Friday, October 31, 2008

14-year-old boy sends civic authorities on backfoot with his RTI act

As the Right to Information Act (RTI) goes on empowering people across rural parts of the country, it has brought 14-year-old Vinit Patel from Visnagar in Mehsana into the national limelight. Vinit is perhaps the youngest information seeker, who has pushed the local civic authorities on the backfoot with his questions pertaining
to irregular water supply to his society and a long pending demand for road connectivity.

Impressed by the move, Mumbai-based Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT) has decided to honour the boy with the Navleen Kumar Award for 2008. The award will be handed over to Vinit at a special ceremony in Mumbai on November 5.

"There is an acute problem of water in our society. Also, the residents have for a long time been demanding a road here," said Vinit, a Class VIII student of Sahajanand Secondary School. "I was wondering if something could be done about this, when my father told me that I can seek information from the civic authorities under the RTI Act. My uncle, who had already done something like this in Visnagar, helped me to file the petition in May this year," he added.

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WBIC asks all parties to appear for hearing on Tata deal

Following the Calcutta High Court's stay on its order to disclose the details of the Singur deal between Tata Motors and the Bengal government under an RTI appeal, the West Bengal Information Commission (WBIC) has requested all parties involved to appear before it on November 19 for a hearing. The WBIC letter has been sent to 11 parties, including the chief secretary, principal secretary (commerce and industries), managing director, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, Leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee and Tata Motors Ltd. "We have asked all to send in their written submissions by November 10. While granting a stay on full disclosure of the deal in the public domain, the HC directive had asked us to hold a hearing in which Tata
Motors would also be represented," WBIC secretary Nandan Roy said on Friday.

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Filing RTI queries to be a click away soon

Getting information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act will soon be just a click away. In a month's time, citizens will be able to file their RTI applications on the BMC website. According to BMC officials, the process will be centralised and the applications will be forwarded to the civic body's concerned departments. The payments can be made in the same way as property taxes are paid. "We are working out the final nitty-gritties of the process. We are also taking into consideration the fact that many
people are not computer savvy. Our Citizen Facilitation Centres (CFCs) will help them file their queries,'' said Suresh Mhatre, vice president of Tata Consultancy Services. "The website will allow people to post their address so that they can be provided with the necessary documents,'' he added.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

BPSC asked to give break-up of marks

In an order which could be handy for the students to assess themselves, the Patna High Court has upheld the order of the State Information Commission (SIC) directing the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) to disclose question-wise break-up of marks obtained by them. A single bench of Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi has dismissed the
petition filed by BPSC challenging the order of SIC directing it to provide the detailed marks to the examinees. Dismissing the petition, Justice Tripathi on Thursday said that information and knowledge are critical for realising human aspiration. Only a knowledgeable society can assert its fundamental rights and demand quality life.

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From now, CIC order review only in courts

In a move that smacks of bureaucratic red tapism, the Central Information Commission (CIC) will no longer allow review of its decisions. A recent change in the CIC (Management) Regulations, 2007, now makes it clear that CIC’s decision can only be reviewed through a writ filed in the high court and Supreme Court. According to chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, the rules were not in consonance with law. ‘‘We have changed the rules as under law a court cannot review its own decisions. The CIC does not have the review power unless there is an error of law or facts.’’ Habibullah said that applicants had misunderstood the rules and so a
correction had been made. Information commissioners admit privately that the
number of review applications had begun to rise and this was becoming difficult
to handle.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bardez BDO fined twice in two months

For the second time in successive months, Bardez block development officer Shiv Prasad Naik was fined by the Goa State Information Commission for delay in providing information to a citizen under the Right to Information Act. On September 11, 2008, Naik had been penalised Rs 2,000 for delay in providing information to Dinesh Vaghela of Porvorim. On October 17, he was fined Rs 4,000 for the same reason on an appeal from the same applicant.

The commission's order notes that it had taken a lenient view against the BDO in the past, but the BDO has "not shown any improvement and continues to ignore the statutory provision of the RTI Act. There has been a delay of 32 days even to send the first reply to the appellant. The order of the first appellate authority was also not promptly complied with and he took 30 days. Therefore, this is a fit case for imposing the penalty on the Respondent No 1 (Naik)".

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Amendment to CIC (Management) Regulations, 2007

Dear All,

Now an appellant or a complainant or a respondent may not be able to request CIC for special leave to appeal or review of a decision or order of the case.

CIC vide notification No.CIC/Legal/2007/006 dated: 20th October, 2008 has subsituted Regulation 23 of the "Central Information Commission (Management) Regulations, 2007" (See below).

23. “Finality of Decision: A decision or an order once pronounced by the Commission shall be final.”

Before the above changes, Regulation 23 read as below :

23. Finality of Decision:
(1) A decision or an order once pronounced by the Commission shall be final
(2) An appellant or a complainant or a respondent may, however, make an application to the Chief Information Commissioner for special leave to appeal or review of a decision or order of the case and mention the grounds for such a request;
(3) The Chief Information Commissioner, on receipt of such a request, may consider and decide the matter as he thinks fit.

Commodore Lokesh. K. Batra (retd.)

Former MLA denied MoU info under RTI

Central Information Commission (CIC) has disposed of an appeal of former Bhavnagar MLA Mahendra Trivedi seeking information about an MoU between State Trading Corporation (STC) and Samraj Exim India Private Limited, Mumbai under Right to Information (RTI) Act saying he is not entitled to it. Disposing of Trivedis appeal Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramanian ruled, "since he is neither guarantor nor party against whom MOU has been entered, he is not entitled to get this information."

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Officer fined for denying info twice

Central Information Commission (CIC) has upheld the penalty of Rs 25,000 it had imposed earlier on Mamta Kundra, central public information officer (CPIO) of the office of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). After she had been penalised for failing to providing information to the complainant Ravindra Choubey under Right to Information (RTI) Act and also not responding to the CICs show cause notice, Kundra
requested the CIC to review its decision. The delay in furnishing information, according to Kundra was due to the failure of administrative officer PM Roy who was responsible for putting up RTI requests before the CPIO and who had proceeded on voluntary retirement without putting Choubeys request before her.

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The govt silence is killing

For the past six years, parliament has been silent on the public interest disclosure (protection of informers) Act, 2002, that guarantees protection to public servants who disclose corruption or mal administration or negligence by the bureaucracy, including the council of ministers except the prime minister. The purpose of this proposed enactment was to strengthen the freedom of speech and right to information (RTI). It aims to encourage disclosure of information that's privy to the bureaucracy alone and which refuses to reveal it under the immunity clause.

Disgusted with the bureaucracy's tenacity against helping in dealing with complaints invoking the RTI Act, the central information commission (CIC) recently warned that "denying information… would be detrimental to national efforts to promote free flow of information between citizens and the government".

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Two Goan ministers in police's 'goonda list'

Two cabinet ministers in the Congress-led coalition government in Goa figure in a list of bad characters and proclaimed offenders compiled by the state police, a newspaper report said Friday.An exclusive report in Sunaparant, Goa's only Konkani
daily, claims that Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate and Urban Development Minister Joaquim Alemao figure in the 'goonda list' (list of known criminals) of the state police.

The newspaper, which has reproduced a scanned image of the list dated 2000, also reports that Rudolf Fernandes, son of Congress legislator Victoria Fernandes has been listed as a goonda in the list, which was put together in 2000 by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Goa Police.

The story says that the list of criminals was compiled by the police due to "an increasing trend in crime, noticed during the year (2000)". "As such a need was felt to update the concerned, with information on goondas, history sheeters and bad characters so as to take necessary preventive measures and keep them under surveillance," reads an excerpt from a covering letter signed by then Superintendent of Police (CID) I.D. Shukla.

The report claims that in response to an RTI (right to information) query asking the police to furnish the last two updated lists of criminals compiled by them, the two district superintendents Bosco George (North) and Shekhar Prabhudessai (South), have claimed in writing that "no such information was available with them". When IANS contacted Goa Inspector General of Police Kishen Kumar, he refused to comment on the issue. "You talk to concerned SPs. I will not talk on this. The media is going overboard," said Kumar.

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Cabinet papers to be disclosed after the decision is taken

CIC in his decision in Appeal No. CIC/WB/A/2008/00081 dated 1-2-2008 in the matter Shri P.D Khandelwal V/s Dept of Personnel & Training, (DOPT) has allowed the inspection and disclosure of certain files, classified by the Public Authority as Cabinet Papers.

Wajahat has also elaborated a few definations and terminology related to cabinet papers and the various ranks involved in the process.

Manoj Pai

RTI applicant lodges complaint

A person who sought information on public works from Public Works Department under Right to Information Act, has lodged a police complaint alleging assault from public servants. Manish, a resident of Keelukote in the city sought information on works relating to road construction of roads from Holur, passing through Mattikunte, Chinangur and Annihalli, taken up by PWD. He had filed an application as prescribed under RTI. However, according to the police complaint lodged by him, an assistant
executive engineer and a contractor K S Srinivas summoned councillor Somashekhar, and threatened him not to seek any information henceforth. The complaint also alleged that an attempt was made to assault him too. Gal pete police have registered the complaint.

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Info panel rejects RTI activists' plea

When the highest upholders of the RTI Act decide not to comply with its norms, then the effectiveness of the three-year-old sunshine act comes into question. In a blatant violation of the RTI Act, the State Information Commission (SIC) on Friday denied the request of a group of citizens who wanted to inspect documents at its office. According to Section 4 of the RTI Act, every public authority has to allow inspection of documents to applicants. The RTI activists had requested for inspection of documents that described the powers and duties of the SIC officials. They also wanted to inspect SIC orders passed during the last six months. "We were denied inspection of these documents, though under the Act it is mandatory that this has to be provided without any prior notice," said Krishnaraj Rao of Sahasi Padayatri who along with five others met the SIC officials.

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Demand to fill up post of State CIC

The absence of a State Chief Information Commissioner in the Assam State Information Commission has invoked the annoyance of various public organizations, which consider it a hindrance in effective use and implementation of the Right to Information Act in the State.

The appeal to appoint the State Chief Information Commissioner from non-police and non-bureaucratic backgrounds was strongly made by various women's groups and civil society representatives in front of the Governor of Assam S.C. Mathur on Thursday. Representatives from North East Network, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Assam Mahila Samata Society, Assam Pradeshik Mahila Samiti and Tezpur District Mahila Samiti requested the Governor to ensure the appointment as per the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005.

An 18-member delegation from the civil society groups met the Governor at Raj
Bhawan to voice the people's demands in regard to effective use and
implementation of the Act.

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GIC may soon have a building of its own

After being made to function from the first floor of Bureau of Economics and Statistics for three years, Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) may soon have a building of its own and resources to improve its working, including video-conferencing facilities.
In 2005, when the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into effect the state government's general administration department (GAD) had asked the Central government for Rs 200 crore for its implementation in the state. Now, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) under the central ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions is framing a centrally sponsored plan scheme (CSPS) to promote RTI. This scheme has received 'in principle' approval from the planning commission as well.

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Information sought under RTI not given even after six months

Under the Right to Information Act (RTI), information must be provided to the applicant within 30 to 40 days. But there are many cases where even after six months, the information is not given. In one such case, Help, an NGO, has been waiting for
information applied under RTI since April.

According to Parvinder Singh Kitna, the NGO had filed its application on April 5 to seek information regarding the recovery of Red Cross funds from those IAS officers who had misused them in their respective districts, during their stint as DCs.

The NGO had asked how much amount was to be recovered from which IAS Officer , the total amount to be recovered, the time period for recovery, recovery method to be adopted from the retired IAS officers etc. The RTI application was addressed to the office of Chief Secretary, Punjab. From there, it was referred to the Personnel Department's IAS branch.

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RTI Reveals Multiple vehicle registration at Ahmedabad RTO

Cops investigating terror cases trying to identify vehicle owners through Regional Transport Office (RTO) often face a dead end. The reason: it is possible for a vehicle to get registered thrice and be issued three different registration numbers at Ahmedabad RTO. That too, without the vehicle being produced at the office. Moreover, sometimes, registration is in a different name for one of the numbers. Such practices were brought to light when a tractor owner sought accountability under Right to Information (RTI) Act since his vehicle was given three numbers.

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Three years on, still SIC not fully operational

Three years after its formation, the State Information Commission is not fully operational. On one hand, the commission is entangled in a legal battle with the
High Court over issuance of documents under the RTI Act. On the other, it's reeling under severe staff shortage.

Adding to the dilemma, there are allegations that the government is not interested in implementing the commission orders. A statement of the penalties awarded by the commission under Section 20(1)of the RTI Act shows that only 60 government officials were awarded penalties of Rs 7.35 lakh till June 24, 2008. However, only 38 of them remitted the amount. This should be viewed against the backdrop that the commission handled about 2.5 lakh cases during this period.

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BJP using RTI to nail Delhi govt

This is the first Assembly election in Delhi where the opposition seems to be making full use of the RTI Act to catch the government on the wrong foot. During the 2003 elections, RTI was still a relatively new concept and parties had not quite realized its potential as a weapon in a democracy.

Delhi BJP started its own RTI unit three months ago after some of its leaders felt that the city government was spending too much public money for an “image makeover” by issuing frequent and irrelevant advertisements. The unit has since unearthed information about how the government spent over Rs 45 crore in advertisements during 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years, apart from nailing the government in numerous other issues.

What is all the more surprising is that the replies obtained under the RTI showed that out of Rs 7.87 crore spent on advertisements in 2007-08, approximately Rs 4.9 crore was non-planned expenditure, said a senior BJP leader.

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Corps of Detectives (CoD) not under RTI Act's ambit

The Corps of Detectives (CoD) is the state's equivalent of the Centre's CBI. The staff of this premier agency are not involved in day-to-day law-and-order issues or crimes. Normally, complicated and sensational cases are handed over to the CoD for focused investigation.

Cases related to custodial death, dowry death, gun-running and counterfeit currency are automatically taken up by the CoD. It is exempted from the ambit of Right to Information Act, 2005. CoD comes under the administrative control of the home department. Its chief (DGP) is answerable to the DG & IGP, home secretary, home minister and the chief minister.

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Babus` file notings have no legal sanction: SC

The Supreme Court has ruled that file notings by babus do not confer any vested right on a person and do not have the sanction of law. "It is trite to state that notings in a departmental file do not have the sanction of law to be an effective order. A noting by an officer is an expression of his viewpoint on the subject," a bench of Justices
C K Thakker and D K Jain observed. According to the apex court, internal notings like file notings are not meant for public circulation. "It is no more than an opinion by an officer for internal use and consideration of the other officials of the department and for the benefit of the final decision-making authority," the bench said while dismissing appeals filed by two petrol pump owners.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Supreme Court to examine whether CM fund comes under RTI Act

The Supreme Court on Monday, in view of conflicting opinions by two high courts, agreed to examine whether information pertaining to the Chief Minister's Discretionary Fund could be made public under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Acting on an appeal filed by a Public Information Officer (PIO) of CM's Office, Uttar Pradesh, a bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan sought a response from the State Information Commission and also its Chief Information Commissioner.

The apex court has also issued a notice to Akhilesh Pratap Singh, who had filed an application under the Act seeking list of persons who received more than Rs 1 lakh during August 28, 2003 to March 31, 2007 from the CM's Discretionary Fund.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Warning: Using RTI in Bihar may be injurious

When 48-year-old humble farmer Shiv Prakash Rai sought certain information under the RTI Act in May 2008, the then district magistrate of Buxar, Vishnudeo Prasad charged him with entering the DMs chamber and asking Rs 25,000 as monthly rangdari (extortion) from the district magistrate. Eventually, Rai was put behind the bars for 29 days until the SP found the "bizarre case" untrue and absolved him. But that's not the end of the story. The State Information Commission, after a thorough probe, found the district magistrate (now transferred) guilty and slapped him with a fine of Rs 25,000. The amount has recently been deducted from the bureaucrat's salary. His successor in Buxar was also slapped with a fine of equal amount but the full bench of the SIC, at a later meeting, stayed the order.

Having achieved justice, an emboldened Rai could now again be seen pursuing his mission with the same zeal to expose corruption in government offices using the powers enshrined under the Right to Information Act. "I had sought information about the beneficiaries under schemes like Prime Minister Rozgar Yojna (PMRY). But I was
implicated by the DM at the behest of some bank officials who had disbursed loans under the fictitious names for purchase of tractors. That's why I am pursuing for the truth under the RTI Act," said Rai, a free bird now.

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RTI downs meter on image of city cabbies

Compared to other cities, Mumbai's taxi drivers used to have a good track record of taking people to desired destinations without charging them exorbitantly. But, in the past few years, this image has taken a beating with city cabbies refusing to ply short-distance routes. Whether from CST to Churchgate, Mahim to Bandra, Dadar to Century Plaza or Borivli (E) to Borivli (W), many taxi drivers refuse to ply or demand more than shown in the meter. The Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Tardeo booked 2,213 taxi drivers in the past three years for refusing to ply short distances in the island city alone. "The problem has become acute. I don't even attempt to hail a cab for short distances,'' said Chetan Kothari, who filed an RTI query on this issue.

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CIC takes note of wrong reporting of R S proceedings

Wrong reporting of Parliamentary proceeding recently came to the notice of the Central Information Commission(CIC) while it was dealing with an RTI application. The CIC has suggested that the matter could be taken up with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The application had been filed a few months back by Maj Gen V K Singh of Gurgaon before the CPIO (RTI Cell) Rajya Sabha, seeking information on the report of Group of Ministers on National Security constituted in the year 2000.

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RTI Chief is government puppet - Anna Hazare

Veteran social activist and Right to Information (RTI) foremost crusader, Anna Hazare, is not in the best of his moods. He is fed up with the attitude of government servants towards RTI and their attemtpts to nullify the benefits of the Act, which tries to make governance transparent. In fact, he left for New Delhi yesterday to meet President Pratibha Patil.

Hazare, has alleged that the state chief information commissioner(CIC) is hand-in-glove with the state government. And this is reason why CIC Suresh Joshi has kept cabinet decisions out of the purview of the RTI Act. speaking in a function on Sunday, Hazare said, "As the powers to remove or transfer the state CIC rests upon the President, I will approach Pratibhatai in this regard." According to Hazare, if government keeps on amending the RTI Act to gradually make it toothless, the Act will loose its soul. Whne the Mirror contacted Joshi, he said, "Anna is a respectable figure and has a special place in my heart.After he made these allegations I spoke to him and gave the statistics which prove Maharashtra has a better RTI record compared to other states. And he was convinced an said he had no idea about these figures. However, Anna is still enraged over the inefficiency of info commissioners." They are expected to hear 100 cases daily, but they manage only one on an average. "We need to improve our figures." Also, they are of the rank of cabinet secretary and earn a huge pay, so if they can't handle more than one case why
are they being paid at all?"

Pune Mirror, Saturday, October 18, 2008 Page One

MCD clerk fined Rs 4,750

In an "unusual" decision to penalise junior level officials for lapses, Central Information Commission has slapped a fine of Rs 4,750 on an MCD clerk who failed to provide information to an RTI applicant within the stipulated time. The Chief Information Commissioner ordered the additional commissioner (slum and JJ department) to realise the amount from his salary for a lapse in which another clerk was also allegedly involved. "It is, however, not usually the practice of this commission to penalise subordinate officials of the level of UDC and LDC. In this case, however, officials Jai Chand and Sewak Singh are both serving as field officers in addition to their ranking of UDC and LDC."

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BJP cries foul over delay in CM report on Afzal hanging

Delhi BJP on Friday lashed out at CM Sheila Dikshit for not filing a report in the Afzal Guru hanging case. An RTI application filed by a lawyer has revealed that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit did not file a legal report as she was directed by the
Union Home Ministry. The Supreme Court had awarded capital punishment to Afzal Guru,
convicted for sedition in the Parliament attack case. Afzal had subsequently filed a mercy petition to President Dr Abdul Kalam on October 3, 2006. On the same day the President had forwarded it to the Home Ministry for a report. The Delhi CM was directed to file a legal report, which she has not done till now, the RTI plea has

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RTI activism earns ex-armyman wrath of his village panchayat

Sabarkantha panchayat passes resolution against Pandya for his flurry of petitions The Right to Information (RTI) Act was enacted to bring about transparency in governance. But the panchayat of Meghraj village in Sabarkantha district, it seems, is seeing the other side of the Act. The panchayat has passed a resolution to initiate action against an ex-serviceman, Anil Kumar Pandya, who has been keeping it on its toes through petitions filed under the Act. Not only that, the panchayat has also forwarded a copy of its resolution to the Sabarkantha District Collector and DDO, with a request to take action against Pandya. Deputy District Development Officer B N Chaudhury said this is a "strange" situation. "Seeking information is not a crime. One cannot do anything about someone who is seeking information under the RTI Act," he said. He added that being an elected body, a panchayat has the right to pass a resolution, but it is difficult for the department to act on the same.

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Malda official 'violates' RTI

Despite the approval of the officer in charge of Right to Information cell in the Malda district magistrate office, the district registrar is allegedly reluctant to show answer sheets and other related papers, for the recruitment of lower division clerks (LDC), to the applicants. This is for the first time that a Scheduled Caste candidate, who had appeared in the competitive examination conducted by the district
registrar office for the recruitment of 14 LDCs, applied to the Malda RTI cell to show his answer sheet. Emboldened by the Right to Information Act, Mr Bijoy Kumar Ram, a resident of Tulshihata in Harishchandrapur, decided to see his answer sheet unsatisfied as he was with the final panel published recently in which his name had not figured.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Make public income, assets of IAS/IPS officers: SIC

The State Information Commission has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to make public the income and assets of IAS and IPS officers serving in the state from 2005-06 onwards. The acting Chief Information Commissioner, Gyanendra Sharma in a judgement yesterday asked the appointments department of the state government to put the assets and income details of the IAS and IPS officers on the state website within six weeks time.

On the petition filed by a person Brijesh Misra seeking the details of movable and immovable property of nine IAS officers under the right to information, Sharma said that when details of the assets could be provided to investigating agencies why it could not be given to the public. He observed that when MPs and MLAs have to make their assets public at election time why not the IAS and IPS officers shall do the same. The petitioner had also asked whether inquiries, including that by the CBI was pending against any of the nine officers. The IAS officers against whom the petitioner had sought the information includes Atul Kumar Gupta, Mahesh Gupta, Dev Dutt, Lalit Srivastava, Chanchal Tewari, R N Trivedi, Ravindra Naik, Rajan Shukla
and Chandra Prakash.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gujarat changed industrial policy for Nano: Congress

The opposition to Tatas Nano in growing in Gujarat. Days after Congress spokesperson Arjun Modhvadia demanded that farmers in Sanand, where the Tata group has relocated its small car project, be properly compensated, Gujarat Congress chief Siddharth Patel has upped the ante by accusing the state government of making last-minute changes in the industrial policy to accommodate the project. "Rules have been put aside in order to accommodate the project," said Gujarat Congress president Sidhdharth Patel. The opposition party has sought details about the incentives offered to the Tata group under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. He alleged that the Gujarat government changed in Industrial Policy overnight to benefit the Tatas. Congress has demanded that all details pertaining to the incentives offered to the group be made public.

Complete Article

No rules for judges to declare assets:CIC

The Supreme Court and High Courts have no clear rules that make it mandatory for judges and their families to declare the details of their wealth, the Central
Information Commission (CIC) said on Wednesday. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said unlike the MPs and government officials, who are bound by rules to declare their assets, the commission is yet to receive from the judiciary the procedure being to be followed by judges. "This issue has been before us for some time now. We are yet to find out the exact procedure being followed by the judiciary in ascertaining the declaration of assets by the judges," Habibullah told
Hindustan Times.

Complete Article

Child labour prevails in northeast, but not in official data

Even though activists say it is easy to spot children scrubbing pots and pans and doing other work at streetside restaurants in the northeast - like in the rest of the country - the labour ministry data paints a shockingly different picture. Following queries filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an NGO working on child rights, ministry data revealed negligible incidence of child labour in the region. In Arunachal Pradesh, the number of inspections carried out from October 2006 to April 2008 was just nine, in which six cases of violation were detected. However, there were no figures on the number of prosecutions filed or rescued children rehabilitated.

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Delhi residents can get RTI information through voice mail

People living in the capital can now obtain information sought under the the Right to Information (RTI) Act also through voice mail services, Minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan said Wednesday. The Delhi government is taking a lead in this direction and the central government is planning to expand it later in other States and union territories, Chavan added. Addressing a conference organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), Chavan said the Department of Post and Telegraph (DPST) was drafting a proposal to this effect for approval of the Prime Minister's Office.

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Officer fined Rs 10,000 for ignoring RTI notices

Sports Authority of India officer has invited the wrath of Central Information Commission which has slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on him for ignoring RTI notices. The information watchdog held that SAI was not performing well in respect of RTI notice. "On no occasion anyone attended the hearing when it was scheduled," Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramanian observed while hearing the petition of one Likhi Ram. Taking a stern view of poor performance of SAI Chief Public
Information Officer for not providing required information to the applicant, Balasubramanian said "I consider he deserved to be punished under section 20(1) of RTI Act and though I should impose maximum penalty on him, I am taking a lenient view and imposing a penalty of Rs 10,000 on him".

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RTI now a common man's tool: study

An interim assessment of the Right to Information Act, 2005, undertaken independently, has concluded that more and more people are now using it in new ways, disproving the propaganda that RTI is an instrument handled only by select social activists. The first of its kind, the comprehensive study, conducted jointly by
the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) and the Right to Information Assessment and Analysis Group (RaaG), has been billed as a people's initiative to assess who is using the Act and to what purpose. The study covered 10 States, besides Delhi.

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The Interim Report

After Express story, Rs 78 lakh RTI 'fee' waived

The State Information Commission has directed the official concerned to provide information free of cost, under the RTI Act provisions, to a Bhojpur resident, who was asked to submit an "unreasonable" fee of Rs 78, 21,252 for seeking PDS-related
information. The District Supply Officer flouted RTI rules by giving the first information after the 30-day deadline. The applicant is entitled to get information free of cost after the deadline.

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Army housing organisation not subject to RTI, says CIC

The Army Welfare Housing Organisation is not a "public authority" hence it does not come under the purview of the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission has held while hearing a petition of an ex-RAW official. Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah in his order on Monday said that since there was no enabling provision authorising the Army Headquarters or its CPIO to access information concerning AWHO, any direction by the Commission would not be legally tenable. The Commissioner was hearing the petition of Major General V K Singh, an ex-RAW who wanted information about a housing complex called Devinder Vihar in Gurgaon, Haryana, built by organisation.

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'Soochana Shree' Award Presented to RTI Activists in Orissa

On the 3rd Anniversary of RTI Hundreds Activist took pledge to fight against corruption here during State Level Convention on Right to Information. During this occassion 5 RTI activist have been felicitated in SOOCHANA SHREE AWARD for their effective RTI practices having sound development impact on lives of communities and citizens at grass root level. This state level convention was organised by NAMASKAR forum to commemorate 3rd anniversary of Right to Information Act-2005. More than 300 activists from different parts of the state have participated in this event & shared their experience on RTI implementation.


Kunja Bihari Patra(Dasapalla, Nayagard)
Manas Ranjan Sahoo (Kalahandi)
Bauri Bandhu Rout ( Dhenkanal)
Rabindra nath Nayak ( Puri)
Nargish Bahar (Puri)
Baharana Mahila Mahasangha (Puri), Group Award.

Posted by Sidharth Misra on HJ

Panel moots changes in RTI Act

In an attempt that may thwart the very purpose of the Right To Information Act, the Lok Sabha Committee of Privileges submitted a report before the Lok Sabha Speaker, recommending for amendments, including that the decision taken by the House/Speaker may not be open to review by the Chief Information Commissioner. The report on `Requests from Courts of Law and investigating agencies, for documents pertaining to proceedings of House, Parliamentary Committees or which are in the custody of the Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, for production in Courts of Law and for investigation purposes' was laid on the table on April 30, 2008. The 97-page report was submitted by the Committee chaired by V Kishore Chandra S Deo after studying the procedures followed in 35 countries.

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One eatery, three PIN codes

Haji Ali Juice Centre exists in three different locations on municipal records. If the municipal records are anything to go by, then the Haji Ali Juice Centre exists at three different places in the city. While the popular eatery operates from a single outlet located near the Haji Ali Dargah on the Lala Lajpatrai Road, municipal records list the presence of the eatery at three different locations distinguished by separate postal index numbers (PIN). The information was procured on the basis of an RTI application recently made by social activist Amit Maru with the collector's
office. Maru had sought copies of various permissions given to the juice centre. Replying to the application, the collector's office, attached copies of bills levied on the eatery by various civic departments, along with a copy of the permission. The copies revealed the startling information.

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RTI query ignites debate on LPG misuse

At a time when the ministry of petroleum and natural gas has asked oil marketing companies to take action against commercial institutions making use of domestic LPG cylinders, recent RTI details reveal that there has been a steep fall in detecting such cases. As many as 58 cases have been detected in the first quarter of this year in the major oil marketing companies-Indian Oil Corporation(IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. According to experts, of the LPG supply to 10 crore customers, only 5% are commercial users. The real cases of diversion are almost ten times more than those detected.

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They take trip to educate villagers about their rights

It is not every day that residents of a remote village wake up to find a Bombay high court judge telling them about their rights. Neither is it common for law students to get tips on last minute preparation for their exams from the same judge in the second class compartment of a local train. On Sunday morning, Justice S Radhakrishnan of the Bombay high court hopped on to a local train with 40 students of K C Law College. They were headed for the tiny hamlet of Mulgaon, beyond Badlapur, to educate the villagers about their rights guaranteed under three laws
enacted in recent timesthe Right to Information (RTI) Act, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and The Domestic Violence Act.

Kartikeya ,TNN, 13 Oct 2008, Times of India

Train RTI officials: Activists demand

Public grievances were heard and problems faced by people while filing RTI applications were discussed at the colloquium held to celebrate three years of the RTI Act in Karnataka on Saturday. "Training the Right To Information (RTI) officers is a must as they do not know how to deal with people who file RTI. The officers should be cordial towards them instead of passing nasty comments to the applicants, which is a common situation faced by many of applicants," said YG Muralidharan, Managing Trustee, Consumer Rights, Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT). He was speaking at a colloquium held to celebrate three years of the RTI Act in Karnataka on Saturday.

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High pendency killing RTI Act, says activist

In Maharashtra, the Act has been a runaway success with around 3.7 lakh citizens filing RTI queries in the last three years. "The RTI Act has made a positive impact on the lives of people like no other Act has done before. More and more people are filing RTI queries to procure information , which was earlier denied by government
officials,'' said Shailesh Gandhi, information commissioner with the Central Information Commission, from Delhi. RTI activists and citizens, however , say the rising pendency of second appeals is a cause for concern. An applicant is forced to file a second appeal after both the public information officer (PIO) and the first appellate authority deny the information on flimsy grounds.

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Hazare threatens stir over RTI

social activist anna hazare on sunday announced that he would soon launch a state-wide agitation against the apathy of the state government in implementing the right to information (rti) act. he said that he would approach even the president against the state information commissioner for keeping the cabinet decisions by the state cabinet out of the purview of the rti. hazare said that it was possible to prevent almost 70 % corruption in the government provided the rti was effectively implemented. he pointed out that due to the apathy of the state government, the state
information commissioner gave the decision that state cabinet decisions could be
kept out of the rti purview.

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KIC moots law on public records

The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has recommended to the State Government to come out with a legislation on public records on the lines of the Public Records Act, 1993 enacted by the Centre. Information Commissioner K A Thippeswamy, said such a legislation would streamline the system of preserving and maintaining public records in government offices and also enable penalising those found guilty of unauthorised destruction of public documents.

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Nagaland to have first RTI public hearing on Oct 17

Stated to be the first, a public "hearing" of the state under the Right to Information (RTI) Act is to be held at Suruhuto town on the October 17. This is being jointly organized by the Suruhuto Range Students Union (SRSU), YouthNet and North East Network (NEN). SRSU, YouthNet and NEN have been working for the past three months collecting information under the RTI Act 2005 said a circular from YouthNet's program officer Joshua Sheqi. The areas that are to be engaged for the RTI discourse are medical, school education, roads and electricity. YouthNet said the initiative is to bring about accountability, transparency and a check on corruption in the system as well as in assisting and strengthening the hands of the government to function efficiently. This will enable the public to enjoy the basic amenities that they are entitled to, YouthNet said.

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Munda seeks smart use of RTI

At a seminar on the Right to Information Act (RTI) held today, former chief minister Arjun Munda sought judicious use of the information act from the state's citizens and organisations. The seminar — which was organised by the Jharkhand RTI Forum, a social group working in this sector, and the Junior Chamber International, a social organisation — celebrated three years of the RTI in India. Several officials, including the two information commissioners of the state, Gangotri Kujur and Sristidhar Mahto, attended the event. Before experts and politicians took to the stage, former chief minister released a book on the RTI.

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Bottled bane: Even govt not sure about quality of packaged water

The next time you buy a bottle of packaged water or even a water pouch at the station, be sure that even the state Government is unaware of the existence of the manufacturing company or of its quality assurance. An RTI application filed by a city based environmental activist has left the ministry scurrying for answers. With an estimate of 300 local and private companies packaging water pouches and bottles in the state, the process of packaging and distribution is left unmonitored by the government departments. "These companies are taking up their business without any proper monitoring on the packaging. A bottle, which is sold at a price of Rs 10 or 12 in the market is packaged at a very less price," said Rohit Prajapati, a city-based environmental activist.

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Cong. files RTI application to get Nano deal details

Congress has asked for details of the deal signed between the Gujarat government and Tata Motors for the company's Nano car project under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. In an application to the Industries Commissioner, the party has also
asked for details of incentives given to Tata Motors. "We have made an application under the RTI Act to get details of the deal signed between the government and the Tatas. We have asked for details of the incentives being given to the company for setting up the Nano Car plant," Congress spokesperson Arjun Modhvadia said.

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RTI Act turns three today

The toddler called Right to Information (RTI) Act, born 58 years too late after the country gained independence, completes three years today. The sunshine legislation aims to promote transparency and accountability in functioning of public authorities as a vibrant democracy needs an informed citizenry. In fact, this is an age when authorities should proactively disclose information through media, so that citizens don't have to take recourse to RTI. However, while the Act is working well at the grassroots level in rural areas, it's not making an impact at the top where it matters the most - in Gandhinagar. Moreover, two additional information commissioners (ICs) have been allocated for the state, but the posts have not been filled as yet.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

RTI fallout: Collector fined

Cartoonist R K Laxman's common man is no longer a hapless commoner. Armed with a constitutional weapon provided by the Right To Information (RTI) Act, he is now empowered enough to expose the powers-that-be and ensure the erring ones among them are taken to task. This is exactly what Ram Pravesh Rai has been doing for sometime now. This 48-year-old farmer from Buxar has almost dedicated his life to dig out the truth buried in official files and expose the erring babus. Thanks to his relentless efforts, a district magistrate (DM), who once sent him to jail, has been fined by the State Information Commission (SIC).

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Train RTI officials: Activists' demand

Public grievances were heard and problems faced by people while filing RTI applications were discussed at the colloquium held to celebrate three years of the RTI Act in Karnataka on Saturday. "Training the Right To Information (RTI) officers is a must as they do not know how to deal with people who file RTI. The officers should be cordial towards them instead of passing nasty comments to the applicants, which is a common situation faced by many of applicants," said YG Muralidharan, Managing Trustee, Consumer Rights, Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT). He was speaking at a colloquium held to celebrate three years of the RTI Act in Karnataka on Saturday.

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Activist wages a battle for RTI stamps

A stamp from the postal department for making RTI applications less cumbersome is what a city-based social activist, Vihar Durve, has been demanding for over two years now. He had made the appeal in letters sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also the then President APJ Abdul Kalam. Ahead of the third year of implementation of the Right To Information Act, 2005 (RTI), which came into effect on October 12, Dhurve has sent another letter to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Durve wants stamps, in the denominations of Rs 10 and Rs 20, to make it easy for people to make use of the RTI.

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Right Act: Three years of empowerment

The Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force on October 12, 2005. Three years down the line, the Gujarat State Information Commission (SIC) remains one of the most proactive offices in the country, even as activists, the common man as well as the political class have used it to seek information in varied ways. While the law has helped many get access to the information available with the government authorities, it has also been used to serve personal and vested interests in many a case. The Newsline team takes stock of how the use of the RTI Act has fared in the state, detailing important revelations, impacts due to the RTI petitions in Gujarat,
candid interview with SIC commissioner R N Das and stories that changed lives, raising hopes, giving fillip to battles in the state.

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RTI activist turned Info Commissioner guarantees performance

It is not often that activists find themselves at the other end of the spectrum. From filing Right to Information (RTI) applications, Shailesh Gandhi, one of the four freshly appointed central information commissioners in New Delhi, is now adjudicati ng second appeals. The pioneering RTI activist that he is, Gandhi gives a performance guarantee. In an interview, he promises that appeals will not be pending for over three months. "I am thrilled at the appointment. I believe what I am saying is 'do able'. I am a hard business manager and there is really no reason to go wrong here. This is a chance for me to prove it's possible and raise the bar for everybody," he says.

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Right to Information kindles lamp of empowerment

The SSNNL bonds worth Rs 60,000 were part of the state government's Rs 1.5 lakh compensation package announced for the riot victims. The Right to Information (RTI) Act has not only helped the common man get access to the information under the control of public authorities, it has also lent a hand to 25 women who lost their husbands during the 2002 Gujarat riots. It was because of their applications filed under the Act that now, they get Rs 500 every month as interest on their Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) bonds. The SSNNL bonds worth

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Cause list is a public document: CIC to HC

Criticising Delhi High Court (HC) for withholding a copy of cause list to a Right to Information (RTI) seeker, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that a "cause list'' prepared by court administration for listing of cases is a public document, which a citizen has a right to "inspect.'' Asking HC to supply copy of cause lists of a certain period to a lawyer who was denied the same, a bench headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah held that once this list reaches the court master to record next dates of hearing and other case related
details, it becomes a public document and falls under the purview of RTI. "A citizen exercising his right under RTI Act becomes entitled to inspect the cause list, take notes, extracts or certified copies,'' CIC said.

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CIC men face infrastructure roadblock

Nearly a month after the four new information commissioners took oath, work is still to start in full swing thanks to lack of infrastructure like water, power and staff forcing them to type their own orders. Of the four new commissioners, former DoPT chief Satyanand Mishra has been accommodated at August Kranti Bhawan with the other commissioners and the chief information commissioner. But for activist-turned-information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and his colleague M L Sharma — who have been asked to sit in the DoPT building at old JNU campus, about four km from August Kranti Bhawan — conducting hearings has become an onerous task. Not only is there no running water but frequent electricity cuts force even the back-up invertor to shut down. "There is no running water here. The peons have been asked to fill a bucket from outside and keep it here," a source said. While Sharma has some staff, Gandhi has two people instead of the 16 that are sanctioned to him.

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RTI query on hearing aids falls on deaf ears

Central Information Commission (CIC) had to issue a show-cause notice to wake up the central public information officer (CPIO) of Union ministry of health and family welfare. This was after a query under Right to Information (RTI) Act on hearing
aids remained unheard. After both the query and a CIC notice to appear for a hearing received no response from CPIO or appellate authority of the ministry, a notice was issued on why penalties should not be imposed.

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NSC asked to present complete report on national security

Central Information Commission on Friday asked the National Security Council to present complete report of Group of Ministers on National Security prepared during 2001 for commission's perusal. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah while hearing the plea of V K Singh, author of controversial book "India's External
Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing", asked the NSC to present the report before the commission to ascertain why it cannot be revealed to Singh.

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24 depts in Tamil Nadu ignore penalty

The State Information Commission is yet to recover the penalty imposed on 24 departments and institutions for not complying with the Right to Information (RTI) Act. University of Madras, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Health and Family Welfare Department, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Chennai Corporation, Highways Department, Chennai Police Commissionerate, Directorate of Rural Development and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority are some of the defaulters. Madhav Vishnubhatta of the Association for India's Development on Friday said the commission, which received 8,000 appeals in the first year and 30,000 in the second year, dealt with 1.2 lakh appeals in the third year. Of them, 24 cases were found to be gross violations of the RTI.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

RTI reveals no work started on Yamuna enclosures

It has been two years since the High Court ordered the Delhi government to ensure that special enclosures were created in the Yamuna river for immersion of religious samagri and idols. However, in response to a right to information (RTI) application, the environment department of the Delhi government has said that of the 13 locations identified by it, the Delhi Development Authority has paid MCD money for construction of just one enclosure. MCD officials said that work on even that one has not started yet.

Replying to the RTI application by local NGO Tapas, the environment department said that "for one pilot project, money has been released by DDA to MCD... vide cheque amounting to Rs 3,44,000'' on June 20, 2008. MCD is not only supposed to construct the enclosures but is also supposed to maintain them. Till last week, MCD officials had washed their hands off the work, saying they had nothing to do with the enclosures.

Four months down the line, there is no sign of any work having started. MCD officials accepted that they had received the money and that no work had begun on the project. However, they were not able to give a reason for why no work had taken place till now.

Complete Article

RTI fails to show true picture of LPG misuse

At a time when the ministry of petroleum and natural gas has asked oil marketing companies to take action against commercial institutions making use of domestic LPG cylinders, recent RTI details reveal that there has been a steep fall in detecting such cases. As many as 58 cases have been detected in the first quarter of this year in the major oil marketing companies - Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.

Even while the ministry is trying to curb diversion, the RTI details reveal that in the period from April 2006 to March 2007, while IOC detected 121 cases, BPCL recorded 57 cases and HPCL recorded 169 cases. In the same period next year, the figures were more or less the same with these companies tackling 224, 62 and 144 cases respectively. Surprisingly, when the prices of crude oil increased in the first quarter of this year, the cases recorded were only 15, 13 and 30 respectively.

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Nahan mazdoor panchayat uses RTI, seeks details of foundry’s merger

The Nahan Foundry Mazdoor Panchayat has applied to Director, Industries, Himachal Pradesh, who is also the MD of Nahan Foundry, to provide details of the meeting of the high-power committee, comprising of the foundry’s Board of Directors, in which the decision to transfer the property of HP PWD & IPH State workshop and merge the foundry into the State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDC) was taken.
The information has been sought by the panchayat’s additional general secretary Salim Ahmed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act

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APIO alleges harassment by DEO

A senior assistant at the District Education Office on Wednesday alleged harassment at the hands of Sudesh Bajaj, District Education Officer (Secondary), Ludhiana. Madanjit Singh, who is also assistant public instructions officer of the Education Department, Ludhiana, alleged, “DEO Sudesh Bajaj has been harassing me ever since she joined here as DEO. Being the incharge of Right to Information (RTI) branch, I have to get many documents signed by her for providing information to the applicants. But she delays my work and do not sign the documents in time. All this leads to sheer harassment as applicants of RTI get delayed information, and then they lodge complaint against the delay to the concerned authorities.”

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No Public Information Officer in Agriculture Department

Issue comes to light after city-based activist files an RTI application to the department. An application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by a city-based activist revealed that there is no Public Information Officer (PIO) in the the Agriculture department of the Gujarat government. The activist, Rohit Prajapati, had sought the usage information of fertilisers after conducting an independent study on various food products and amount of pesticides in form of DDT and Urea in August this year. In its reply, the department, however, said that the information couldn't be given as there is no PIO in the department.

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Police Memorial: a Rs 15-cr ‘mistake’

Structure was removed as it blocked the view of the Rashtrapati Bhavan; RTI applicant says MHA didn’t reply if it’s contemplating action against those responsible for the planning error. Nearly Rs 15 crore was wasted in the construction and removal of the Police Memorial in Chanakyapuri, near Teen Murti. And no one is ready to take the responsibility for this expensive ‘mistake’ committed while raising the building — its height was blocking the view of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In reply to an application filed by a resident under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) did admit it was the ministry’s decision to establish the Police Memorial at Chanakyapuri at a cost of Rs 13.85 crore. But it did not answer if the government was contemplating any action against the officials responsible for granting the green signal for the memorial.

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Cabinet secretariat get CIC rap over RTI

The Central Information Commission, in a recent order, pulled up the cabinet ecretariat for its casual attitude and demanded that the information that had been withheld regarding an appellant's promotion should be disclosed within 10 days.

Terming the attitude of the cabinet secretariat as "flippant", the CIC in a recent order observed that the department was making a "determined effort" not to provide information to the appellant.

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Exam results confidential, SIC tells driver

In an order that could trigger a controversy, the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission has upheld the State Transport Corporation's rejection of an RTI application which had sought the markslist of candidates selected in an examination for drivers last year. The Commission rejected the application filed by S S Gunasekaran from Vellore, saying "the markslist is confidential and an exempted document under the RTI Act."

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Karnataka get new Information Commissioner

Karnataka State Government issued a Notification on 6.10.2008 appointing Sri. J S Virupakshaiah as Information Commissioner. With the appointment of Mr. J S Virupakshaiah totoal number of ICs including Chief Information Commissioner stands increased to four.

Mr. J S Virupakshaiah is a Senior KAS Officer and was serving as Private Secretary to the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He is the second KAS cadre Officer to be appointed as Information Commissioner in Karnataka.


[posted HJ group]

Invitation for ‘Orissa State Level Convention on Right to Information’

Dear Friends,

‘NAMASKAR’, the forum of NGO, CBO & POs of Orissa is organizing a ‘State Level Convention on Right to Information’ on 12th October 2008, in the eve of the 3rd Anniversary of Right to Information Act-2005 at Yatri Nivas, Konark. In this occasion some RTI crusaders of the state will be facilitated in ‘Suchana Shree’ Award for recognizing their effective RTI practices having sound development impact on lives of communities and citizens at grass root level.

This event will be started at 11.00 AM & will continue up to 5.00PM.

You are requested to join in this event & encourage the delegates. We hope your
presence will make this event effective & colourfull.

We anticipate your presence…….

With Love & Respect…

N.A.Shah Ansari
Convener, NAMASKAR
Young India
At/Po- Konark, Dt- Puri, Orissa,INDIA.752111
Ph- 06758.236471, Fax- 06758.236034, Cell- 09437036471
visit us;
[posted on HJ]

St Andrew's RTI helpline turns Two

Dear HJ members

We are happy to announce that today 07.10.08 our RTI helpline has completed two years ( 100 sessions) of dedicated service, in the past two years the three Volunters at the helpline has helped more than 500 applicants to file RTI applications effectively, not only guidance in filing annex A but advise in follow ups at 1st appeal and 2nd appeals, citizens have come from far off places,and have seen 60 percent result.The helpline is open to all citizens irrespective of religion, caste or creed,

RTI Helpline
ST Andrew's church room no 2
Hill road Bandra west Mumbai 400050
(near Holy family hospital)
open every saturday from 9.30 to 11 am

Leslie Almeida
Valerian Fernandes
Richie D"mello

[posted on HJ]

Chhattisgarh High Court Issued Notice to State Information Commission, CGHRC

Chhattisgarh High Court issued notice to State Information Commissioner and three others regarding the denial of registering complaints and the asking of unreasonable fees.Justice Satish Agnihotri, single bench judge of Chhattisgarh High Court, issued a notice to the State Information Commissioner, Public Information officer of the State Information Commission, Chairperson and Public Information officer of Chhattisgarh State Human Rights Commission today while hearing the petition filed by Subash Mohapatra, the Director, Forum for Fact-finding Documentation and Advocacy.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

BMC officer sat on 67 RTI queries

What do you do when babus refuse to hear your appeals under the Right to Information (RTI) Act? You file a series of RTI queries asking for the status of these appeals. That's what a group of civic activists did when ward officials sat on appeals pending for months. Acting on these RTI queries, the civic administration initiated an inquiry against ward officer A B Khanolkar after it was found that during his tenure as assistant commissioner in Dadar-Mahim (G-north), he did not take up for hearing as many as 67 RTI appeals.

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RTI queries slowing BMC work: Sena

The ruling Shiv Sena alliance in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) feels that queries asked under the Right To Information Act (RTI) are slowing down pace of development work taken up by BMC. The party claims that RTI queries have delayed provision of basic civic facilities. With a rise in queries being filed under RTI, senior engineers and officials spend more time in answering them. This affects provision of basic civic facilities, Sena corporator Rahul Shewale said. The Shiv Sena is now demanding specialised RTI cells to be created for all civic departments.

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Video conferencing vital for RTI: CIC

Decentralising the Central Information Commission (CIC) is not the way to clear the pending backlog of appeals and complaints, says India's Right to Information (RTI) chief. "I don't think decentralising is the answer. Video conferencing is a better option and will work far better," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. "If we decentralise, we will have to set up offices, arrange accommodation and other facilities like transport for the information commissioners and for that also a huge amount of money will have to be spent," he added.

Complete Article

KSRTC to pay compensation

The Karnataka Information Commission has ordered the North West KSRTC to pay
compensation of Rs 1,500 to the widow of a retired KSRTC conductor, for making
her travel to Bangalore twice. J H Gowda, retired conductor with the North West KSRTC, who lived at Sirsi in Uttara Kannada, had demanded a copy of his service register on December 10, last year. He wanted to see his service register since he doubted that term benefits were not calculated properly, due to which he was not paid his pension properly. When he did not get a response till February 22, 2008, he filed a complaint with the KIC for the delay. Mahithi Hakku Adhyayana Kendra, Bangalore, presented the case before the Commission on behalf of the Complainant.

Posted by B.H. Veeresha on the Humjanenge yahoogroup

Bail for Cong leader in info commission case

Congress leader, Shailendra Kumar Singh was granted bail today in a criminal case for allegedly misbehaving with the state information commissioner and damaging property in his office. Additional Sessions Judge Shaktikant ordered to release Singh on bail on his executing a personal bond of Rs 20,000 and furnishing two
sureties of the like amount each. Singh, the head of the Right to Information cell of the Congress party, was arrested on September 25 after he allegedly misbehaved with the commissioner on the same day.

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Chief Secy Office not above RTI, says UP Information Commission

Refusing to allow the state Chief Secretary to keep his office above the Right To Information Act, the State Information Commission has asked Atul Kumar Gupta to appoint a Public Relations Officer (PRO) in the next 15 days and make the related information public. While issuing the order, Acting Chief Information Commissioner
Gyanendra Sharma quoted judgments of other states in similar cases. The Chief Secretary's Office, he said, comes under the category of "Public Authority" under Section 2(H) of the RTI Act.

Complete Article

BIAL stay extended

The High Court has extended the stay on the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) full-bench order, which held that the BIAL comes under the purview of the RTI Act. While extending the stay order, the court has also ordered that the BIAL should be open to furnish information to the public without any prejudice. On August 18, the BIAL had challenged the KIC order that held that the BIAL was a public authority as defined under section 2 H of the RTI Act,2005. The full bench directed that the BIAL should appoint an information officer for the benefit of the public. The KIC had observed that the BIAL was substantially financed by the state government and hence, the public has every right to know about theexecution and management of its projects.

Complete Article

Learning about RTI while on the move

Hundreds of people thronged a unique van that travelled across the city and suburbs spreading the cause of the Right to Information Act (RTI). The RTI-onwheels , a concept mooted by Gujarat-based Mahiti Adhikar Pehel, was in the city over the past three days, answering basic queries about the Act. The van even went to as far as Kalyan, creating awareness about issues like how to file an RTI query or go for an appeal if an applicant is not satisfied with the information. "People from all walks of life came forward to know more about the nuances of the Act,'' said Rashna Master of Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT), an NGO that had requested Mahiti Adhikar Pehel to bring the van to the city. "RTI-on-wheels is equipped with an LCD projector screen, a computer with internet facilities and a library . We have, so far, reached out to more than 80,000 people and have visited 19 districts in Gujarat,'' said a volunteer with the project.

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'RTI activities' reach a new high

The Right to Information (RTI) Act, which came into force three years ago, has gained a youth dimension with a number of activities, including a unique RTI audit by the Public Affairs Centre and the RTI march by the Vivekananda Youth Movement, being carried out in the State. In a bid to involve youth in civic participation and governance, the Public Affairs Centre (PAC) brought together college students here to
throw light on the success level of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Act envisages bringing about good governance and transparency in public administration. The RTI audit conducted by a group of students over the last fortnight has revealed that only 10 per cent of Public Information Officials (PIOs) have knowledge of the Act and its powers while 78 per cent of them had average knowledge of various parameters associated with the awareness of Act.

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RTI query on VIP pyre platforms built by MCD

Can the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) discriminate even in death and accord VIP cremations to some while denying it to others? Central Information Commission will take up this question on Wednesday on an RTI plea seeking information on criteria adopted by MCD to allow utilisation of its three newly built platforms for funeral purposes. The issue arose on an RTI plea, filed by Subhash Chandra Aggarwal in August this year, where he made queries about ''reasons to build three semi-VIP pyre-platforms at Nigambodh Ghat Cremation Ground, and criterion for allowing cremation on these three semi-VIP pyre-platforms.''

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Exam secretary asks DEO to take action

Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) examination secretary, Dinesh Patel, has asked DEO, Ahmedabad city, PB Gadhvi, to lodge a complaint in the dummy writer scam. Gadhvi has been asked to lodge complaint against the parents of two students - Harsh Kotak and Komal Patel, who were caught faking
injuries and using dummy writers in the class XII science board exams - the doctors who gave them the false certificates and the unidentified people who entered the exam centre posing as members of the invigilation squad. This was in response to an RTI application.

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Right to information and patients' secrets

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that faster resolution of disputes between parties arising from breach of contract is largely in public interest. It has directed chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI) to appoint an arbitrator to resolve the dispute with a city contractor, Hitesh Patel of Asarwa. Patel was providing free baggage trolley services at the city airport under an agreement with AAI, but was terminated due to alleged ineffective services provided by him. Patel, through his application under RTI Act, sought explanation for loss of revenue. Patel also sought to know from AAI the reasons for delay in appointment of an arbitrator to settle the dispute between them. AAI has claimed recovery of dues worth Rs 14.8 lakh from Patel, who has asked for a refund of his deposits of Rs 12 lakh and the value of trolleys of over Rs 10 lakh.

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No record of judges' education

Incredible it may sound, but it is true. No record of educational qualification of judges is being maintained by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, the Supreme Court or various high courts. The Department of Justice doesn't even get the certificates verified from the educational institutions concerned. This information has been procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by Dev Ahshish Bhattacharya, who filed an applications with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs seeking information about the percentage of marks obtained by sitting judges from matriculation onwards, name of the college and university. He had also raised a query whether or not their certificates were got verified from the boards and universities concerned by the Department of Justice.

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RTI not for assets, liabilities of officials: HC

Recently, on 1st July 2008, the High Court of Karnataka declared that personal
information of the public authorities cannot be made available through the Right
To Inforamtion Act, 2005. The order was a result of a writ petition filed by H E
Rajashekarappa, Joint Director (Statistics) at Animal Husbandry and Veterinary
Services Department, at Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore. Rajashekarappa filed the
case on 30th June 2006.

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UPSC opposes transparency on selection process

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has opposed transparency in the civil service selection process on the ground that this would increase the probability of dummy candidates appearing for the examination. Challenging a Delhi High Court order directing the UPSC to declare marks obtained by candidates appearing in the preliminary exams as well as the scoring methodology, it told the Supreme Court the availability of raw marks and scaled marks would reduce the civil services examination to a play-field of strategies and counter-strategies developed by coaching institutes.

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