Sunday, September 30, 2007

Legislature should insulate RTI from being misused

The legislature should take steps to insulate the Right to Information Act from being misused by people facing inquiries and investigations, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said. The Commission's observation came after the Income Tax office expressed its disgust over Mumbai resident S P Goyal, who has filed numerous RTI applications with the department, leading to substantial diversion of its resources and also affecting its functioning.

Complete Article

Saturday, September 29, 2007

GIC finally gets staff, resources

After brooding for nearly 10 months, the chief minister’s office (CMO) finally sanctioned the appointment of additional staff for the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC). The state information commission for more than a year was literally crippled without adequate staff. GIC has been one of the foremost agencies for promoting transparency in government functioning in Gujarat.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
29.09.2007

CIC sends showcause notice to CBI cop for withholding info

An RTI application focusing on a particular operation carried out in 2001-02 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Gandhinagar has seen a showcause notice being issued to the then superintendent of police, Rahul Sharma, heading the unit. The Central Information Commission (CIC), Delhi has served a showcause notice to Sharma, who is now posted in Mumbai as deputy inspector general, CBI. The notice pertains to nationwide scrutiny of transactions of all Naphtha importers and dealers, and other petroleum adulterants. The operation was carried out on the basis of orders issued by the Gujarat High Court.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
29.09.2007
Rahul Mangaonkar | TNN

Lokayukta tried to influence decision, says MP CIC

The ongoing spat between the Lokayukta and the Madhya Pradesh Chief Information Commissioner took a new turn with the CIC's revelation that Mr Justice Ripusudan Dayal had attempted to influence his decision bringing in the Lokayukta under the purview of Right to Information Act. The Lokayukta had already approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the CIC order, bringing the Lokayukta, Economic Offences Investigation Bureau and Criminal Investigation Department under its ambit.

In a recent order, CIC P P Tiwari said only intelligence and security agencies could be exempted from the purview of section 24.4 of the Right to Information Act.In his order sheet, Mr Tiwari noted that on August 21 Mr Justice Dayal had attempted to influence his decision during talks on a visit to his house. Mr Tiwari also noted that the Lokayukta's act of interfering in judicial process, prima facie,
amounted to contempt of court and therefore the case is reserved pending consideration of further action.

Complete Article

Thursday, September 27, 2007

RTI Act can't destroy established norms: CIC

''The RTI Act has not been enacted to satisfy an individual's curiosity about who did what in a given decision making process,'' Information Commissioner A N Tiwari remarked in a recent decision. ''Can this Act be treated as a sledge-hammer to destroy every established norm of public administration? If allowed, this could become an invitation to systematic chaos'' he observed.

The Commission was hearing an application of a Delhi resident V Raj who had sought from Law Ministry names and designations of officers involved in the process of drafting and preparation of the Right to Information Bill. The Legislative department of the ministry, while allowing the applicant access to all relevant files and documents related to drafting of the legislation, had declined to specify the name of any officers involved in the process.

Complete Article

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Judicial proceedings beyond RTI Act's purview: CIC

In a landmark decision, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that judicial proceedings of all courts and tribunals are beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act.

"...a judicial authority must function with total independence and freedom. Should it be found that an action initiated under the RTI Act impinges upon the authority of that judicial body, the Commission will not authorise the use of the RTI Act for any such disclosure requirement," a full bench headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in its 22-page order.

Complete Article

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

SC rules not inconsistent with RTI act: CIC

The Central Information Commission has acknowledged differences between RTI act and the Supreme Court in practices and procedures when it comes to accessing judicial files but said there is no "inherent inconsistency" between the two regarding disclosure of information in the files.

Complete Article

MP Information Commission pushes PIOs to follow the RTI Act

The Madhya Pradesh State Information Commission has issued an important decision on the appeal of Right to Information (RTI) applicant Rolly Shivhare against the public information officer (PIO) and First Appellate authority of department of women and child development. In order to make the RTI more effective, it has made it clear that any application received by a department cannot be rejected or dismissed even if it is not pertaining to that public information officer (PIO) or office of the department but will be forwarded to the concerned PIOs of the department for information. It will be the responsibility of the public information officer to forward the application to the concerned department within a period of five days and inform the applicant. At the same time, the chief information commissioner Padmapani Tiwari has given a show cause notice to the PIO in the state directorate of women and child development department as to why they should not be penalized under the provisions of Right to Information Act 2005.

Complete Article

Monday, September 24, 2007

Employees mindset needs drastic change

The mind set of the employees needs a drastic change in the wake of the new "information regime" in vogue, according to State Information Commissioner P Faziluddin. Delivering the keynote address at the workshop on the Right To Information (RTI) Act, organised by the Mahatma Gandhi University here on Monday, Faziluddin opined that the Act was the most revolutionary legislation since Independence. It has strong provisions to empower the people, ensure transparency
and enhance participatory democracy. Employees should remember that they are servants of the people and not their masters.

Complete Article

Sunday, September 23, 2007

2 yrs after RTI, govt goes whole hog on it

With elections due soon, the state government has conveniently woken up to its obligations under RTI —that of proactively disseminating information and creating awareness on exercising the rights envisaged under it. This after almost two years of RTI being in existence. Earlier, the General Administration Department (GAD) had permitted all public authorities, under administrative control of all departments of the state government to spend up to Rs 5 lakh each on RTI awareness. Particularly, the disadvantaged communities. The chief minister’s office may be stifling the Gujarat Information Commission by sitting on the file allocating resources to it, but the GAD now has asked for consolidated collection and spend on RTI awareness.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
23.09.2007

Are subjects in public service exams relevant?

Is there any relevance of subjects that are included in the examinations conducted by the Gujarat Public Services Commission (GPSC) for posts of Class I and Class II officers to the state civil services? Vadodara’s Jashoda Gohil’s RTI query seeking this justification from the GPSC, also questioned the process involved in the whole system of selection. The GPSC replied that for recruitment to any post, during personal interviews, all matters are ‘seen’ and therefore no separate rules or procedures were framed in writing.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
23.09.2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Come clean on promotions, CIC orders UPSC

In a decision that could open the floodgates to service-related queries, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has overruled the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and ordered it to disclose proceedings of the highly confidential department promotion committees (DPCs).

Complete Article

RTI officers cost tax payers dearly

The Burning Brain Society an NGO has asked for information on the commission itself and what it costs the taxpayer. The NGO found out through the Right to information Act that none of the nine information commissioners have attended more than five hearings a month. ''This year the budget of the Information Commission is more than three crore. Last year it was approximately Rs two crore so the per hearing cost of Punjab state information commission comes to around Rs 30,000. And with the new Budget it comes to around Rs 5,000 per hearing and if you add to the fact that no information commissioner works for more than two days or three days or at the most five days in a month, so there are just five hearings of two hours or three hours during in the entire month,'' said Hemant Goswami, RTI activist.

Complete Article

Friday, September 21, 2007

'What Constitution? Govt puts retired bureaucrats in top

Top bureaucrats of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's government have been sent running for cover by a simple query put up in a right to information (RTI) application. How did the government appoint three retired chief secretaries to posts not permitted by Article 319 of the Constitution? How indeed!

On May 16, one Amitabha Chowdhury of a non-governmental organisation filed an RTI with just one question: How did the government appoint Rathin Sengupta, N Krishnamurthy and Sourin Roy to the Human Rights Commission after they had retired from the PSC? Chowdhury has also asked for the file notings.

Complete Article

K'taka IC rules Money Order acceptable mode of payment under RTI

Sri. K A Thippeswamy, Information Commissioner, Karnataka ordered that payment made through Money Order is an acceptable mode of payment under RTI Act. One Mr. Gautham, a management Student had sought information from Inspector General of Registration. the IGR had demanded a further fees of Rs.22/- towards cost of providing information. Mr. Gautham sent the amount through Money order and the same was returned by the PIO stating that MO is not a recognised mode of payment. This was challenged before the KIC. Mahithi Hakku Adhyayana Kendra argued that Money Order is nothing but payment of cash through an authorised representative and hence return of MO is in violation of Karntaka Right to Information Rules. The KIC directed the PIO to supply information free of cost. It also ordered that Money Order is a recognised mode of payment and hence denial of MO is in violation of the Karnataka RTI Rules.

[posted on the HJ group by B.H. Veeresha, Mahithi Hakku Adhyayana Kendra, Bangalore]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

For delaying info, Kutch TDO fined Rs 25,000

Another government officer has been fined for delaying information under the RTI in the state. Coming down heavily on excuses given for delaying information-'important work' and 'on leave' - the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) has asked Bhachau Taluka Development Officer (TDO), M B Rao to pay up Rs 25,000 as penalty.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
19.09.2007

Jumbo Kerala State Information Commission likely soon

Even as the State Information Commission (SIC) is handicapped by the shortage of administrative staff and starved of funds for its routine tasks, the Government is planning to add five more members to the commission who will draw Chief Secretary-level pay and perks.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) is learnt to have already apportioned off the five positions among its leading partners, supporting sceptics' view that political parties would, in due course, turn the commission on its head.

Complete Article

CIC pulls up ONGC for delay in RTI query

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up state-run energy firm ONGC for failing to set up an expeditious information redressal system under the Right to Information Act. The order came on an application of a Baroda resident S K Jain who was denied an appropriate response in respect of a query within the stipulated time limit. The CIC also directed the ONGC chairman to review the company's arrangements in responding to RTI queries.

Complete Article

Minutes of Management Committees of school is public information: IC Ansari

Here is an interesting decision by Prof Ansari concerning Directorate of Education & Poorna Prajna Public School of New Delhi.

Appellant Shri D.K. Chopra had asked for minutes of the Managing Committee (MC) besides other information. The minuted of the MC was not provided on the grounds that "under Delhi Education Act, the documents which could be obtained, are specified under Annexure-II in which the document, namely minutes of the meeting of the Managing Committee of schools is not included."

Prof. Ansari ruled besides many things that "An official of the GNCT of Delhi is nominated by the Directorate of Education as a member of the Management Committee of all the schools. The nominated member of the Directorate of Education is therefore the custodian of the minutes of the MCs under section 5(4) of the RTI Act. And, there is no reason why such minutes, reflecting the aspects of governance of the school, should not be put in public domain."

Check full decision at the following link
http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_12092007_07.pdf

[Posted by Manoj Pai on HJ]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

RTI rubbishes 'agro power theft' story

Implementation of the much hyped Jyotigram scheme (JGS) — the project that has brought 24-hour power to rural homes across the state — has laid bare the government claims that the agriculture sector is the main culprit when it comes to power theft.
Response to petitions under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, have revealed that feeders dedicated to JGS — supplying only to residential users — report more theft than those dedicated purely to agriculture. The statistics are likely to give ammo to a section of farm leaders just ahead of the elections.

Complete Article

SC within purview of RTI: CJI

He also dispelled the notion that the Supreme Court was not within the purview of Right to Information Act.

"No the apex court is not out of the purview of RTI Act. We have been providing all information to the information seekers and there have been hundreds of application," he said when asked about it.

Complete Article

Files and Records Inspection carried out at RTO Pune

A files and records inspection was carried out by me and a team of journalist activists at the Regional Transport Office onTuesday, September 19, between 4.30 to 6 p.m.

This was the first ever inspection of files and records of the RTO under the NRTI Act. During scutiny of papers relating to the "choice numers" were found missing from the files, allotted choice numbers on payment were not in the register, choice numbers from two wheeler series were illegally alloted to four wheelers, while ordinary people were denied the choice numbers, letters strongly recommending choice numbers by Ministers, Chief Minister Office, prominent politicians and government officials were found in the files.

[posted by Shahid Burney on HJ]

Maharashtra Prison Dept. open to info about Dutt's Yeravada stay

The Maharashtra Prisons Department has no reservations about furnishing any information regarding the three-week stay of actor Sanjay Dutt in Yeravada jail in August following his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, a top official said today.

Complete Article

Monday, September 17, 2007

Judiciary's contempt for the pen

Recently, an individual invoked the Right to Information Act to demand from the Supreme Court a list of all the complaints received against various high court judges in the last two years. The apex court said that such information was not within its custody. Delhi high court suo motu initiated contempt proceedings against Mid Day journalists for publishing a story questioning the acts of former chief justice of India (CJI) Y K Sabharwal. The message to the media was loud and clear - you dare not write anything against the courts.

Complete Article

Rajasthan padyatra highlights pressing rural problems

A recently-concluded 10-day padyatra of 300 villages in four districts around Jaipur highlighted the problems of land acquisition for SEZs, forced jatropha planting for bio-diesel, removal of restrictions on the sale of land owned by SC/ST groups, better implementation of the NREG and RTI Acts, and social security for workers in the unorganised sector. Schemes like the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) (in which Rajasthan leads the states in terms of employment generated) are being poorly implemented: workers are being denied the promised minimum wage of Rs 73 per day. There is opacity in a large number of government decisions. RTI applications are gathering dust in public offices: the 30-day time limit is routinely violated. Red tape is rife. Public information boards are missing from panchayat offices. Corruption has not been brought to an end. And this in a state that birthed the idea
of people's right to information.

Complete Article

RTI hai na

First there were 'baseless allegations'. Now there is RTI. Politicians are suddenly taking to RTI. Recently, Opposition leader Arjun Modhvadia used this right to find out if any budgetary allocation was made for any of Modi's magnanimous projects like the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana, Sagar Khedu or Garib Samruddhi Yojana. And he was told by the urban development department there was no such thing on record. With a sense of victory, Modhvadia offered to step down from public life if Modi could prove any such allocation made in the 2007-08 budget book. Shows how this act is helping politicians 'prove' allegations.

Times of India, Ahmedabad
17.09.2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Replicate Bihar model RTI act: Arvind Kejriwal

Magassay award winner Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday urged the Delhi government to replicate the Bihar RTI model where applicants use helpline services, saying it would simplify the procedure of filing the applications. "We will have to simplify the process of filing the RTI applications. The applicant does not know how to draft an RTI application," he said at a seminar on Right To Information Act organised by YMCA here.

Complete Article

Authorities shouldn't penalise information seekers: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has observed that authorities should ensure that no action is taken against persons seeking information under the Right to Information Act. The observation came during the hearing of a RTI application by city
resident Harish Tripathi, who had sought details of certain dues of the Delhi Gymkhana Club pending with the government.

Complete Article

Information on Dogra’s recall not of “public interest”

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that disclosure of the government's correspondence and notings on the recall of senior IFS officer Harish Kumar Dogra as High Commissioner to New Zealand cannot be regarded as a matter of "public interest", thereby restricting their access under the Right to Information Act.

Complete Article

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Smells like a scam: ONGC dealt with 14 firms secretly

ONGC received a rap on its knuckles over the allegedly "dubious" gas deals that the public sector corporation entered in with 14 different client / firms. The CIC is miffed because the ONGC declined to name these 14 companies, despite these owing ONGC a principal arrear amount of Rs 16.18 crores. The interest between 1992 and 2004 has gone up to a whopping Rs 55.04 crores. An appeal filed by an individual called S K Jain was upheld by the CIC where he had demanded the names of these 14 defaulters be made public along with the amount they owed the ONGC separately.

Complete Article

RTI Act gives hope to anti-AFSPA protestors in Manipur

Many people are fasting for five days (13-17 September) in Keishampat junction, Imphal, Manipur, to lobby more support to Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been fasting since past 7 years, demanding to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
They declared today that an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) shall be filed in Prime Minister's office (PMO) to help the cause. Delhi-based RTI activist Suchi Pandey shall file the application.

The reports of Jeevan Reddy Commission 2004 and Veerappa Moily Administrative Reforms Committee earlier haven't been made public, and RTI application shall be filed in PMO demanding information related to the status of these two reports and actions taken on the recommendations, said Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey.

Complete Article

Friday, September 14, 2007

Section 8 of RTI act [J&K 2007] blocks info on Human Rights

State is shortly going to have an information commission but with un-amended section 8, it would be inapt in revealing information with regard to Human Rights violations, alleged custodial killings, disappearances and details of judicial and magisterial inquiries ordered so far.

Complete Article

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Information Commissions ineffective, rue RTI activists

Civil rights activists from the region have alleged that State Information Commissions in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were not doing their jobs efficiently and honestly. ''They are rather acting in a biased manner to accommodate corrupt bureacracy'' they alleged during an interaction with the media here today.

Complete Article

'Anti-RTI statement' by IGNOU info officer infuriates CIC

IGNOU's denial to disclose file notings under the Right to Information Act has brought the university's information officer under a severe attack from the Central Information Commission (CIC).

"Would this mean that the Public Information Officer (PIO) is not aware of the provisions of the RTI Act and so many decisions of the Commission allowing inspection of file notings?," Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal asked in a recent order.

Complete Article

There for the knowing

The Rights and Wrongs of It: the Right to Information, edited by Bhabesh Das and Rajiv K. Bhattacharyya, is an anthology of essays that rumble with discontent, questioning the amended RTI law. In the Preface, the editors admit that they have not been able to put together the last word on the subject.

Book: The Rights And Wrongs of IT: The Right to Information Edited by Bhabesh Das and Rajiv K. Bhattacharyya, Gangchil, Rs 700

Complete Article

SRA fined for not helping Ribeiro

The State Information Commission (SIC) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1,000 on the assistant public information officer of Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) for not providing Rebeiro information about the slum project located at Juhu. Rebeiro had asked about the details of the SRA project undertaken by Kunal builders at Juhu.

Complete Article

RTI Expose: Dr Fake playing with human lives

CNN-IBN's Special Investigation Team decided to expose the dirty side of doctors. Using the Government's Right to Information tool, the team found out just how many people are currently working as doctors in many top hospitals of the country when the Medical Council of India (MCI) isn’t even recognizing their MBBS degrees. The team got a list of 53 doctors and tracked down some of them.

Complete Article

'I' in CID stands for 'intelligence'

If additional Director General of Police O P Mathur is to be believed, CID is now 'Criminal Intelligence Department'. In a last ditch attempt to escape accountability under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Mathur has submitted before the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) that “CID stands for criminal intelligence department and therefore, falls under the category of security agency.”

TOI had filed an RTI application on the Sohrabuddin encounter case, on which, the CID had denied information, stating a state government notification exempting it from RTI. This exemption has been challenged and is being heard at GIC.

Complete Article

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Goltim VP asked to submit report on illegal construction

The Goa State Information Commission has directed the secretary of the village panchayat of Goltim-Navelim (Divar), to intimate by October 3, 2007, the action the panchayat has taken on the complaint about an alleged illegal construction made by a party after due enquiry and investigation. The application or complaint was made against the party by one Mr H Sequeira of Saiba Vaddo, Piedade, Goltim, Divar.

Complete Article

Kerala IC performance stats

The State Information Commission has received 3,992 references during the current year of which 342 are complaints and 307 are appeals, said the Chief Information Commissioner Palat Mohandas here on Monday. During 2006-07, the Commission received 6,870 references of which 580 were complaints and 323 were appeals. The Commission disposed 392 cases, that is 43 per cent of the references received. Mr. Mohandas said that 37 officials had been penalised for failure in providing information as per the references received and a total penalty of Rs. 4.5 lakh had been realised.

Complete Article

GADVASU in RTI embroil

Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) seems to heading for a major showdown with the State Information Commission. The university has not only refused to give information to an applicant, but is also not attending the summons of the Commission. This is being done on the plea that they have received no notice from the Commission.

Complete Article

J&K RTI Amendments - Urgent Action Appeal

The State Government pushed the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2007 through both Houses of the Legislature even though MLAs and MLCs called upon the Government to refer the Bill to a joint select committee of both houses. The Amendment Bill is likely to be presented to the Governor soon. The Amendments are inadequate because they do not provide for the citizens seeking information from the public bodies in Jammu and Kashmir the same guarantees and protections available to citizens in other parts of the country under the Central Right to Information Act, 2005

To access CHRI's analysis of the Amendments please Click Here

You may like to convey the following message to the Honourable Governor
of Jammu and Kashmir :

Your Excellency / Dear sir,

"We strongly urge you to use your constitutional powers and withhold assent to the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2007 passed recently by the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature. The proposal to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2004 is indeed commendable and long overdue. However the amendments fall short of the standards of guarantee and protection provided for the citizens' right to information in other parts of the country under the Central Right to Information Act, 2005. There has been no visible public consultation on these amendments. We urge you to return the Amendment Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration."

By Email to rajjk@nic.in

By Fax, Telephone or Surface Mail (speed post / courier / inland letter/ post card) to

Lt. Gen (retd.) S K Sinha
The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir
Governor's Secretariat
Raj Bhavan
Srinagar - 190 001
Fax:0194-2501414

With a copy to the Governor's Principal Secretary

Dr. Arun Kumar, IAS
Governor's Secretariat
Srinagar - 190 001
Fax: 0194- 2501414

Monday, September 10, 2007

Info panel’s new address, leaves public in daze

The Central Information Commission has now shifted to August Kranti Bhawan, Bhikaji Cama Place. This has resulted in confusion as most people are still unaware of the new location. The Chief Information Commissioner, however, described this as “shifting pains which would be gradually sorted out. Hearings have started taking place at the new premises.

Complete Article

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rs 20,000 fine for Railways

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has turned the heat on North-Eastern Railways for not providing the information sought by a complainant about a senior railway official. Furious at the sloppy manner in which railway officials responded to the queries of a complainant, the CIC has ordered a compensation of Rs 20,000 to the complainant. The CIC has also ordered that the compensation money be recovered
from the salaries of the persons who dealt with the issue and the compensation money has to be given by September 21, 2007. The CIC order (NoCIC/00014) came in response to an RTI application filed by a person who had sought details of D.K. Midha, a senior section engineer (tracks) in Bareilly.

Complete Article

Governor refers plaint against Uttar Pradesh CIC

Chief information commissioner of UP, Justice MA Khan, has come under cloud following charges of corruption and poor quality of judgments levelled against him in a complaint filed before governor TV Rajeswar. The governor has referred it to the government for scrutiny and has asked that the report be submitted to him at the earliest. However, terming allegations against him false and baseless, Khan said that he had not committed anything wrong.

Complete Article

CIC help sought on turban issue

Failure of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to provide minutes of the meetings held between the Union government and their French counterparts on the restriction of wearing turbans by Sikh students to schools in France within 30 days under the Right To Information Act, Chandigarh-based applicant Singh Legal Foundation has now taken up the case with the central information commission for penalising the respondent.

Complete Article

300 police posts in Mumbai illegal, unauthorised

Police posts in Mumbai are breaking the law. More than 300 police posts (beat chowkies) in the city have no sanction either from the home department or the municipal corporation. Around 21 police posts have been built from funds provided by builders and private companies. That's the startling fact Mumbai resident Indur Kartar Chhugani got from the state Home Ministry after filing a Right to Information
(RTI) application. "These chowkies have been constructed without BMC permissions and they do not pay municipal tax. They steal power from nearby shops, buildings or lamp-posts and many of them have been funded by some builder or with someone with a vested
interest," says Chhugani.

Complete Article

Friday, September 07, 2007

387 farmer suicides in 4 years

Around 400 farmers committed suicide in the state since 2003, for reasons ranging from financial debts, failed crop, health ailments to jilted relationships and 6,055 died `accidentally' or for `unexplained reasons', as per the data released by the office of the Director General of Police under RTI. Pointing at variance in the data provided by both these public authorities, Jhala said, "According to agriculture department, compensation has been given to 1,909 families. Which means 4,146 families haven't been compensated for their loss, if compared to the police data. Not convinced by the explanation given for accidental deaths, Gujarat Information Commissioner R N Das has asked the police to get complete details as sought by Jhala

Complete Article

Why were letters delivered at old address? asks paralysed man

Rakesh Talwar approaches the SIC to know the contents of the official letters related to his compensation. Rakesh Talwar, who was paralysed after falling into an uncovered manhole, has approached the State Information Commission (SIC) for its intervention in his case. The victim has asked the SIC to probe why the official letters sent to him were delivered on his old address. Last year, on the Independence Day, Talwar was given Rs 1 lakh grant by the then chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Complete Article

SBI Cards accessible under RTI

The CIC ruled that SBI Cards was a public authority, as SBI owns more than 51 per cent shares in the JV and that SBI Cards are the products of SBI as they carry the brand name and logo of SBI. It said that SBI cannot wash-off its responsibility and ensure that some agency is available to answer question by citizens seeking information about their own cards.

Complete Article

IFCI a public authority: CIC

When Mumbai-based lawyer VT Gokhale filed a request with the Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a response wasn't forthcoming. IFCI produced a certificate from the government that said it wasn't a `public body'. Therefore, the company argued, it was outside the purview of the RTI and did not have to respond to the request.

But Gokhale persisted and went to the Central Information Commission (CIC) challenging the validity of the certificate issued by the government. In a recent ruling, the CIC favoured Gokhale, pulled by IFCI, declared the certificate it held `invalid' and urged government departments and ministries to refrain from issuing such certificates. "Whether an entity is a public authority or not is to be determined only under the RTI Act," it ruled.

Complete Article

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

RTI short Film Contest by Creative Commons

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of India's independence, Creative Commons India is organizing a short film contest, on "Better governance through Right To Information". We at Creative Commons [ CC, India ] feel that the effective use of the Right to Information is really critical for creating better governance models across the length and breadth of our country. The CC movement and the RTI campaign commonly believe that information made available either through disclosure or through liberal copyright licensing is a great public asset. Such ease of access can play a decisive role in creating more transparency, accountability and hopefully more citizen participation in daily governance. Creative Commons [CC], India seeks to provide a decisively more flexible approach to copyrighting. It believes in empowering the user by voluntarily waving away some of its copyrights. Contestants are invited to make a short film up to 5 minutes in length in Hindi or English on preferably a true dramatization of 'Better governance through Right To Information'.

The Films on a CD must reach Prof. Shishir Jha by OCTOBER 14, 2007. The top 5 films will be given exciting awards and chosen for viewing at Avenues at a special prize distribution ceremony.

For more details visit http://www.sjmsom-avenues.org

[Posted by Shailesh Gandhi on HJ]

Tilak Maharashtra University offering course in RTI

Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, a University established in memory of our great leader Shri Lokmanya Tilak, at: Gultekadi, Pune is offering 1 years course in consumer law. They have included Right to Information Act as a full paper study of 100 marks s compulsory for all students who are joining this course This course is available in Full time mode as well as in distance mode. Even for distance mode, the practical is compulsory. The pratical contains how to draft application and procedure everything.

[posted by Mr Govind on the HJ group]

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Judicial bodies may come under RTI

The chief information commissioner (CIC) office is set to come out with a ruling which may define the extent of applicability of the right to information (RTI) over judicial or quasi-judicial bodies. It pertains to a case relating to the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), Delhi, where some specific information about a case was denied.

Complete Article

PAC custodial killers get good conduct certificate: RTI reveals

More than 40 Muslims were massacred by UP state paramilitary force PAC in Hashimpura. The survivors and relatives of victims are fighting a long battle for justice for 20 years. Recently on the 20th anniversary of this massacre, 615 Right To Information (RTI) applications were filed in Lucknow to find out what if any action was taken by the state against these PAC men. The reply by Public Information Officer of UP reveals that custodial massacre of Muslims gets no mention on the ACRs of the accused PAC men. Instead of negative comment these accused get positive report. Of the 14 ACR that have been made available to the public, the year 1987 entry is "Kaam aur Aacharan Achha Hai. Satyanishtha Pramnit hai. Shreni Achha." (Work and conduct is good. Proven Honesty. Category Good). CID inquiry did not in any way hamper the career prospects of those accused of cold blooded murders of over 40 innocents.

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To seek reasons before divulging info goes against RTI Act: CIC

For any "public authority" to ask for reasons before disclosing information under the Right to Information Act is against the spirit of the legislation, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held. The commission bench headed by Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal has expressed surprise over a Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) circular prohibiting disclosure of its recruitment results to anyone except the candidates concerned.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Citizens use the sunshine law to probe the Maharashtra IC working

You cannot appeal against God. Pathologist G. Vohra had to face this bleak fact when
he tried to find out from the powerful State Information Commission why it had not acted on his appeals - filed more than a year earlier - against government departments that had declined his requests for information. Vohra had submitted four appeals to the Commission, the highest body of appeal under the Right to Information Act, in June last year. "The Commission said it had heard 84 appeals filed after I filed mine," said Vohra. "So why has it not heard mine yet? They would not answer that." When the panel, meant to help citizens use the sunshine law to prevent the government from dodging requests for information, itself started stonewalling, Vohra unleashed the Act back on the organisation. But the panel bluntly refused to reveal its rationale - if one existed - that underpinned the order in which it dealt with appeals. In a letter, it told him that it disposed appeals "as soon as possible" but that "revealing the criteria under which the Commission decides which appeals to hear is not under the information law's purview."

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Heir of agricultural tenant fights for land rights through RTI

Maruti Urankar alias Mhatre died without getting his rights as an agricultural tenant to a plot of land at Panvel. His son Namdeo Urankar alias Mhatre too had put in his efforts for 15 years to get the rights, but nothing seemed to have helped. However, after the introduction of Right to Information (RTI) Act in Maharashtra, Namdeo, 66, now sees a ray of hope.

"After award was declared on the plot of land in 1987, my father's name-which was till then mentioned as an agricultural tenant in the 7/12 extract of property document-did not find any place there anymore," said Namdeo, who had been fighting in vain for the rights to the plot of land since 1989. "But now through RTI, I have got an acknowledgement from the authorities saying that my father's claim on the property is yet to be settled by the state government."

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No RTI relief for Hashimpura victims

For the kith and kin of Uttar Pradesh's Hashimpura massacre victims, it has been a long wait for justice. After knocking several doors, the survivors' last hope was the Right to Information Act. But even that failed to yield results. At least 615 RTI applications were moved 100 days ago (May 24) -- the day which marked the 20th anniversary of the bloodbath in Hashimpura. Some queries were answered, which included some blank pages, said survivors. However, on Monday, the appellate officer at the Crime Branch-Central Investigation Department assured some activists of prompt action.

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