Sunday, August 24, 2008

Online Complaints and 2nd Appeals for CIC

The Govt. of India Portal has launched new facilities for online submission of Complaints and 2nd Appeals to the Central Information Commission. The site has been revamped and new facilities have been added. A very good initiative for Netizen.

Plz check this out.

[posted by Sidharth on HJ group]

Friday, August 22, 2008

Home Secretary asked to warn officer on delay

The Central Information Commission has asked Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta to issue a warning to a ministry official for a delay in responding to an RTI application. "It is recommended to Madhukar Gupta, secretary, MHA, that he issue a warning under the Civil Service Conduct rule to P K Kaul to ensure that his disposal of RTI applications in future adheres to the requirement of the Act," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. The Commission passed its direction after it was pointed out that Kaul had not replied to a RTI plea filed by Swaran Kaur on the issue of freedom fighters' pension.

Complete Article

It takes RTI Act to trace missing files

It might be all gone with the 'missing' files. The details about allotment of a three 'bigha' of gram sabha land, worth approximately Rs 10 crore in present times, to an institute called 'dastkari haat samiti' in village Ganeshpur Rahmanpur (Chinhat), tehsil-Sadar, Lucknow, might not be known. The information about the so-called missing files has now been disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

Biscuits for Rs 50,000 on BBMPs gravy train!

You may recall the three-hour interaction the BBMP organised on July 15, 2008, at Ravindra Kalakshetra here on the contentious Capital Value System of property tax assessment. Well, the concrete outcome of that interaction is yet to be known. What we do, however, know is that the Palike spent Rs 50,000 just for serving biscuits to the participants that day! The Palike PRO has it that the civic body spent Rs 2.96 lakh on some aspects of hosting the event including the expensive biscuits which participants might not have even tasted.

Complete Article

RTI group to plead your case

People power is all set to take on a new avatar in Bangalore, and police officials will feel its impact. Mahithi Hakku Jagruthi Vedike, a group of RTI activists, will launch a service to assist citizens in their dealings with the police.

This voluntary organization will help you register your police complaint and hold your hand through follow-up action. The Vedike was inspired by the success of Mumbai-based PLEAD (People for Legal and Emotional Assistance to the Deserving).

The Vedike team has about 21 retired persons from all walks of life in each police station limit. Of these, five will be in constant touch with the police station. They will take up a complainant's cause and the idea is to ensure that people get justice. Volunteers will keep an eye on corruption too.

Complete Article

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Delhi Police disowns its local booths and cops inside them

It might sound very strange but if you want to reach out to the 'men in uniform' at the local "police booths" near your residence, don't be shocked if you get a negative response for the Delhi Police have disowned any "responsibility for the booths or the cops inside". If authorities are to be believed, these 68 ft booths (size varies) seen in most of the localities carrying display boards of Delhi Police
with some khaki-clad men sitting in them are merely an "eyewash".

Complete Article

Dept of Anatomy unaware of source

How private medical colleges in the state are getting cadavers for anatomical dissection? The Department of Anatomy of the medical colleges in the state, which is supposed to take possession of the body of the deceased person and hand it over to the authority of the teaching institution, says that it is not aware of the method by which the medical institutions get the cadavers. According to a Right to Information Act statement received from the Department of Anatomy, Thrissur Medical College, there are eight self-financing medical colleges and two cooperative medical colleges in the state.

Complete Article

No cash for toilets, but lakhs for mobiles

Mobile phones from junior officers will be taken away after an RTI query revealed more was being spent on their phone bills than on the area's development. While the administration of the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) is struggling for funds for development work, it has come to light that its officials and various committee heads have spent asmuch as Rs31 lakh on mobile phone charges in the last two years. The expenditure increased because officials were provided new handsets
every year. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) official Pramod Patil resorted to the
Right to Information Act (RTI) to uncover this fact. The query revealed that the MBMC has provided mobile phones to almost 106 officials and committee heads. It has spent Rs 6.4 lakh on handsets and Rs25 lakh on subsequent phone bills.

Complete Article

Sonia prescribes Bihar model - Making RTI Poor friendly

Taking a non-partisan approach to governance, Sonia Gandhi has called upon Congress chief ministers to adopt the Bihar model of making RTI more accessible to the poor and illiterate. But the UPA government seems to fear that it would expose itself to greater accountability if it subsidised the proposed RTI call centre at the Centre. Despite giving an in-principle clearance to the call centre, the department of personnel and training (DOPT), the nodal agency for RTI, is unsure whether it should, following the Bihar model set up in early 2007, bear the cost of converting a phone call into an RTI application.

Complete Article

Speaker, not RTI, holds cash tapes key

The Right to Information Act may prove toothless in revealing the "evidence" relating to last month's trust-vote bribery scandal unless Somnath Chatterjee lends a helping hand. The alleged proof — videotapes and documents — are with a parliamentary committee that is investigating the BJP charge that the UPA and its allies tried to buy off its MPs before the July 23 vote.Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, the RTI Act's apex referee, has told The Telegraph that the tapes and papers need not be revealed unless the Lok Sabha Speaker specially exempts the panel from standard House rules.

Complete Article

Make modifications to RTI Act: Kageri

The government should know the intention of those who seek information under RTI, as many have misused the information, said primary and secondary education minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri, stressing the need for modifications to the RTI Act.
Speaking at a programme, 'RTI-Trend Ahead: A Discussion' , organized by the Karnataka State Chartered Accountants Association and Karnataka State Secondary Teachers' Association on Thursday, the minister pointed out that the RTI Act was just three years old but ever since its implementation, it has been successful. The event saw RTI activists, lawmakers and law-enforcers coming together to discuss several issues on RTI. High court judge Justice K Bhakthavatsala said the Act, if used in the right way, can reduce corruption, red-tapism and nepotism, and lead to
good governance . Sixty-two countries, including India , have the RTI Act.

Complete Article

RTI to rescue of woman deserted by husband

Thanks to the Right to Information (RTI) act, a 35-year-old woman has finally been able to trace her husband who left her years ago. Deserted by her husband in 1995, S.M. Devasena had filed a Right to Information (RTI) application earlier this year with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) seeking the whereabouts of her husband K.L.N. Prasad, an ONGC employee. Devasena is a resident of Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and is currently living with her parents. ONGC refused Devasena the information contending that since the information sought is of a personal nature they had sought concurrence from Prasad, who refused it.

Complete Article

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tamil Nadu pollution control agency has no electronic records

In the age of rapid computerization, one department of the Tamil Nadu government has publicly admitted it maintains no electronic records, prompting an activist to seek information on its computerization protocol via the right to information (RTI) route. An RTI application filed by Nityanand Jayaraman of the Corporate Accountability Desk, had asked for certain information from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). But, the board’s member secretary and appellate authority (RTI) R. Ramachandran told the Tamil Nadu Information Commission: ‘The TNPCB does not maintain any electronic copies of documents such as permits and authorizations issued, or inspection reports and public hearing minutes.’

Complete Article

RTI is the soul of human communication: RTI Chief

Right to Information Act is the soul of all human communications in the development sector, State Chief Information Commissioner P P Tiwari said. "It helps bring accountability among the government functionaries and emboldens the poor to ask what they think must be asked," Tiwari said while addressing a three day national workshop on role of communication in livelihoods.

Complete Article

RTI helps expose 'custodial death'

After the Delhi Police failed to find a 45-year-old missing man for over one year, the Right to Information Act found him to be a victim of custody death. The family of deceased Tek Chand, a plumber, has alleged the police illegally detained him in a fake case, beat him up to death and then cremated his body as that of a vagabond or a beggar. The Delhi High Court has issued a notice, asking the police to respond to the family's allegations by August 28. Chand was married and had two children.

Complete Article

CIC dismisses appeal against bank

In a case concerning a bank, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has dismissed an appeal filed before it stating that the matter was purely a dispute between the appellant and the bank. And, the appellant should approach an appropriate forum like bank ombudsman instead. Alkesh Shah, director of Chandra Net Pvt Ltd (CNPL) in Paldi area, had under Right to Information (RTI) Act, filed an application with the
chief manager and central public information Officer (CPIO) of State Bank of Saurashtra (SBS) zonal office in Navrangpura, Mayank Mehta.

Complete Article

CIC Hearing

CIC/Temp/2008/001 dated 07.02.2008
Notice for Hearing

WHEREAS Central Information Commission has received complaints from Shri Girish Chandra Mishra, Kanpur, Shri Sartaj Ahmad, New Delhi, Dr. Awadesh Mishra, Sultanpur (UP) & Shri Radhey Shyam, Banda (UP) herein they have stated that their request for information under the RTI Act has not been responded to by Ms. Sonia Gandhi, MP, Shri Sahib Singh Chauhan, MLA, Smt. Sunita Sharma, Municipal Councillor, Shri Rahul Gandhi, MP; and

WHEREAS the Central Information Commission has decided to hear above mentioned complaint petitions with a view to decide whether the information sought by these applicants from public representatives entioned above, can qualify as information sought under RTI Act, 2005 and if so, whether the public representatives from whom information is asked for, qualify as public authorities, and as such obliged to provide the information under the RTI Act.

Now therefore, it is notified for general information that all interested parties/persons or organizations may, if they so desire, file duly verified written submissions before this Commission so as to reach on or before 11.00 a.m. of 30th August, 2008.
Dated this the 31st Day of July, 2008

[posted on the RTI Orkut community]

Right or not, info still hard to come by

Last September when retired government employee H B Agarwal submitted an application in Lucknow’s public works department seeking information under the RTI Act, he had hardly imagined the harrowing wait that lay in store for him. Since then, he has been regularly visiting the State Information Commission (SIC) trying to get the answers to his queries. Agarwal had sought details of the expenditure incurred in the construction of a one-km-long road in the city’s Bakshi Ka Talab area. After eight months of waiting, he filed a complaint with SIC but to no avail. “I know there were some financial irregularities. But I am still waiting for the information,” he says.

Complete Article

CIC slaps Rs 25,000 fine on officer for delay in RTI reply

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on a Delhi government official who failed to furnishing information to an RTI applicant on time. "In this case the delay is undisputed and the cause as shown for the same cannot be deemed reasonable," Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. Finding no substance in the official's defence that the delay was caused due to his excessive workload, the Commission directed the Divisional Commissioner to recover the fine from the official either directly or from his salary.

Complete Article

Rs 7.4 Crore : Mantris' travel bill

Our state mantris ran up travel bills worth over Rs 7 crore in the first three years of their tenure. The public exchequer had to shell out these funds to pay for the ministers' trips to their constituencies as well as some foreign jaunts. Maharashtra's ministers incurred a total travel bill of Rs 7.44 crore from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2007, according to figures provided by the Pay and Account Office of the state government. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's globe-trotting took him to the top of the list as he incurred expenses of Rs 63.96 lakh. The CM's domestic travel expenses came to Rs 32.45 lakh, while his foreign jaunts cost Rs 31.51 lakh.

Complete Article

Foreigners’ detection, deportation a farce

The process of detection and deportation of foreigners from Assam has turned into a major farce with only a small number of persons declared as foreigners by the tribunals could be deported and with no provision to detain the suspected foreigners, they manage to escape easily to avoid deportation. The records made available by the Border Police in response to questions put under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTI) by The Assam Tribune clearly expose the fact that the process of deportation of foreigners has become a total farce as majority of the persons declared as foreigners can easily make good their escape by taking advantage of the loopholes in the system.

Complete Article

Info on quasi-judicial proceedings cannot be denied: CIC

A public authority cannot deny information under the RTI Act to its ex-employee on quasi-judicial proceedings like the Court Martial, citing "fiduciary relationship" - a bond based on trust between him and the Government, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held. "An authority has a duty to act in a transparent manner and cannot withhold its reasoning only on the ground that there is a fiduciary relationship between him (an employee) and the Government," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.

Complete Article

I am being victimised by BSP government: suspended RTI chief

M.A. Khan, Uttar Pradesh's former chief information commissioner (CIC) who was suspended last month on several charges of misconduct, says he is being victimised by the Mayawati government because he had given a pro-Samajwadi Party ruling as a high court judge three years ago. Suspended by Governor T.V. Rajeswar July 9, Khan is the first chief information commissioner in the country to have been shown the door. 'My suspension stems from a 2005 ruling in an anti-defection case, in which I, as a high court judge, recognised the merger of 40 rebel Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators with the Samajwadi Party,' Khan told IANS in an interview. The decision had helped the ruling Samajwadi Party to continue in power, he said.

Complete Article

FinMin official gets CIC rap for not giving info

The Central Information Commission (CIC) took a Union finance ministry official to task for not giving information regarding extension of ex-gratia payment to surviving spouses of former bank employees under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Along with the information, the official has been told to inform her which bank to approach to get the benefit as she was entitled to the ex-gratia payment . Gita Surti, residing at Bank of India (BoI) staff society , Gulbai Tekra had under RTI filed an application with theCPIO and under secretary of the Ministry of Finance (MoF)'s banking division. She wanted details regarding grant of exgratia relief to
former employees retired prior to January 1986, and extending this facility to surviving spouses.

Complete Article

Sunday, August 03, 2008

CIC allows inspection of file on RIL

Did the Department of Industry Policy & Promotion (DIPP) consider the recommendation made by the Department of Chemicals and Fertilizers while giving the nod to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) for purchasing technology from Dow Chemical Company (DCC)? This will now become clear as the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered DIPP to allow petitioner Dharmesh Shah to inspect the file giving approval for installation of 'Unipol PP fluidized gas process technology' at RIL units in Hazira and Jamnagar, under Right to Information (RTI) Act. Shah had under RTI sought information on seven points pertaining to the proposals for foreign collaboration and approval given for installation of the Unipol PP technology at RIL units. Shah stated that as UC is a criminal absconder in the eyes of Indian courts, the details of the technology tie-up between DCC and RIL be made public. CIC found that while chemicals and fertilizers department had given this recommendation, it found no indication whether DIPP had taken this into account before giving approval. Therefore CIC agreed there was a overriding public interest in the issue, and allowed Shah to inspect the files regarding approval.

Complete Article

GIC slaps Rs 25K fine on sub-registrar

A sub-registrar , instead of handing over a property deed after registering it to the new owner, gave it to the seller's advocate. And when the owner demanded his original deed under Right to Information (RTI) Act the officer ignored the demand. Now the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) has slapped a penalty of Rs 25,000 on him, in his capacity as public information officer (PIO) and the sub-registrar at Kalyanpur in Jamnagar. Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated by the department and GIC has awarded a compensation of Rs 4,0000 to the applicant. Navneet Thakkar of Dwarka under RTI had demanded to know from PIO why his deed was not returned even after one year of payment of stamp duty and interest.

Complete Article

Saturday, August 02, 2008

RTI clears anomaly in payment account of TNHB allottee permalink

A senior citizen's relentless fight against fraudulent accounting by Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) has made the government agency accept its lapse and render justice to him, at last. It was the Right To Information (RTI) Act that helped the 76-year-old K M Thomas to detect wrong accounting by the TNHB while calculating the payments for the purchase of a flat in KK Nagar. He was literally hounded by frequent reminder letters to pay the arrears or face the consequences.

Complete Article

RTI Report Card

Babus and Information officers, better take the RTI applications seriously ..Else settle for a poor pay hike. In what could change the way the Govt officials share information with public ,the Karnataka Information Commission(KIC) has asked the Government to link performance appraisals of officers to thier attitude towards implementing the RTI Act.

In its First ever report to the Government , the KIC has reccomended that specific Columns be included in the annual Confidential Reports of officers to show how they treat applications under RTI Act. " The self assessement report of the Public Information officers must include information regarding the number of RTI applications receibed by them and thier disposal." The report submitted to the Govt states.

The New Indian Express
Saturday Aug 2 ,2008 ,

Call to review RTI Act

The Right to Information Act can be better implemented only if the judiciary is involved, Justice Jeevan Reddy said here on Saturday. He was speaking at the launch of the 'Andhra Pradesh State Information Commission- Performance Appraisal' done by the United Forum for RTI Campaign (UFFRC) here. "A disturbing thing in the implementation of the Act is rejection of applications based on procedural violations. This should not be the reason for rejecting applications," Jeevan Reddy said.

Complete Article

RTI is being misused in the name of public interest: Bhardwaj

The Right To Information (RTI) Act is being "misused" in many cases under the garb of seeking information for public interest, Law minister H R Bhardwaj said on Saturday. Speaking at the inauguration of a two-day All India Conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal here, the minister said, "the Right to Information has still not settled and it is being misused in many cases and there are characters
who are not interested in RTI getting into it."

Complete Article

Maharashtra leads in RTI use: Joshi

Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi has said the state leads in use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. "Maharashtra leads in use of the RTI Act, as in 2007, 3,16,000 RTI applications were received from the state, in comparison to 31,000 applications received from Andhra Pradesh and 30,000-40,000 applications received from other states,'' Mr Joshi said at a press conference here yesterday.
He was here to conduct a three-day camp for hearing of RTI appeals. As many as 150 appeals were heard in the camp and satisfactory solutions were found for 35-40 of them.

Complete Article

Will Sonia be penalized under RTI?

Ask, and you shall be answered. Well, that's what was envisaged when the Right to Information (RTI) Act was enacted to empower citizens, but the reality has been quite different. Now, UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, who played a pivotal role in seeing the Act through, is herself in the dock. As a member of Parliament (MP), she faces the possibility of being penalized Rs 250 per day for not responding to an RTI
application as a citizen has complained to the Central Information Commission (CIC).

Complete Article

Retd military officers can now use RTI to know past ratings

Retired military officers can now use the Right to Information Act (RTI) to find
how their seniors have rated them during their career in armed forces. The decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Thursday to allow disclosure of ACRs of the retired Army officials can open a can of litigations with retired officials have official documents to fight their cases for claiming denial of promotion or avenues in the court of law.

Complete Article

CIC seeks MPs view on accountability

The Central Information Commission is seeking to find out the views of the members of Parliament and legislature on whether they can be made accountable to the general public by bringing them within the ambit of public authority under the Right to Information Act. The Central Information Commission has to decide on the issue and has sought the response of the Lok Sabha secretariat. Chief information commissioner
Wajahat Habibullah has said that a public notice would soon be issued so that all members of Parliament and state Assemblies may express their opinion to the commission before any decision is taken on the matter. "Before we take a decision in this regard, it is important that the interested parties in the present complaint are given an opportunity to be heard as to whether they can be considered as a public authority(under the RTI Act)," he said, adding that "the question before us is whether an individual can constitute an authority in himself, which can be termed as a public authority". The commission order came on a bunch of appeals filed against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi and Delhi BJP MLA Saheb Singh Chouhan for allegedly not disclosing information under the Act.

Complete Article

IIT physics cut-off down to zero as seats increase

Getting into the IITs just got a tad easier. With the increase in the pool of seats, the final cut-off score dropped to 180 as compared to last year's 206 out of a total of 489 marks. Similarly, the cut off for reserved category students —Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) — fell from 126 to 104. On Friday, the IITs for the first time made their performance card public. As reported by TOI on May 31, the Joint Admissions Board, which comprises the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) chairman from each IIT, had agreed on making the cut-offs of JEE-2008 public after their offices were bombed with Right to Information (RTI) applications. The IITs also released the stream-wise opening and closing ranks for this year, as also the answer key to both JEE papers.

Complete Article

Ban on MPhil course lifted

The cloud over degrees obtained through distance education in Assam has ended with the education department lifting the ban imposed on MPhil degrees acquired through such a mode. The University Grants Commission (UGC) in its response to queries posed by a lecturer of a Guwahati-based college said MPhil degrees offered by Distance
Education Council (DEC)-recognised institutions were valid. It also enclosed a list of the institutions offering distance education in India. A copy of the UGC's reply was sent to the Directorate of Higher Education, Assam, an official said.

Complete Article

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