Friday, February 29, 2008

Romesh seeks info about co-convict

Days after being convicted for plotting to kill his fashion designer girlfriend, former Congressman and alleged Dawood-aide Romesh Sharma seems to have found other ways to keep himself busy inside prison. In an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) act, Sharma has reportedly sought details about the action taken against the security guard who accompanied him to the visitors hall when he allegedly hatched the conspiracy to kill Kunjum Budhraj.

Complete Article

Another bureaucrat added to the list of Maharashtra IC

No sooner does 60-year-old Ramanand Tiwari retire from the Indian Administrative
Service at the end of this week, he will become Mumbai's first information
commissioner, the man to whom you could turn if the government decides not to
divulge to you a particular bit of information under the Right to Information
Act (RTI). The Hindustan Times made dogged but fruitless attempts to prise information from Tiwari — now the additional chief secretary with the urban development department — about a government decision to allow a club to go ahead with
constructions at recreational ground in Dadar east.

Complete Article

6 out of 10 applicants in city get gun licence

The police commissioner's office got 656 applications for firearm licences in 2007 and sanctioned 416, which works out to be 63.4 per cent of the total applications. This information was furnished by the police to Chetan Kothari under the Right to Information Act. The police did not, however, reveal the names of those to whom the
licences were issued, calling it personal information and claiming that it could result in a security threat to those persons.

Complete Article

Cook bids trouble on RTI application

Seeking information from the district administration under Right to Information Act (RTI) has left a poor person in an awkward situation. Instead of supplying him the information, the district administration here has summoned him for March 3 to explain the provision of the RTI Act under which information has been sought.

On February 2, Nachhatar Singh, a resident of Ganga village in Bathinda who works as a cook in a gurdwara, moved an application under RTI seeking information from the district administration about the functioning single-widow system (Suvidha centre) running at the mini-secretariat in Bathinda.

Instead of getting information, on February 22 he got a letter from the district administration asking him to appear before the district revenue officer, the deputed information officer under RTI Act, and explain the provision of the Act under which the information had been sought.

Complete Article

Suchna ka Adhikaar: Disha avam Dasha

A seminar on RTI is being organised on 02 March Sunday at NBRI Auditorium, Lucknow from 09:30 am by action group for Right to Information.

Thanks
urvashi sharma
rtimahilamanchup@yahoo.co.in

Info on Maha CM's relief fund to be public

Embarrassed by the unprecedented row over the lack of transparency in the disbursement of the CM's Relief Fund, Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh has said that all information on the subject would be made public. "We had not parted with specific details under the RTI since we had not given those even to the legislature," he said. "However, I have now given instructions to my office to provide all the information to the people." The move is viewed as a major victory for RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi who had first sought such information from Deshmukh's office in 2005.

Complete Article

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CIC orders probe into mix-up at its registry over RTI query

Cracking the whip against its own administration for losing track of an RTI application, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered an inquiry into the mix-up at its own end. Secunderabad resident Shaji M K had filed an application with CIC seeking details on its case disposal rate on November 22, 2006 and followed it up with an appeal on December 27. The first response from the CIC was sent to him in February 2007, a delay of almost two months beyond the permissible limit under the transparency law.

Complete Article

Meeting of RTI Activists and Lawyers in Hyderabad

Dear All

I am writing this mail on behalf of Public Cause Research Foundation (A Parivartan Inititative) and Human Rights Law Network for inviting RTI activists from Andhra Pradesh for a meeting of RTI Activists of AP and Lawyers to discuss about the problems we face in implementation of the RTI Act and various wrong interpretation of the Act by the PIOs.

The meeting is scheduled for 02.03.2008 at Secunderabad (Hyderabad). The venue of the meeting is HASSS Training Center Sangeet Road Opp. Oriental Bank, Secunderabad

For more information, you can contact Human Rights Law Network, House N0.1-9-31 2/5/2, Achyutreddy Marg, Vidya Nagar Hyderabad – 500004 Andhra Pradesh or Ms.D. Padmavathi, Advocate, HRLN on +919885392482 or at hrlnap@yahoo.co.in. Please also email us confirming your participation at hrlnap@yahoo.co.in and to me at divyajyoti@jaipuriar.com.

Thanks and Regards!
DivyaJyoti Jaipuriar
[posted on the Humjanenge group ... portions of the original email have been truncated]

800 farmers commit suicide in 6 months

Agrarian crisis forced more than 800 farmers to commit suicide in four states during the first six months of 2007. As per the information provided by the government under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Maharashtra remains the state with most
incidents (607) of suicides. It's followed by Andhra Pradesh (114), Karnataka(73) and Kerala (13).

Complete Article

Monday, February 25, 2008

80 Haryana officers face action for violating RTI norms

The Haryana Chief Information Officer has said that departmental action is to be taken against 80 officers found guilty of not adhering to the Right to Information Act. At the launch of a book on the RTI Act, written by Additional Deputy Commissioner Abhe Singh Yadav, G Madhvan, the CIO, said the state received over 1,800complaints in the past one year about government officials not providing the information requested in the stipulated time period.

Complete Article

MC displays proactive disclosures on its website

Sustained fight by a Ludhiana-based civil society organisation Resurgence India has finally reaped positive results. On the orders of the Punjab Information Commission, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation will now display proactive disclosures under the Right to Information Act on its official website. The MC posted the disclosures on its website (www.ludhianacorp.com) last week.

Though it is mandatory for every government department to display proactive disclosures on its website under Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, it took 26 months for this NGO to force the LMC prepare its disclosures.

Complete Article

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Home Ministry oblivious of Mohd Afzal's pending mercy petition

The mercy plea of Mohammad Afzal, a death row convict in the 2001 Parliament attack case, glaringly does not find mention in a Home Ministry document in a Right to Information case. Responding to a Right to Information application of a Delhi-resident Subhash Chandra Agrawal wherein he had sought details on mercy pleas pending till date before the President, the Home Ministry came up with a list of 24 death convicts but there is no reference to Afzal.

Complete Article

RTI should cover details about military accommodation: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that details about occupation of official accommodation by the country's military do not fall under "private activity," and hence could not be denied under the transparency law. "These (official accommodation for the military) are public premises to which allotment is made only by the public authority (here Army). It cannot be argued that activity concerning such public premises is a private activity," the Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in a recent order.

Complete Article

RTI Act: The brahmaastra!

Happenings in the world of fine arts seldom make news, except for some sale of a Husain here or a Souza there, at an astronomical price. Well, this is a different sort of story. Sir JJ School of Arts, a venerable 150-year-old institution, presents a picture of neglected sleepy heritage, in stark contrast to the bustling crowds of Mumbai’s Crawford market. An occasional tourist ventures inside the campus to gape at the bungalow, where was born Rudyard Kipling, the creator of ‘Jungle Book’ and the one who gave currency to the expression, the ‘White Man’s Burden’. The dowdy institution was shaken up recently, by one of its former students, Vidya Vaidya. Today, apart from being an artist, she is also an activist with CitiSpace, an NGO that fights to protect and reclaim Mumbai’s vanishing open spaces. As an earlier insider, she knew that heaps of art works of former students must be lying on the school premises. The said students had become big names and these missing works of theirs had not had any public exposure. Her efforts with the School met with indifference and reluctance. Finally, she filed an RTI application asking for a catalogue of all the works lying on the school’s premises. The RTI Act notwithstanding, the authorities dilly-dallied. Her tenacious follow-up bore results and hundreds of great works of art, lying neglected and gathering dust, finally surfaced. This caused a stir among lovers of art and heritage. In short, after painstaking archiving and restoration, an exhibition of 300 lost works will be held, to coincide with the 150th anniversary celebration of the Sir JJ School of Arts. Some of these are more than 100 years old! A great achievement!

This shows that the Right to Information Act 2005, has given you and I a potent weapon to transform our country, even in the field of art! This one simple tool can bring about transparency, accountability and reduce corruption, in nearly all areas of governance – from central to state governments to municipal bodies.

Complete Article

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Income Tax scrutiny policy not open to RTI query: CIC

The Government is not bound under the Right to Information law to divulge details about its Income Tax scrutiny policy, used to identify tax payees before subjecting them to detailed investigation. The Central Information Commission held this while accepting the Finance Ministry's view that revealing information related to the
scrutiny guidelines would adversely affect economic interests of the country.

Complete Article

Don't punish public for your inefficiency: Social activists to Chandigarh Administration

In a last ditch effort, the group of Civil Society Organisations, Citizen's Voice made another formal appeal to the Administrator to repeal the illegal rules made to increase the RTI fee in Chandigarh. The representation handed over to the Administrator said that it was incorrect for the administration to punish the public by raising the RTI fee for the inefficiency by its bureaucracy and the senior officials. It mentions that since the Chandigarh Administration has failed miserably in adhering to the law and fulfilling its obligations under the "Public Records Act of 1993," "Manual of Office Procedure Rules," provisions of Section 4 of "The Right to Information Act," and the necessary guidelines contained in the "Information Technology Act 2000." Since no proper record management and office procedure were followed, so the retrieval of information becomes a problem whenever there is an RTI application.

Complete Article

Friday, February 22, 2008

Now, RTI on wheels to answer all your right to information queries

For the first time in India, a vehicle is being exclusively designed to create awareness as well as help the people of Gujarat to use their Right to Information effectively. An initiative of Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), this vehicle will be equipped with an LCD projector, screen, computer with Internet connection, scanner, printer and copier and a small library. The vehicle will have provisions for a solar panel to be fixed over it to generate enough power for its operation. Manned by two volunteers, this vehicle will screen films on RTI, distribute pamphlets, hold public discussion on the act and assist people to file applications seeking information.

Complete Article

RTO info at fingertips in Pimpri

A touch screen information system will be inaugurated at the RTO office in Pimpri soon. The service, which will work as an encyclopaedia of the department, will be available free of cost. The RTO office has come up with the public utility service to make life easy for the common man, said Deputy RTO Sarjerao Shelke. It will dissipate information both in Marathi and English languages. The touch screen facility can be used to know fees and charges, departmental procedures, auto fares, revenue and vehicle statistics, licence details, penalties, etc. The objective is to ensure transparency in office work. It is also in conformation with the directions given under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

Suspects use RTI to prove innocence

In a unique case, the Right to Information (RTI) Act has enabled two persons who were accused of opening fire at a police party prove their innocence. The case not only led to the duo's acquittal but also prompted district and sessions judge BD Kapadnis to recommend stern action against 11 personnel from the Pune rural police for "falsely implicating" Raju Chavan (26) and Nitin Pansare (25) in an offence of attempted murder. Chavan and Pansare hail from Indori in Maval taluka.

Complete Article

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To compile or not to compile? Yes, you have to compile!

Many times PIOs reject requests saying that they need not create or compile information from various sources taking shelter under section 2(j) which defines right to information among other things as the right to information …which is held by or under the control of any public authority...
Earlier Decisions of CIC added confusion by deciding that public authorities need not create information afresh:
• "PIO of any public authority is not expected to create and generate a fresh, an information because it has been sought by an appellant. The appellant is advised to specify the required information, which may be provided, if it exists, in the form in which it is sought" [285/IC(A)/2006-20.9.2006]
• "Information is to be provided in the form in which it is sought, provided of course the information is available in that form. The appellant should therefore ascertain whether the information that he needs are available in the form required by him." [225/IC(A)/2006-31.8.2006]

Yesterday CIC ended this debate with a wonderful Decision favoring citizens.
"Under Rule 4 (a) of the RTI Act (Regulation of Fee & Cost Rules) 2005 which came into force on September 16, 2005 a fee is expected to be charged for each page "created or copied", which indicates that all information held by or under the control of any public authority is accessible to the public as is covered by the `right to information' defined in sec. 2(j), even when it needs to `collected'." [Complaint No.CIC/WB/C/2007/00345-Decision date:18.02.2008]Indian RTI Act clearly demands creation of information. This is reflected in section 4. Section 4(1)(c) requires publication of relevant facts while formulating important policies etc. and Section 4(1)(d) requires disclosure of reasons for administrative or quasi-judicial decisions.

-Srinivas Madhav
[posted on the HJ group]

CIC tells MHA to give info

The Central Information Commission has asked the ministry of home affairs on Monday to furnish information to Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, who has been a target of several terrorist attacks. Mr Bitta asked for information for what the assessment made by the review committee in his case after a terrorist attack on him regarding his security and whether there was any political pressure on him. He also asked why his security was withdrawn and under whose assessment. Mr Bitta asked for this information but the central public information officer Vandana Kinni denied it under the RTI Act.

Complete Article

Monday, February 18, 2008

RTI data belies Kerala Govt claims

Information from the police, public authorities and public sector undertakings shows that both the government and the public suffer extensive losses on hartal days and people's right to mobility is badly affected, in spite of the High Court's directive.
Information received by a Kochi-based NGO, Proper Channel, under the Right to Information Act from these agencies belies the government contention in the High Court that no incidents of law and order violations and damage to property had taken place during the hartals last year.

Complete Article

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Manipur Information commissioner raps PIOs for denying information

The chief information commissioner, Manipur, RK Angousana, today expressed disquiet over the misinterpretation of the exemption clauses in the Right to Information Act 2005 by public information officers, PIOs, in the state, which had posed obstacles in the way of access to information by the public.

Complete Article

Sanawar school a public authority

Declaring Lawrence School, Sanawar, a "public authority" under the provision of Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commissioner has directed the authorities of the school to provide all information sought by one of its former
teachers, Dr Rajender Kumar Singla, under the Act. Notably, the headmaster of the school had earlier denied certain information sought by Dr Singla under the RTI, claiming that the school did not fall under the purview of the Act. The headmaster, in his reply to the information seeker in February, 2007, giving reference of Section 8 (I) (C) of the Act, stated that the institution has been exempted from disclosure of information under the Act.

Complete Article

Assembly Speaker, principal secy not to appear before RTI commission

Taking serious note of the issue relating to notices being served to the state Assembly Speaker and principal secretary by the State Information Commission, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Friday resolved that any such summon will be considered a violation of the privileges of the House and necessary action will follow. The resolution, moved by Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tewari, was adopted unanimously by the House.

Complete Article

Assembly dismisses RTI query as 'breach of privilege'

The Uttar Pradesh assembly Friday unanimously resolved to dismiss a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a 'breach of privilege'. The query was by Ramesh Tiwari, a journalist of Bhumika monthly. Tiwari originally made a request to the speaker and the secretary of the state assembly, seeking to know whether a legislator could obtain a government contract in his own name and whether such an act could make him liable to be disqualified from the membership of the assembly. However, when he did not receive any reply from assembly officials, he approached state RTI Commissioner Justice M.A. Khan, who in turn shot off a notice to the speaker and secretary. Taking strong exception to the notice, the house unanimously resolved to dismiss the request. While terming the RTI Commission's notice as breach of privilege, the house passed a resolution warning the commission.

Complete Article

ATM details not under RTI: CIC

Citizens cannot invoke their right to information to compel commercial banks to share details on operation of their ATMs. The Central Information Commission made the observation as it turned down an RTI application seeking information from the country’s biggest lender, SBI, about the operation of its ATMs. "Information concerning operation of ATMs is really a matter of commercial confidence and as a matter of fact, lot of security is involved in such a procedure and such information can not be given to any outsider," information commissioner Padma Balasubramanian said in a recent order.

Complete Article

RTI reveals cheating by builder

It came as a big shock to her. A woman who was charged rs 40,000 towards the electricity connection for her flat by the builder later found just one-fourth the sum goes to the state power utility. the woman who resides at karve nagar found this out by filing a right to information (rti) application with the maharashtra state electricity distribution company limited (msedcl). her query was how much money did the msedcl charge builders to provide power connections to new buildings. "i had paid rs40,000 as 'mseb charges' to the builder. i wanted to know how much was really required. when i got a reply to my rti query, i found the amount to be paid to the msedcl for my flat was rs10,507," the woman, requesting anonymity, told dna. while she had decided "not to fight" with the builder for a refund, she said, the information should be made public. When purchasing property, buyers are levied what is known as "MSEB charges" by the builder for an authorised electricity connection.

Complete Article

Friday, February 15, 2008

Activists get SIC assurance over Nithari killing

The State Information Commission (SIC) today agreed to look into the grievances of the Uttar Pradesh Soochna Ka Adhikar Abhiyan Samiti and RTI activist from Noida, Commodore (retd) Lokesh Batra, in which the latter had complained that the commission was not doing enough to get a satisfactory reply from the Noida Development Authority over the Nithari killings.

Accompanied by Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey and RTI activist Naveen Tiwari, Batra met officials of the SIC and requested them to constitute a panel to probe into the number of cleaning operations undertaken by the Noida Development Authority to clear the drain running near the house of the chief accused in the Nithari killing case— Moninder Singh Pandher

Complete Article

An another case of delay in information to the fore

Even as a Tahsildar in Ranga Reddy district being made to pay Rs 5,000 penalty for not furnishing information under the Right to Information Act, has come to light, an instance of Home Department officials delaying the information sought by a person has come to light in the State capital. The A.P. Information Commission has disclosed that as per its directions the Balanagar Tahsildar, K. Yadagiri Reddy, was made to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000. The commission had directed all Public Information Officers (PIOs) and appellate authorities to be prompt in disposal of applications and appeals as per the time prescribed in the Act.

Complete Article

Assam Govt pulled up for inaction against accused

The State Information Commission has expressed its displeasure over the failure of the Government in initiating action against the officers involved in the corrupt practices in the Public Distribution System (PDS) scam in Golaghat, and conveyed this to the Chief Secretary, Government of Assam. The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) which had unearthed a series of scams in the PDS in Golaghat, Jorhat and Sivasagar districts by accessing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, had alleged before the Commission that no action was taken against the guilty officials exposed by the KMSS and the RTI.

Complete Article

Vajpayee's Independence Day speech: draft records missing from PMO

A month after the Central Information Commission’s direction to trace records on the drafting of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Independence Day speech in 2002, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has expressed its inability to locate them. However, the CIC has closed the case. The CIC, in its December 17 order last year, directed the PMO to make a “renewed effort” to trace the records, terming its plea on non-availability “most unusual.”

Complete Article

A direct fight between the "Corrupt Bureaucracy" and the "Common Man"

A big fight lies ahead as the corrupt bureaucrats play all the tricks to discourage public spirited individuals in the Union Territory of Chandigarh. Latest act is, "RTI Fee in Chandigarh incrreased 5 times." What's worst is that it calls it a move to check "Frivolous Applications." Now it has become a direct fight between the "Corrupt Bureaucracy" and the "Common Man." Read the news

Support from all RTI Activists across the country is required on this issue.

Regards
Hemant Goswami

[posted on the HJ yahoogroup]

Monday, February 11, 2008

RTI cell officials’ names to be displayed at offices

The members of the Right to Information cell who met at the collectorate here on Sunday decided to display the names of the officials who can be approached by the public for information under the Right to Information Act in all Government offices. The names and designations of the assistant public information officer, public information officer and appellate authority of each office should be displayed according to the provisions of the Act. It was also decided to conduct a survey at the block and the grama panchayat level to discuss the utilisation of the funds sanctioned for the district for training, awareness activities and research.

Complete Article

Sunday, February 10, 2008

False information under RTI lands NMPT PIO in soup

Public Information Officer (PIO) in the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) was placed on the dock for furnishing false information. The Central Information Commission (CIC) issued summons directing PIO to attend a hearing for furnishing false information on pay package of Assistant Marine Surveyors in the NMPT. The notice was issued after CIC's attention was drawn to the information, submitted to Sarvottam Acharya from Bajpe, did not have the mandatory signature or seal of the officer concerned. In April 2005, the state High Court passed an order directing the NMPT chairman to revise the pay-scales of Assistant Marine surveyors retrospectively from 1980.

Complete Article

5 Bihar officials fined under RTI

As many as five officers of the Bihar government have been fined by the State Information Commission for their failure to provide information to petitioners under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Those fined by the Commission are the Civil Surgeon of Kaimur, Public Information Officer of Human Resources department and Block Development Officers (BDOs) of Baunsi in Banka district, Manihari in Katihar district and of Naubatpur in rural Patna.

Complete Article

Chandigarh yet to appoint CPIO in Chandigarh Administrator's Office

Reacting sharply to the reply sent by the Home Department on behalf of the UT Administrator's office to social activist Hemant Goswami and Chief Informational Commissioner, the Burning Brain Society has termed the response as ludicrous and unfortunate. Reply says there is no record with Administrator's office so there is no need to follow RTI.

Complete Article

Crackdown on Govt frequent fliers

This is one high-flying government. In this globalised world, it is now in the nature of official business to travel to different parts of the earth making new friends, lesser enemies and influencing people. As a rising economic power, it is perhaps more necessary than ever before to make your presence felt at global high tables and international conference podiums. But even by that yardstick, the UPA Government would seem to be in an overdrive or rather turbo-charged, its ministerial representatives raking up frequent-flier miles at a frenetic pace, this, despite the Prime Minister's
Office (PMO) supposedly cracking down on bureaucrats and ministers travelling abroad at the drop of a Gandhi topi.

Complete Article

Supreme Court's guidelines on GM crops have been overlooked

Years of genetically-modified crops finding their way out of field trials and into the average Indian's diet may seem far-fetched to some. But for a few, they are valid and their realisation seems imminent as the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has approved new field trials of genetically modified crops in violation of a ban imposed by the Supreme Court in 2005. In the GEAC's 78th meeting on May 22, 2007, field trials of GMmustard, large scale (pre-commercial) trials of Bt Brinjal and stacked genes of Bt Okra (bhindi) were approved. In another meeting on August 8, 2007, the GEAC gave the go-ahead to field trials of truncated synthetic Cry IAC rice. These were not in the original list of 24 items covering 91field trials approved by the GEAC in the intervening period of May 2 to September 22, 2006. Tehelka is in possession of the list of recent GEAC approvals and some of these approvals are of field trials to be conducted by Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company Ltd (Mahyco).

Complete Article

Two degrees and one clean chit

If there was an example needed of education being a political tool, it can be found in Chennai's premier Anna University. Two senior IPS officers probing graft charges against former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa obtained seats for their children in the varsity's engineering course in what protestors describe as a 'quid pro quo arrangement'. The admissions were secured through a controversial government quota (GQ) under the Jayalalithaa regime. The officers' children did not have the requisite marks for admission, but were accommodated in the GQ. The quota was scrapped last year by the Madras High Court following a public interest litigation.

Complete Article

Why did the Law Minister visit London?

A stop over in London in October 2005 could well become a headache for Law Minister H R Bharadwaj. It is undisputable that he was returning to India from Ghana after attending the Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting (October 17-20). But, what did he do in London as India's Law Minister is shrouded in mystery. An application under the Right to Information Act has brought this out with completely different versions of official business the minister carried out in London during his three-day stop over.

Complete Article

RBI funding to get institutions under RTI

RBI funding to an institution is adequate to make it accountable under the public transparency law, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held. CIC's observation came, as it rejected banking sector watchdog Banking Codes and Standards Board of India's contention that funding by the apex bank cannot bring it within the ambit of the Right to Information law.

Complete Article

ICCR reply leaves many questions unanswered

A decade after the first information report was filed in Pune against promoters of Hyderabad-based Asia Pacific Investment Trust Limited, the city police are in the process of filing charge sheet against 24 accused, including the then chairman of the trust, Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw. Preparation of charge sheets against all is nearing completion but for the one against Maneckshaw as that will require a special sanction from the government. "We need a special permission from government for filing a charge sheet against Maneckshaw who is one of the accused," Additional Commissioner of Police Rajender Singh told The Indian Express.

Complete Article

Indian missions cannot escape information act: Habibullah

The Central Information Commission (CIC) maintains that Indian missions abroad are not outside the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, but the law ministry holds a different view. "In my opinion, the Right to Information Act applies all over the country as this holds true for Indian missions abroad," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. "This is for the simple reason that our embassies and missions are all part of India, properties of India. India's sovereignty runs through these missions," Habibullah said

Complete Article

Stock Exchanges, Discoms Cannot Dodge RTI Act: Habibullah

Stock exchanges and electricity distribution companies might argue that they are not covered by the Right to Information (RTI) Act but in the final analysis they must be answerable to the public, says India's Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah. Both the entities have moved court, asserting they do not fall under the RTI purview.

Complete Article

MDS directed to provide 'information sought'

Failing to provide information sought by Tribal Vigilance Forum, Manipur, (TVFM) under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005, the Manipur Information Commissioner has directed the Manipur Development Society (MDS), the Department from which the information was sought, to furnish the required information to the complainant, within fifteen days from January 14 under the provision of RTI Act, according to the Tribal Vigilance Forum members.

Complete Article

PUCL for Early Implementation of RTI in J&K

Balraj Puri, convenor PUCL J&K State, has urged the state Chief Minister to take measures to implement its declared decision to bring the J&K Right to Information Act at par with the national act on the subject, as was desired by the governor who had sent the bill back to the state government for reconsideration without giving his assent. In a press statement issued here today, Puri said, that the atmosphere in the
last session of the assembly was not favorable to reconsider the bill, he questions the wisdom of returning the bill to the governor under the plea that it is a money bill on which, vide the constitution he is bound to give his assent.

Complete Article

Goa SIC slaps a fine of Rs 1000

The Goa State Information Commission has slapped a fine of Rs 1000 on Mr M Porob, the deemed Public Information Officer when he was working in the Goa Medical College as the director of administration. Mr Porob invoked the wrath of the Commission for his long delay in furnishing information under the Right to Information Act to Mr Deepak Naik of Dandos wado, Mandrem. But Mr Porob escaped with a "nominal penalty" of Rs 1000. The Commission had issued him a show cause notice in December 2007 directing him to explain why a penalty of Rs 250 per day from April 25, 2007 should not be imposed on him till the information is given to the appellant as directed by the Commission. The information was finally given on January 4, 2008. The delay was 251 days and the penalty worked out to Rs 62,750 restricted to the maximum of Rs 25,000.

Complete Article

World Book Fair: A platform for RTI awareness

The ongoing 18th World Book Fair in the national capital is not only displaying a wide range of books for the book lovers, but it is also serving to be a platform to attract huge public attention in order to create awareness among them about 'Right to Information'. Many organisations working for the promotion of RTI, such as Times Foundation, Parivartan and Kabir, have came together in the fair for the noble cause. A Compact Disk (CD) containing information regarding RTI in details, was jointly launched
by them to provide all necessary training to the people as how to use RTI in an efficient and effective manner.

Complete Article

Information on the RTI Act pulls in crowds at Book Fair

Balwant Singh Satvanshi from Haryana was excited when he found a non-decrepit stall at the ongoing World Book Fair. Nay, he did not bump into a rare there. Instead, the stall offered a whale of information on how to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Tucked into a corner in hall number 12 A, the stall has books, research reports; bare act (the RTI Act), CDs and manuals apart from copies of the monthly newsletter of the organization, which is basically involved in taking the RTI Act to more and more people. The stall by NGO Kabir has been quite a crowd-puller with people like Satvanshi gobbling up information, which they can apply back home. "

Complete Article

CIC asks scientists not to misuse law

As more and more scientists are invoking their right to information to settle disputes mostly emerging out of their professional dissatisfaction, the Central Information Commission has asked the intellectual class to refrain from misusing the transparency law.

"We have been receiving a number of appeals from scientists engaged in research work in scientific and research institutions. The queries mostly emanate from their dissatisfaction with the recognition they believe is their rightful due. When scientists of research institutes attempt to use the RTI Actto settle personal scores, it only engenders a sense of pain and dismay. The scientists are there to serve a much higher purpose than using up their valuable time in personal disputes and settle scores," information commissioner A.N. Tiwari said in a recent order.

Complete Article

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

RTI activism lands 2 villagers in jail

A bid by two villagers to bring about accountability in their local administration through RTI has resulted in their arrest on forgery charges by the Azamgarh police. Their crime? The society formed by them for the purpose is not registered. And, worse still, a local court refused to grant bail to the two who have been behind bars since their arrest on December 26 last year and who have now moved Allahabad High Court for relief.

According to RTI activist Vimal Kumar, who has approached the National Human Rights Commission on behalf of the arrested duo, the villagers of Dehduar Kathauli decided to keep track of the funds allotted to their 'gram sabha' through the RTI Act and formed a society called Vikas Gram Sabha for the purpose.

Complete Article

Govt, industry under fire for fudging data

A group of 13 national labour groups and activists accused the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, along with the asbestos industry, of manipulating information on the hazardous effects to make a case to manufacture asbestos products in the country.
These groups have rested their claims based on the information they obtained by using the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The trade unions argue that the manipulation of information disregards earlier studies, which prove the clear relation between asbestos exposure and lung cancer, because of which 40 countries have banned the use of the white variety of asbestos. India, however, still imports and manufactures asbestos products. According to the United Nations, India imported about 300,600 tonnes of asbestos in 2006 from Canada and Russia.

Complete Article

HSLC examinees in Assam can use RTI Act this year

Now on, the candidates of HSLC Examinations will be able to get Photostat copies of their answer scripts by applying the Rights to Information (RTI) Act. Stating this at a meeting of the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA) and Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) officers and employees here today Education Minister Ripun Bora said that officers of the Board and the Council should remain alert all the time while discharging their duties in view of the above provision.

Assam Tribune , Feb 6, 2007

CBI probe into wildlife trade demanded

Hinting that the stock of wildlife body parts such as tiger skin, rhino horn, ivory, etc., under the custody of the State Forest Department could well have found their way to the illegal international racket in wildlife trade, Nature’s Beckon, an environmental NGO, today called for a CBI probe into the matter. Addressing a press conference, Soumyadeep Datta, director, Nature’s Beckon, said that as per information obtained by it from the Forest Department through application of the RTI Act, the number of rhino horns, elephant tusks, tiger skins and leopard skins under custody of the Forest Department (either seized or recovered from natural death cases) were 1,498, 1,334, 6 and 3 respectively. According to Datta, the Forest Department’s stock of body parts, particularly tiger and leopard skins, was too small considering that the department had been collecting those since at least 1972.

Assam Tribune, Feb 5, 2008

Stall on RTI big draw in World Book Fair in Delhi

Right to Information is the flavour of the season and a stall displaying books, CDs and manuals on the RTI Act is attracting many visitors in the 18th New Delhi World Book Fair 2008. The stall organisers are also offering their assistance and advice to the queries of the visitors about the Act. The organisers are happy with the initial response of the people, many of whom are seeking to understand the process of filing RTI application and obtaining information.

Complete Article

10 lakh collected as fine from babus under RTI

As many as 100 Maharashtra government officials have been penalised and Rs 10
lakh collected from them in the last two years for not complying with the Right
to Information (RTI) Act. "We imposed penalties on 100 state government officials appointed as Public Information Officers (PIOs), for not giving information under the RTI Act, 2005," Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner S V Joshi said.

Complete Article

Social audit teams attacked in Rajasthan

Members of four teams trying to conduct social audit of the much talked about National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in Manohar Thana block of Jhalwar district in Rajasthan, including noted economist Jean Dreze, were attacked and chased out of villages on Sunday in a show of unrestrained violence against civil society groups.

Complete Article

NDTV Report

CIC asks NDMC to open records on demolition of Chanakya hall

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked NDMC to open up records relating to its decisions in connection with construction and the proposed demolition of Chanakya cinema hall here. Observing that policies undertaken on matters relating to the city cine-hall were of citizen's interest, the apex RTI body also favoured uploading of related information on the website of New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC). "The decisions taken and policy formulated in connection with Chanakya cinema, both for its construction and its demolition, are matters of concern to the
public and merit uploading on the website," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in his decision.

Complete Article

Saturday, February 02, 2008

MNIT ordered to provide selection process proceedings open

Central Information Commission has asked a technical institute here to provide the information of selection process conducted for the post of Reader and Professor under the Right to Information Act. CIC Commissioner O P Kejariwal issued show cause notice to the Malyvia National Institute of Technology (MNIT), asking them that why penalty should not be imposed on them for the delay caused in providing required information by Dr M K Shrimali, a Reader, according to an official communiqui here on Saturday.

Complete Article

Friday, February 01, 2008

Most MLAs fail to submit property statements

Only 19 MLAs have complied with the requirement of submitting their property statements to the Lok Ayukta by the cut-off date of June 30. This was revealed in a reply given by the Governor's office to the Human Rights Defence Forum under a Right to Information Act petition. The Governor's office said that by June 30, 2007, only 19 MLAs (out of the 141, including a nominated MLA) had submitted their property
statements to the authority concerned. The Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, section 22(1), states that "every public servant other than a government servant, shall…before the 30th day of June once in two years submit to the competent authority in the prescribed form, a statement of his assets and liabilities and those of the members of his family".

Complete Article

18th World Book Fair: Release of RTI Training Manual on Video

Kabir will be releasing the Hindi version of our film team's latest work titled: *RTI Training Manual on Video on Monday, 4 February at 4:00 PM at the 18th World Book Fair being held in Pragati Maidan (Youth Pavallion No7). * We cordially invite you to join us and Central Information Commissioner Prof. M. M. Ansari for this release which will be followed by a lecture by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal.

We also encourage you to visit the Right to Information stand *(Hall No. 12 A, Stand No. S. 1/25)* hosted by Kabir throughout the Book Fair. Our manuals and films will be available for sale at stand.

*A Bit About the Film
*Over the past months, our film team has been working diligently on a set of films that together will give the viewer the experience of attending one of our Right to Information training workshops. The "RTI Training Manual on Video" features leaders of India's RTI movement.

Why have such a training film? An important reason is that we wanted to have standardized packet of basic information about RTI so that we could disseminate it widely. Currently we can only present RTI to as many audiences as we have manpower or time to address. Having a workshop on CD or DVD allows us to deliver a high quality presentation in anywhere with a TV and CD player, anytime! It will also free us up to focus on those who are already familiar with the basics of RTI and require more in depth assistance.

We hope to see you at the release and the book fair!

Best Regards,
The Kabir Team

[posted by bibhav kumar of Kabir on HJ]

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