Monday, April 30, 2007

RTI application unearth a scam of Rs.25 crores in Chennai

A departmental enquiry has begun into the alleged malpractices in allotting sites for secretariat employees in the 56-acre housing project at Okkiyum Thoraipakkam on the IT highway.

Fifty-eight plots worth over Rs 25 crore earmarked for public purpose utilities were converted into residential areas and handed over to the associate members of the housing society in violation of its norms, it was alleged.

The plots given to the associate members were meant for amenities like parks, playgrounds, schools, hospital, community hall, market, banks and places of worships.

Chennai Edition, Deccan Chronicle
30th April 2007

CIC asks IIT to disclose cut-off marks

The Central Information Commission has directed IIT Kharagpur, which conducts the joint entrance exam, to furnish all the details regarding cut-off marks and the procedure to reach to the cut-offs, the model answer sheet and so on by May 15 to a candidate, Eklavya’s parents.

The Information Commissioner has mentioned in the direction the judgement of the Delhi High Court, which upheld the judgement of the CIC in the UPSC Exams case. The Commissioner asserted that now in the matter of exams there is no ambiguity,and the authority conducting the exams has to furnish relevant information.

Complete Article

Campus scripts RTI

The West Bengal University of Technology (WBUT) is all set to open its doors to students seeking information on answer scripts.

With the Right to Information Bill empowering the students to demand information on answer scripts, officials of the fledgling university and principals of the affiliated colleges discussed the various aspects of the law and its impact on the colleges.

Complete Article

NGO gives lessons on combating corruption with RTI Act

An NGO in Jaipur has launched a unique project to generate awareness among people at the grass-roots level about using the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a tool to combat corruption in Rajasthan.

The project was launched earlier this month by the Centre for Consumer Action, Research and Training (CART), an initiative of Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), a body that focuses on consumer rights issues. CUTS will work jointly with the Partnership for Transparency Fund in their venture.

"This one-year project will focus on awareness generation at the grassroots, empowering civil society organisations, and encouraging common citizens to apply the RTI Act as a tool in addressing corrupt practices in the governance," Pradeep S Mehta, secretary general of CUTS, said.

Complete Article

CIC asks J&K chief minister to bring changes in state RTI Act

With a view to giving teeth to the RTI Act in Jammu & Kashmir, the Central
Information Commission has asked the chief minister to get it amended to bring
it in conformity with the Central law.

"The chief minister of J&K would be well advised to bring an amendment to J&K
RTI Act, 2004 bringing it in conformity with the (Union) RTI Act 2005," Chief
Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in a recent decision.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 29, 2007

RTI a mixed bag

Following a complaint of low wages being paid for construction work under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, an RTI application was filed by Kheema Ram of village Nardas Ka Guda in Rajasthan, seeking muster rolls for the work, from the panchayat officer. It recorded unequal wages for men (Rs 50) and women (Rs 40), for equal work.The minimum wage is Rs 73.When Kheema Ram went to the labour department with the muster roll copies, the panchayat was directed to pay both men and women Rs 73 per day. The order was carried out.

B K Mishra from Ara, Bihar, filed 32 applications in various government departments seeking information about bogus bank accounts, tax evasion matters, etc. Neither the PIOs nor the AAs responded to his application. He filed a second appeal in the CIC, which directed the public authorities to respond. They didn’t. The CIC finally rejected Mishra’s case on the grounds that the address given seemed incorrect and that his handwriting was illegible.

P K Gupta from Agra, UP, filed an application on July 13 last year with the PIO. There was no reply. He then tried the AA who too did not respond. He filed his second appeal to the CIC on September 9, 2006. Citing that it wasn’t in the right format, the application was returned. When he sent it back in the format specified, it was returned once again, saying four copies should be sent. He sent four copies, but they were returned, this time without a reason. Gupta made repeated phone calls and after more than two weeks a CIC office bearer admitted his application had been wrongly returned. But instead of accepting the appeal, CIC advised Gupta to file a fresh application.

80-year-old Kanni Ram of Ajmer and his wife hadn’t been getting their free quota of grains for 11 months. The ration dealer stonewalled them for a while when asked and then said the grains had finally stopped coming. Kanni Ram filed his application on October last year, asking why he hadn’t received his grains; who was the responsible officer. The next day, 110 kg of grains were delivered at his doorstep with the request that he withdraw his application.

Complete Article

21, disabled but not a loser

Vaishnavi Kasturi (21) is determined to get an answer from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, why she was denied admission to the prestigious institution. The visually impaired student is closer to her quest with the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) sending her request under the Right to Information Act to the Central Information Commission.

Vaishnavi thought she had achieved her childhood dream to pursue an MBA when she cleared the CAT examination with a score of 89.29 per cent. With IIM-B setting a cut off of at 86.42 for disabled candidates, she expected to qualify for the next round of tests. However the call never came.

Complete Article

Mela steps up information quotient

To keep people in remote areas in the RTI and legal loop, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) organised ‘legal information mela’ at Halol for the first time in the Panchmahals district on Sunday. The ‘mela’ was aimed at creating awareness about issues on law and RTI and was followed by an open discussion with people and government officials. Also, films on various legal issues were screened.

Two plays on Right to Information (RTI) and other legal issues were also staged, said CHRI programme assistant, Access to Justice, Sonal Thacker. “There were eight stalls including public distribution system, panchayat, RTI, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and other government schemes. Various forms of communication tools such as ‘bhavai’ and street plays were used to promote know-how among people in local colour,’’ added Thacker.

Complete Article

FinMin, SEBI differ over RTI on stock exchanges

Market regulator SEBI and Finance Ministry have come up with conflicting opinions over the applicability of Right to Information (RTI) Act on stock exchanges. The view expressed by Securities and Exchange Board of India before the full bench of Central Information Commission (CIC) that bourses are "public authorities" is contrary to the opinion of Department of Economic Affairs (DEA). The DEA has been maintaining that stock exchanges are not "public authorities" as defined in the RTI Act because they are regulated by SEBI and not the government.

Complete Article

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Six Arunachal officials fined under RTI Act

Six high ranking Arunachal Pradesh government officials were slapped fines ranging from Rs 3250 to Rs 17,500 by the newly constituted Arunachal Pradesh Information Commission for their failure to furnish information on time under the Right To Information Act.

The officials penalised included urban development director, rural development director, agriculture director and chief engineer of public health engineering department, an official release said here on Saturday. The Commission imposed the fines while disposing off complaints lodged by one Dr Ashan Riddi.

Complete Article

First fine in West Bengal under RTI

The state information commission awarded the first 'penalty', under the Right to Information Act, 2005, to the cooperation department for failing to gather a piece of information for a petitioner, within the stipulated time.

Chief information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya asked the cooperation department to pay a token amount as compensation for harassing the petitioner.

"We have instructed the cooperation department to pay Rs 1,000 as compensation for harassing Saroj Khettry, the petitioner, as the department could not provide him with the information in the stipulated time," stated Arun Bhattacharya, chief information commissioner of the state.

Khettry, 74, had sought a copy of the legal opinion that the department of co-operation had taken concerning the allotment of his flat on Jhowtala Road.

RTI Act to be part of SSC syllabus

Students of Std IX and X will take lessons in the Right To Information (RTI) Act as a compulsory part of their Secondary School Certificate (SSC) syllabus in the coming academic year beginning in June 2007.

In a reply to an RTI application filed by civic activist Vihar Durve, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education said that information on the Act and its applications would be included in the Std IX civics textbook and handbook, as well as the handbook of the Std X subject of personality development.

Complete Article

Officialdom angry at RTI act, quizzes motives of activitsts

Government officials seem to have a mortal fear of the Rught to Information (RTI) Act. In a recent case, Karnataka Udyog Mitra managing director H L Shivanand has questioned the motives of an applicant seeking information, while the RTI Act does not allow such questions. The Karnataka Information Commission has ordered Shivanand to withdraw the argument.

B.H. Veeesh, an RTI activist, had sought information from Shivanand relating to conduct of the Global Investors Meet in 2005. The official furnished incomplete information and complained to KIC on Decembr 28, 2007. Interestingly, Shivanand objected to the complaint on the plea that the complainant had resorted to making malicious and unfounded allegations against the respondent with oblique motives.

Casting a slur on Veeresh, the official said the complainant wa not a public spirited person but a “busy body” whose only motive was to enrich himself. KIC took exception to the argument as under RTI Act, motive of seeking information cannot questioned. Shivanand was asked to withdraw the argument and furnish the information.

Indian Express, Bangalore,
April 28, 2007

RTI activists threaten action

Right To Information (RTI) Act activists in the city are ready to take on the UT Administration head on over Estate Office’s plan to charge Rs 10 per query instead of the prescribed Rs 10 per application.

According to RTI activists, instructions in this respect from the Estate Office are against the spirit of Right to Information Act, 2005. As per the cost and fee rules, sub-section (2) (i), (ii) and (iii) of Section 28 of the Right to Information Act, there is no provision of additional charges in this clause, and could be challenged under Section 18 of the Act.

Complete Article

Thursday, April 26, 2007

RTI training in Chennai by 5th Pillar

5th Pillar is a non profit, non governmental organization aimed at fighting the evils of the Nation, corruption. The Nation already has four pillars of democracy – the legislature, executive, judiciary and the media. There is now one addition, 5th Pillar. 5th Pillar is a pillar of non political voluntary forces and voluntary members.

RTI training on 28th April 2007, Saturday 10.00 am to 1.00 pm at

5th Pillar, Kodambakkam office.
1, Anna Main Road,
Kodambakkam,
Chennai - 600 024

Organiser: Mr. Ravi (Manager Operations - 9383360666)
Trainer: Mr. Rathna Pandian (Vice President - 9941214188)

CIC asks ministry to disclose details on official`s suspension

The information and broadcasting ministry has received flak from the Central Information Commission (CIC) for not initiating an inquiry against its official even nine-months after his suspension and besides failing to provide him information on his RTI applications.

"Since the case is now practically nine months old and neither has an inquiry started nor a chargesheet served.... Therefore, in the interest of transparency, the commission directs the ministry to allow access to all files relating to suspension," said Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal.

Complete Article

Court stays penalising of school in RTI case

The Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Justice J S Khehar and Justice L N Mittal stayed the implementation of the order passed by Punjab State Information Commission imposing a penalty of Rs 25,000 on P C Jain, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Prem Sabha High School, Sangrur and another amount of Rs 25,000 on the management of the school itself for not providing information sought under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Complete Article

Reveal marks prod to JPSC

The state Information Commission today directed Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC) to reveal marks obtained by a candidate in the civil services preliminary test and to spell out reasons why he was not declared successful. The marks have to be revealed to the candidate within three weeks.

Complete Article

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Awareness RTI campaign in Mumbai

Mahiti Adhikar Manch (with the goodwill of the Nani A. Palkhivala Memorial Trust) is conducting a year long mass awareness campaign on RTI at Selected Railway Stations in Mumbai.
The following is the schedule for the first quarter:

Station Days Duration
Dadar 16th, 17th & 18th May, 2007 08.30 to 20.00 hrs
Bandra 31st May, 1st of June, 2007 09.30 to 20.00 hrs
Andheri 14th & 15th of June, 2007 09.30 to 20.00 hrs
Malad 28th & 29th of June, 2007 09.30 to 20.00 hrs
Borivli 12th & 13th of July, 2007 09.30 to 20.00 hrs

We invite you particularly for the launching of this Campaign on 16th May 2007 at Dadar station at 08.30 a.m. and hope you will be there. We also invite you to volunteer, if possible, to help us out at the nearest
Railway Station to you.

Kindly also spread this message so that the maximum benefit from this campaign .

Thank you, as always, for your collaboration and support in our activities.

For and on behalf of
Mahiti Adhikar Manch
Bhaskar Prabhu

Denial of information by IIM-B: girl's case transferred to CIC

The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) on Monday transferred the case pertaining to denial of information by the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore to a visually-impaired girl to the Central Information Commission.

State Chief Information Commissioner K,K, Misra also forwarded the request of Vaishanavi Kasturi, an IIM-B aspirant, to treat it as a subject that affects "life and liberty."

The KIC ruled that it had no jurisdiction over IIM-B as it was not "substantially funded or controlled'' by the State Government. The IIM-B had argued that it was a Central institution and KIC had no jurisdiction over it.

Complete Article

Co-ops hide behind RBI remark

A circular issued by registrar of co-operatives in March, declaring that all co-operative societies, including banks and agricultural produce market committees (APMCs), are public authorities under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, is being vehemently opposed from all quarters.

Co-operative banks like Gujarat Co-operative Bank Limited have now taken refuge behind a statement, issued by chief general manager, public relations, Alpana Killawala of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), that co-operative banks are not public authorities under the RTI Act.

In one argument at the GIC, Gujarat Agriculture and Rural Development Co-operative Bank (GARDCB), which was represented by their lawyer BR Gupta, had challenged the state circular on the fact that GARDCB was not 'substantially financed' by the state government and did not even come under the supervisory control of the RBI. Hence, it should not be considered a public authority under RTI Act.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
26.04.2007

No RTI on Shivshankar Menon

The Prime Minister's Office has refused to reveal any information on the appointment of foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon on a Right to Information application filed by senior IFS officer Veena Sikri.

However, the Central Information Commission observed that such file notings on the appointment of foreign secretary should be revealed to anyone who seeks the information. "The entire issue is in public domain," said Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah at the hearing on Tuesday.

Complete Article

Domicile certificate office fails to reveal number of pending applications

The domicile certificate, mandatory for getting admission to colleges, seems to be a mirage for Puneites. The domicile certificate office at the Pune district collectorate, having jurisdiction over Pune city and haveli taluka of the district, has no answer to an RTI query on quarterly pendency of applications.

The office caters to over 20 applications a day on an average and between 200 to 250 per day in June and July. However, there has no permanent staff to man the office.

The PIO, in his reply to the query, has said, “As the office does not take calculate the receipt of applications after every week, 15 days and month-end, it is not possible to give information on the quarterly pendency of applications. The applications remain pending due to incomplete submission by the applicants.”

Complete Article

Forest guards union leader gets notice

The forest department has warned disciplinary action against N M Goswami, working president of the Forest Guards Union, Nagpur, for seeking information about proposed transfers of guards and their seniority list under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

Goswami, who had sought the information on February 27, was told by information officer L V Swami that it was not possible to provide the details under Section 3 of the RTI Act 2005.

Interestingly, in a similar case, forest guard Mustaq Ahmed was told in a letter dated April 23, that information can be provided under the same section of the Act.

Complete Article

MMRDA a class apart!

Asked for some information on website of MMRDA and got phonecall frm MMRDA
within 24 hrs and...

got reply in writing by ordinary post on 24th day without paying any fees.

[posted by Raju Furia on the Humjanenge group]

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CIC's order to disclose records on judge's elevation stayed

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the Centre to disclose the records relating to elevation of the erstwhile Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice Vijender Jain, as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court this past January.

The Commission had also directed the Centre to disclose the Supreme Court collegium's decision and the Union Law Ministry's recommendation to the Prime Minister sent finally to the President relating to Mr. Justice Jain's appointment.

Complete Article

HC admits govt plea on Chilka firing

Orissa High Court today allowed a petition filed by the government that sought a stay on the state information commission’s order for supply of the report of a judicial commission headed by a sitting judge to a human rights activist.

Justice P.K. Tripathy Commission had probed into the police firing, in which five fishermen were killed at Sorana near Chilka on May 29, 1999. Kanungo had moved the State Information Commission after the home department had rejected his application for a copy of the report under the Right to Information Act.

Complete Article

Co-op Banks not covered by RTI Act, says RBI

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clarified that the co-operative banks are not covered by the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005. In a press release issued by the Gujarat State Cooperative Bank, it said, “In the reply, Alpana Killawala, Chief General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, press relation division, Central office has made it clear that cooperative banks are not covered by the Right to Information Act.”

Recently, chief information commissioner in his order in the case of Unjha Agriculture Produce Market Committee case under the RTI Act declared that the said circular of the RCS as void. Therefore, the impression has been created that co-operative banks are now covered by the RTI Act.

Complete Article

NGOs are to act as agents of implementing RTI, Rural Development Minister

Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the Rural Development Minister, while speaking at the National meet of NGOs of Rural India in New Delhi today, has said that the services of NGOs are being utilized for creation of awareness and conducting of social audit in the rural areas of various schemes run by his Ministry. He said there are more than 4000 NGOs in the country having their representatives at the Block, District, State and National level and they are rendering valuable services to the process of societal transformation and their transparent approach has given a new direction to the implementation of rural development programmes. The NGOs are to act as agents of implementing Right to Information Act, he said. The Minister also lauded the role of NGOs in the formation of Self Help Groups in the rural areas.

Complete Article

RTI Effect: GMADA hammer hovers over Ph-VI squatters

The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) will demolish illegally built jhuggis in Phase-VI in Mohali on April 25. The GMADA authorities through the announcements made in the area have directed the encroachers to remove the encroachment or face demolition squad.

Municipal Councilor of the area Rajinder Parsad Sharma filed a plea under Right to Information Act before GMADA on September 14, questioning, why the preventive measures were not taken and why the boundary had not been constructed. When the department failed to provide answer to him, he moved an application before the Information Commissioner on March 17

Complete Article

Monday, April 23, 2007

No RTI binding on UPSC, CBSE exams

The Central Information Commission has said that disclosure of answer sheets of examinations conducted by public recruitment and educational bodies are exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act.

The Commission made it clear that institutions like UPSC, Staff Selection Commission, CBSE and state universities do not fall under the purview of the Act and hence can not be asked to disclose evaluated answer sheets of their respective examinations.

Complete Article

Most RTI complaints resolved in Karnataka

Karnataka Chief Information Commissioner K K Mishra informed that of the 576 memoranda and 1,828 complaints received under the Right to Information Act in the State, 502 memoranda and 1,200 complaints were cleared from January 2006 till March-end.

Speaking to newspersons after inquiring into 21 complaints under the Act, he said section six of the Act stipulated that if officials concerned did not give out information, people could prefer a complaint. The erring officials would be imposed a fine ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 25,000.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 22, 2007

RTI Effect: Railways to disclose CVC probe details in corruption case

The Central Information Commission has asked the Railways to divulge details of a probe related to corruption charges against one of its employees whose name was cleared by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

Hearing an RTI appeal moved by O P Mehra, an officer at North Western Railways, the CIC asked the Railways to provide him the required information on his departmental inquiry report by which his name was cleared of the charges by CVC.

Complete Article

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Camp at Dadar station promotes sunshine law

When it's time to promote the use of a sunshine law to demand accountability in governance, there can be no larger audience than at a busy railway station. That's why the Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT), an NGO supported by the Ratan Tata Trust, organised a one day Right to Information (RTI) camp at Dadar station on Friday.

Spearheaded by project manager Shabnam Siddiqui, the camp is the second phase of the RTI camp. The first phase included seminars and workshops to spread general awareness.

Complete Article

IITians take on PWD, to keep eye on quality of Delhi's roads

City roads may well be on the path to improvement if a determined bunch of students from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and other technical institutes have their way. The students, who have embarked on a mission to improve the quality of roads in the Capital, have filed applications under Right to Information (RTI) Act to inspect all resurfacing and widening work being undertaken in the city.

The 46 applications cover works on all roads including Outer Ring Road, Ring Road, NH-10, NH-24 and other PWD roads in the Capital. Says IIT student Saurabh Sharma, "Our main aim is to find out why roads develop potholes. The government has been pumping in money to undertake all these works and PWD has made third-party assurance mandatory for road resurfacing. Then why do roads go bad? We have filed 46 such applications seeking information and inspection regarding road works worth Rs 420 crore."

Complete Article

Friday, April 20, 2007

No disclosure of info in a case under investigation: CIC

An information in a case which is being investigated cannot be disclosed under the Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said. The observation of the commission came while hearing an appeal of one Vishal Rajaram Kanojia of Bangalore who sought certain information from the Union Textiles Ministry relating to R R Kanojia, suspended chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) of British India Corporation Ltd.

Complete Article

Dilly-dallying MC officials told to pay up

For avoiding their appearance before the Punjab State Information Commission in a complaint lodged under the RTI Act, the commission has slapped a fine of Rs 250 per day on two public information officer officials of Municipal Corporation, Patiala.

The commission, while slapping the maximum fine of Rs 25,000 on the MC secretary C.L. Sharma, who is also the principal information officer (PIO) has also directed the commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Patiala, to recover the said fine from him and another assistant public information officer Ashok Vij.

Complete Article

Activists rue (yet another attempt at) dilution of RTI

After being unable to amend the RTI act, the government is now considering an option of exempting certain organisations from the Right to Information Act. This will exempt some government departments and institutions without requiring Parliament or Cabinet approval.

''Various agencies have been telling us there is a problem when the RTI is applied to them. They have a lot of security concerns. There is a grey area that we are going to look at and how we can move forward,'' said B K Chaturvedi, Cabinet Secretary.

The organisations that have been demanding exemption for reasons of national security are:

a.The three armed forces- Army, Navy and Air Force
b.Railway Protection Force
c.CBI, Directorate of Economic Intelligence, National Security Council, Central
Excise and Income Tax investigation unit
d.Bureau of Civil Aviation Security
e.National Technical Research Organisation

Complete Article

RTI Effect: Bogus certificates hold up promotions

For scores of policemen in Maharashtra and Mumbai, who were recently promoted to a senior rank it is the beginning of a spine-chilling future due to the fear of being caught out with bogus caste certificates. The police department on the other hand is trying its best to keep a lid on their findings, following the verification of caste certificates submitted by its personnel, and even refused to provide this information under the Right to Information Act, 2005

A RTI query with the office of the Director General of Police, seeking details of the caste certificate verification of its personnel in July 2006, by Nishant Dattaram Sarvankar met with a dead end with the Public Information Officer (PIO) and Additional Deputy Inspector General of Police, KS Jawde claiming a fiduciary relationship between the police department and its personnel while declining the information.

Complete Article

Thursday, April 19, 2007

National security and your RTI: Secy panel to decide where to draw the line

With at least 10 security and intelligence organisations filing applications asking for exemption from the Right To Information Act, a Committee of Secretaries has been set up under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi to try and "reconcile" transparency with national security concerns.

This panel - which includes the Defence Secretary - will meet to examine representations received from various departments, including the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), among others

Complete Article

Daughter denied admission, parents file RTI

Sanchali's parents have filed an application under the Right to Information Act to know why she did not get admission in their school of choice.

Manas De Sarkar thought he had got the math right when he applied to Air Force Bal Bharati School. On the 100-point scale, Sanchali had scored 55 - three more than the cut-off required for upper KG. But the school finally deducted 10 points - allotted to children of government employees - bringing her score down to 45 and denied her admission.

Complete Article
The Central Information Commission has asked the University Grant Commission, the apex body to regulate higher education in the country, to reply to an RTI application, noting it was more than 10 months that the matter was pending. The observation of the commission came while hearing an RTI appeal of one Atul Jain of Nagpur.

Jain, through his application in May, last year, had sought from the HRD Ministry certified copies of file notings pertaining to his UGC-NET examination, 2004, and wanted his certificate.

Complete Article

Flirting with fiduciary relationship

The Gujarat General Administration Department (GAD) is having serious accountability qualms, as it relies heavily on 'fiduciary relationship' (FR) between officers to stonewall RTI queries persistently.

GAD seemingly is so enamoured with the term 'fiduciary relationship' that despite a Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) decision which has defined 'relationship', GAD is carrying on this affair without applying its mind.

On being denied a copy of his annual confidential report (ACR) by GAD relying on FR, Arvind Agrawal, argued that denial of information without considering "larger public interest" is not in consonance with the provisions of the law. That GAD had to eat humble pie notwithstanding, GAD is still continuing its affair with FR.

GAD's romance with FR might now find it flirting with the penal provisions of RTI for persistently denying information. With most departments complying, GAD's obstinacy when it has a division called 'Administrative Reforms' is perplexing.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
19.04.2007

Finally, the RTI cell begins to function in KMC

Finally the Right to Information (RTI) cell in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) started to function as the cash collection centre came into existence. Because of its absence previously, the cell was completely inactive and had only been able to forward 18 replies out of 92 applications received.

Sources within the RTI cell said, “Applicants will have to deposit money in the miscellaneous counter of the Treasury Department. The Act states that Rs 2 has to be taken from the applicant for each page of information provided or the actual cost price of the sample. After the applicant deposits this amount, we will provide him with the necessary information.”

Complete Article

No insurance cover for Tada Judge Kode

Despite receiving several threats, Tada court judge PD Kode, who began pronouncing the verdict in the 1993 serial blasts case last November is yet to get an insurance cover. A 1995 proposal to grant the Tada judge a personal accident cover of Rs25 lakh is still pending with the state government’s Law and Judiciary department.

The department forwarded the application to The Insurance Directorate at Bandra, which recommended providing a Rs25 lakh personal accident insurance, which is very different from life insurance. The matter reached the Bombay High Court, which approved the Rs25 lakh insurance cover. However, according to information received under the Right to Information Act by a citizen, the Law and Judiciary department is still to sanction the proposal.

Complete Article

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

RTI Effect: PMC plans dog centre in outskirts

The Pune Municipal Corporation, to curb incidents of stray dogs biting people, is now planning to set up a dog care centre and make available anti-rabies injections in all the PMC-run hospitals and dispensaries. With 9,145 people bitten by stray dogs in 2005 and three deaths in last year, the PMC has decided to control their
population by sterilising and putting them into the centre.

RTI activist Vihar Dhurve sought details on stray dogs in city limits. Dhurve said the PMC is lax when it comes to solving the menace. The civic administration in its reply has admitted that no action has been taken by it curb the menace.

Complete Article

Aided school bound by RTI Act: HC

The Madras High Court has held that a state-aided private recognised school was a public authority and bound to provide information sought under the Right to Information Act.

Making the observation on a petition by Diamond Jubilee Higher Secondary School, an aided school in Erode District, challenging a directive by district authorities to furnish certain information to a private firm, Justice K Chandru said once a school was covered under the law there was no escape for the petitioner management from providing the information sought for by a citizen

Complete Article

RTI Camp in Kolkatta

The Calcutta Samaritans in association with The Griha Adhikar Manch, Right to Information Network, West Bengal, Right to Information Manch, West Bengal cordially invites you to the
1st Right to Information Camp, Opposite to Presidency Collage,
Tuesday 24th of April, 2007 Anytime between 10:00a.m and 08:00 p.m.

R.S.V.P.: 033-22276343 Mrs. Premila Pavamani
Right to Information Helpline: 9433620192 Director

[courtesy comment by Sabir]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

'RTI is a great boon for citizens of India'

Shailesh Gandhi, convenor of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, answered questions put forth by rediff.com readers on the Right to Information Act.

Entire transcript of the chat

HC upholds CIC order on disclosure of UPSC marks

The Delhi High Court today upheld the Central Information Commission's order directing the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to reveal cut-off marks obtained by the candidates in the preliminary examination of civil services.

"Disclosure of information as directed by CIC cannot harm the interest of UPSC and/or any third party. The approach of CIC in this matter has been in correct persepective," Justice B D Ahmed said while upholding the order of the CIC. Justice Ahmed also directed the UPSC to disclose model answer papers to the candidates.

Complete Article

RTI workshop to inculcate awareness among LDA officials

The Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) will be organising a training programme on the RTI (Right to Information Act) for its officials on April 20.

"The programme intends to raise the awareness level of our officials regarding the Information Act. The training programme would ensure procedures and norms related to RTI get ingrained in the minds of our entire staff," said LDA secretary, Dr Ram Bilas Yadav.

Complete Article

Monday, April 16, 2007

RTI Effect: 51 cigarette vendors challaned

In a special drive against violators of Cigarette and Tobacco Protection Act 2003, the UT police on Saturday challaned around 51 cigarette vendors. The police also seized 10 signboards, which had not mentioned the warning that cigarette would not be sold to minors.

The police said that the special drive was launched after receiving orders from senior police officials. Notably, authorities had failed to provide any detail about the implementation of Cigarette and Tobacco Protection Act, 2003, when a city resident sought some answers through the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

Home ministry does U-turn on Netaji, says he was great leader

Faced with criticism from various quarters, especially the Left parties, the Union home ministry has done a U-turn on the importance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's role in the freedom struggle, saying his contribution was "immense".

This was stated by Home Minister Shivraj Patil in a letter to Forward Block general secretary Debabrata Biswas after the latter sought an explanation as to how the home ministry had said the government had no information in its records about Netaji's contribution to the freedom struggle.

Complete Article

CIC notice to PMO on FS

The Central Information Commission has issued notice to the PMO, Cabinet Secretariat and the External Affairs Ministry on an application seeking access to the file notings on the appointment of Foreign Secretary Shivshanker Menon.

The CIC panel comprising Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Commissioner O P Kejariwal, also issued the notice to the Department of Personnel and Training on an application filed by senior IFS officer Veena Sikri, invoking her right to get the information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

Manipur Info comm allows candidate to view answer script

In a landmark decision, the Manipur information commission has directed the state home department to allow a candidate who appeared in the written test held in November 2006 for recruitment of jamadars for the MR/IRB to inspect his answer script, and also disclose the marks secured by him.

The commission, ruling on a complaint petition filed by the candidate, has also indicated that a penalty of Rs. 250 per day would be imposed on the state public information officer of the home department, if he fails to comply with the directive within a period of ten days counting from today.

Complete Article

Info Commission rebukes JJ Hospital

The State Information Commission (SIO) on Monday reprimanded the superintendent of the JJ Group of Hospitals, Dr Arun Pol (also public information officer). It directed the officer to provide medical records of former Maharashtra minister for (forests and environment) Surupsinh Naik during his hospitalisation from May 14 to June 5, 2006 to Right to Information (RTI) Act activist Shailesh Gandhi in three days.

Interestingly, Shailesh intends to submit these medical records for expert medical scrutiny amongst a host of cardiac specialists in Mumbai to independently establish the genuineness or otherwise by the JJ Group of Hospitals in allowing the former minister’s prolonged 21 days stay at the hospital immediately after he was placed under police arrest.

Complete Article

Info panel decision on Naik this week

The three-member bench of Information Commission, which heard MLA Surupsinh Naik’s contention that he has not been given a proper hearing, decided that the judgment in his case will be given latest by Tuesday. The judgment will decide whether the commission can stick to its decision of providing details of Naik’s medical treatment at the JJ Hospital during his month-long sentence in May 2006.

Complete Article

RAW exempted from information disclosure on Netaji

The Central Information Commission has turned down for the second time a man's request under the RTI Act seeking disclosure of information by the Research and Analysis Wing over its records available on Subhash Chandra Bose.

The Commission while rejecting the information request filed by one Anuj Dhar, a resident of the capital, said that RAW is exempted from disclosing information under the Act.

"Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat is mentioned in the Second Schedule (of RTI Act) and hence CIC has no jurisdiction to pass any orders/decisions in respect of disclosure of any information or files etc in possession of this organization", the Commission said.

Complete Article

Govt should disclose data on safety tests on GM crops

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Department of Bio-technology (DBT) to disclose information on safety tests data including toxicity on four genetically modified crops, after an RTI application was filed by a Greenpeace activist.

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah on Friday pronounced an oral order directing the DBT to disclose data pertaining to toxicity and allergenicity tests conducted on genetically engineered brinjal, rice, mustard and lady's finger.

The Commission, which was hearing an appeal filed by Divya Raghunandan, a campaigner for Greenpeace, directed the Department to disclose information on bio-safety data on the four transgenic crops approved for multi-location field trials, within ten days.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Info body gives bio-tech dept a RTI power-punch

In a verdict which may have a far-reaching consequence in the future, the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Friday directed the department of bio-technology (DBT) to make public the data generated from the tests carried out on transgenic crops by agro-biotech companies.

Chief commissioner Wajahat Habibullah delivered thhs right to information (RTI) power-punch, in response to an petition filed by Greenpeace India, after the review committee on genetic modification (RCGM) under DBT consistently refused to part with this closely guarded secret for over a year. Striking down the DBT's contention that the data falls under Section 8.1.(d), Habibullah pointed out that the request of the applicant for toxicity and allergenicity tests on genetically modified (GM) rice, mustard, okra and brinjal cannot be refused under the RTI Act.

Complete Article

Pink City's PIL philanthropist

At least 170 public interest litigations and 90-odd applications under the Right to Information Act have been filed by one man. It seems improbable but to him, PILs and RTI petitions are tools to serve the public. Mr Sripal Jain (77) finds great pleasure and takes pride in listening to the problems of people and tries to solve them by taking recourse to legal weapons.

Complete Article

Saturday, April 14, 2007

HC amends RTI rules

Clearly drawing the line for an applicant about what can be asked from the Gujarat High Court under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the Chief Justice, through a notification recently, has accepted amendments to the existing Gujarat High Court (Right to Information) Rules, 2005. The new amendments to the RTI rules came into force on April 3.

Henceforth, the HC can withhold any information which is not in the public domain or does not relate to judicial functions and duties of the court, incidental and ancillary matters of the court.

Besides, a citizen cannot demand any information that affects "the confidentiality of any examination conducted by HC, including matters related to Gujarat Judicial Services and Gujarat Higher Judicial Service. The aspect of 'confidentiality' in these matters would be decided by a competent authority.

The new rules also states that "any judicial officer will not be compelled to appear in person before competent authorities under RTI Act, 2005, if he has made necessary arrangements for production or supply of material required by them under the Act."

The new rules are called the Gujarat High Court (Right to Information) Amendment Rules, 2007.

Times of India,
Ahmedabad
13.04.2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

RTI helpline launched in West Bengal

With the state government apathetic about implementing the Right To Information (RTI) Act, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have come forward to launch a RTI helpline. The Calcutta Samaritans, a city-based NGO, has teamed up with Association for Peoples’ Initiative for Liberation, Right Track, Action Aid India International and Griha Adhikar Mancha to set up the helpline. Fifty trained volunteers of the NGOs will run it

Helpline number: 94336 20192
Timings: 10 am to 6 pm

Complete Article

RTI turns ACRs into APARs

After ACRs (Annual Confidential Reports), were ordered to be disclosed by the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), under RTI, instead of the expected jubilation amongst ranks, most officers' preferred to wait, speculating on the government's reaction.

The reaction was quite unexpected.The Centre's Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), notified the 'All India Services (Performance Appraisal Report) Rules, 2007'. Thereby, ACRs are now APARs (Annual Performance Appraisal Report), and IAS, IPS, IFS officers, across the country would have full access to them.

DoPT was earlier against disclosing ACRs. Their stand was supported by the Central Information Commission (CIC). DoPT's hand was forced by GIC's order.Government officers are after all nothing but public servants.

While as citizens first, Babus find the door open to their right to know how they have been assessed, however it has its flip side too. Now the citizen too can learn how efficient these public servants are and who assessed them. Maybe Babus seeking their ACRs at GIC did not foresee this, but this possibility cannot be ignored. The wall of secrecy has now been brought down. Babus in Gujarat have unwittingly done a favour to their brethren across the country.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
12.04.2007

No loos in G'nagar when nature calls

Gandhinagar with a population of 2 lakh and a stream of visitors flowing in and out of babudom faces a curious shortage that of toilet blocks for public convenience. There are just 29 blocks, out of which several are non-functional.

Moreover, Gandhinagar Notified Area Authority (NAA) and Public Works Department (PWD) are unsure about who is responsible for toilets. Arun Buchh, a senior citizen, recently filed a Right to Information (RTI) application with the Gandhinagar Notified Area Authority to know the status of the public toilets.

Not satisfied with the answers, Buchh lodged a complaint with the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) as he wanted to know who is responsible for the maintenance and how much is spent on it.

Complete Article

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

AP Govt rejects RTI petition on Palar Dam

The Andhra Pradesh Government has come out with two versions of information on the proposed dam across the Palar, which has become a bone of contention between the people of Vellore and their counterpart in Chittoor district.

A reply from the deputy secretary to the AP Government and Public Relations Officer, Irrigation and CAD Department at the Secretariat, in response to a petition from social worker M M Basheer of Vaniyambadi here, seeking information under the Right to Information Act, on the proposed dam across the Palar in the upstream at Kuppam, said the request for information was rejected since the matter was pending in the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the other one from the Superintending Engineer, Chittoor Irrigation Circle, has advised Basheer to contact the Executive Engineer, Palamaner Irrigation Division for more details since the reservoir was proposed to be constructed across the Palar at Ganeshpuram in Kuppam Mandal, which falls within his limits.

Complete Article

Rashtrapati Bhavan denies copies under RTI Act

The letters written by leaders of various political parties, extending support to Manmohan Singh for the formation of a government at the Centre, have become a matter of controversy with the refusal of the President's Secretariat to issue photocopies of these letters under the Right to Information Act.

Various political parties including the Karunanidhi-led DMK, CPM, CPI, RJD and other allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had handed over letters extending support to Manmohan Singh to the President before the formation of the Union Government. The reason cited for refusing to issue the copies of the letters by Nitin Wakankar, Central Public Information Officer, Rashtrapathi Bhavan, is that these letters were given under a 'fiduciary relationship' between the authors of the letter and the President and that this came under Section 8(e) of the RTI Act.

The argument of the Central Public Information Officer of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is now being challenged by the Thalassery-based People's Council for Civil Rights headed by T Asafali through an appeal petition filed with the Internal Financial Adiviser and Appellate Authority under the RTI Act at the President's Secretariat.

Complete Article

Heritage panel wants 'illegal' poles to go

The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) chairman Dr Sharad Upasni on Thursday took the decision to remove poles with illuminated advertising boards and hoardings in Fort, which were erected by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as a part of their 'beautification drive' in the city. The decision was taken following a complaint and a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by city-based doctor Anahita Pandole

Complete Article

Information commissioner summons apex court official

In the first summons ever to a Supreme Court official, the Central Information Commission has asked the senior functionary to explain his failure to respond to a Delhi resident's plea for information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Zilley Singh had filed an application before the apex court in a case related to perjury and wanted to know its status.

CIC chief Wajahat Habibullah issued directions April 2 to the apex court's administrative registrar for a personal appearance at the commission at 12 noon on May 25.

Complete Article

Furnish information in one week: CIC orders UT police

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the UT police to furnish information sought under the Right to Information Act 2005, within a week. The hearing for an appeal filed by the chairman of Burning Brain Society, an NGO, Hemant Goswami, had come up today through video-conferencing and was attended by the UT SSP Gaurav Yadav.

The CIC has disposed of the appeal with the direction that SSP would decide his appeal as an appellate authority, but dissatisfaction was expressed on the functioning of the department.

HT Chandigarh, April 9

Assam bureaucrat duo in RTI imbroglio

The (Assam) State Information Commission has issued showcause notices to the deputy commissioner and the treasury officer of Sivasagar, charging them with “deliberate delay” in furnishing information to a junior account assistant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The main query was whether disciplinary proceedings against him had been closed. If so, he sought a copy of the order to stall two increments, the gradation list of junior account assistants and extracts of the roster register for promotion to the post of senior account assistant.

Complete Article

MCD doctor fined for information delay

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has imposed a fine of Rs 13,000 on a doctor of a Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) hospital for delay in providing information on a right to information (RTI) application. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah penalised Dr Madhu Jain, Public Information Officer (PIO) of Hindu Rao Hospital here with the amount holding her liable for delay of 52 days in disclosing information sought by Navin Neeraj and Subroto Roy.

Neeraj and Roy, both doctors at the hospital, had filed an RTI application on December 30, 2005 seeking certain information over a file related to harassment cases reported by junior officers of the health department of the MCD.

Complete Article

Monday, April 09, 2007

RTI Expose - Gone without a trace: Rs 3.9 crore

The Kalyani Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has no account for Rs 3.9 crore, or over 1 per cent of its annual budget of Rs 340 crore, that it advanced to officials for public purposes over the last 15 years.

That is what shop accountant Vinod Shirvadkar discovered after sending off a Right to Information (RTI) application, he is part of local citizens' group Mahiti Adhikar Manch, to his civic body asking for a list of the sums advanced since 1990 that remained unaccounted for. On paper, the money has been advanced for a raft of uses from Independence Day celebrations and kabaddi tournaments to purchasing diesel and air tickets.

Complete Article

RTI Expose - Dow wants to pass Bhopal buck to India, letters show

US multinational Dow Chemicals, facing a criminal suit over the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, has been trying to get the Indian embassy in Washington to persuade the government to clean up the site of the erstwhile Union Carbide plant, according to information acquired after invoking the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The matter came to light last month after the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery and Karmachari Sangh, an association of survivors and activists, made use of the RTI act to seek copies of the letter from the Planning Commission.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Co-ops now under RTI

Co-operative societies and Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC) across Gujarat will now be considered as public authorities under the Right to Information Act (RTI), according to a recent state circular. The state circular came as a blessing for borrowers, depositors and members who have been demanding accountability from co-operative banks, APMCs, societies or even milk and housing co-operatives for a long time. This concern grew after a string of scams were unearthed in some of these co-operatives across Gujarat a few years ago.

The circular was issued on March 30 following an order passed by the Gujarat information commission (GIC) in the case of Dilipsinh Jhala versus APMC Unjha, which said that co-operatives and APMCs are public authorities.

However, nearly 50 co-operative banks have argued that they should not be ruled as public authorities. An APMC of Unjha has challenged the decision of the GIC ruling it as a public authority in the High Court.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
09.04.2007

RTI to no avail, disabled waits for PESCO info

Sanjay Kumar, 28, a resident of Dandota village in Haryana, has been awaiting reply from PESCO (Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation) for the last six months under the Right to Information Act (RTI). All he wanted to know was the number of people they had employed under the Disability Act, 1995, which has a provision for three per cent reservation in government offices for people with disabilities.

Complete Article

Blood on their hands, but roaming free

Two dreaded murder convicts Dharmendra Rajput and Ramesh Jhala, lodged at Sabarmati and Bhavnagar jails, regrouped after obtaining parole in October last year with a former Fazl-ur Rehman gang protégé, Akhilesh Tiwari and executed a Rs 20 lakh extortion racket in Ahmedabad.

This was no exception. As many as 82% of the 317 convicts, who have absconded from Gujarat's jails while on parole and furlough, are dreaded murderers. Jhala and Rajput, who landed in the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) later, were not as lucky as other convicted murderers and rapists who are still at large.

Information obtained by TOI under the Right to Information Act (RTI) reveals that 222 convicts across Gujarat have jumped loughs and 95 have jumped parole.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
09.04.2007

Reject scholars' research proposals a security issue

The Government doesn't want to explain why and how it decides to reject a research proposal by a foreign scholar. Responding to an application filed under the Right to Information Act by The Indian Express - which first exposed how the Government is not only delaying clearances to US research scholars but also forcing some of them to change their subjects - the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry refused to part with any information.

Complete Article

CIC pulls up Customs Dept for non-disclosure of inquiry report

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has taken strong exception to the Customs Department's decision of not disclosing details of an inquiry report which formed the basis of the transfer of one of its employees.

The Commission rejected the contention of the customs and Central Excise Department that names of the inquiring officers and contents of the report cannot be divulged as they fell under the exception clause of the Official Secrets Act.

Complete Article

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Court fines RTI applicant

A self-proclaimed activist in Anand has created a ticklish situation by applying for information under Right to Information (RTI) Act on alleged bribe accepted by a judge to dismiss his complaint. The activist was slapped a fine of Rs 5,000, failing which he would face contempt of court proceedings.

In response, the activist has moved a second appeal with state chief information
commissioner (CIC) against the district judge's decision. It all started with Hitesh Patel moving a complaint against all board members of Vallabh Vidyanagar Commercial Co-operative Bank alleging that the members had misappropriated a huge amount from the bank.

After hearing the case, chief judicial magistrate J P Gadhvi dismissed the complaint on January 22 stating that there was not enough evidence to prove such allegations. Patel submitted an application to court's public information officer (PIO) seeking information on 'tod pani' (bribe) taken to dismiss the case.

When the court registrar received Patel's letter, it was produced before principal district judge (appellate authority of court) M J Parikh, who imposed the fine on him. Patel, however, has moved a second appeal with CIC as well as court's PIO seeking information on "which grounds under RTI" was he asked to deposit Rs 5,000 as fine.

Complete Article

CIC denies information on IAF pilots

Central Information Commission has rejected an RTI appeal seeking information on premature retirement of fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force (IAF). The commission said that such disclosures were "sensitive" and could lead to unforeseen consequences.

"Any hasty disclosure of seemingly innocuous statistical information, as in this case, can lead to consequences which may not be properly foreseen at a given point of time", Information Commissioner A N Tiwari was quoted by PTI. The CIC dismissed an appeal filed by Wing Commander Alok Joshi in which the detailed records of IAF's fighter pilots who were granted premature retirement from 2004 onwards were asked.

Complete Article

Gujarat information panel scores well above Central one: Kejriwal

All praises for the Gujarat State Information Commission (GSIC), Arvind Kejriwal, noted Right To Information Act(RTI) activist and Ramon Magsaysay 2006 award winner, said that 70 per cent of RTI applications are filed by government employees _mostly regarding promotion or dues_ which illustrates that the government is the worst employer in the country.

Stressing on making RTI more accessible to people in the next phase, Kejriwal said that in Bihar people can file petitions under the RTI Act on telephone, fee for which is later added to the phone bill. While the Central Information Commission is struggling hard to live upto the expectations of people, GSIC tops the performance score, he said.

Complete Article

Friday, April 06, 2007

Gujarat govt plans call centre for people

The Gujarat government is planning to launch a call centre to help citizens seeking specific state-related information and accept their complaints on telephone. With private call centres mushrooming in the state, top officials yesterday discussed a plan for helpline but were divided on making it toll-free.

“For complaints, the citizens will be given a token number and feedback will be provided within two or three days”, he said. Data centres will be set up in six districts for the project for which the state administration is ready to spend Rs50 million. The Right to Information Act has proved to be a boon for Gujaratis but Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings with citizens for swift solution to their problems have now been discontinued and an automated complaints phone line connected to Modi has also been non-functional.

Complete Article

Govt to move against court CIC

The government intends to move court against the Central Information Commission’s directive to hand over a copy of the file on appointment of Justice Vijender Jain as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court under the right to information law.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) had turned down the law ministry claim for exemption from furnishing the appointment file in March-end and given the government a month to implement the directive.

Complete Article

Two-day workshop to focus on good governance, RTI

Two-day western region workshop on "Good Governance" with special focus on Right to Information (RTI) will be organised jointly by Transparency International (Gujarat Chapter) and Gandhi Labour Institute at GLI premises in Ahmedabad on April 12-13.

Director General, GLI, Arunkumar Sutaria said on Friday that about 90 participants from five western region States - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Goa - would participate in two-day workshop. Information Commissioners, Lokayuktas and Vigilance Commissioners from these States have been invited to participate in workshop. Gujarat State Vigilance Commissioner Ashok Narayan will chair a session on "Good Administration and Vigilance" during the two-day brain-storming deliberations, while State Information Commissioner R N Das will share his experiences with the participants on how the provisions of the RTI Act are being implemented in Gujarat.

Complete Article

Two-day workshop to focus on good governance, RTI

Two-day western region workshop on "Good Governance" with special focus on Right to Information (RTI) will be organised jointly by Transparency International (Gujarat Chapter) and Gandhi Labour Institute at GLI premises in Ahmedabad on April 12-13.

Director General, GLI, Arunkumar Sutaria said on Friday that about 90 participants from five western region States - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Goa - would participate in two-day workshop. Information Commissioners, Lokayuktas and Vigilance Commissioners from these States have been invited to participate in workshop. Gujarat State Vigilance Commissioner Ashok Narayan will chair a session on "Good Administration and Vigilance" during the two-day brain-storming deliberations, while State Information Commissioner R N Das will share his experiences with the participants on how the provisions of the RTI Act are being implemented in Gujarat.

Complete Article

Enjoy cricket, don’t pose nasty queries

You have cheered them on, contributed to their salary by watching them play and even cried at their defeat. But as a cricket fan, you do not have the right to know what went wrong with Team India in the 2007 World Cup.

The three tell-all reports submitted to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday by the team’s coach, captain and manager would not be released to the public. Only “select” portions from them were disclosed by BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah in a concise two-page statement.

“It is shocking that the BCCI earns crores of rupees by selling sponsorship and television rights valued on the basis of public viewership, and yet it is not answerable to the very people,” said Amitava Athle, a cricket enthusiast. Cricket fans even called up this newspaper to inquire if the Right to Information (RTI) Act could be used to access the reports.

According to RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi, the information Act could only be used to obtain information from a government body, which is one controlled or financed by the government. BCCI, a 79-year-old autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, does not fall into this category.

Complete Article

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Show cause notice to NCSC for not responding RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a show cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes for not responding to an RTI application on the issue of OBC certificates.

The Commission, in its recent order, also directed the NCSC to attend to the request of one Gowri Shanker Giri by April 13, who sought information as to why the Office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate in Najafgarh here had not issued Other-Backward Classes (OBC) certificates.

Complete Article

Undertrial exercises his right under RTI ACT, 2005

For the first time in Gujarat, an undertrial from Sabarmati Jail was allowed to inspect files relating to vigilance enquiries against him under Right to Information Act (RTI) with police escort.

Manhar Shah, a former employee of Punjab National Bank (PNB), and an undertrial for more than three years is fighting a lone battle against criminal proceedings against
him in a financial misappropriation case. The file inspection pertained to those alleged documents that were not submitted to the Gujarat CID crime by the bank while the investigations were on against Shah since August 2002. The bank had replied to Shah's request under RTI Act for file inspection on February 1 this year, following which Shah had applied for a seven-day bail before the chief metropolitan magistrate KJ Upadhyay.

5th April, 07,
TOI Ahmedabad Edition

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Manipur Information panel raps edu. directorate info officer

The Manipur Information Commission has taken strong umbrage at the indifferent and callous attitude of state government officials towards the implementation of the Right to Information Act 2005, stating that this was `deeply frustrating`.

The Manipur Information Commission made this opinion clear in a directive issuing show cause notice to the state public information officer, directorate of education (schools) as to why penalties under the provisions of the RTI Act should not be enforced against him for failing to furnish information sought under the RTI Act.

Complete Article

High court verdict on disclosure of UPSC marking process on April 17

The Delhi High Court Wednesday reserved its order on a petition challenging the Central Information Commission order to Union Public Service Commission to reveal its marking system and evaluation process of answer scripts for civil services examination conducted by it.

After hearing arguments from the two contending parties, UPSC and civil service aspirants, Justice B.D. Ahmed fixed April 17 to pronounce his verdict on the issue.

Complete Article

Info panel slaps notice on SC official

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a showcause notice to the Supreme Court's public information officer (PIO) after noting that the officer had not provided information to a man under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The commission, in a recent order, also directed the PIO and SC's assistant registrar to provide certain information to Ziley Singh, a resident of Delhi, who had filed his RTI application before him on May 10, 2006.

Complete Article

HIV victim denied drug, right to information

An HIV patient has approached the state health department in order to seek information on life saving treatments and counseling provided by the state government citing the Right to Information Act after he was denied life saving drugs by an NGO. Unfortunately, his request has not been complied with.

Animesh Chakraborty (name changed) was denied the life saving Anti-Retro Viral drug he was taking as part of a second line treatment by the very organisation that was supporting him with free medication. Mr Chakraborty, who is undergoing treatment at the School of Tropical Medicine, tested HIV positive in 1999. Dr Subhasis Guha of STM had recommended Mr Chakraborty' s name to the NGO run by Dr Jack Preger named Calcutta Rescue Centre. The second line of drugs was, however, stopped by Dr Preger

Complete Article

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

RTI Effect: Corrupt's chest pain, now in vain!

Alerted since the Surupsinh Naik case, doctors in Poddar hospital and J.J. hospitals refused to admit Dr. Vasant Wanmore, a medical officer attached with Cooper hospital's post mortem department after he was caught in disproportionate assets case recently(Times of India dt.02/04/07 )

As is observed recently, persons caught red handed while accepting bribe or in corruption cases "develop chest pain" and get admitted to hospitals and thereby escape police custody. Dr .Wanmore also in the face of arrest by A.C.B. in disproportionate assets case developed chest pain in court before judge could remand him to police custody. He was taken to Poddar hospital who discharged him after 8 hours. But Dr Wanmore still complained of chest pain. Then Poddar hospital referred him to J.J. hospital. After giving him medicine ,J.J. hospital informed police that Dr. Wanmore is fit and there is no need for him to be admitted.

After this Dr. Wanmore was arrested on Saturday 31st March and court remanded him to police custody.

diwakar sarpotdar

[posted on the humjanenge yahoogroup]

High Court asks UPSC to file rejoinder

The Delhi High Court on Monday heard the final arguments from aggrieved civil services aspirants who submitted that disclosure of marks and scaling method was in public interest and also in line with the Supreme Court judgement on the issue.

Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed asked the Union Public Service Commission to file their rejoinder on Wednesday following which the Court is likely to take a final decision on vacating the stay on the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) given to the UPSC to disclose marks and scaling method to the aggrieved civil aspirants.

Complete Article

CIC orders MEA action against errant Regional Passport Officer

The Central Information Commission has ordered the External Affairs Ministry to take action against a Delhi regional passport officer for denying information pertaining to an RTI application.

"The Commission directs the Joint Secretary (Consular of Passport and Visa), MEA, to take necessary administrative action against the Public Information Officer (PIO) and Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Delhi immediately", said Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal in a recent order.

Complete Article

Father steps up probe of son's death

A 76-year old retired postal employee in Chennai has used the Right to Information Act to take on the Indian Army. The case involves the mysterious death of his son Major Ravishankar.

On receipt of documents from the army pertaining to two courts of inquiry, the deceased officer's father says his suspicion that his son was murdered have been confirmed. The army says it was an accident and there was no foul play.

Four years after the incident Shankar's father used the Right To Information Act to acquire army documents, which showed holes in the investigation. "From the moment he left his quarters at 7.30pm to the following morning at 4 am, that bit has not been investigated. This gap in the investigation is still there even after two Courts Of Inquiry. That should be investigated," Shankar's father Vasu said. Vasu is trying to know why army search parties did not search Mathura rail junction but went elsewhere.

Complete Article

Monday, April 02, 2007

Full panel of CIC to decide on documents on Netaji

The full bench of the Central Information Commission will decide whether documents consulted by enquiry panels probing the mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose should be disclosed, Information Commissioner A N Tiwari has said.

Tiwari conveyed this recently to Mission Netaji, a Delhi-based organisation campaigning to access information on the disappearance of the icon of the freedom movement, while hearing its appeal in this regard. Giving a "final chance" to the Union home ministry to come clear on the issue, Tiwari asked it to provide an adequate explanation from the ministerial level on why documents sought by Mission Netaji could not be made public.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Complainant gets compensation under RTI Act

In a recent judgement, the office of the State Information Commission, Punjab (SICP) has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Public Information Officer (PIO) on his failure to provide information to the complainant within the stipulated period of 30 days under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Gurdial Singh, Finance Secretary, Pensioners, Ludhiana, had sought information from the PIO, Director of Employment, Punjab, regarding some recruitments since 2004, but even after over two months, Prem Singh, Under Secretary, PIO, along with Harbans Sharma, Employment Officer, and Harjit Singh, Senior Assistant, failed to provide the information.

The Commission not only imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the PIO, but also ordered that compensation be paid to Gurdial Singh for harassment. Since he had to come from Ludhiana to attend five hearings, the respondent department has been ordered to pay Rs 500, along with Rs 500 as diet charges, for five days to Gurdial Singh

Complete Article

RTI fails to recover file lost in govt red-tapism

The inefficiency and red-tapism of the government’s so-called file tracking system forced Rajesh Darak, a resident of Mumbai, to resort to the Right to Information Act (RTI) to find out more about a court order. However, Darak, an employee of a Mumbai-based firm, received contradictory answers in response to his application. He once again had to make several rounds of various government departments to get information which should have been available at the click of a mouse or the flick of a page.

Darak was following up an order given by the Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate court to the Sangli police in October 2005. The court had directed the Sangli police to proclaim the accused in a cheque bouncing case as absconders.

Complete Article

Bhavnagar cop fined Rs 25K for refusing info

The Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) on Thursday imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on an office superintendent of Bhavnagar district police for denying information to an applicant.

The applicant, Kalpesh Bhatt, a talati-cum-mantri of Bhavnagar district had detected a major fraud in the implementation of the Sardar Patel Sah Bhagi Jal Sanchay Yojna in December 2003 in Velavadi village and had lodged an FIR against the defaulters on behalf of the state government. The police did not act on Bhatt's complaint for a long time.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
01.04.2007

RTI Act has not helped much: Chief Justice

Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has said that though the Right To Information (RTI) Act is expected to help root out corruption, it is being misused like most other Acts.

"We thought it would help to root out corruption, but only a negligible portion of the Right To Information Act has helped," Mr. Balakrishnan said here on Saturday. Information continues to be inaccessible despite the RTI Act, the Chief Justice added

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'Indian missions abroad fall under RTI Act' - CIC

All Indian missions abroad come under the purview of the Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled. "Since the Indian missions are set up by the foreign ministry, they come under the ambit of the Right to Information Act," the CIC said in a recent order.

The ruling came while the CIC was hearing an appeal by Anju Musafir, who sought information related to the issue of visa to a French national who was to join as a faculty member in the Mahatma Gandhi International School in Ahmedabad.

Complete Article

RTI Act helps unearth housing scam

The cherished mission of a man from politically sensitive Patkura area of Kendrapara a coastal district of Orissa to uncover the IAY housing scam is finally reaping dividends, thanks to the might of Right to Information (RTI) Act.

He had to cough up Rs 11,000 from his purse fighting against bureaucratic red tape. But critical information on the IAY housing scheme never trickled in. Finally armed with the RTI Act, the rights activist from Patkura area is poised to unmask one of the biggest plunder of government money in recent memory.

The government agency is not going to book the offenders. I do not repose faith on administrative inquiry by local administrative agency. I have enough documents accrued through RTI act to prove that there was broad day light plunder of state exchequer here. I am readying documents to move to Orissa high court so that justice may be delivered to ‘left-out' shelterless people, he maintained.

Complete Article

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