Thursday, May 31, 2007

Assam Policeman fined under RTI

A senior police official has been fined by the State Information Commission of Assam for refusing to provide information to a petitioner under the Right to Information Act. The petitioner had formally moved the police officer twice with his plea.

Complete Article

PMO seeks dismissal of RTI appeal on Netaji file

The PMO has vehemently opposed before the Central Information Commission (CIC) an application seeking documents relating to destruction of a government file thirty years ago on the mysterious death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

The PMO was responding to a notice issued by CIC on a plea of 'Mission Netaji' - a Delhi-based organisation - seeking information concerning destruction of a file, which contained reports of investigation into the circumstances leading to Netaji's death. The file was destroyed by the government in 1972.

Complete Article

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

RTI Expose: Anti-media Government Order cleared by Chief Minister

File notings obtained through a Right to Information application have revealed that Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Chief Secretary J. Harinarayana have indeed approved and signed the draft GO 938 of February 20, the controversial media-related order that kicked up a row three months ago. It marked a drive to launch defamation cases against newspapers and their editors, but was immediately withdrawn by the Government.

Complete Article

RTI switches off billboard

Jaya P Dhingra sits atop a heap of iron framework on the terrace of her building and points to a deep hole drilled into her kitchen ceiling. "The monsoon is going to be terrible for us," she says, "but at least they didn't manage to drill any more holes into our house."

The 45-year-old resident used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to stop a hoarding firm from erecting a scaffolding that had, in the construction process, damaged the terrace and frontage of the building. After Dhingra took recourse to the RTI to take up the issue with the BMC, the city's civic body which had approved the contract with JMD Advertisers, revoked the deal and ordered the company to repair the damage.

Complete Article

MSEDCL 'refuses' to give information under RTI

Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL) recently "refused" to give information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. "I had sought information from MSEDCL with reference to a public notice released by it under the RTI Act. But my application was returned stamped 'refused'," A M Attar, a retired Railway employee and an RTI activist, told PTI.

Complete Article

Mahastra IC to step up appeals gear

The information commissioner for Pune Region will soon initiate a district wise hearing drive for around 2000 appeals pending before its office, said Information Commissioner for Pune Region Vijay Kuvalekar during his lecture on ‘Right to Information — experiences and challenges’ organised by Surajya Sangharsha Samiti at Sardar Mahadeo Balwant Natu Auditorium at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan on Tuesday.

“The appeals have piled up as we did not have a fixed office space. Now, with a new office available in the administration building opposite council hall, we will soon begin district wise hearing of the appeals on a priority basis in Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli and Solapur. Our office is closely scrutinising the appeals,” Kuvalekar said.

Complete Article

Maharashtra IC uses RTI

Information commissioner (Vidarbha) Vilas Patil, who hears appeals under Right to Information (RTI) Act, is now taking recourse of the same Act to seek information of his own 'service conditions.'

Patil, who also reprimands errant officials for non-compliance, filed an application under RTI himself in the state general administration department recently after the government denied him the details.

Complete Article

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Exchanges under RTI ambit: Sebi

The market regulator has said the country’s stock exchanges are “public authorities” and, therefore, have to disclose information, if asked to, under the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Sebi’s written submission to the Central Information Commission (CIC), the body that oversees applications made under the RTI Act, comes in the context of requests by investors for information from the National Stock Exchange and the Jaipur Stock Exchange. Both exchanges had refused to provide the information and the investors appealed to CIC.

Complete Article

Awareness Campaign on RTI at Bandra West Railway Station

We will have similar campaign as scheduled at Bandra West Station on platform number 1 (One) near the entrance to Platform number One which leads to WHEELERS book stall.

The Campaign Kiosk will start functioning at 09.00 A.M and will close at 08-00 P.M.on 31st MAY 2007 and 1st JUNE 2007

Bhaskar Prabhu
For Mahiti Adhikar Manch

[posted on the Humjanenge group]

File notings must be revealed Manipur IC

Making another significant ruling, the Manipur Information Commission has made it crystal clear that file notings in official files are to be considered as integral part of files and there can be no question of their exemption from disclosure under the provisions of the Right to Information Act.

The ruling was made in a hearing held Saturday following a petition filed by the state information officer, secretariat, education department, against earlier decisions of the commission.

Complete Article

Before results, CBSE spills burning truth

The nearly seven lakh students who will wake up tomorrow to their Class X results will have to contend with another revelation. The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) will burn all answer scripts three months after the results are declared. Along with the answer scripts, any chance students have of using the Right to Information Act to verify if their answer scripts were evaluated properly will also burn to ashes.

Complete Article

HC stays CIC order on Sikri issue

The Delhi High Court today stayed the Central Information Commission (CIC)'s order directing the Centre to place before the Commission all relevant documents pertaining to the appointment of Shiv Shankar Menon as Foreign Secretary. "The order of the CIC on May 7 shall be kept in abeyance till further orders," Justice B D Ahmed said.

Complete Article

CIC directs NHRC to reveal ino on judicial corruption

The Central Information Commission has asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to disclose within June five details of deliberations on judicial corruption at a conference.

The recent order came after NHRC failed to conform to the CIC's earlier directive, issued on January 10 last, pertaining to the disclosure of deliberations on judicial corruption as sought by an appellant.

Complete Article

Monday, May 28, 2007

Two RTI cases taken up by MIC

The Manipur Information Commission is currently taking up two appeals cases filed under the Right To Information Act.

One of the cases pertain to information sought regarding the proposals for development of the Old Cachar Road from the state PWD, and another to information sought regarding works taken up in Bishnupur A/C under the MLA`s and MP`s local area development funds during the period 2002 to 2006.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 27, 2007

PWD making mockery of the RTI Act

In a recent answer, given to an applicant, the Public Works Department (PWD) refused to furnish information on a small bridge across the river Yamuna under one of the clauses of the act.

Jitender, a resident of north Delhi, was shocked to find the reply of the PWD on a question pertaining to the pontoon bridges of the city, particularly the one which links Geeta Colony in east Delhi to Shanti Van on Ring Road.

Complete Article

RTI used to challenge development priorities

The Mumbai-based National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), linked to doughty campaigner Medha Patkar, said it has found the Right to Information Act (RIT) to be "a tool to expose scams of development".

A 60-storey building with twin towers, claimed to be the tallest in India, is planned to be made on land reserved for a road, said NAPM citing information ferreted out under the RTI Act.

"Extensive use of RTI has been able to expose various irregularities and the corrupt nexus in issues related to urban renewal in Mumbai," said NAPM campaigners, citing specific cases.

Complete Article

CIC asks SEBI to re-examine decision on RTI appeal

The Central Information Commission has directed market regulator SEBI to re-examine its decision to deny information about observation cards on schemes of Birla Mutual Fund.
Rejecting the contention of SEBI that information on observation cards cannot be shared with public, the CIC while hearing an RTI appeal, gave SEBI one month's time to re-examine the request of one Manoj Vyas who had sought information about schemes of the mutual fund house.
Vyas, a resident of Mumbai, had sought copies of the Observation Cards that are communicated by the regulator to fund managers after examining their offer documents.

Complete Article

Saturday, May 26, 2007

RTI runs into problems

The Right to Information (RTI) is giving a new power to Indians. But it is also running into bottlenecks, including abuses by officials who are deleting information to prevent it from reaching the people. Citizen-campaigners are reporting missing information in a small but significant number of cases. They believe officials who do not want to release information simply make it vanish.

A call for stringent action in 'missing document' cases was made at a national convention of RIT campaigners in Pune, facilitated by the HumJanenge network. Among other things they suggested was a submission of a list of officials who are custodians of the missing documents, filing criminal cases against them, fining guilty officers and probes into deficient record maintaining system. Other anomalies are also coming up.

Complete Article

Experiences and challenges - RTI Lecture in Pune

'The right to information - experiences and challenges' a lecture by Mr.Vijay kuvalekar , state information commissioner ,at bharatiya vidya bhavan auditorium near om super market in model colony (on the road from pyramid on senapati bapat road to om super market) on Tuesday may 29th at 5 pm

[posted on the Humjanenge yahoogroup}

RTI mover on the run after multi-scam bust

More than a year ago, Akhil Gogoi exercised his right to know the status of rural schemes in central Assam’s Golaghat district. He is on the run today for he knew too much.

Gogoi has been leading a land right movement for some 1.60 lakh settlers in Doyang and Nambor reserve forests in Golaghat district since 2002. These people had been displaced by flood and erosion in Majuli (island), Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and other parts of eastern Assam from 1905 onwards.

The 35-year-old Gogoi has been spearheading the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) for the rights of farmers. If the land right movement made him a “troublemaker”, moving the Right to Information (RTI) Act on behalf of farmers on March 2 last year made him a fugitive.

Complete Article

HC stays CIC order on co-op societies

Justice H N Devani of Gujarat High Court has given a stay on the order passed by the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), which had directed that all co-operative societies, including co-operative banks, are covered under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The order of the CIC was challenged in three separate petitions filed by the Gujarat Co-operative Banks Federation, Gujarat State Co-operative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank Ltd, and Ahmedabad District Co-operative Bank Ltd.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hashimpura survivors file 615 RTI applications in 20 years long pursuit of justice

Even twenty years after the sordid Hashimpura massacre in Uttar Pradesh, in
which Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel allegedly gunned down over
40 people on 22 May 1987 (all Muslim), justice remains still out of sight.

On 24 May 2007, two survivors and many members of 36 families of those killed on
the fateful day of Hashimpura bloodbath came to Lucknow - UP's state capital -
to file 615 applications under The Right to Information Act 2005, at the office
of Director General of Police demanding critical information pertinent to the
case.

Complete Article

RTI Act ignored in Kashmir, says campaigner

India's landmark Right to Information (RTI) Act is not being applied to Jammu and Kashmir. For a change, the state's citizen-campaigners are blaming their politicians for ducking a law that could benefit the people.

"I represent Jammu and Kashmir. But I'm sorry to say that this strong, pro-people's law has not been implemented in my state," said Raja Muzaffar Bhat, a social activist from Budgam in Kashmir. Speaking at a national conference of RTI campaigners here, Bhat said his state was "sandwiched" between corruption and political instability, and if any state really needed the RTI Act, it was undoubtedly Jammu and Kashmir.

Complete Article

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

RTI Expose - Hospital flouted safety norms

The fire at SAL Hospital came much later. There was a lot of smoke already, for the last three years. Not only has the hospital been besieged with notices from Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (Auda) for misuse of parking space, but the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) and the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) have also stated in writing that the hospital is violating the Petroleum Pipelines Act, 1962.

TOI procured the notices and survey reports under RTI. Besides this, there have been repeated notices from Auda, since December 1, 2004, for using the two basement cellars for "biogas plant cylinders, canteen, emergency room etc".

Times of India, Ahmedabad
24.05.2007

RTI helps break red tape

A landmark ruling under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, has finally brought justice to a lab technician at the Sassoon General Hospital here.

The May 22 ruling by Maharashtra information commissioner Vijay V. Kuvalekar has not only paved the way for Vaishali Kaustubh Kalekar's regularisation of service, but has also exposed the bureaucratic harassment and red tapism suffered by her for the last 13 years.

The ruling will also bring hope for other employees who may be suffering due to administrative lapses besides serving as a warning to RTI Appellate authorities in government establishments who treat appeals casually.

In view of the mental harassment suffered by Kalekar, the RTI Appellate authority at the Sassoon hospital, Dr Arun V. Jamkar (dean, B.J. Medical College), has been directed (on behalf of the hospital) to pay a token compensation of Rs 5,000 to her.

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
24 May, 2007

RTI made easier: click send for quick information

The Right to Information is set to take its next big leap, into the Internet. The watchdog body will this week ask all departments to begin accepting applications via E-mail, and has proposed to the prime minister that government-related information of any kind that can be shared with citizens - possibly tens of millions of pages - be put on the Internet.

In the future, citizens can even look forward to seeking information from the government sitting at home - making payments online through credit cards.

"The idea is to ease things, so that right from the time of the first application, to the appeals, no paper activity is involved anywhere," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah told the Hindustan Times. At the commission's main office in New Delhi, paperless appeals are already possible.

Complete Article

Passport officer panned for ‘bribing away’ complainant

In a first of its kind, the Central Information Commission has hauled up the Regional Passport Office, Delhi, for “bribing” an RTI applicant into taking his complaint back.

Terming it a “corruption” that could defeat the very purpose of the Right to Information (RTI), the CIC has asked the information officer to explain the delay in providing information, failing which a penalty of Rs 25,000 will be imposed on the officer.

Fearing that this might assume the proportions of an “epidemic”, Information Commissioner O P Kejriwal said while such an arrangement was a “profitable one for both parties, the only loser would be public morality, which the Commission is duty-bound to protect and promote”.

Complete Article

Monday, May 21, 2007

RTI findings lead to violent threats in Assam

Akhil Gogoi of Golaghat town in Assam has been a beleaguered man for more than a year now. His life under threat, he has been practically forced to go underground following multiple applications under the RTI Act that would bring to light massive corruption by local officials. He is not alone. Namita Subedi, Sanjit Tanti and many others in Assam have also faced violent threats after they questioned the implementation of various schemes through RTI.

As the Secretary of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), an activist group, Akhil Gogoi filed a number of RTI applications on March 2, 2006, seeking information on the implementation of schemes such as Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), Individual Beneficiary Scheme (IBS) and Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) from the concerned departments in Golaghat district. Thereupon, he was targeted by the authorities as a "troublemaker" and beaten up on several occasions. On December 9, 2006, KMSS workers on a cycle rally against the corrupt practices of the local authorities were assaulted, allegedly by Congress goons. Rumours were spread that KMSS was an illegal group and police complaints were filed against Akhil Gogoi and other KMSS members, which led to the arrest of two KMSS members, Mr. Horen Payeng and Mr. Jiten Doley, who were kept in custody for about 3 months.

According to Akhil Gogoi, the concerned departments at first refused to divulge any information under various pretexts. It was only after he approached the state's Chief Information Commissioner in November 2006 that some action was taken, with the Golaghat DRDA divulging the requested information.

[via email from J.N. Borooah www.northeastnetwork.org]
Invoking the provisions of the Right to Information Act, the MDMK today sought details of the expenses incurred in connection with the functions to celebrate DMK Chief M Karunanidhi's 50 years as a legislator. MDMK Headquarters secretary K S Radhakrishnan, in two petitions one to the officer in charge of implementing the act in the Information department and another to the Additional Secretary, Tamil Nadu Assembly, sought details of amounts received for conduct of the functions and from whom.



Complete Article

State Information commission to hear charges against GSHSEB

With more than 35 complaints against the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) for violating the Right to Information Act, the State Information Commission on Monday directed the GSHSEB to remain present before the commission on May 25.

Complaints, made against GSHSEB in order to review the answer sheets of students under the Right To Information Act, will be heard by the State Information Commission on May 25.

Meanwhile, the 'Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel', an initiative of Janpath, has appealed to students and parents to file complaints against the GSHSEB in the State Information Commission if they were denied information asked under RTI.

Complete Article

Student suicide: Parents resort to RTI

After the suicide of Puja Rathod, 18, who jumped to death after getting poor marks in her class XII exam, concerned parents met at Law Garden on Monday and took a pledge to convince the state education board to allow them to see the answer sheets of the board exams with the help of RTI. "More transparency is required in the examination process to prevent incidents like Puja's suicide," said angry guardians who had gathered there.

One of the parents, Sunil Patel, whose daughter appeared for the class XII exam said, "When my daughter was in class X, after many visits and arguments with officers in the board, we had somehow managed to see her answer sheets. On checking them, we found that the totalling was wrong and the final total got increased by 5 marks".

Times of India, Ahmedabad
22.05.2007

RTI Expose: 60% posts vacant in govt engineering colleges

At least 60 per cent teaching posts are vacant in engineering colleges run by the state government, according to details obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A glaring example would be the engineering college in Rajkot, where the sanctioned staff strength of professors, associate professors and lecturers is 36, yet only 10 posts are filled. Worried about the increasing workload in government colleges, a professor, who, fearing action, did not wish to be identified, submitted an RTI application to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and received this eye-opening information.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
22.05.2007

This man keeps digging out official information

Meet Harikumar P. This 24-year-old from the northern Kerala pocket of Kasargod could put a parliamentarian to shame, going by just the volume of Right to Information (RTI) questions he tables.

Since the RTI bug bit him sometime last year, the MBA-qualified education consultant has tabled "around 2,500" questions under this fairly powerful Indian law that entitles the citizen to seek out and obtain a wide range of official information from government officials.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 20, 2007

UPSC reluctant to share info

The Union Public Service Commission's (UPSC) culture of secrecy is not necessarily shared by the various state public service commissions (PSCs). In fact, most state PSCs are more forthcoming with information than the UPSC and are working on increasing transparency levels. Interestingly, the PSCs of states labelled backward, such as UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh seem more progressive when it comes to sharing information on results with candidates than the so-called progressive states like Kerala or Tamil Nadu.

Complete Article

CA uses info Act to cut MTNL line

This is one problem numerous MTNL subscribers have faced at some point of time. Even after surrendering their phones, they have had to wait for months and years together to get the refund of their deposit. Moreover, the department never bothered to send the interest accrued on the deposit to its subscribers.

Now, the Right to Information Act (RTI) has come to the rescue after one such harassed subscriber used the act to get his interest accrued on the refund within 20 days of filing the RTI query.

Kishore Chitalia, a Santacruz resident, was using MTNL’s Garuda mobile phone till April last year. After he surrendered the phone, he applied for the refund. "Inspite of following it up with various MTNL authorities, right up to the general manager level, and sending e-mails, there was no response from them for months together," said Chitalia.

A few weeks later, he happened to attend an RTI seminar organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountancy. "After attending this seminar, I got the idea to file an RTI query on the issue," he said.

Complete Article

'Corporates can seek info under RTI'

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has said that associations including companies and other corporate entities should be considered at par with citizens in their quest for seeking information under the Right to Information Act.

Observing that the RTI Act's objective is to secure access of information to all citizens to promote transparency and accountability, the CIC referred to a number of Supreme Court decisions which did not reject applications from corporate bodies on grounds that they were not natural citizens under the law.

Complete Article

RTI Expose: '2006 Surat floods were manmade'

An independent investigation conducted by a nine-member committee of the Surat's Citizen Council Trust, comprising geo-technical engineers, architects, social studies' experts and advocates - held in its final report that the Surat floods during August 2006 were an entirely manmade affair.

The committee has submitted its final report to the two member Surat Flood Enquiry Commission, initiated by the state government following the tragedy that resulted in a loss of 300 lives and wiped away Rs 20,000 crores worth of property. The report that delved into the land use pattern of the city and past flood data of the city, alongwith contour mapping of the flood plains - pins the blame on a multitude of laxities on the part of the state government.

Complete Article

Consumer Advocates Demand Details Withheld of Lobbying by Enron Bank

Sri Basavaraj Itnal , One of our RTI Crusaders and Indian Express Corresepondent, has won an almost eight month long Battle in the Karnataka information Commission.

His application was made to the BBMP town planning Dept for all building plans sanctioned by the Joint Director of Town Planning between Jan 05 to sept 06, accompained with Commencement certificate and occupancy certificate. A demand of Rs 3.2 lakh was made from him to supply the Documents, plans/Blueprints).

A complaint was lodged with Karnataka Info Comm , and we all argued that the charges are Exorbitant, prohibitive and unreasonable , further we pointed out that the BBMP does not have an suitable Xerox Machine with them and the Blue Printer is out of order, we also pointed that the cost would however around Rs 75 to 90/- .

The BBMP however defended quoteing its Building bye law according to which the copying fee is Rs 300/- per page of Building plan. Sri KK Mishra ordered Palike to make the copying fees reasonable under RTI. He ordered that though the Building Bye law stipulates Rs 300/- any Information sought under RTI Act should be provided to People at affordable cost.

The SCIC ordered BBMP to come out with a revised and realistic fee structure, on tuesday last the BBMP joint director of Town Planning has informed that BBMP will hence forth charge copying fee of Rs 100/- only.

[Posted on the Humjanenge yahoogroup by Mr Vikram Sinha]

EO officials in dock for giving wrong info under RTI Act

Senior officials of the UT Estate Office including the Assistant Estate Officer and one of the law officers are most likely to face the axe as the UT Vigilance Department has indicted both the officials in its inquiry report.

The report has been submitted to the senior officials of the UT Administration. The inquiry was marked on the orders of Adviser to the UT Administrator Lalit Sharma to the Vigilance Department.

Complete Article

Anil uses RTI to seek info on Mukesh's deal

A 7.5-hectare plot at Bandra-Kurla Complex has become the new battleground for the Ambani brothers. After losing the bid to Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) for the said plot, Anil Ambani's Reliance Energy Limited (REL) has sought clarification under Right to Information Act on whether Floor Space Index (FSI) was raised from 1.53 to 4 for this land to benefit Mukesh.

At the same time, Anil's Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group has also filed a case in the Bombay High Court saying norms of bidding were violated. REL claims that the additional FSI gives Mukesh an extra 1,85,000 sq mt of land worth an estimated Rs 7,700 crore. The story goes back to December 2005, when the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) invited bids to develop, operate and maintain a convention and exhibition centre in BKC.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
20.05.2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

CEO seeks ECI advice on RTI notice

From 16th to 26th May, 2007, Andhra Pradesh will witness a state wide campaign covering all its 23 districts during which common citizens will receive information about the Right to Information Act, 2005, and will also get help from volunteers belonging to various civil society organizations in drafting their applications to be submitted under this Act with the purpose of seeking some information from some
government department. The organizations spearheading this campaign are Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU), COVA, Dalit Bahujan Forum, Young India Project, Loksatta, Jan Vignana Vedika, Jan Chaitanya Vedika, Asha Parivar among others. Volunteers will be setting up camps at various district and mandal headquarters as well as other prominent locations and will be available for consultation all day during the above mentioned eleven days. In fact, other enlightened and public spirited citizens who would like to work as volunteers during the campaign, preparations of which are in final stages, can still do so.

If you wish to be part of the campaign or would like any other information please call 9866887299.

Fighting for better roads - through information act

It's a battle for the roads, it's being led by young people, and the tool to fight it is India's two-year-old Right to Information Act. YTF, or the Youth Task Force, describes itself as a 'youth movement committed to fighting against corruption and ensure transparency and accountability in the system'. For a start, its target is to clean up corruption in road projects.

Building on youth power in a country where two-thirds of the population is young, this campaign is taking the help of students of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi and other engineering colleges. Their goal is to dig-up any possibilities of graft and corruption in road-building projects, so that this vital infrastructure improves.

'Our students have filed 48 applications till now. These, in all, cover Rs.4.3 billion worth of projects. The response has been very nice,' Sharma told IANS against the backdrop of a national Right to Information conference here.

Complete Article

Give us our answer sheets: Students

More than 2,000 standard XII science stream students from across the state have asked for copies of their answer sheets from the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) under the Right to Information Act (RTI). This is for the first time in the state that children along with their parents have gone out demanding copies of their answer sheets under the Act.

MAGP, which has been co-ordinating activities of the volunteers, till Thursday received around 2,014 applications from various centres. A state-wide campaign was launched across the state in the last one week and applications from Saurashtra-Kutch, Central, North and South Gujarat regions were being filed with GSHSEB.

Complete Article

'Throw light on CM’s darkened house’

State info commission tells govt to make public report on disconnection of power supply to Deshmukh’s Nagpur residence

The State Information Commission (SIC) has asked the government to make public the fact-finding report prepared six months ago on the disconnection of power supply to Ramgiri — the official residence of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in Nagpur — owing to non-payment of bills.

The deadline set is June 5, 2007. The order was issued by the Chief Information Commissioner, Suresh Joshi, following a hearing with officials from the General Administration Department (GAD) and activist Shailesh Gandhi, who filed a Right to Information (RTI) application.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The right to know everything

Started in Dadar, the year-long RTI mass awareness campaign will later extend up to Kasara and Virar


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A year-long mass awareness campaign on Right to Information Act is being launched by the Mahiti Adhikar Manch, on behalf of the Nani A Palkhivala Trust, 16 May. The campaign proved to be very interactive and useful for few, whereas few felt it was a waste.
The campaign was launched yesterday at 8.30 am at Dadar Station on the Western Railway, new foot over bridge. The campaign will later be extended to selected stations up to Virar station on the Western Railway and up to Kasara on the Central Railway. The campaign will continue at Dadar till tomorrow between 9 am and 7 pm.

Complete Article

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Info commission set for expansion drive

Commission receives a 1,23,577 applications in last quarter of 2006, responds to a remarkable 1,13,081. Flooded with applications, the State Information Commission is now on a major expansion drive with the Maharashtra government already accepting its proposal for three commissioners, in addition to the existing three, to make its functioning smooth. The Commission is also seeking its own registrar to handle the legal administration aspect of its growing work.

Complete Article

Homeless and running

After appeals from the governor and several political leaders failed to move the state government, the Kolkata Police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation in a case of harassment and criminal intimidation, a city-based organisation today made an application under the Right to Information Act.

Applications have been made in relation to the case of Mr Anwar Ali, a resident of Battikal 1st Lane of Garden Reach in Kolkata, who has been living a nomad's life after receiving threats from anti-social elements when he protested against the illegal construction of a building in his area. The matter was taken up by the Asian Human Rights Commission, according to which the goons are backed by the CPI-M. Mr Ali was assaulted many times and forced to leave his house in 2005. Complaints to the police and civic authority did not yield any result. He gave written complaints to the Garden Reach police station, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, the police commissioner and the chief secretary.

Complete Article

RTI Act's effectiveness questioned as complaints pile up

It's a potent law. Yet it's chances for success could be killed by the speedy growth in the number of pending cases piling up at the Centre and states under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Cases are multiplying at both the Central Information Commission and state commissions across India, which are meant to decide on complaints from citizens who feel they got a raw deal when they sought access to official information under the Act.

"Lack of monitoring of this aspect and getting it corrected will lead to a situation like our judicial system - of an unending wait," warns Shailesh Gandhi, a prominent Right to Information campaigner in Mumbai.

Each month, the New Delhi-based Central Information Commission gets some 500-800 complaints per month. Its five commissioners manage to dispose of between 300-500 every month and there were some 3,171 pending complaints by March-end, said Gandhi.

Complete Article

Most RTI applications pertain to group housing societies

With members of cooperative group housing societies facing a lot of problems pertaining to their rights, an analysis of information sought under the Right To Information Act has revealed that of nearly 30,000 applications received by various government departments in the Capital since the enactment of the Act in October 2005, the maximum have pertained to the Registrar of Cooperative Societies.

Also, while 27,055 RTI applications have been disposed of, 2,542 are still pending with various departments, the maximum again being with the Registrar of Cooperative Societies on Parliament Street.

Complete Article

Justice come lately

After appeals from the governor and several political leaders failed to move the state government, the Kolkata Police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation in a case of harassment and criminal intimidation, a city-based organisation today made an application under the Right to Information Act.

Applications have been made in relation to the case of Mr Anwar Ali, a resident of Battikal 1st Lane of Garden Reach in Kolkata, who has been living a nomad's life after receiving threats from anti-social elements when he protested against the illegal construction of a building in his area.

Complete Article

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

RTI pleas aim at exposing SEZ norms

Around 300 applications seeking clarifications and facts regarding land acquisition and other aspects related to special economic zones (SEZs) were filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 by activists in about 16 districts across the country. The applications are likely to be disposed of within the next fortnight. All the retrieved details, regarding the ways and means of creating SEZs, will be put in the public domain by activists groups for scrutiny by civil society.

This was disclosed by social activist and Magsaysay award winner Aruna Roy on Sunday, the concluding day of the two-day national convention of the Right to Information crusaders. More than a hundred activists from 23 states reached a consensus on formulating a 16-point agenda for taking forward the campaign on use of RTI.

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Notice served to PWD in RTI case

The Manipur state chief information officer has served show cause notice to the concerned officials of the state PWD department for failing to provide complete documents within the stipulated time under the Rights to Information Act, 2005 to an individual.

The authorities of the state PWD have to submit a statement as to why the penalty as prescribed under section 20 of the Act and a compensation of Rs. 2100 should not be paid to the individual (appellant) for the loss suffered by him due to the non providing of the complete information by the office of the chief engineer, PWD under the provision of the sub-section 8(b) of section 19 of the Act.

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Plug loopholes, RTI campaigners demand

India, on paper, has a very good law granting citizens the freedom to access official information. But campaigners are impatient to make the law work better and more efficiently. RTI activists across the nation raised their demands at a RTI convention held in Pune on May 12th-13th 2007

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Hazare threatens agitation if RTI Act is amended

Right to Information Act crusader and noted social activist Anna Hazare on Wednesday threatened to launch a nationwide stir if the government enacted amendment to the Right to Information (RTI ) Act. Censuring the move, Hazare stressed that the agitation will go down in the annals of the country’s history as the Second War of Independence. He was addressing mediapersons after the valedictory session of the two-day National convention for RTI crusaders at Firodiya Hall on Sunday evening.

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Laxities abound in RTI forms

It seems that the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has created its own version of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A fleeting glance at the RTI application forms posted on the GSHSEB website reveals that many of the sections, to which an applicant is supposed to refer to while filing an RTI application, has been wrongly added to the form.

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Govt withholds GM food info

Last month, in response to a Right to Information application, the government had refused to share these details.

We should know what we eat. That was the premise on which an environmental group filed a petition under the Right to Information Act last month, asking for specific data on field trials of genetically modified food crops, including their toxicity and allergicity levels.

The Information Commission directed the department of biotechnology to provide this information within 10 days but when the response from the government came it was far from satisfactory.

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CIC denies info on legal opinions received by Govt.

Turning down an RTI application seeking legal opinions as received by the Home Ministry in respect to a Delhi High Court decision, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said divulging such details could compromise the government's position.

"The government's interest or the interest of the public authority shall be irretrievably compromised if the communication between that authority and its counsel is made available to the very parties the government or the authority is contesting," said Information Commissioner A N Tiwari in a recent order.

The CIC's comments came on an RTI appeal of one K G Bafana, who sought copies of legal opinion received by the Home Ministry after the Delhi High Court had directed the government to take a decision on an arbitration award over a particular issue.

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RTI Expose: Guj Govt partisan while distributing cash doles

A group of villagers from Anand district have used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to show that the government has been partisan while distributing cash doles in villages which get routinely inundated during each monsoon.

Bhanu Parmar, a local activist of Khaksar village of Tarapur taluka, recently produced records procured under RTI before the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) to show that distribution of flood compensations have never been a transparent process in the affected villages.

In many cases the names of families in these 42 villages that were compensated paltry sums, were never mentioned in government records.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Parliament did not intend to give people access to file noting under RTI: Pachouri

Less than a year after it made an abortive bid to keep filing notings out of the purview of the right to information (RTI) law, the government on Thursday insisted that the law did not specifically provide for letting the public access filing notings.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) had last year junked this interpretation of the information law, holding that file notings were part of the files that could be accessed under the law.

In his written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel Suresh Pachouri said the RTI law “does not specifically provide for the disclosure of file notings”.

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RTI to let students view answer sheets

THE Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, an initiative of Janpath,
will set up guidance centres in different parts of Gujarat on Saturday to help
students studying in Class XII view their answer sheets under the Right to
Information (RTI) Act.

The results of Class XII (Science) will be declared on Saturday. Guidance
centres will be started in Ahmedabad, Naroda, Dholka, Surat, Vadodara, Jamnagar,
Bharuch, Surendranagar and Mehasana.

Students can file RTI applications to get a copy of their answer sheets in 48
hours with the help of these guidance centres. The guidance centres will
function for three days. Apart from guidance centres, a citizens' orientation
camp will also be organised in Ahmedabad

Complete Article

GIC fines clerk for negligence

State chief information commissioner RN Das imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on a clerk, YN Mati, working with the family welfare division of the Bharuch district panchayat office on Wednesday. This penalty has been imposed for carelessness as the clerk ignored an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The applicant, an Ahmedabad-based environmentalist Mahesh Pandya, had demanded specific details regarding the functioning of the family welfare division at Bharuch district panchayat in August last year. The application was transferred to a clerk Mati, who was supposed to gather information for Pandya.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
10.05.2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

RTI in SIX th Std Syllabus in Maharashtra

Director Maharashtra State Education Research & training informed me (vide letter no 1657 dtd.27.4.07) that the RTI is included in syllabus of 6th Std in topic of Civic Science.

Thanks
vihar

[posted by vihar durve on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

RTI workshop for Pune citizens by YASHADA

Yashada will be organising a training workshop on Right To Information (RTI) for citizens on May 12. The day-long workshop will be held every second Saturday of the month from 10 am to 4 pm. Fees for the workshop are Rs 150 for which entry will be on a first come first serve basis to 50 citizens. The workshop will be held at Lezim hall, Yashada, Baner road. For more details contact: 25608216/243

Complete Article

RTI reveals negligible number of women in SC, HC

The country has a meagre 6.5% women as judges in Supreme Court and 21 High Courts. This information was given by the Department of Justice in response to an application filed under the Right of Information Act by Dev Ashish Bhattacharya.

The High Courts and Supreme Court have a total of 597 judges, out of which only 39 women had made it to these slots in the country's judicial system. While providing the details, Director (Justice) in the Ministry of Law and Justice K Gurtu said there was no women judges in the Supreme Court which has 23 judges. Also, in six High Courts there are no women judges.

Complete Article

RTI Act yet to make an impact in Kolkata

Twenty-six years after he paid for a flat, 76-year-old SK Khettry is nowhere close to gaining possession of the apartment. Since June last year, he has sent 35 applications to different Public Information Officer (PIO), including the Department of Cooperation. Khettry is seeking a copy of the legal opinion from the legal adviser of the department of Cooperation in connection with his flat. But he did not receive a single response.

In desperation, Khettry filed 13 complaints before the West Bengal State Information Commission. But even there he drew a blank.

Complete Article

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

RTI awareness in Maharashtra phenomenally high

Marked by relentless campaigning by activists and media, Maharshtra has recorded highest number of interventions under Right to information Act in 2006.

"Dogged efforts of social activists like Anna Hazare and Shailesh Gandhi, along with media support has evoked a phenomenally high response from people of Maharashtra compared to other states," S V Joshi, Chief Information Commissioner of the state, said.

Since the implementation of RTI Act in October 2005, till December 2006, 1.24 lakh applications were received. Of this 1.13 lakh were disposed of.

Andhra Pradesh, which implemented RTI Act at the same time, received 8,864 queries, of which 7,574 had been cleared. "At the Centre, till March 2006 applications received were 24,436 and 21,049 disposed of. Even if we double the applications received to approximately 50,000 still it remains far behind Maharashtra," Joshi said.

Of the 33 departments in the state, maximum applications have been for Urban Development department (23,552), followed by Revenue (17,629), Rural Development (11,921), Housing (8,801), Home (8,236), Industries, Energy and Labour (7,501), Cooperation (6,692) among others.

Complete Article

PMT, PCMT delay giving info under RTI act to citizens' society

Sajag Nagrik Manch's activist Jugal Rathi has written to the State Information Commissioner alleging delay in getting information from the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Transport authorities - PMT and PCMT - sought under threat to life provisions in the Right to Information (RTI) act.

Complete Article

RTI to find out details about Bhopal Gas waste

Following the proposed move to dump Bhopal Gas tragedy waste in Ankleshwar, an Ankleshwar-based activist Ziya Pathan filed an application in Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday.

Vadodara based environment activist Rohit Prajapati on Monday filed a RTI Act application seeking details of all correspondence regarding transfer of waste from the Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) factory to Ankleshwar for incineration. Prajapati, in his application, sought copies of all documents and correspondence regarding this matter, including correspondence between and/or documents issued by GPCB, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Bharuch Enviro-Infrastructure Ltd, and the Government of India.

Complete Article

Showcause to IIT Kharagpur

IIT Kharagpur has been showcaused by the Central Information Commission for not providing a professor with information on its entrance examination within the time permitted by the Right to Information Act.

IIT teacher Rajeev Kumar had asked the institute in September for the procedure followed in deciding the physics, chemistry and mathematics cut-off marks for the IIT JEE.

According to the law, a government body can take a maximum of 45 days to provide an information.

Complete Artile

Hashimpura, Maliana riot victims move under RTI

http://www.indianmuslims.info/news/2007/may/08/hashimpura-maliana-riot-victims-move-under-rti.html

As many as 350 Muslim families, whose near and dear ones were brutally killed by PAC forces at point blank range in the Hashimpura and Maliana riots on May 22 and 23, 1987, are all set to file petitions before the Right to Information Commissioner here. Under Right to Information Act 2006, they want to know where the 63 PAC jawans including Commandant Tripathi of Battalion 42 (who had carried the PAC action) are deployed at present, how many times they have been promoted during the last 20 years since the riots, and what departmental actions were taken against these erring police officials for committing the massacre. Their petitions are likely to spill the beans as soon as they are filed and action is taken on them.

Complete Article

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sikri gets some information, still away from getting details

Senior diplomat Veena Sikri will get to look at some papers relating to the foreign secretary’s appointment but it is still uncertain how far she will get.

The Central Information Commission on Monday ordered the Cabinet Secretariat to produce all documents concerning foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon’s appointment for the commission’s perusal next week to figure out if it was possible to disclose information without unwarranted invasion into privacy of other candidates concerned.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Over 3,000 RTI appeals pending

If you have filed a complaint with the Chief Information Commission (CIC) under the Right To Information Act, seeking details about, say, your income tax refunds, there is every possibility that you may have to wait for several months altogether to get a response.

Data available reveals that as many as 3,171 complaints and appeals were pending with the CIC till the end of March 2007. A pendency of over 200 complaints has been building up every month over the last one year even though the CIC has been clearing nearly 400 complaints and appeals in the same period.

Complete Article

Land sharks grab deals with doctored info

On July 24, 2006, Champaklal Kantilal Shah's wife Sulochana was declared a widow by the Records of Rights (RoR) appellate of the revenue department. This mother of two kids was also told that Shah had four more sons and daughters! Almost a year later, septuagenarian Shah rose from the dead records in the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) office to prove he was alive and kicking! And that he had fathered no more than two children.

If you are wondering what hit him, Shah, like many others, is caught in the web of lies spun in the revenue records as part of a major land scam masterminded by the land sharks in the state. It is one of the ways land sharks in Ahmedabad district, after conniving with local village talatis, go about buying huge tracts of agricultural land without possessing a legal farmer's certificate.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
07.05.2007

Goregaon citizens' campaign against concrete plant yields result

Protests by residents of Gokuldham in Goregaon (East) regarding setting up of a concrete plant in their area were finally heard when on Saturday night the equipment were moved from the area. The ready-mix concrete plant was assembled by Dynamix Group for its mega project of constructing three 45-storayed towers at Gokuldham.

Ever since the resident first sighted the equipment of the plant, they did their research on the Internet and found out the hazards caused by such a ready-mix concrete plant. "Cement causes certain diseases like skin irritations, allergies, infections to eyes and Silicosis, something that is incurable," he added.

The residents had also dashed off a right to information (RTI) application to the municipal ward office and were waiting their reply. "Essentially, this type of plants do not meet the pollution norms needed for its set up in residential areas. Our campaign was a preventive exercise so that we don't suffer later," said another resident, Pradeep Inani.

Complete Article

Bihar comes under fire for suppressing police brutality

The government of Bihar has come under fire for allegedly suppressing the killing of three brothers in a fake police shootout last year in a bid to save the skin of a ruling party legislator, although police claim they were criminals killed during crossfire.

People's Watch, the human rights body that raised the issue, alleged the Nitish Kumar-led government had attempted to protect the interests of the legislator involved in it. Gladson Dungdung, a People's Watch spokesperson, said the state government had violated the Right to Information (RTI) Act. "The government has not responded to an application filed under the RTI for information on the case even after 35 days," he said.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 03, 2007

UPSC challenges order to disclose examination marks

The Union Public Service Commission Thursday moved the Delhi High Court challenging its single bench order to disclose the cut-off marks of the 2006 Civil Service Preliminary Examinations as well as the individual scores of the candidates and the grading system in various subjects.

Filing a review petition, the UPSC, the government recruitment agency, has sought the direction of the court to set aside its April 17 order by Justice B.D. Ahmed, endorsing the Central Information Commission's (CIC) order on the need for transparency in UPSC examination pattern and the evaluation process of the answer sheets.

Complete Article

Guj SIC quashes RBI circular

Providing a relief to co-operative banks and private banks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clarified that both cooperative banks and private banks do not fall under the purview of Right to Information Act(RTI), hence the Act cannot be used to seek information from these banks. However, in
case of the complaint against Unja Market Yard, the RTI Act was used. Following this, tepresentations were made to information commissioner RN Das against the use of the RTI Act despite the fact that cooperative societies do not fall under the purview of the Act. As a result, the information commissioner quashed the circular exempting cooperative societies.

Complete Article

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

RTI Effect: IT refund within 20 days of filing RTI

Mehul Shah, Ahmedabad receives IT return REFUND Amount 8200 + 1900 = Rs.10100 for the f.y. 2002~2003; and 2003~2004 within 20 days after filing rti application.

Mehul is continuously sending followup letters to Gandhinagar Branch of IT dept for last 3~4 years for his hard earned money towards IT refund amount. However almost 10 letters were not responded by the IT department.

3 weeks back a RTI application filed requesting seeking information about
(1) the name of the officer attending all 10 followup letters
(2) Copy of the circular for interest to be paid for delayed return
(3) file inspection
(4) Amount of REFUND for each f.y.
(5) Interest to be paid as per circular for each financial year

Suprisingly within 3 week the Cheques sent by IT dept. However response for RTI application still WAITING.

Thanks to RTI....

Darshan
Ahmedabad
[posted on the humjanenge yahoogroup]

Orissa SIC dismal performance!

Money granted to Bar was meant for villages

The huge amounts of money granted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Council and Association for renovation and beautification of the Bar was actually meant for development of villages and farmers. In its reply to an application filed by a Jalandhar-based resident under the Right to Information Act, the Punjab government said the amount of over Rs 2 crore granted to the Bar by the Congress government in the last four years was diverted from the Rural Development and Panchayat and Small Savings funds.

Complete Article

Answersheets shown in Imphal under RTI

When Salam Prashanta Singh was told in November that he had failed to clear the written test for joining the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) as a jamadar/sub-inspector, the 24-year-old BSc graduate felt he had to take a look at his answer-sheet to be sure he had been marked accurately. After requests to the DPC Commissioner conducting the exam failed to elicit any response, Singh resorted to the newly introduced Manipur Right to Information Act and applied to joint secretary Th Chittaranjan, the State Public Information Officer (SPIO), Department of Home, on November 30 for the permission to see his answer-sheet.

The CIO has also asked the SPIO to show cause why he should not be penalised Rs 250 per day after the final decision till the records were made available to the complainant. Singh—presently employed as a medical representative—told The Indian Express after viewing his answer-sheet in the presence of CO, 1 IRB and an examiner, that he was satisfied with the marking.

"After I was declared unsuccessful, I felt I had done well enough to get the pass marks (23 out of 60). I had passed the physical test as well. The examiner pointed out grammatical errors and other mistakes. I'm happy that I could satisfy my doubt through the RTI Act."

Complete Article

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