs. 10.

Complete Article

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hospital PIO to cough up fine on Gujarat SIC’s order

In yet another instance of the State Information Commission (SIC) taking a strict stand on delay in providing information, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of a trust-run hospital in Dhanera (Banaskantha) has been slapped a maximum fine of Rs 25,000. The hospital refused to provide information to a man whose two-day-old son died as the ambulance in which he was being brought to Ahmedabad ran out of oxygen. State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) R N Das passed the order against PIO of Dhanera Arogya Samiti-run Shah Ramchandra Savrajbhai General Hospital last week, on the appeal of the boy’s father Rasiklal Trivedi.

Complete Article

CIC slaps Rs 25,000 fine on Govt

The Central Information Commission has slapped a Rs 25,000 fine on the government and ordered compensation for a disabled civil service candidate who had been deprived of a prestigious job despite clearing the examinations.

The penalty was imposed by the commission in a stinging order on a public information officer at the Department of Personnel and Training this week for his failure to respond to Manu’s request under the right to information law asking for the status of his appointment.

Manu had cleared the UPSC exams in 2004 but was never appointed, at the first instance presumably due to his disability. Manu moved under the RTI law last June but did not get a response.

Complete Article

Mangalore: Booklet on RTI released

Dakshina Kannada district deputy commissioner M Maheshwar Rao released a booklet on Right to Information Act-2005, at the tribal awareness camp, information is our power, information is our right, organized by the Information department in association with Jana Shikshana Trust and Adivasi Koraga Abhivriddhi Sangha at Varta Bhavan in City on Friday. He said, the government draws up schemes with a view to provide facilities to poor.

Complete Article

Thursday, February 08, 2007

It is a question of your answers. And, future as well ...

Students taking various exams this year can breathe easy. Armed with your right to information (RTI), they can claim copies of answersheets after results are announced. And, this is not because of a change in policy or a change of heart in the government, but exercising your fundamental right to know, redeemed through RTI.

TOI had recently published a report on a related issue. "Here is a silver lining
for students set to appear for board exams this year." is how it began.

It reported the fact that state chief information commissioner (SCIC) R N Das had allowed a PTC student to be present while his marks were being re-checked. It went on to explain that the 'silver lining' was the possibility of students being allowed to remain present while their answersheets are re-checked. The Gujarat Examination Board on that very day sent a clarification through the deputy director of information saying that "the public information officer has submitted his oral reply regarding re-check in-person when specifically asked for by SCIC, with reference to the applicants case only, and this cannot be treated as policy for re-check inperson of answersheets of various examinations conducted by State Examination Board, Gandhinagar." To begin with, there was only a possibility expressed.

The board, by its rejoinder, has struck down this very possibility. Still, the board's clarification notwithstanding, the fact remains that nothing can stop students from demanding copies of their answersheets under the RTI Act. Nothing can also stop students from being present during re-assessment.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
08.02.2007

No inspection in Vadodara schools since a decade

In a telling comment it has been revealed that nearly 300 primary schools in Vadodara, who charge a hefty fee for educating children, have not been inspected by the Vadodara Municipal Primary Education Committee (VMPEC) since a decade now!

This startling detail was revealed by administrative officer of the committee Navneet Mehta before state chief information commissioner RN Das on Wednesday. Applicant Deepak Patel, a primary teacher himself, had demanded this information last February and the application made was of public interest.

The culprit, according to Mehta, is the shortage of staff and the notification passed by the education department in 1998 which transferred the responsibility of inspecting schools to the VMPEC from the District Education Officer.

It needs mention that in the absence of inspections, a parent in Vadodara cannot be sure of the qualification of instructors who teach their children, the quality of books prescribed at these schools and even whether the school has toilets and drinking water facility as laid down in guidelines under the Bombay Primary Education Act.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
08.02.2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Private firms will not be exempted: IC Ansari

M.M. Ansari, information commissioner at the Central Information Commission that oversees the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, told *Mint* that as long as these companies reported to a regulator or a government department, they were within the purview of the sunshine law.

According to the commission, companies will not have to appoint an information officer to deal with right-to-information demands the way government entities do. Applicants will route their requests through the relevant agency.

Thus, information on telecom companies such as Bharti Airtel, the largest mobile telephony firm, can be accessed through the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India; that on banks through the Reserve Bank of India; and on brokerages and foreign investors active in stock markets from the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

Though rules for doing business have been simplified since 1991, most companies that operate in the country have extensive dealings with various arms of the government. Companies, privately, closely or publicly held, have to file their financial statements with the Registrar of Companies.

"Applicants have every right to seek information on a private company even though it is in the private sector, if it reports to a government body," Ansari says, citing sections of the Act that made this possible.

Complete Article

PIO & AA in Karnataka Information Commission changed

Karnataka Information Commission,
Gate No1, 3rd floor , M S Building , Bangalore
Notification No KIC 01 PIO 2007 , Bangalore Dated 19th January 2007 .

In Modification of Notification No SCIC/1?PIO?2005 dated 13/09/2005 and in terms of Section 5(1) of Right to information Act 2005 (Central Act 22of2005) the Section Officer , Karnataka Information Commission is hereby appointed as State Public Information Officer , in so far as the Karnataka Information Commission is Concerned .

Further in terms of Section 19(1) of the Right to Information Act 2005 , The Under Secretary , Karnataka Information Commission will be the First Appeallate Authority and shall excersise the Powers Confered upon the First Appellate Authorities under the Right to Information Act in So far as Karnataka Information Commission is concerned.

By Order and on Behalf of the
Karnataka Information Commission
KK MISHRA
State Cheif Information Commissioner.

[posted by Mr Vikram Sinha on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

J&K Govt to bring a legislation on RTI in next session

Acknowledging that there is no much awareness among the officers and the people with regard to Right to Information (RTI) act, State Government on Wednesday said that a legislation in the next session of the legislature will be brought into to make it result oriented.

Responding to clubbed question by Muhammad Rashid Qureshi, Abdul Gani Vakil and Farida Mir, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Minister Taj Mohhidin on behalf of Chief Minister informed the upper house that head of the department is the proper authority to disseminate information to the people desiring so under RTI Act. He said that RTI act is applicable to all government departments. He, however, elaborated the procedure for collecting the information mandatory for every government department and PSC. He further said that of the 123 application received by various departments under RTI act/rules, 84 applications have been disposed off by these departments so far.

Complete Article

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nithari RTI: Authorities have no answer

Thirty days are not enough for Noida Authority and Uttar Pradesh Police to give suitable answer on Nithari serial killings. RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra had in an application under RTI sought information on certain aspects of the case such as police handling of the missing persons cases and cleaning of drains in the area by the local authority.

But the authority and the police have failed to honour the deadline for replying to applications under the Right to Information Act seeking information regarding the Nithari serial killings case.

Complete Article

Kerala sic at a RTI workshop

A workshop on the Right to Information Act, organised by the District Literacy Mission, was inaugurated on Monday by P N Vijayakumar, State Information Commissioner. The Right to Information Act has come as the biggest weapon in the hands of the people to protect their fundamental rights, he said. District panchayat
president K K Narayanan presided over the session.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Armed with RTI, Panchmahals villagers set wrongs right

The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, has started taking effect even in rural areas of Gujarat. Recently, the act helped 30 people from Boru village in Kalol taluka of Panchmahals district, whose Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards were burnt in the post-Godhra riots in 2002, get the cards again, said Sonal Thakker, program assistant, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

Also, some months back, 70 villagers from Boru used the RTI Act as a weapon when they did not get their rightful share of kerosene from the fair price shop. “Instead of giving 10 litres of kerosene, only five litres of kerosene were given to them by the district supply authorities,’’ said Thakker. With the help of RTI Act, the affected villagers managed to remedy this, she added.

Complete Article

RTI leads to vacation government land but raises fresh questions of propriety

On the eve of 22 January 2007, the district administration of Jaunpur, a district of eastern Uttar Pradesh wakes up to take possession of a building known as Patrakar Bhawan located within the collectrate campus and declares it a building under construction to be used as public library, reading room, by the pensioners and petitioners etc. During the exercise, the officials also blacken the foundation laying stone which clearly mentioned the building was Patrakar Bhawan.

The Public Information Officer of the Office of the District Magistrate was not taking notice upon an application of one Anil Kumar Pandey originally filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act since September 2006. The application sought from the district administration details about the proposal and permission of allotment of land and the sanction of funds thereof for this construction.

[as sent in email by Sachin Agarwal. The writer can be reached at tellsachin@yahoo.com]

Complete Text

Monday, February 05, 2007

WB Governor frowns on flurry of complaints against RTI

The state information commission has an unlikely petitioner — Governor Gopal
Krishna Gandhi. Bengal's first citizen has sought a report from the panel on how the Right to Information (RTI) Act is helping people get the desired data.

The governor has made it clear in the letter what had prompted him to seek such a report — a flurry of complaints from citizens over the commission's "failure" to supply information.

"The governor has sought a report on the performance of the commission. We have sent it," said Arun Bhattacharyya, state information commissioner, refusing to disclose details of the "confidential report".

But sources reveal that the crux of the four-page report is the commission's candid confession that non-cooperation by government departments is coming in the way of the implementation of the RTI Act, 2005.

Complete Article

Report on implementation of RTI Act in Andhra soon

State Information Commissioner R Dileep Reddy today said a report on implementation of the Right to Information Act in all government departments would be submitted to the Assembly soon to mark the completion of one year.

Addressing an awareness meeting organised by the Forum for Better Visakha and Space here, Dileep Reddy said he toured the 23 districts of the State as many as 60 times and collected feedback on implementation of the Act. The report would be submitted by February 20.

The government would take the feedback it got from the people in the form of complaints, suggestions and memorandums and use them for bringing in further amendments to the Act, he said.

Electronic Media Association president P Anand, VJF secretary Yugandhar Reddy and Joint Collector Sandeep Kumar Sultania were present.

Complete Article

Sunday, February 04, 2007

RTI effect: Examinee shown answer scripts

The Board of Secondary Education (BSE) has for the first time provided photocopies of answerscripts of the high school certificate examination to an examinee.

Toshalina of Kendrapara has been given photocopied answerscripts of all nine subjects following a directive from the state information commission. The girl, who wrote the examination in 2002, had moved the panel invoking the Right to Information Act after the BSE turned down her plea.

The board, meanwhile has taken a policy decision on the matter. “We have decided in principle to provide photocopies of answerscripts to examinees on request,” BSE secretary Minaketan Pani told The Telegraph. Examinees can get answerscripts for a period of eight months on payment of a nominal fee.

Complete Article

RTI reveals No info on farmer displacement!

The UPA government, by its own admission, has collected no data to ensure that the special economic zones (SEZs) established in the states do not displace farmers from fertile land. "Land is a state subject" is the response received by this newspaper to an application filed under the Right of Information on the government’s SEZ policy, with the nodal ministry of commerce and industry maintaining in its response that no specific information was available even on the number of farmers likely to be displaced by the 237 SEZs it has approved in different parts of the country.

The 237 SEZs would be set on a land area of 34,510 hectares. The 237 approved zones include the who’s who of corporate India — Tata Sons, Wipro, DLF and Indiabulls, among others. To questions by this correspondent in the RTI application as to how many farmers would be displaced when these SEZs would be come up, how much fertile land would be affected and the percentage of one crop, two crop agricultural land allocated for the economic zones, the commerce ministry has given no specific answer, maintaining that it does not have the information.

The finance ministry is on record saying that tax holidays to SEZs are estimated to lead to a revenue loss of over Rs 1,00,000 crores by 2009-10. But the commerce ministry claims that in the next five years, if all the projects are implemented, investments by SEZ developers are expected to be over $ 60 billion (Rs 3,00,000 crores).

To another question in the RTI application whether any study was done to know what would be the impact of the SEZs on the environment, the commerce ministry has again no information, maintaining, "Information in this regard may be available with the ministry of environment and forests to whom a copy of your application has been forwarded by the department of agriculture and cooperation." A response from the environment ministry is still awaited.

The Asian Age
New Delhi
05 Feb 2007

RTI effect: Fee scam unearthed in Maharashtra medical colleges

Medical Colleges in Maharashtra owned by senior politicians are in the middle of a scam. At least three colleges in Nagpur, Pune and Nasik have overcharged students by increasing fees to cover their bizarre expenses. The scam was unearthed after the Parents' Association of Medical Students got a reply to an RTI application asking colleges to justify the steep hike. The colleges shocked students and parents when they doubled their fees this year without any reason. The Supreme Court had clearly laid out that the fees charged by medical colleges should be a reasonable amount of what a college spends to provide education.

Complete Article

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Student allowed to see re-check process

For the first time in Gujarat, a student from Patan, Kuntilal Parmar, who had taken his Primary Teacher College (PTC) exams, has been granted permission to remain present while his answer sheets are being re-checked. Parmar had sought permission under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to remain present during the re-checking of his answer papers.

He was allowed to do so by state information commissioner (SIC) RN Das on Friday. Relevant oral orders were passed by SIC to GEB. The GEB holds certificate and diploma exams in subjects such as home science, PTC, physical education and a number of vocational courses.

However, to inject transparency in the entire process Das ordered that Parmar be allowed to be present while his answer sheets were being rechecked. The decision comes with a rider: SIC's orders were limited to re-checking, which involves only re-totalling of marks. The other aspect of exam rescrutiny - which is re-assessment of all answers provided by the examinee - has not been allowed.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
03.02.2007

SIC order on RTI challenged, notice to GPCB

Aggrieved by a recent decision of the State Information Commission (SIC) that environmental audit reports of Central Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) across the state are public documents, an Ankleshwarbased CETP plant Enviro Technology Limited (ETL) has challenged the SIC order in the Gujarat High Court. CETP plants are special units set up across the state in industrial zones following a HC direction in 1995 and are responsible for treating toxic industrial effluents.

Times of India, Ahmedebad
02.02.2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

No information on Netaji, says RAW

In its first-ever response to an unofficial body, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has informed Mission Netaji, a non-governmental organisation probing the mysterious disappearance of the hero, that it has no information on Subhas Chandra Bose.

Mission Netaji had requested the RAW under the Right to Information (RTI) Act for the disclosure of any information that it might hold on the issue.

“I am directed to inform you that the RAW does not have any information pertaining to Netaji. As such no list as requested by you can be provided," under secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, PN Ranjit Kumar, told Mission Netaji's Anuj Dhar in a letter dated January 19.

Kumar also reminded Dhar that the RAW was not obliged to provide any information under the RTI Act.

Complete Article

Panchayat told to give NREGA info

The applicant Ramji Barot of Prantij taluka had demanded compliance of the NREGA scheme in Prantij taluka in Sabarkantha district in May last year.

But despite Barot's best efforts the gram panchayat refused to the provide him the information for almost eight months. State chief information commissioner RN Das came down heavily on district officials during the hearing and ordered that Barot be provided the information immediately.

Barot had demanded information from the gram panchayat pertaining to the
existence of a gram sabha in his village. He also demanded certified copies of gram sabha's agenda, minutes of discussions, resolutions passed in respect to the NREGA scheme and the names of the members who form the gram sabha. Another part of Barot's RTI application demanded certified copies of the plans with respect to the NREGA scheme, muster registers which also include copies of receipts of wages paid to people who had approached the panchayat for work.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
01.02.2007

Trader drags Rajkot police chief to SIC

A door-to-door scrap dealer dragged the Rajkot city police commissioner K Nityanandam to the State Information Commission (SIC) at Gandhinagar, recently, after he was not satisfied with the replies he had sought under Right to Information (RTI) Act. He had informed the police of five abandoned two-wheelers in the city in the last two years and wanted to know what action was taken on his complaints.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
01.02.2007

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