Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sexual harassment: CIC fails to follow SC order

An RTI query has revealed that the Central Information Commission has so far not put in place a mechanism to deal with sexual harassment cases, a measure that was mandated by Supreme Court. According to a reply furnished to an RTI application, CIC has admitted that it doesn't yet have a committee to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. The answer was given in response to an RTI query filed by Gloria Kumar, former regional passport officer of Delhi, who has levelled allegations of ``gender bias and perverted overtones''.

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Proceedings of House panels can't be disclosed under RTI'

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has contended before the CIC that information pertaining to proceedings of Parliamentary and State Legislative Committees cannot be revealed under the Right to Information Act. "The privilege of Parliament has not been codified but it is a practice going on for more than 50 years. It is an unsaid rule that the information should not be disclosed," Auditor General B B Pandit said during the full bench hearing of the Commission. The CIC was hearing the petition filed by BJP leader Manohar Parrikar, who approached the Commission after being denied information by the Accountant General, on the ground that it would amount to breach of parliamentary privilege.

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KMC to recruit retired officers

For proper implementation of the Right to Information Act (RTI) Kolkata Municipal Corporation will seek the help of its retired officers. A notice has been issued by the chief manager (revenue) in this regard. Those candidates who are interested have been asked to submit their resume within 15 days.

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Air India told to settle retd staffer's dues

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the chairman of National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), the erstwhile Air India Limited, to settle the post retirement dues of its retired employee at the earliest. Krishna Behari of New VIP Ring Road in Vadodara was an employee of Air India Ltd. Now retired, but still awaiting his dues, Behari filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Air India Ltd.

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HC stay on information panel directive

Jharkhand High Court clamped a stay on the order of the State Information Commission (SIC) to the Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC) to furnish information to an applicant regarding the selection process of lecturers. Anjani Kumar Choudhary, who had applied for the post of lecturer and had appeared for the interview and other selection tests, sought information about the selection process of university lecturers under the Right to Information Act after he was not selected. SIC summoned the JPSC and its public information officer to explain why the information was not supplied to the applicant. When the JPSC public information officer failed to provide an explanation, the commission pronounced him guilty of not providing information and showcaused him.

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Start Topic

Governor Rameshwar Thakur said a good implementation system should be put in place to make the Right To Information effective and result-oriented. At the felicitation of Administrative Reforms Commission chairman Veerappa Moily and Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Rahman Khan on Wednesday, Thakur said the RTI has to deliver results if the full provisions of the Act have to be realized.

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RTI watchdog wary of giving info on itself

In a clash between two apex bodies of accountability, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has reacted adversely to the "performance audit" proposed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the implementation of the Right to Information Act. At a meeting held on July 22, CIC questioned the very jurisdiction of CAG to hold it to account. It asked CAG to "specify the terms of reference" of the proposed performance audit before it takes a call on whether it should submit at all to the constitutional body's jurisdiction.

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CIC disapproves "blanket ban" on disclosure of information

Disapproving of the "blanket ban" imposed on disclosure of information collected by the Intelligence Bureau, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to consider revealing parts of such information to serve the purpose of RTI applicants. "To apply a blanket ban of disclosure is a matter of wide public concern, because it is handled by an agency outside the jurisdiction
of RTI, does not, in our view, appear to be in full conformity with the objective of the Act," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. The Commission said that the MHA could part with the information depending on its nature under the Act when required.

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Activists to launch save RTI campaign

Not happy with the working of various information commissions in the country three years after the implementation of the Right To Information act, RTI activists have now decided to launch a 'Save RTI' campaign.

"There are increasing pendency of cases in the Information Commissions. The condition has become so bad that if you file an RTI today chances are that it will come to hearing two years later. We feel that the information which is not provided on time has no meaning," Magsaysay award winner leading RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal
told the media.

Kejriwal alleged that the attitude of the people, who are supposed to solve the problems, is not encouraging for the RTI Act. A meeting of leading RTI activists was held in the capital recently where more than 150 activists from 21 states participated, said Kejriwal, adding that they are planning to take their 'Save RTI' campaign to the public directly.

"We will focus on collecting data regarding the grievances of the people and will do a public audit of all the judgements of the information commissions during the month of October this year and later do a public hearing of them as well," he said.

The activists feel that despite the clause of penalty in the Act, most commissions refrain from giving penalties to the faulty Public Information Officers (PIOs) which encourages them to hold back relevant information from the public.

"CIC has passed an order barring the employees from filing RTI application in their own department whereas Kerala Information Commission has passed an order saying the ministries do not come under the purview of the act. All these judgements are anti-RTI," said Kejriwal.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

DoPT conducting study on how to implement RTI

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, is conducting a study to assess and evaluate the Right to Information (RTI) Act with specific reference to the key issues and constraints faced by the "information providers" and "information seekers". The study will analyse information sought under the RTI Act in select states of the country including the Central government and prepare a state-wise "State of RTI act implementation matrix" for selected states indicating the compliance with the key expectations of the Act.

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WB Info Commission not keen to punish, RTI stumbles in state

Almost two years since the inception of the state Information Commission, the Right to Information Act in the state is yet to make inroads. First, nearly 1, 500 applications that reach the state's commission are too few compared to other states. Plus, the commission has imposed only three penalties and awarded one compensation so far, as its directives have been restricted to issue show-cause notices to state public information officers (SPIOs).

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Illiterate vendor takes RTI route to save livelihood

Here is a case of empowerment. An illiterate vendor filed a Right to Information application after losing his only means of livelihood to Delhi Police and VIP movement. The Chief Information Commission has now given a favourable order and asked the police to look into the matter of his livelihood

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Advani for making public cash-for-vote-scam sting operation

Senior BJP leader L K Advani on Sunday made a strong case before Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for making public the sting operation by a TV news channel in the cash-for-vote scam. In a letter written to the Speaker, Advani said it was a violation of
the 'Right to Information' of the Indians by the channel to hold back the telecast.

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Inormation panel chief gets taste of RTI

The Right to Information Act is giving some worrying moments to the Central Information Commission (CIC), the body entrusted with the job to ensure implementation of the law. The CIC has to deal with a legal notice, a demand for constituting sexual harassment committee and an appeal against it for denial of information. All this is based on the information obtained through RTI applications.

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Correspondence between MPs and PSU open to scrutiny: CIC

Correspondence between MPs and public sector units cannot be withheld on the ground of "breach of privilege of Parliament" and is open to scrutiny under the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission has held. The transparency panel turned down a plea of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) refusing to reveal details of its letter sent to Petroleum Minister on the recommendation of three Members of Parliament (MPs)
for reviving a retail outlet. "Though the letters of recommendation have been written by the MPs, the matter did not relate to transaction of business in the Parliament. Therefore, denial of information is untenable," Information Commissioner M M Ansari said.

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Police still reluctant to lodge FIRs

At least 800 complainants in the city took legal recourse to get first information reports (FIRs) registered in 2006 and 2007. Besides, the police registered FIRs in 17% of complaints in 2006 and 4.5% in 2007. The facts and figures have been released by the office of SSP Lucknow to an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The figures are bleak not only against the backdrop of CrPC provision that calls for registration of FIR in all the complaints received at police stations but also against the government's assurances made in similar vein.

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Disaster management panel inefficient: NGO

Even as the state faces a drought-like situation, a review by the resources and livelihood group of NGO Prayas has pointed out that the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) is inefficient, apathetic and ignorant of the grassroots-level disaster conditions in the state. Speaking to reporters here on Friday, the research associates of Prayas group, Sachin Warghade and Seema Kakde, said the review by the
group painted a grim picture as the governance was very slow and shoddy. "We have been seeking information from authorities through the Right to Information Act about the functioning of the SDMA since its inception. The information we have gathered is appalling. It just reveals the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities towards disaster management," Warghade said.

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No right to information

Bihar has always inspired many a Bollywood script-writers penning a few blockbusters. Even today, for someone looking for a contemporary script with a hard-nosed babu playing the pugnacious protagonist who preys on gullible information seekers, the state may still serve as a storehouse of real-life takeoff ideas.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

AIR babus to be penalised for delaying information

The babus of All India Radio (AIR) office in the city, who sat on an application filed under Right to Information Act (RTI) by its own accountant, better start counting their money as they have penalties coming their way. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that the delay of nearly 11 months in providing information sought under RTI from AIR can't be condoned. And an official of CIC will come calling on AIR within the next two weeks to fix accountability for the delay.

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Activists arrested for protest against CIC

A group of Right to Information (RTI) activists were arrested late Friday for holding a sit-in against Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah outside his office in south Delhi to demand that the health department be given to another commissioner. "We have arrested some activists for staging a demonstration outside the CIC office in Bhikaji Cama Palace and obstructing public servants from performing their duties," said Azad Singh, in-charge of the R.K. Puram police station.

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Victims call for war against red tape

Start sacking babus and fix responsibility to cut red tape and corruption, that is the message coming from the Central Information Commission, the latest victim of babudom. The plea of Central Information Commission is to get extra furniture and a field office, which has been pending in a government file for over two years now. This is simply because no one can take a decision. Central Information Commissioner O P Kejriwal is one of the country's top five commissioners, apart from bringing in more transparency. He has to settle appeals in Right to Information cases, but appeals have been piling up. Each commissioner has a backlog of at least four months and often ends up bringing work home. That is why, the commission had asked the government to help set up field offices in their homes.

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State agrees to allot land in Hyderabad for APIC office

The Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy on Friday agreed to allot one acre of land in Gachibowli worth Rs 20 crore to construct building for Andhra Pradesh Information Commission (APIC). The Government of India has agreed to sanction Rs 7.5 crore for
construction of office building of APIC if the State Government comes forward with a matching grant.

CD Arha, the Chief Information Commissioner appraised the chief minister on the implementation of RTC Act and various pro-active measures taken by the Commission. The chief minister was informed that during the past two years, on an average, 97 percent appeals and complaints have been disposed off out of 40,000 received so far.

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RTI activists seek probe into cash-for-vote 'sting' tapes

RTI activists hope to use public pressure to demand an independent inquiry into the cash-for-votes scandal. "Rather than order any inquiry, which is conducted in-camera or in secrecy, we request you to order an inquiry which is thorough and is done in a completely transparent manner. It should be conducted by people of unimpeachable integrity," the appeal said. Significantly, the NGOs who have addressed their appeal to Speaker Somnath Chatterjee also sought to play up his image as upholder of transparency, as they appealed to him to accept their plea. "We hope that you will not reject our application by invoking some exemption clause in RTI Act. RTI Act says that none of the exemption clauses would apply if there was a larger public interest involved. It is not the image of a few MPs or some political parties which is at stake. Today, it is the faith of the people in Indian Parliament and its members which is at stake. Can there be a bigger public interest?" they asked. The RTI queries have also sought to know what kind of inquiry has been ordered, details of its terms and conditions and the names of the members of the inquiry committee. They have also demanded to know what action will be taken on the alleged horse trading.

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TN Information Commission slaps fine on municipal official

As per the provisions of the Right to Information Act, the Tamil Nadu Information Commission has slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 as penalty on the Executive Officer (EO), Kuruchi III Grade Municipality in Coimbatore, for his failure to provide the information sought by a petitioner. The petitioner, T Sukheendran of Konavaikkalpalayam, in his submission, had stated that he had sought an information with the EO in connection with the modalities of water supply connection in Kuruchi area. The EO allegedly showed no interest to furnish the information.

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Calculation of pension doesn't come under RTI Act: CIC says

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has rejected a defence ministry employee's plea seeking details related to calculation of his pension through an RTI application. "The question of calculation of pension is simply an accounts matter and has no bearing on the RTI Act," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah

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Will can't be made public if executant alive: CIC

Details of a person's will can be made public only when it is submitted in court after his death; till that time, it can be accessed only by the person himself and his or her authorised agents, the Central Information Commission has said. "If the executant of the will is still living, it is only she/he or anyone authorised by her/him who may access the will," chief information commissioner Mr Wajahat Habibullah said.

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CIC pulls up MCD for not responding to notice, summons

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up the MCD for not responding to a notice issued to it over a petition seeking details on appointments made in the civic agency on compassionate grounds. "This Commission takes an adverse view of the MCD failing to respond both to our appeal notice and summons for appearance in hearing," Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. The Commission has decided to proceed with the hearing of a case without the presence of MCD officials.

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Activists sit-in against Chief Information Commissioner

Over 50 Right to Information (RTI) activists Thursday held a sit-in against Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah outside his office in south Delhi to demand the transfer of the health department to another commissioner. "For the past four months, we were demanding that Habibullah transfer the health department from IC (Information Commissioner) Padma Balasubramanian to another commissioner. However, even after repeated assurances, he never took the decision," said Arif, a protestor.

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Karnatka HC full bench to hear BIAL RTI issue

The High Court will constitute a full bench to hear the case related to bringing
Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) under the RTI Act.Hearing a
petition by BIAL, which had challenged the June 14, 2008 order of State
Information Commission to bring it under the RTI act, Justice N Kumar stated
that the full bench should be constituted within a week and the matter should be
decided within two weeks.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Cops own up 2 years after slapping false case

It is justice delayed though not denied for Navdeep Gupta, falsely implicated in a criminal case by his wife. For the last two years, this Sector 37 resident has been trying to clear his name in a case registered at a time when he was in judicial custody in Burail's Model Jail.

The city police also submitted a chargesheet in court, based on the FIR registered against Navdeep Gupta. Gupta used the Right to Information Act and procured documents to finally prove his innocence. The UT Senior Superintendent of Police SS Shrivastava, on Friday, sent a written warning against the policeman who had registered the false case against Gupta. On the instructions of a senior IAS fficer, who conducted the inquiry, the police have been asked to initiate proceedings of perjury against Navdeep Gupta's wife, Virpal Kaur, for filing charges of criminal intimidation when her husband was already in jail.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

CIC asks HPCL to disclose list of domestic LPG consumers

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the HPCL to disclose the list of domestic LPG consumers in order to prevent black-marketing. "In view of the large scale alleged black-marketing of LPG cylinders, the information asked for should be put in public domain so as to eliminate the inclusion of fictitious consumers in the list of beneficiaries," Central Information Commissioner M M Ansari said. The Commission, however, refused to direct the company to divulge information related to commercial users as it would affect their competitiveness. The Commission passed the order on a petition filed by Dinesh Srivas, a resident of Hoshangabad, who approached the CIC after the company refused to disclose the information sought on details of consumers listed under the domestic and commercial categories.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Disclosure of selective details may lead to misuse: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has refused to entertain the plea of a journalist seeking information on incentives provided to ministers by a government carrier, saying that it can be misused. "The Government and public servants have been availing of such incentives provided by Air India and other airlines with which it has been competing," Central Information Commissioner Professor M M Ansari said. The Commission has passed the order on a petition filed by the reporter of a weekly magazine seeking details of concessional and free travel availed by ministers under Frequent Fliers Scheme. The airline refused to divulge the details on the ground that the nature of information sought is of commercial confidence and cannot not be provided to the journalist as it comes under exceptions defined under the RTI Act

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HC stay on order to reveal babus' assets

The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Friday granted a stay on a June 25 order passed by the state information commissioner for Vidarbha Vilas Patil asking for declaration of assets by bureaucrats in the state. Patil had directed the general administration department (GAD), headed by chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, to disclose the assets of former Nagpur municipal commissioner Lokesh Chandra and his wife Abha Shukla, who was then additional divisional commissioner of Nagpur. Patil's order, passed under right to information (RTI) Act, stirred a hornet's nest in entire bureaucracy and police machinery. A single-judge bench of justice Arun Chaudhari stayed the order saying that "motive behind demand for disclosure of assets was not clear" and issued notices to the respondents - state chief secretary,
chief information officer, information officer for Vidarbha, public information officer of GAD and Sunil Mishra.

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Homage paid to Prakash Kardaley

The consistency and tenacity with which he pursued what he believed to be important was a rare gift that Prakash Kardaley had, said Magsaysay awardee Aruna Roy while speaking at the Prakash Kardaley memorial lecture in the city on Thursday at the MCCIA Hall to commemorate the late journalist's first death anniversary. Hailing
the former senior editor of The Indian Express as a champion of the Right to Information Act, Roy said he went beyond the Act to truly understand his obligation to his friends and to the people of his city and redefined the role of a journalist in the society. To put this in the right context, Roy traced the journey traversed by
the RTI Act right from its first dharna in 1996 to the present, in which at every step she acknowledged the important contribution made by members of the press who took the activists' battle to the front page of newspapers, thereby arming them with credibility as they took on the entire establishment in their endeavour to have the Act instituted. Citing instances of exemplary support lent to the movement by stalwarts like Kuldip Nayar and Nikhil Chakraborty, she said Prakash Kardaley belonged to this special breed of journalists. Displaying a copy of a book released a few months ago, which was dedicated to Kardaley, she quoted him as saying how he always said that to him there was no difference between reporting on the Indian parliament and the Pune Municipal Corporation. But perhaps the most apt description of the journalist's credo came from her when she quoted Kardaley as saying, "People say journalists should know all the politicians and bureaucrats but I can proudly say that I also know the common man and his issues."

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RTI roving eye likely to penetrate UTI MF guard

UTI Mutual Fund, the third-largest asset management company in India, could be made accountable under the Right to Information Act. In a move that could allow investors to seek data on the company's financial management, the Central Information Commission (CIC) would soon consider whether the financial control and profit sharing pattern of UTI Asset Management Company (AMC) calls for public accountability under the transparency law.

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NMC's contractor 'earning big bucks' from unfit vehicles

Private firm, Centre for Development Communication (CDC), Nagpur, who is engaged by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) in transportation of garbage, has been paid over Rs 15 crore in the past four years for doing business with the help of unfit and road unworthy vehicles, risking people's lives. Details sought by International Society for Road Transport and Safety (ISRTS), Nagpur, under the RTI Act 2005, have revealed that between November 17, 2004 and April 15, 2008, NMC paid over Rs 15 crore for loading and unloading of garbage through 60 NMC vehicles, which did not have fitness certificates, mandatory as per section 56 of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) 1988. The NMC had failed to obtain these certificates for the past five years and operated road unworthy vehicles risking lives of people. Interestingly, record shows that the fitness certificates were given to 70 vehicles by RTO inspectors in one go.

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CIC dismisses plea of navy war-room case accused

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has dismissed the plea of navy war-room leak case accused and sacked commander Vijender Rana who had alleged that the Navy is not disclosing information related to an inquiry conducted against him. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, who had held a special hearing on his plea on July 16, examined Navy records and found that the information sought by Rana has already been provided to him. The Commission while disposing his plea said that he can approach the Navy for any further information he had sought under the RTI Act.
The CIC while hearing another plea of Rana refused to direct the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to disclose charges made against him.

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CIC to decide on House privilege

The Central Information Commission (CIC) will soon decide on a key issue of parliamentary privilege whether the evidence presented before parliamentary or legislative committees can be revealed under the Right to Information Act. The commission has issued notices to the Lok Sabha secretary general, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and Deputy Accountant General, Goa, on a petition filed by Goa's Leader of Opposition Manohar Parriker. Parriker was denied information by the Accountant General, Goa, on the ground that it would amount to breach of parliamentary privilege.

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DM ignores RTI query, PMO steps in

Despite the government's claim of transparency and open governance, efforts to get crucial information under Right To Information (RTI) Act are often blocked. Moreover, though it is mandatory for the authorities to respond to applications
within four weeks, most queries go unanswered for months. This came to light here after the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had to intervene to ensure supply of information on the Agra riots of 2007 to an applicant. The PMO has written a letter to the Agra district magistrate, asking him to furnish details of the riots and the action taken against the culprits and relief provided to the victims about a year after the incident. The PMO intervened after a local councilor wrote a letter complaining that the riot victims were yet to be compensated and the administration had failed to take action against those found guilty. The riots broke out when four youths returning from a Muslim religious event were crushed to death by a speeding
truck on August 29.

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Cop camps in 40 state schools

Around 40 schools of the state are serving as camps for paramilitary forces supposedly fighting the Naxalite menace in rural Jharkhand. The police have occupied several of these schools for the past 20 years. These revelations have come from the state home department after the state unit of the People's Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) sought an explanation under the Right to Information (RTI). The PUCL state
general secretary Shashibhushan Pathak had sought information from the home department. Ironically, the home department has occupied them under no government order or rule

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Now, an RTI call centre for queries

Taking a leaf out of Bihar's book, the department of information technology (DIT) has come up with the idea of setting up an RTI call centre which will allow applicants to seek information over the phone from any of the central government departments and organizations across the country. The call centre will save citizens the trouble not only of writing and posting the RTI applications to different public authorities but also of buying postal orders or demand drafts for paying the nominal fee of Rs 10. All that the applicant will have to do is to make his query over the phone and the call centre will do the rest: It will convert his taped request into a
written application and forward the same to the public authority concerned for providing the desired information within the provisions of the RTI Act. The department of personnel and training (DoPT), which is the nodal agency for RTI, is holding a meeting this Friday to consider DIT's radical proposal labelled "Phone pe RTI."

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In DU, RTI is used to settle personal stuff

The Right to Information (RTI) Act may have been conceived to bring about transparency and accountability in working, but at Delhi University (DU) it has evolved as a tool to achieve much more. Here, RTI applications are filed with the intention of settling personal scores and redressing grievances. According to DU's Public Information Officer Deepak Vats, most of the RTI applications received by him are irrelevant in nature. "For students it has turned out to be the cheapest and fastest way of drawing the authority's attention towards personal problems usually relating to their degrees and marksheets. Staff members seek rectification of pay problems and ask for interpretation of rules through this channel. People rarely seek information for public interest," rued Vats.

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Liquidation to soon get transparent hue

The way assets of sick companies are auctioned in India is likely to undergo a major change. In a bid to usher in transparency in the process of corporate liquidation, the government will soon give wide publicity to details of distressed assets that are put on the block. These are assets of companies which the official liquidators attached to various high courts auction, the proceeds of which are given to various stake holders in the company as per the sequence of priority.

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CIC tells Govt to give names of officers violating Forest Act

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to reveal names of officers who have allegedly violated the Forest Conservation Act, saying there was visible public interest in it. "We concur entirely that there is clear, overriding and visible public interest involved in the information sought," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said while hearing the matter through video conferencing. Habibullah directed the ministry to withdraw any circular - that states that the information that has to be arranged in a proper sequence - should not be provided. The petitioner, Mohanty, filed a plea before the Commission under the Right to Information Act after the Ministry failed to provide the information.

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RTI chief seeks report on naval officer jailed for spying

India's RTI chief has asked the defence ministry for the enquiry report on the basis of which a naval officer was sacked and jailed for espionage and who has now sought the grounds for his incarceration. "The applicant (Vijender Rana) had asked for the board enquiry report and board enquiry proceedings. I heard what he had to say," Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah told IANS.

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President's contact details are personal information, says CIC

Information related to President's residential telephone numbers, e-mail and mobile numbers cannot be disclosed under RTI Act, the Central Information Commission said.
Holding that these information fall under the category of personal information, the Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said that the President's Secretariat was not required to reveal these information under the RTI Act.

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DSGMC asked to appoint PIO under RTI Act by CIC

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee is bound to disclose information under the RTI Act as it is a public authority established by Parliament, the CIC has held while directing it to set up the necessary infrastructure for the purpose. "The Committee is directed to ensure that the necessary infrastructure mandated under the RTI Act is established and made operational within one month," said Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah. The Commission said that the Committee, established by Parliament, is a public authority and it was required to appoint a Public Information Officer to deal with RTI applications.

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Educate yourself on how to use your Right to Information

KC Law College has announced a foundation course, as well as an advanced course to train citizens and government servants on using and implementing their Right To Information. Foundation Course : The course is designed for people who either have no prior exposure to the RTI or have used it casually. The focus will be on how to use RTI effectively. It will cover: History of RTI and rationale for it. Provisions of the RTI Act-with information on using RTI. Provisions of the RTI Act-focus on first and second appeals Interacting with some RTI users, activists and Public Information Officers. Tips on drafting applications and appeals and way forward
Advanced Course : The course has been designed for people who have been using the Act with some regularity and are now seeking to improve their understanding and skills. The course will also analyse some of the orders of the Informations Commissions and devote some time to understanding the work of Public Information Officers. This course aims to equip participants to draft appeals and some practical understanding of the hearings in appeals.

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RTI reveals police violating traffic laws

How many times traffic police fined you for not carrying a certificate that says 'pollution under control' while you were driving a vehicle? But what happens when police has to comply with laws under Central Motor Vehicle Rules for examination of its vehicles to check pollution level every six months. The rules are recklessly played with. Having a fleet of 129 vehicles, Bathinda police never carried 'pollution under control' certificate for any of its vehicles. Ironically, the cops fined thousands of vehicles every year for not carrying the same in the city. Information procured under Right to Information Act by a voluntary organization 'Kadam' in Bathinda revealed that it was not only old-model motorcycles, provided to constabulary in police, which were running without
pollution-free certification, but even senior police personnel never bothered about adhering to pollution laws. The information revealed that 21 motorcycles of Bathinda police were adding to air and noise pollution in the town as the condition of these vehicles was quite worn-out and some of them were as old as fifteen years. Police said that average mileage of these motor cycles is 30 km/ litre.

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UP information commissioner's suspension: Experts warn of precedent

Suspension of Uttar Pradesh's chief information commissioner Justice (retd) M.A. Khan has been hailed by many Right to Information (RTI) activists but some of them warn against setting up a precedent. "We need to be very careful as it should not set a precedent for others to be removed. It could be politically motivated also," RTI activist Aruna Roy told IANS. Khan was suspended by Uttar Pradesh Governor T.V. Rajeswar July 9 who recommended to the Supreme Court of India to initiate an inquiry
against the information commissioner. Khan was accused of misconduct and lack of capability to perform his duties.

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Govt not rigid about Padma deadline, says home ministry

Padma award-hopefuls, who miss the September-end deadline of the home ministry for getting themselves nominated for a government-appointed selection panel's consideration, can breathe easy. The home ministry has told a RTI applicant that it was the "usual practice" for the Centre to invite nominations from state and government departments by a cut-off date but hinted the ministry wasn't rigid about this rule. "It has not been the intention of the government to prescribe a fixed for rigid date after which the recommendations cannot be processed," the Union home ministry told Delhi resident Subhash Chandra Agrawal in response to his RTI application. "It is the discretion of the committee to consider/take into account all recommendations received in the ministry till the time of the meeting," the home ministry said.

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Chhattisgarh Information panel for extra pay to PIOs

Chhattisgarh State Information Commission has suggested that Government staff in various departments - designated as Public Information Officers (PIOs) - should get extra remuneration for doing additional work under the Right to Information Act. "In addition to their routine responsibilities, Government staff have to put in extra efforts to discharge duties as PIOs, as defined under the RTI Act," the SIC stated in its annual report. As compared to 2006, the total number of PIOs has increased by 40.65 per cent and the number of applications under the RTI Act, too, swelled by 21.23 per cent than that of the previous year.

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Goa SEZ papers indicate rule violations

The Goa government recently scrapped seven SEZs that were coming up in the state, reportedly because of violations in the way they were allotted in the first place. The government says that this was in response to large scale public protests, fearing the SEZ's would burden the infrastructure without generating jobs for locals.
But Documents obtained by activists using the Right to Information found that there were violations in how these SEZ's were allotted. The SEZs were cleared by the previous Goa Government under CM Pratapsinh Rane, which sanctioned the SEZs in two separate meetings. In one batch , nearly 400 acres of land were given to 4 SEZs in Verna in South Goa. The Ashok Piramal Group's Planetview Mercantile Private Ltd, Piramal's Inox Mercantile Private Ltd, K Raheja Corporation Limited, one of Mumbai's biggest construction firms and K Raheja's Paradigm Logistics And Solutions Private Ltd. But documents obtained under RTI from the Goa Industrial Development Corporation and the directorate of industries find that all four SEZ applications were technically incomplete. The company seal on documents were missing and the crucial bank finance guarantee was missing. The Goa government meeting in which the four SEZs were sanctioned didn't even have the mandatory quorum, which makes all its decisions null and void.

Complete Article

Work cut out for info chiefs

The state information commission has allocated responsibilities and regions to information commissioners so that cases can be cleared quickly. The six information chiefs in Jharkhand, including the chief, have been allocated one division each and told to clear all cases in that region irrespective of what government departments they relate to.

Complete Article

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Case filed against former secy

A voluntary organisation has filed a case against former Finance Principal Secretary Jose Cyriac and several other officials of the Finance Department in connection with the alleged misappropriation in the information provided under the Right to
Information Act regarding the one-rank-one-pension scheme.

Secretary of Thiruvananthapuram-based Right to Information Protection Forum N.Rajendran had filed the petition before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court III here recently. The court has issued summons to SC/ST Development Department Principal Secretary Paul Antony and Kannur District Collector Ishitha Roy who are witness in the case.

Complete Article

Friday, July 11, 2008

No RTI cover for ex-Nagpur civic chief

An order under the right to information act passed by information commissioner (Nagpur), Vilas Patil, has sent shock waves in the entire bureaucracy and top police brass. Patil has asked the general administration department (GAD), headed by chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, to disclose the assets of former Nagpur municipal commissioner Lokesh Chandra and his wife Abha Shukla. Shukla was additional divisional commissioner of Nagpur. Currently both are on deputation with the centre.

Complete Article

90% med grads skip rural stint

The list of medical graduates who passed out of the Grant Medical College attached to JJ Hospital at Byculla in 2007-'08 says the whole story: only three of the 109 students took up the mandatory government service. The rest paid Rs 1 lakh to break the state government's bond that requires them to put in a year's work in healthcare facilities in the state's hinterland. The story is not unique to JJ Hospital. It's being played out in the state's 13 other government-run medical colleges as well, reveals data collected by the Youth For Equality under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

Seeking information under RTI a tough task for NRIs

It had first claimed that Indian missions abroad did not come at all under the purview of RTI. And now, making access more difficult for NRIs, the Indian embassy in US has been refusing to entertain RTI applications that did not pertain to information held by it. This is despite an express provision, section 6(3) of the RTI Act, stating that if the subject matter of an application addressed to one public authority actually relates to another, then the former has to transfer it to the latter within five days. The mission in Washington admitted under RTI about a month ago that in 31 of the 45 queries received till then, the NRIs had been "advised to send their applications directly" to the public authorities based in India.

When one of the NRIs asked it under RTI to disclose the file notings that led to the website statement, all that the embassy said was, "The information contained in the website was created by the public information officer (PIO) with the approval of the government of India." On the application, the embassy also declined to provide the list of cases in which the applicants had been told to send their application directly to the public authorities in India. It said the disclosure of the list would violate the applicant's "privacy."

Complete Article

RTI exposes Rs 33.37 Crore Scam

RTI activists have exposed many frauds, major scams and irregularities by the Public Servant. A recent such exposure is reproduced below:

RTI Activists in Karnataka successfully exposed a scam in release of funds for the new campus of Rajeev Gandhi University of health sciences, Ramanagara. Information received under RTI exposed that a sum of Rs. 33.37 crore was fraudalently released by Chief Engineer of Public Works Department in deviation of government policy and guidelines. On receipt of information a letter was sent to the Chief Minister of Karnataka and a copy of the same is reproduced below. Simultaniously the information was given to both print and electronic media. Major papers carried series of articles on the scam and also TV9 channel telecast a report on the scam. Bowing to the public pressure government suspended Chief Engineer and Superintendent Engineer who were responsible for release of funds.

Veeresh Bellur

List Of RTI Activities Across The Nation ( 12th – 18th July, 2008)

(1) Janne Ka Haq :- A programme on RTI,
Channel - DD News Day - Every Saturday Timings - 10:30 A.M

The highlight of this week's programme is the twsuccess stories of RTI in Jharkhand. It will alsshow a report on the maximum number of RTI's filed in Delhi were in the Delhi Police Department and DDA. The guest in this programme is Sh. M.M.Ansari; Central Information Commissioner. The programme is hosted by Anil Dubey.

(2) Fight For Your Rights (FFYR) :- A programme on RTI
Channel - NDTV Metronation; Day- Every Saturday & Sunday Timings- 9:00 P.M (Sat); 10:00 A.M (Sun)

This programme is hosted by Arvind Kejriwal. This week's programme highlight the need of transparency in the examination system. Main focus of this week's programme is - should evaluated answer scripts be shown tthe candidates or not. The main penalists in this programme are Sh. Deepak Pantel (V.C, Delhi University); Sh. Wazhat Habibullaha (Chief Information Commissioner); Sh. D.N. Padhi ( Chief Information Commissioner, Orissa).

(3) Fight For Your Rights (FFYR) : A programme on RTI
Channel - NDTV India ( Hindi ) Day- Every Saturday Timings - 12:00 P.M

This Week's programme highlights the success of RTI. How the residents of Saket in New Delhi successfully used the RTI tdevelop the infrastructure in their locality. Also, how RTI is helping the Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims in their fight for justice. The main penalists are Sh. Vijay Jolly ( MLA); Sh.Sati Nath Sarangi( Social Activist). Don't forget twatch Arvind in action.

(4) Workshop on RTI
City -Pune Date 12/07/08 Day Saturday Timings 9:30 A.M Place Ex Fergusonians Hall, Ferguson College.
Contact Person Vijay Kumbhar
Contact No. 09923299199

(5) RTI Awareness Cum Assistance Campaign

City Bhubneshwar Organizers Orissa Suchna Adhikar Manch Date 13-16 July, 2008
For more information please contact : Nishikant Prashant - 09861117243

(6) RTI Camp
City Patna Place Sheikhpura District Date 18th July Organizers Jawab
For more information please contact : Saurabh Ranjan - 09939468254

[ This is an initiative by Kabir, we will try tinform you about different activities related tRTI that are going to be held across the country on a weekly basis. In case your organisation or group is conducting any activity on RTI in the coming week i.e ( 19-25 July) then Plz. dinform us. we will send this mail tall of you every Friday. Waiting for your comments and information ]

RTI reply blows lid off netas' role in babus' transfers

Government servants using political connections to 'manage' their postings may be an open secret. However, this nexus has been proved - in black and white - with the help of the Right to Information Act. A reply to a query regarding the transfer of an officer in sales tax department also had a list of 33 officers who had used political recommendations for getting or cancelling a transfer. Many wanted a transfer in the enforcement wing of the department, which is said to be a plum posting. In the case of the official whose transfer was questioned, it was none other than the then chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde who had backed the case. Other officials had sent letters of politicians including Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Ashok Chavhan, Vijayinsingh Mohite Patil, Nitin Raut, Hussain Dalwai and Suresh Lad.

Complete Article

Lok Sabha Secretariat open to public scrutiny

In a first, the Central Information Commission (CIC) directed a private person to "personally inspect" documents regarding recruitment and filling up of vacancies to various posts in the Lok Sabha Secretariat. The decision on Monday made clear that every citizen had right to know "how his tax money is used in larger public interest to service the people's elected representatives and the Parliament". The Secretariat had tried to fend off the supply of the information by saying the exercise under RTI was an unnecessary diversion of "time, expense and manpower resources" to cull out the specific data sought from computerised records.

Complete Article

Centre gives babus right to rejection

The next time you file a right-to-information (RTI) application, do not be surprised if it is turned down with the babu line "not our jurisdiction". Providing an escape route to bureaucrats facing a fusillade of pleas seeking information under the RTI Act, the ministry of public grievances has told its employees not to dig too deep but turn down applications that do not directly concern them.

Complete Article

Nobody can harass CICs says Wajahat day after UP official's suspension

The suspension of Uttar Pradesh chief information commissioner M A Khan by the Governor evoked a mixed response from the apex Right to Information (RTI) panel and activists, with Chief Information Commissioner, Government of India, Wajahat Habibullah asserting on Thursday that nobody can "harass" information commissioners.
"There is a written process of law on how action against an information commissioner can be taken. There is no point in harassing commissioners, and nobody can stop them from completing their five-year term in office," the topmost official in the country under the RTI Act told The Indian Express.

Complete Article

Want information? Pay Rs.53,860

The District Planning Officer, Palakkad, has asked an information seeker under the Right to Information Act to pay Rs.53,860 towards the cost of providing information relating to use of MPs' funds. The cost includes Rs.13,000 for photocopying the documents, Rs.30,560 for paying two research assistants for compiling the information, Rs.300 for loading and unloading charges and Rs.4,000 as postal charges.
D.B. Binu of Kochi, a lawyer and campaigner for Right to Information, who had sought the details of Kerala MPs' Local Area Development fund, said the demand was illegal and against the spirit of the RTI Act. He said he would appeal to the State Information Commission.

Petitions question act scope

The high court is hearing two petitions raising the question whether the Right to Information (RTI) Act empowers students to see their answer scripts after evaluation.
Calcutta University and the state board of secondary education have moved separate petitions challenging the scope of the RTI Act. The university has challenged an order of a trial bench of the court which forced it to show the B.Sc Part II mathematics answer script to the examiner, Pritam Rooz from Presidency College.

Complete Article

Info panel reverses illegal decisions

The State Information Commission today reversed various illegal decisions of its former boss, Justice (retd.) Hari Shankar Prasad. In a bid to simplify the process to file an appeal, the commission did away with the requirement of filing an affidavit along with the petition. The reversal was done after several reports had emerged that the clerical staff harassed petitioners during scrutiny of documents. Today's meeting was presided over by acting chief information commissioner (CIC) Ram Vilas Gupta and attended by information commissioners and other staff.

Complete Article

Uttar Pradesh CIC suspended for corruption

The Uttar Pradesh chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Justice MA Khan was suspended on Wednesday by the governor TV Rajeswar on the ground of irregularities and illegal appointments made by him, an official press release issued by the Personal and Administrative department said. The release said a reference has been made to the Supreme Court about the conduct of justice Khan (a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court) for inquiry into his conducted. It said that till inquiry was completed Justice Khan would remain suspended and would not be attending office.

Complete Article

RTI Expose: One woman, 901 ration cards: Delhi's great scam

At least 10 per cent ration cards in the national capital are bogus and many held by people who are anything but poor, a prominent Right to Information activist has claimed. As many as 1,70,598 ration cards in the city are bogus, says Arvind Kejriwal. His investigation found that multiple cards have been issued for the same addresses and same persons. For instance, 901 cards have been issued in the name of a woman called Manju in Badarpur. In fact, 133 people in Badarpur have more than 15
ration cards each. Najafgarh was found to have the maximum number of bogus cards at 17,016 followed by mahipalpur at 12,611 and Bawana at 11,887.

Complete Article

A matter of trust

The Chief Minister's Relief Fund should be for those affected by disasters not for mango festivals. Whenever there are calamities, ordinary people are only too ready to
contribute to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund (CMRF). The purpose of this fund is self-evident, or ought to be. It is to come to the assistance of anyone who has been subjected to some distress due to natural causes. However, investigations by right to information activists reveal that several recipients of this fund in Maharashtra have not even remotely been stricken by disaster in any form. They include organisers of mango festivals, ghazal programmes, kabaddi and chess competitions and
for making trips abroad. Shockingly, a Congress MLA received funds for a religious programme and so have actors' fan clubs. Even the Mumbai and Delhi Press Clubs have been allotted funds, which is a blatant violation of the letter and spirit of the trust.

RTI questions GU V-C's right to go on leave

Gujarat University (GU) vice-chancellor (V-C) Parimal Trivedi will now have to furnish details of his attendance since he took over charge. Acting on a complaint, state RTI commissioner RN Das has ordered GU PIO (Public Information Officer) to provide this information within 10 days. GU Arts department's dean Dr Pradip Prajapati filed an RTI application in the university seeking records of Trivedi's attendance. In the application, he had asked: Whom did the V-C inform when he went
on leave? With whose permission did he go out of the state? Who was given charge in his absence? The university first declined to furnish the information stating such
personal details could not be given under the RTI Act.

Complete Article

CIC pulls up DVC for its failure to rehabilitate land oustees

The Central Information Commission has pulled up the Damodar Valley Corporation for its failure to rehabilitate oustees, saying that the company has failed in fulfilling its "corporate social responsibility" and marginalised the displaced persons. "The Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) may have made significant contribution to the process of development, it has also contributed to the marginalisation of displaced persons who have sacrificed their lands for the project," Information Commissioner M M Ansari said. The Commission said that there was evidence that the DVC had failed in so far as "corporate social responsibility" was concerned. "The DVC has not adhered to the principle of equity and justice in
pursuing its objectives of providing critical services, namely power," Ansari said.

Complete Article

Disposal of cases by KIC for the month of May 2008

Dear All,

The Stastics of disposal of cases for the month of May 2008 @ KIC is given below
for the information of the Activists:-

Cases pending at the end of April 2008 is 2027
Number of Complaints and Appeals received during May 2008 is 483
Number of Complaints & appeals disposed during May 2008 is 386
Number of cases pending at the end of May 2008 is 2132.
Number of cases heard during May 2008 is 663
Appeals & Complaints pending less than 3 months is 1368
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 3 months is 750
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 12 months is 14
Number of Commissioners at prsent 3

With regards,
Convenor, KRIA Katte

UP Information panel in perpetual denial mode

One look at Uttar Pradesh and you will know why the RTI Act is not having its desired effect in the country. Magsaysay award winner RTI activist Sandeep Pandey claims it’s difficult to get information from the Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission (UPSIC). Forget about getting information about Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party government, the UPSIC does not even provide information about its own budget and expenditure. Recently, when an RTI activist from Noida, Lokesh Batra, wanted information on UPSIC’s yearly budget and expenditure since inception, information officer Mata Prasad said it was ‘not possible to give information’. To another question posed by Batra, the PIO said information can not be collected due to ‘acute paucity’ of staff.

Complete Article

Maharashtra - No RTI plea, not for years atleast

In case you have been denied information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and are planning to file a complaint in the Maharashtra state information commission (MSIC), think again. There is a possibility that you may have to wait several years to have your complaint heard. The state info panel after all has a backlog of 15,000
complaints to clear before it can take up for yours. “We have a backlog of 15,000,” admits Ramanand Tiwari, one of the six information commissioners in the MSIC. The backlog is more than double the number of pending cases in the central information commission (over 7,200).

Complete Article

HC PIO order declining info ultra vires: Punjab Infocom

In what appears to be the first decision of its kind, the Punjab State Information Commission has set aside as ultra vires the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court's principal information officer (PIO) and the appellate authority concerned in
declining an information sought under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005 by an applicant and remanded the case back for deciding the request afresh. The Commission's order passed by the Chief Information Commissioner Rajan Kashyap and state information commissioner P P S Gill on June 25, 2008 also gave liberty to the applicant to file first and second appeal under the RTI if he was dissatisfied with the order of the PIO of the High Court after remand of the case.

Complete Article

CIC to visit Tihar, meet War Room Leak accused

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahad Habibbullah will be visiting the Tihar Jail next week. The reason: Intelligence Bureau's denial to reply a Right To Information (RTI) query by two accused in the Navy War Room Leak case. The two are currently lodged in the jail, having been booked under the Official Secrets Act. According to sources in the jail, the matter came to light when the officers — Ravi Shankaran and Vijender Rana — filed the RTI application last month, seeking to know the basis of their arrest and the cases against them. The jail officials said after a month, they received a reply. "The Intelligence Bureau refused to present the documents," an official said. "The applicants were reluctant to accept the reply given by the IB." Following this, the two wrote to Habibbullah's office and it was decided last week that the CIC would visit Tihar.

Complete Article

Monday, July 07, 2008

Pune SIC warns RTI applicant

The pune bench of state information commission (sic) has warned a right to information (rti) applicant from sangli that it would initiate action if he failed to refund the money he took from a public information officer (pio). Deputy secretary of state information commission ravindra jagtap, in a letter to sahdev ramchandra zende of miraj in sangli, had ordered him to refund Rs 1,500 to the officer. jagtap also asked both of them to inform in writing about the compliance. Apparently, zende had failed to refund the amount even after the commission's order, which according to jagtap was a serious issue. "he should return the money and send the compliance report to the commission, otherwise action would be taken," he said. while scrutinising forms filed during the camp, the pune bench office found that the applicant, pio and the appellate authority had written that they had reached an 'agreement'. they had stated that Rs 1,500 were given to the applicant for appeal and other expenses and he had subsequently withdrawn the appeal. such an agreement is not allowed by the commission.

Complete Article

Andhra Pradesh Info panel summons top cop

The Andhra Pradesh information commission has issued summons to the city commissioner of police, Mr B. Prasada Rao, for not furnishing details sought by the former corporator, Mr Amjadullah Khan, under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The commissioner has either to be present in person or authorise a representative to appear for him. Mr Khan had sought information relating to the total number of absconders among people booked for criminal offences and data on pending court warrants.

Complete Article

No staff, can't give info, says UP panel

Totally disregarding the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, the UP State Information Commission is denying information to applicants on the plea that it does not have enough staff to keep record. Further the UP SIC seemed to be totally unaware of the stipulations of the RTI Act. The public information officer of the UP SIC refused to give information about the budget, saying that it was not possible to give information. This is actually a requirement under the RTI Act pointed out Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd) who filed the application to ask for information from the UP SIC. Mr Batra, an RTI activist, said he had filed two applications asking for information of disposal of cases by the SIC and also by the various departments. He also asked for number of denials of information and the number of cases where violation of the act was found. Mr Batra informed that under the RTI Act Section 25, sub-section (3), various ministries have to prepare an annual report on this and submit it to the SIC. Based on this, the SIC prepared its annual report.

Complete Article

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

RTI at odds, administration chided

We have been working in Khandwa ditrict of MP since 2005 to make RTI a reality for common man accessing the information that affects his life, dignity and Rights. We ran several awareness and education drives, developed easy to fill formats and assisted even unschooled and rural folks to seek vital information under RTI. The Administrtaion was irked and devised several blocades to thwart the applicants,funny excuses not to provide the info and erratic Appeal hearings. this continued since the enactment of the RTI Act in 2005. Disgusted with the fact that commoners were so harassed we compiled a set of half a dozen case studies documenting the problems and bottlenecks in various offices ranging from Collectorate, CEO Zilla Panchayat, Superintendent of Police and Municipal orporation and forwarded it to State Information Commission to apprise of the sour situation in the district. The State Information Commission took a serious note of tehw state of
RTI in Khandwa district of MP and directed the District Collector to personally be present and explain the situation. He has been severely reprimanded and directions have been issued to reform teh situation.he has been asked to issue letter to this effect to all the departments and apprise the State Inforamtion Commissioner. This we believe will facilitate the access to info by common man. A great victory won!!

Spandan Samaj Seva Samiti
Khandwa (MP)
[posted on PWAP group]

Administrator's office still maintains secrecy

Activists said the official website has incomplete and incorrect information The Chandigarh Administration claims that they have published the requisite information under the Right to Information Act, in connection with the designation of Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in the office of UT Administrator. However, the information available on the Chandigarh Administration's official website is incomplete. According to RTI activists, the website not only has incomplete but
incorrect information. Under Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act, the CPIO has to publish the duties and nature of job of the office where he is appointed.

Complete Article

'Less queries, better replies' - WB SIC

Around 15,000 applications seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act were filed in West Bengal in 2007, which is one tenth of what is filed in states like Maharashtra. Yet the low response to the RTI does not make the state chief
information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya cringe. He says West Bengal is far ahead "qualitatively" when it comes to furnishing information under the RTI Act despite lagging behind "quantitatively". When asked to specify, Bhattacharya's said the website of the information commission in the state had much more to offer in terms of information. Only one-tenth of the 15,000 applications filed were sent
to the office of the state chief information commissioner for complaints or second appeals.

Complete Article

Modi lie nailed, claims Congress

Tired of chief minister Mr Narendra Modi's claims that the popular '108' ambulance services is a Gujarat state initiative, Congress politicians invoked the Right to Information and dismissed his untrue claims. The Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, Mr Shaktisinh Gohil, today told journalists that the reply received on the query clearly states that the Centre is responsible for the '108' services.
"The Central government has given Rs 59.06 crore for the scheme in Gujarat, the state has contributed another Rs 12 crore for publicity and other related issues," Mr Gohil said.

Complete Article

CIC penalizes architecture school official for RTI inaction

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has slapped a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the School of Planning and Architecture's public information officer for inaction on a Right to Information appeal for over three months. In his order, information commissioner O P Kejriwal has directed the PIO, D R Bains, to pay Rs 25,000 for causing a delay of "more than 100 days in providing the required information to the appellant". He has ordered the SPA director in charge and appellate authority, K T
Ravindran, to ensure compliance in recovery of the penalty by August 10.

Complete Article

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