Thursday, December 25, 2008

105 households with same surname in one Mumbai slum

It is the biggest "extended family" of the country, literally, with nearly 420 people having the same surname residing in Anna Nagar slum, if the municipal records of a slum colony here is to be believed. Altogether 105 head of families residing in the slum have a common surname, "Devendra", according to the record. "If each family has four members, then nearly 420 members are residing in the area with the same surname. It is really a very big family, bigger than the families projected in the Ekta Kapoor's serials," quipped Milind Sharad Mulay, a resident of Dadar in Mumbai, who sought details about the slum dwellers of Anna Nagar in an RTI application.

Complete Article

Kullu DC in tight spot over Mika show

The Right to Information (RTI) Act has exposed a “vague and fake agreement” signed between a Chamba-based agent on behalf of singer Mika, who “did not give a live performance” but played a pre-recorded CD of his songs in Kullu on October 10, 2008, during the international Kullu Dussehra cultural night. As a result, the Mandi-based Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) has decided to move court against the singer, his agent and the Kullu deputy commissioner-cum-Kullu Dussehra committee vice-president as the latter was “squandering public money on outside artistes during these melas and was hiding exact information”.

Complete Article

New RTI chief takes oath as Manipur Info Comm

The retired ISA officer of the state, commissioner Ch Birendra has taken his oath to hold the post of State Chief Information Officer, RTI during a simple function held this morning at the conference hall of the Manipur Old Secretariat in Imphal following the retirement of former Chief Information Officer of the state RK Angousana Singh recently.

Complete Article

110 tigers lost in last six years: Data

India's forests have lost at least 110 royal striped cats, including 17 tigress, in the past six years due to several reasons including poaching and natural deaths, according to a government data. The figures made available under the RTI Act reflects that the royal predators have been unsafe not only in non-protected area but also inside reserves, given that this year alone 14 cases of tiger mortality including four tigress and two cubs have been reported till November.

Complete Article

Lessons in democracy, the NCERT way

Many in India may be blaming democracy for our ills but the National Council for
Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is asking students to ponder over what
is better — democracy or dictatorship. In a reply to a Right To Information
(RTI) application on “corruption as a topic in school education” to an activist
Manish Sisodia, the NCERT has provided copies of the chapters included in the
Class IX to XII syllabi, providing interesting insights into teaching democracy,
corruption and education.

Complete Article

Dept. of Personnel and Training violating RTI Act: CIC

The Department of Personnel and Training, which is the nodal agency for the implementation of RTI Act, is itself violating the Act by publishing misleading information on its website, the CIC has held. The department on its website has excluded file notings from the definition of 'information' which implies that there is no obligation on it to reveal these under the RTI Act. "Because it is already clear that the entry of file noting with regard to exempted information on the website of DoPT is misleading, we find the DoPT is in violation of the RTI Act," said Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah. The Commission ordered the department to delete the definition of information which says that file notings were not included in RTI Act and replace it with the new definition as given in the Act.

Complete Article

Officers apathetic, information scarce: survey

Non-availability of directories of Public Information Officers (PIOs) in northern States is making it difficult for applicants to locate the appropriate authority for filing appeals under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The situation is particularly bad in Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh, where 90 per cent or more applicants could not locate their PIOs, according to a survey “Accessing Information under RTI — Citizens’ Experiences in Ten States — 2008” conducted by Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA). The study shows that 40 per cent of the respondents did not get information within the stipulated 30 days.

Complete Article

Assets on Web: RTI officers say 'NO'

Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi's move to put his asset details in the public domain hasn't found favour with his colleagues. In an apparent rejection of Gandhi's proposal, the Central Information Commissioner has decided not to put his asset statement on the commission's website, for now. Gandhi had in November submitted details of his assets, worth Rs 5.4 crore, to the Central Information Commissioner and had asked it be put on the commission's website. "I've requested CIC Wajahat Habibullah to post the list of assets of all information commissioners on the website," Gandhi had told HT. The Central Information Commission, where majority of members are retired bureaucrats, however, opted for a longer route to decide the matter. "We've to take into account the procedure for submission of declaration of property by other such commissions before taking a final decision," Habibullah told HT.

Complete Article

Applications too many, too long

Around 3,300 Right to Information (RTI) applications are pending in the district with almost 1,800 from Pune alone. People who file too many cases are responsible for the situation. Length, number and various issues raised by the same person are major roadblocks in speedy dispensation of RTI applications. When contacted, activists underlined how the RTI Act is not being used properly by applicants. Major General (Retd) SCN Jatar, RTI activist from Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT) told Sakaal Times, "The purpose of the Act is to provide maximum information to maximum people. It does not mean one person gets into the limelight." Pune Divisional Information Commissioner Vijay Kuvalekar said, "Of the 520 cases pending in Sangli district, around 250 have been filed by six persons and 200 by a single person. I am not saying that their cause is not genuine, but if it becomes like a hobby, where is the question of maximum benefit for people and if we go chronologically, in order of names, some people will never get their turn."
Added Jatar, "Bureaucrats seem to be the ones using the Act the most. And they use it to settle scores."

Complete Article

DFO sought Rs 10 per page for info under RTI Actâ

Ludhiana District Forest Officer (DFO) Mahavir Singh, after sitting over a letter seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act for about five months, had allegedly demanded Rs 10 per page for providing information under the Act. Hitender Jain, general secretary of Resurgence India, an NGO, had sought information from the Department of Forests and Wildlife, Punjab, on July 15 this year, regarding cutting trees for constructing approach roads to malls, marriage palaces and other buildings. On September 29, the department then directed all divisional forest officers in Punjab to provide the information. "The DFO, however, demanded Rs 10 per page against the prescribed fee of Rs 2 per page through a letter dated December 12," he said.

Complete Article

Asked to show files, CBI claims they are missing

Just when the CBI was ordered to produce three files pertaining to a seven-year-old corruption case under the Right to Information Act, the premier investigating agency said the files were missing. The files pertain to investigations in a corruption case against three junior officials of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). The case dates back to July 19, 2001, when the CBI laid a trap at the Mumbai NCB office on a complaint by Navin Dubey, a suspect in a narcotics case. Dubey was sent with a recording device to the NCB office, while CBI officers waited outside. The trap fell through after one of the officers detected the recording device. After failing to hear from Dubey, the CBI team went to the NCB office to ensure his well-being. Ubale also sought information under RTI and obtained details which revealed that the witness in Dubey's complaint was called on July 17, 2001, a day prior to the receipt of his complaint. The government justified the action in the court saying it was part of operational exigency. Ubale filed a complaint before Chief Information Commission (CIC) that in spite of its order, CBI was withholding certain records. CIC directed the CBI to allow Ubale access to the records but the agency did not comply with it.

Complete Article

Babus paid more than athletes in Beijing Olympics

Indian athletes may have brought home the country's maiden gold and two bronze medals from the Olympics, but it was the bureaucrats and politicians accompanying them who were paid more by the government during their stay in Beijing. In a reply to a query filed by DNA under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Union youth affairs and sports ministry said that while athletes and coaches were paid $50 each as daily pocket allowance, the babus and netas who went to Beijing as part of the official delegation received $75 a day. The pocket allowance was over and above the spending on boarding and lodging. For the sports contingent these expenses were taken care of by the Beijing Olympic Committee while for the delegation, they were borne by the Indian embassy. The ministry said Rs 12.19 lakh was spent on the travel of the 13 bureaucrats and politicians and arrangements for their lodging and boarding were made by the Indian embassy at Beijing.

Complete Article

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

RTI fails to bail out hapless applicant

The Right to Information (RTI) Act has a long way to go before it becomes a potent tool for the common man in the state. There is scant regard for the orders passed by the State Information Commission (SIC) and the case of one Dev Dutt Sharma can be a befitting example of the same. Sharma's case after landing up at the commission in 2006 has been heard by five different commissioners and has seen 14 hearings. Yet another hearing is marked for December 18. Interestingly, all the commissioners have issued showcause notices to the opposite party, in this case -- director, higher education and finance controller, higher education, asking them why should not they be penalised for not releasing the information under RTI to Sharma. Despite this, the applicant has not received the complete information that he had sought under RTI. Sharma's wife was a lecturer in Shri Narayan Girls Degree College, Unnao. It was after she expired in 1998 that he had asked the college authorities to release her arrears to him. But, despite several letters shot off to director, higher education, the arrears were not released.

Complete Article

PMPML chief spent Rs 7.5 lakh to renovate office, RTI reveals

Information sought under the Right to Information Act by a civic activist has revealed that the newly appointed managing director of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) Ashwani Kumar has spent a total of Rs 7.5 lakh for renovating his office, within the first month of his joining, that too, without floating any tender. Civic activist Vivek Velankar told this to reporters on Monday. He said, "As per the information, Ashwani Kumar had directed to get a makeover of his cabin at the headquarters of the PMPML at Swargate," The work includes creating fall ceiling, giving luster paint to the walls, changing the curtains, ceiling fan, pedestal fan. The electrification work alone will cost Rs 1.60 lakh, he added.

Complete Article

'Babus guilty of violating RTI act'

More than 250 of the government officials have been found guilty of violating the Act by the State Information Commission (SIC) in less than two years of its existence. Says information commissioner P N Narayanan, "The preamble to the Act says that information will lead to reduction in corruption. Babus being the beneficiaries of corruption, they are bound to resist the implementation of the Act." With the Bihar Administrative Service (BAS) officials often featuring in the list of defaulters, the Bihar Administrative Service Association (BASA) begs to differ. "RTI is being used as a means to harass officials who have not been equipped properly to store information for providing it to applicants within the time limit," said BASA president A C Mishra.

Complete Article

Clarify purview of RTI Act, say activists

With the Union government proposing that the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 be reviewed, city-based RTI activists are of the opinion that there should be a clear definition of organisations falling under the jurisdiction of the Act. At present, the RTI Act does not have clear definition, and many organisations refuse to disclose information on the grounds that they are not in the purview of the Act, the activists say. This suggestion was made at a meeting of RTI activists organised by
city-based Sajag Nagrik Manch (SNM) and the Samata Artha Manch here on Sunday.

Complete Article

Awareness Camp on RTI in Calcutta

Dear Friends,

Greetings from West Bengal RTI Manch and Maulana Shaukat Ali Foundation.

To observe the International Human Rights Day on 13th December 2008, West Bengal RTI Manch and Maulana Shaukat Ali Foundation is organizing an Awareness Camp on the Right to Information Act 2005 at the Jakaria Street and Sudam Sil Street Crossing (Near Nakhoda Mosque). The proposed RTI Camp intends to highlight/address the issues of the local Minority Community, including the prevailing dismal state of health, sanitation, child-education, child-labour etc. in the vicinity.

We hope you will appreciate that this should be one of our pivotal concerns for our fellow citizens to empower them to KNOW THEIR RIGHTS and we in West Bengal RTI Manch believe that Right to Know is Right to Life. But we hope you will also appreciate that it would not be a cakewalk too, to achieve our desired goal without your benign patronage.

So on behalf of the West Bengal RTI Manch and Maulana Shaukat Ali Foundation we would like to most humbly request you to kindly participate in the proposed Awareness Camp on the Right to Information Act 2005 on 13th December 2008, between 11:00 hrs to 16:30 hrs to share your valued thoughts with the participants/information seekers.

Your kind cooperation, patronage & participation in the event will be highly appreciated.

Looking forward towards your esteemed confirmation.

Thanking you in anticipation,

Sincerely Yours,

PHONE: 0091 33 40042286
FACSIMILE: 0091 33 40042286
MOBILE: 00919231413834
RTI HELPLINE 00919433620192 [10:00 Hrs – 22:00 Hrs]

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

NCPRI makes presentation before Parliamentary Standing Committee

Shekhar Singh and Nikhil Dey of NCPRI made a presentation before the Parliamentary Committee on 21 October. They spoke to them for about an hour and also gave them a copy each of the presentation and of the NCPRI RTI primer.

Complete NCPRI's response to points raised by Parliamentary Standing Committee

Calls made to police control room are public documents: CIC

The records of calls made to Police Control Room -- on 100 -- are "public documents" details of which should be provided under the RTI Act, even if an accused wants to use it for defence in a Court, Central Information Commission has directed. "Records of calls received in PCR are, in fact, public documents. Their disclosure is incumbent unless that have been made in confidence in which case such a condition will require to be recorded," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. "Unless it is clearly established that such a disclosure would impede the process of investigation or prosecution and not simply that the record will be used in defence by an accused," he said.

Complete Article

Nagpur divison IC asserts jurisdiction to hear cases against IAS officers

(The Hitavada Dt.09-12-08)

In an important ruling Vilas Patil, the information commissioner for Vidarbha regionhas held that the Regional info.commissioner has every right to hear a matter pertaining to RTI Act against all India Services officers. When one Sunil Mishra had sought info pertaining to assets owned by former Municipal Commissioner Lokesh Chandra and his IAS wife Abha Shukla the Info Commr. had directed the State govt. and
particularly the General Administration Department to disclose the assets to applicant who has sought it under RTI Act. The Govt. had taken a plea that info is submitted by IAS officers in a sealed envelope to GAD and as such Public info officer or even the appellate authority had no access to such info.

Lokash Chandra had moved the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court against the decision of the Regional IC stating that the same was passed without hearing him..Since the info so sought was personal in nature and and hence the IC ought to have rejected since it pertains to third party.He had also questioned the jurisdiction of the regional IC to hear matter against IAS officer and claimed that his matter ought to have been heard by Chief IC

The High Court while setting aside the earlier order ,had directed the regional IC to take appropriate decision after hearing all concerned. The Regional IC Vilas Patil after hearing both the parties cited decision in case of Mohinder Singh Vs Election Commission to explain the concept of multy member authority. Besides the RTI Act has not precluded the Regional IC from hearing cases pertaining to All India Service Officers ,he held. Adv. Pathan appeared for Lokesh Chandra and Abha Shukla while Sunil Mishra appeared in person.

[posted by Diwakar Sarpotdar on the Humjanenge group]

No record of corruption cases against Central Police Organisations' officers

Believe it or not! The Union Home Ministry says it does not maintain a count of corruption cases against officers from different Central Police Organisations (CPOs) and Intelligence Bureau under its control. This admission came in reply to an RTI query, which sought the information on the number of corruption complaints received against officers of Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, National Security Guard, Assam Rifles, Sashastra Seema Bal and IB during last five years. The ministry said it attended to the complaints on a "case-to-case" basis and decisions were taken at various levels.

Complete Article

Commonwealth Games committee approaches HC against Centre

The organising committee for 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Centre are at loggerheads in the Delhi High Court as the panel has challenged the government's decision of declaring it a public authority, liable to disclose information under Right to Information Act. The committee, which is charged with responsibility to conduct Commonwealth Games, has contended that it is an independent and autonomous body, not liable to reveal information under RTI Act. "Petitioner Society (the committee) does not fulfill the criteria of being declared a State under Article 12 of the Constitution and hence it could not be declared a Public Authority under the RTI Act," the organising committee pleaded before Justice G S Sistani. Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, however, said that almost whole budgetary support to the project is provided by the government and the Committee cannot take the plea that it is an independent body.

Complete Article

Monday, December 08, 2008

Give details of probe into complaints by ex-official: CIC to RAW

The Central Information Commission has directed the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to reveal details of any inquiry into complaints by a former official, who has alleged harassment, corruption and other irregularities in the intelligence agency's functioning. The CIC order comes at a time when the agency is facing flak for its lack of action in alerting relevant authorities about the Mumbai attack. Hearing a plea by former RAW official Major General V K Singh, the Commission said, "From the perusal of the documents, we were unable to find what action has been taken." Singh is facing a probe by CBI for allegedly revealing vital details about RAW's working in his book, `India's External Intelligence -- Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)', in violation of the Officials Secrets Act.

Complete Article

Millions spent on flying SC judges abroad

The high priests of India's highest judiciary appear to have a fondness for flying high, suggests a Supreme Court account of foreign jaunts undertaken by its judges.
According to information divulged by the apex court under the Right To Information (RTI) act, present Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan undertook 12 foreign jaunts from 2005 till now, costing the public exchequer a whopping Rs 7.53 million (Rs 75.3 lakh) on airfares alone. Nine of these trips were taken after he became chief justice in January 2007 and three while he was a Supreme Court judge. This amount does not take into account other expenses like boarding, the justice department said in its reply to RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya.

Complete Article

City court quashes BJP councillor's election

Not disclosing all his assets while filing nomination papers has proved costly for a BJP councillor from Daryaganj. A city court quashed his election and recommended the Election Commission initiate criminal action against Sunder, BJP councillor from Ward no. 153. Observing that concealing of the information "affected the right to information, a fundamental right of the voter" and went against a Supreme Court verdict that makes all candidates liable to disclose their assets, the court declared his election as null and ordered that Congress candidate Ramesh Dutta, who secured the second highest number of votes, and was also petitioner in the case, be
declared the winner.

Complete Article

Punjab SIC imposed penalty of Rs 10,000

Punjab State Information Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs. 10,000 on Public Information Officer(PIO) of Tehsildar-cum-Sub Registrar Dera Bassi office under section 20 of RTI Act 2005. The commission observed that three hearings have been held in this case but PIO has not made his appearance even once. The original application was submitted by the Khurana about 10 months ago but no information has so far been supplied by the PIO to the him in response to his application.

Complete Article

Thursday, December 04, 2008

275 'crorepatis', 200 with criminal records: Report

Out of 2,000-odd candidates in the fray this election, 1,000-plus don't have even PAN cards and own no vehicles, while 275 of them are 'crorepatis' (millionaires) and around 200 candidates have criminal cases pending against them, including some of very serious nature. These are some of the startling facts about the December 4 assembly polls in the state which were revealed at a seminar organized by Rajasthan Election Watch, an NGO, in the city on Sunday

Complete Article

102 Chandigarh cops booked for various cases

The UT cops seem to be all over the place, of crime that is. From rape to murder, drug/immigration rackets to economic fraud, they are into the world of crime; not chasing criminals, but playing the very role. An RTI document obtained by TOI reveals that 102 UT police personnel, from inspectors to constables, have been booked in 77 cases registered across the country. Out of these, 20 have been filed by the CBI, 10 by Punjab, three by the UT vigilance cell and one each by Delhi and Bihar.

Complete Article

Half of Haryana schools don't have principals

Not all is well on the education front in Haryana. An RTI information has revealed that nearly 50% of government schools in the state are without headmasters. Out of the 2004 sanctioned posts, 984 have been lying vacant — 607 in high schools and 377 in middle. The information has been provided by the education department in response to a query posted by Sat Pal, a Jind resident. According to the department, while 75% posts are filled via promotions, 25% are done through direct recruitment. "These vacancies exist even after the recent promotion of 426 teachers to headmaster posts," claimed Ramesh Malik, spokesperson of the Haryana Masters Association.

Complete Article

TNEB asked to probe misuse of temporary connnections

The loss in revenue, running into several crores of rupees, incurred by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) because of the misuse of temporary power connections given to many buildings on the IT Highway could soon come to light. The State Information Commission has ordered the TNEB to conduct a detailed inquiry into the matter.

Apart from causing revenue loss, the board officials who sanctioned the connections also violated a Madras high court order that said the connections should not be given to buildings without completion certificates from the regulatory agencies - the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority and the Directorate of Town and Country Planning.

The commission was passing orders on an appeal filed by T Retna Pandian, a Right to Information (RTI) activist. He said the TNEB public information officer did not give him a proper reply when, through an RTI application, he sought details about the temporary connections given to buildings on the IT Highway. The official gave only partial replies, he pointed out. The TNEB said there were only five buildings on the IT Highway working on temporary connection.

Complete Article

Teacher gets PF benefits by using RTI

The Right to Information (RTI) Act can prove to be an empowering tool for the common man. The case of Shyam Karan Yadav, who used the Act to seek information regarding why the retirement benefits to his paralytic father were held back even after two years of his retirement and got the benefits released, merits mention.

"The authorities were making us run from pillar to post on wrong charges. They maintained my father had to clear his dues,'' said Yadav. His father, Nathumal Yadav was a teacher in Shri Durga Ji Junior High school, a government-aided school with a private management set-up, at Chandeshwar in Azamgarh.

Nathumal had retired from school in June 2006 but when he claimed his PF funds, the school management did not act on his application. "It was then that I decided to use RTI. I wanted to know the exact reason behind the delay,'' added Yadav. He sought information on why the benefits were not being released to his father and if there were any dues to clear then what was the amount.

As expected, the management did not bother to respond. It was only after an appeal was filed with the commission that the management acted on Yadav's application. "The amount of dues which the school authorities were claiming to be quite high , came down to thousands when the genuine information under RTI was released,'' said the relieved applicant.

Complete Article

Housing board built only 4,000 houses in 8 yrs

The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) has constructed less than 4,000 houses from 1997 to 2005, revealed a reply to an RTI application filed by the Communist Party of India city unit general secretary Devi Dyal Sharma. Sharma had filed an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) to know about the number of houses built by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB). The reply stated that a total of 3,688 houses were built during the mentioned period.

Complete Article

RTI brings water to 14 houses in Pallavaram after a year-long wait

If Tamil Nadu has a long history of disputes over sharing of water with its neighbouring states, the plight of its residents is no better when it comes to getting their legitimate share of drinking water from the civic bodies. Fourteen houses at Thiruthani Nagar in Pallavaram municipality, which had to wage a protracted battle with the civic body for close to one year for getting drinking water connections, finally managed to get justice, thanks to an application filed under the Right to Information
(RTI) Act and the subsequent intervention of the state information commission.

Complete Article

SEBI uses RTI platform to seek info from bourses

Gaining access to information relating to the securities market will now be easier, with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) taking the view that it has the authority to seek information from stock exchanges for providing it to the public under the Right to Information Act (RTI). India's main stock exchanges such as the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) were reluctant to provide
information saying they are not a public authority under RTI. A recent ruling by the appellate authority of the market regulator has stated that stock exchanges are bound to furnish information sought by the regulator even if it is for the RTI purpose.

Complete Article

Tata Motors moves HC on Singur land allotment

Tata Motors has approached the Calcutta High Court against an RTI application seeking details of its agreement with the West Bengal government on the land allotment at Singur, from where the company has since moved out. The company on Tuesday challenged before the High court the RTI Commissioner's competence to deal with the matter, with its counsel submitting before Justice Dipankar Dutta that the Right to Information Act was not applicable in case of an agreement involving industrial secrets. Justice Dutta has scheduled the matter for hearing on Friday. The company said in its petition that as the Nano project has been shifted to Gujarat from West Bengal, there was no logic in seeking to know a deal which has fallen through.

Complete Article

Sjag Nagrik Manch seeks info on load-shedding protocol

The city-based Sajag Nagrik Manch (SNM) on Tuesday demanded that the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) should suo motu declare the facts and figures that prompted it to select a load-shedding protocol suitable for power shortfall of 4,600 MW to 5,000 MW. The information is being sought under section four of the Right to Information Act. The power utility on Monday announced the new load-shedding protocol after the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (Merc)
rejected the petition seeking increase in load-shedding hours on Friday.

Complete Article
A three member CIC Bench consisting of Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, Information Commissioners A.N. Tiwari and Mrs. Padma Balasubramanian pronounced a landmark Decision (Complaint No.CIC/PB/C/2008/00723, 26Nov.2008) clarifying the obligations of NGOs entailed by the RTI Act:

"The Commission feels that there may be similar such cases where an NGO which is being substantially financed by the Government has not set up a mechanism and have thereby evaded compliance with provisions of the RTI Act. The Commission, therefore, recommends that Ministries and Departments of the Central Government should make an assessment as to whether the NGOs who are being financed by them have set up a
mechanism to provide information to the citizens who wish to obtain information under the RTI Act. If such a mechanism has not been set up by any of the NGOs receiving funds from the Central Government, it is recommended that the Government should not release any fund till the time such mechanism is set up and other obligations as contemplated under the Act are complied with."

It costs to question in Gurgaon

Vaish had no idea that seeking answers under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from a state department in Haryana would cost him so dearly. Vaish was asked to pay over Rs 8 lakh to the Haryana State Industries and Infrastructure Development Corporation for papers to be delivered to him against his queries. Vaish had sought information on industrial plots allotted to entrepreneurs in Udyog Vihar, charges slapped against plot-owners and money used on the area’s development. To his horror, the corporation’s public information officer asked him for a fee of Rs 8.27 lakh. Vaish said he was asked to deposit Rs 4 lakh for information on 2,000 plots, as details of each plot would require 20 pages. An additional Rs 4.27 lakh were demanded for oth er information. Could not the cost of paper have somehow been saved? Vaish said he was denied information on CDs. At Rs 50 per CD, this would have cost him only a few hundred rupees.

Complete Article

Mahithi Hakku Adhyayana Kendra exposes biggest land scam in Bangalore

How murky can land deals get? Here is an example where all winds have been thrown to winds. A 20-acre agricultural land in Devanahalli had been registered for Rs 25.11 crore in the name of one K Mangilal from Rajasthan. Even khata and other documents have been issued to him. The whole deal contravenes clause 79 (A) and (B) of the Land Reforms Act, which specifies that agricultural land can be purchased by an agriculturist only and his annual income should not exceed Rs 2 lakh. The measure was created to ensure that small land holders do not lose out to larger land sharks. But no one in the Revenue Department seems to have bothered with the antecedents of Mangilal. Even necessary documents have not been collected while issuing katha. The source of income also was not collected while registering the deal. After failing to find answers to these questions, one Bhaskar applied for information under RTI to Devanahalli tahsildar Sampath Kumar. But the information has not been supplied and the issue is before the State Information Commission.

26 NOVEMBER 2008

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