Wednesday, May 28, 2008

150 words and no more

Access to information using the RTI Act may have changed for the worse. The Government of Karnataka under Governor Rameshwar Thakur's administration has added a new rule, #14, which places a restriction on the subjects and the number of words to be contained in an application asking for information under the RTI Act. The rule was in the form of amendment (GO) to RTI rules 2005 and signed by the Under Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms on behalf of President of India and published in the Gazette of GOK. It is now in force. The rule allows only one topic per application (even if they are inter-related) and restricts the description to 150 words.

Complete Article

RTI overrules earlier govt decisions on secrecy?

Does the RTI Act supersede the decisions of former ministers not to disclose certain bits of information to the parliament? Would disclosing it amount to a breach of privilege of the parliament? This peculiar question, though one with serious ramifications, has arisen out the Union home ministry denying insignificant information regarding the properties left behind by former ruler of Udaipur over 50 years ago, on grounds that that the disclosure would amount to breach of parliament privilege, as the then Union home minister YB Chavan had told parliament on November 15, 1967 that the "government has been of the view that the details of the property, recognised as private property of the rulers, should not be a matter for public
disclosure." The Central Information Commission has referred the question to Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee's for his final views on the matter.

Complete Article

NBU Teachers council hold RTI meet

The North Bengal University is determined to make the academic structure more transparent as far as the students' right to information is concerned. We have already started the process of showing the answer scripts to the students and are seriously contemplating to make the education and examination structure more transparent".

Complete Article

Officer fined for denying information

The Punjab State Information Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on Harinder Singh, a public information officer of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, for "denying information and causing mental and physical harassment" to Sham Kumar Kohli, a senior citizen and resident of Kichlu Nagar in the city.

Complete Article

CIC allows peep into babus' personal assets

With the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) ruling in a landmark order that bureaucrats do not have "right to privacy" on personal assets, babus may now find it difficult to stash away their ill-gotten wealth. CIC Wajahat Habibullah passed the judgement on a petition filed by Dr Kousthubha Upadhyaya against the denial of information by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). Trashing the DoPT stand, the CIC quoted a Supreme Court judgement which said, "When there is a competition between the right to privacy of an individual and the right to information to the citizens, the former right has to be subordinated to the latter as it serves larger public interest."

Prescribed form not must for RTI applicants

The State Information Commission (SIC), Punjab, has held that Public authorities cannot reject RTI application on the ground that the information request was not in the form prescribed by the State Government The Punjab Govt had prescribed "Form A" under the Punjab RTI Rules, 2007, in which RTI applicants were supposed to answer nine queries first before the RTI application could be entertained. The form was challenged by a local lawyer Capt Navdeep Singh before the full bench of the Commission on the ground that it contravened the provisions of the RTI Act which did not prescribed any such form.

Tribune Service
Chandigarh 25 May 2008

Chief Secretary approves proposal to prosecute information seeker

The Chief Secretary (CS) of the Karnataka government (GoK) in an unprecedented move permitted a proposal of an IAS officer Mr D S Ashwath, presently the commissioner Animal Health & Veterinary Services (AH & VS) - Bangalore, to prosecute One Dr. K Shivaram Retd Asst director of AH & VS from Bangalore to file a defamation suit against him under rule 17 of IAS Conduct Rules in his Letter No DPAR183 SAS 2006 dated 06/05/2008. The only thing that Dr K shivaram did was to make an request for information for certified copies under RTI Act seeking information - (1) Services
Particulars (2) Assets &Liabilities Statements for the year 1996 & 2006 submitted and held by the Govt. Our Mahithi Hakku Adayayana Kendra denouces this grant of permission by the CS to GOK as also this trend of senior IAS officer to checkmate citizens fundamental rights, without goining to the actual facts whether a citizen has committed such acts which constitue defamation by merely seeking APRs and service records under his Right to Information.

[posted by N Vikramsimha, KRIA Katte & Trustee MHAK]

Finally, the Gram Pradhans respect the rights of the peop

Two local residents of Miyaganj block, Unnao district (UP, India) Virendra Singh and Yashwant Rao, had written to Block Development Officer (BDO) of Miyaganj seeking support to conduct the social audit of NREGS. The BDO wrote to every pradhan in this block seeking their cooperation in submitting all documents pertinent to the NREGS. On behalf of all pradhans, the president of the Pradhans' association, had filed a writ petition in the High Court demanding a stay order, which she did get on 22 May. It was this stay order which had spread the perception that the pradhans have obtained a stay against the social audit. On fifth day of social audit, the work was paralysed by the ruckus created by the goons sent by pradhans in four gram panchayats, namely - sindhari khurd, makhdoompur shah safi, deepagarhi and mustafabaad. These goons of Pradhans were drunk, and wielded lathis (batons) to terrorise the citizens conducting the social audit. However by evening the resistance withered away and the people could resume the social audit process.

Complete Article

Govt sits on Rs 90cr child protection fund

A flagship scheme for children is likely to be jeopardised, thanks to government apathy. The women and child development ministry has been sanctioned Rs 90 crore for implementation of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme but with hardly any child protection units to implement it, the scheme could meet a fatal end. According to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2006, each state is expected to have a panel that will ensure rescue and rehabilitation of children found deserted, abandoned, in distress or delinquents. However, the ministry has no record of how many states are running
such units. Replying to a RTI query posed by NGO Pratidhi's Raj Mangal Prasad, the WCD ministry has admitted that it does not maintain such information.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 25, 2008

'Public bodies to reveal employees' emoluments under RTI'

Information pertaining to monthly remuneration of employees of public departments, besides the system of compensation comes under the ambit of the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said. "As per the Right to Information Act, the monthly remuneration received by each of the officers and employees including the system ofcompensation as provided in its regulations should be put in public domain," Information Commissioner M M Ansari said.

Complete Article

Saturday, May 24, 2008

RTI reveals misuse of CM relief fund in Maharashtra

Shocking details of violations in the Chief Minister Relief Fund, now open to public scrutiny, has been revealed. Not only was the fund meant for relief and aid during calamities used for trivial ventures like cricket matches, documents from an RTI application show that the sanctions were given despite strong objections from state bureaucrats. Documents retrieved through an RTI application show that money from the fund was diverted by former chief ministers Manohar Joshi and Sushil Kumar Shinde. Even though officials strongly advised against it.

Complete Article

BMC yet to open up, despite Disclosure Act

Among other things, PDA requires municipal corporations to reveal audited financial statements showing the balance sheet, receipts and expenditure every quarter; also,
spending on providing major services and details of major works It was supposed to be a step above the Right to Information Act as it requires urban local bodies to voluntarily disclose information about their performance from time to time.

But the city's municipal corporation is way behind the March 31 deadline for implementing the Public Disclosure Act, a mandatoryreform to be eligible for project funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The Act had been hailed as one of the most important reforms that would ensure better governance and accountability.

Complete Article

Fernandes charges UPA govt with 'misleading' Parliament

Former Defence Minister George Fernandes on Friday charged the UPA government with "deliberately misleading" Parliament on the Phukan Commission report which probed the Tehelka expose on fictitious defence deals. Fernandes moved an application under the Right to Information Act to seek information on the report, a statement issued on his behalf said here. "A reply from the Defence Ministry, while rejecting his application, gave the reason that since this matter was not placed before Parliament, it would amount to breach of privilege if made available to him," the statement said.

Complete Article

Gram Pradhans tried to disrupt the citizen's social audit

The Miyaganj block development office had earlier provided documents related to NREGS after one and a half years struggle at UP State Information Commission under Right to Information Act. These documents are being verified by the citizens themselves in the ongoing social audit. The Gram Pradhans had spread the rumour that high court has granted a stay-order against the social audit. In many Gram Panchayats
including Bhadua, Barha Kala, Kulha Ataura and Korari khurd, the social audit work remained suspended for few hours owing to the rumour. However when people demanded a copy of the High Court stay-order, the Gram Pradhans couldn't produce any copy. The people thereby decided that unless they get to see a copy of the stay order, they will not stop the social audit.

The resistance put up by the Gram Pradhans in some gram panchayats on the pretext of a rumour to disrupt the social audit, slowly started giving way to the mounting public pressure to continue the social audit. Only in one gram panchayat, Korari Khurd, the social audit remained paralyzed for the entire day because of never-ending
arguments between the gram pradhan and the social audit team. Interestingly enough, the people we could speak to in this village, reported that their 'job cards' are with the Gram Pradhan. Job cards under NREGS should be with the worker at all times.

Complete Article

Officer who opposed appointment of CPIO himself takes over

Bhupinder Singh had said "there was no necessity for appointment of CPIO because no information or record is maintained in the Administrator's office" There cannot be a worse mockery of law. Sources in the Administration said that the officer, who had been opposing the appointment of a Central Principal Information Officer (CPIO) at the office of the Administrator, has himself been appointed as the new CPIO.

Complete Article

Who seeks RTI and why, it's all being noted

PIOs asked to maintain a file on the information being sought, specifically on government officials, services. While the Right to Information (RTI) Act as enacted does not seek to categorise the information seekers, the Gujarat government, however,
has ensured that the Public Information Officers (PIOs) of various departments maintain a dossier of the various categories of people seeking information.

Express India
Ahmedabad, May 23

Imaginative Expenses leave a hole in Palike Wallet

Every year, the auditors raise many objections by Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), but the civic body seems to be in no mood to mend is ways. The information obtained by Indian Express under RTI reveals many dubious and avoidable expenses. Have you seen banners asking you to precautionary measures during monsoon? But BBMP has paid Rs 610000 for banners on general awareness in new zones and another Rs 68000/- for informative posters on rain damage. We are yet to learn where these banners were put up. Palike has said in a bill dated october 3, 2007 that it has paid Rs 98280 for 75 information calanders for journalists visisting BBMP and urban development department. Nobodyknows who got the calenders.

Indian Express
May 23 2008

Even a week after CIC notice, Administrator yet to appoint CPIO

Chandigarh Administration appears to have developed cold feet on the appointment of the CPIO in the office of UT Administrator. This, despite the fact that the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah had sent a notice to the administrative officials on May 15. On May 13, the CIC had directed UT Administrator General S F Rodrigues (retd) to designate a CPIO in his office within seven days. Sources said the administration received the notice about four days ago, but are yet to designate anybody as the CPIO. Though the name of Joint Secretary (Home) Bhupinder Singh is doing the rounds, the final decision is yet to be taken.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 22, 2008

PMO stonewalls Bhopal victims information quest

Not only has the PMO delayed justice in Bhopal, but it has also actively prevented Bhopalis from learning the reasons why. Bhopal survivor Hazra Bee, who filed a Right to Information request to inspect files on April 1, has not been given complete files till date. An inspection done on May 9 revealed that the PMO had wrongfully withheld information. This is an offence under the Act. The applicant has filed a complaint against the PMO with the Central Information Commission.

Complete Article

Singur employment bluff called

Though the state government has justified the acquisition of fertile farm land in Singur by stating that the Tata Motors' small car factory will provide both direct and indirect employment, the state directorate of employment had said that Tata
Motors Limited (TML) has not notified any vacancy to any of the employment exchanges in Hooghly district so far. The information from the state labour department made it official that no large-scale direct employment would be provided in the small car factory in Singur. While replying to questions under the Right To Information Act submitted by Mr Salil Kapat, convener of Indian Society for the Fundamental and Human Rights, the deputy director of employment of state labour department, stated: "As is revealed from the deputy director of employment, Hooghly, Tata Motors Limited has not notified vacany/vacancies to any of the employment exchanges in Hooghly district."

Complete Article

SIC directs action on govt officials on community certificate

The Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (SIC) has directed the Chennai District Collector to initiate action against Tahsildar and Headquarters Deputy Tahsildar for failing to issue a community certificate to help him seek government assistance for those who undergo intercaste marriage. SIC Chairman S Ramakrishnan issued the directive following a petition filed by Mr G Thamizhendhi, who had applied for a community certificate to avail Rs 20,000 given by the State Government for inter-caste couple.

Complete Article

Bring judges under RTI purview: Activists

RTI activists say there is every reason why the RTI Act should apply to the higher judiciary as well. Questions are now being asked in South Block, too, following the
expose on Supreme Court judges. Records obtained under the RTI shows judges have been converting work trips to holidays, taking long detours and are accompanied by
their wives while traveling abroad. At present there are no travel guidelines for the judiciary and the Bar Council of India is suggesting a course correction. Under the RTI, CNN-IBN found that for Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan's 11-day trip to Pretoria, South Africa in August 2007 the route was - Delhi, Dubai, Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Capetown, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, where the judge finally didn't go and back to Delhi via Dubai.

CNN-IBN

Thanks to babus, many land in jail for daring to use RTI

The idea of Right to Information (RTI) may be too novel, romantic and even effective. But in Bihar bureaucrats have learnt the art to overcome it. They are implicating those who dare to seek information, in false and sometimes serious cases (such as rape) and putting them behind bars. There are innumerable cases of harassment at the hands of officials. For example, Shiv Prakash Rai, who is in mid-50s, was charged by a former district magistrate of Buxar, with demanding randhari tax
(extortion money) from him.

Complete Article

RTI applicant gets threats for seeking details of NREGS

All is not well with the implementation of NREGA scheme in Assam. And so also is the fate of the Right to Information Act. While Government officers are known for trying to deny information sought under the RTI Act, the latest is a case where a person was threatened twice for seeking details under NREGA. Hiteshwar Lahkar, a law graduate and a full-time volunteer at Gramya Vikash Mancha, a local NGO in Nalbari district, has been getting calls on his mobile phone, with an anonymous caller telling him that he would be picked up at night, given "necessary treatment" and finally eliminated.

Complete Article

Two Bihar government officials fined under RTI Act

Bihar Information Commission (BIC) has fined two officials - one for not providing information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and another for not providing information within stipulated time. The BIC fined the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Motihari Collectorate Rs 25,000 as the PIO was found guitly of not not responding to the application of one Nagendra Jaiswal who had sought certain information from him, Commission sources said. The BIC directed the East Champaran District Magistrate to ensure the compliance of the Commission's order and inform it accordingly, they said.

Complete Article

Forces to disclose officers' ratings

In what could open the floodgates for Right to Information (RTI) applications in the armed forces, the Central Information Commission has allowed disclosure of approach papers and notings that are placed before the review selection board of the defence services. The notings, which include comments by superiors on officers being considered by the board, have been treated as confidential so far. In the light of the CIC order, there could be a spurt in RTI applications as well as litigation by disgruntled officers who might differ with a poor rating. The information commission has ordered that the documents be made public within 10 days.

Complete Article

Govt official fined for withholding information

Chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi has fined the Public Information Officer(PIO)/deputy registrar of the co-operative department Rs5,000 for failing to give information sought under the Maharashtra Right to Information Act. The application was filed by Sunil Godbole, a resident of the Glittering Star Co-operative housing society at Worli, seeking to know whether members of the managing committee of his housing society had submitted indemnity bonds. However, the PIO failed to provide this information for a year despite an order by the appellate authority. RTI activists feel that the order is significant because managing committee members of thousands of societies in the city do not submit indemnity bonds.

Complete Article

The ‘national secret’ excuse

What do government officials in India do when they want to keep information from citizens? They wrap it up in intrigue and call it a national secret. When a Hindustan Times reporter asked the government who all were at a 1999 Cabinet meeting headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the Kandahar hijacking, the government's reply was: it is a national secret. How long did the meeting last and what were the minutes? Revealing that under the Right to Information apparently threatens national security as well. According to India's Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah this is a violation of the law. "Once the action decided upon at a Cabinet meeting has been completed, papers can be disclosed," Habibullah said.

Complete Article

Protest against RTI Act Change

A state level Conference on RTI Act on sunday deceided to intensify the protest against insertion of rule 14 to Karanata RTI Rules 2005 stating that the State Govt did not have power to modify the intentions of the Central act. Participating inthe conference organised by Consumer Rights Education and awareness Trust (CREAT) here RTI Activists said the new rules infringed citizens right to get information from public authorities. The amendement has provided another ground for officials to refuse information . They said the ammendement has thwarted the very intention of the act , which has been derived from article 19 of the constitution. Hirekodi hegde President of Citizens forum Kumta said there were many cases where officials had refused to provide information sought . The ammendement he said has given additional power to burecrats who are vary of parting with information.

The Hindu
19 May 2008
Monday

State government rules mar spirit of RTI Act: study

The Right to Information (RTI) Act has become a complicated tool for the common man to use because of different rules framed by various state governments, a study by a voluntary organisation says. On the basis of a research in seven states - Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh - this
year, the Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) study concludes that the state RTI rules going against the spirit of the RTI Act would create doubts in the citizens' minds instead of facilitating access to information.

The study notes: "The Delhi High Court and Allahabad High Court have fixed Rs.500 as the application fee for seeking information while the Karnataka government has framed RTI rules which require the request for information to be related to one subject and not exceeding 150 words."

In contrast to the mandate of the RTI Act that access to information should be affordable, it says.

Complete Article

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Height of Narmada dam should not be raised

Even as the Narmada Control Authority is looking at the rehabilitation claims of States affected by the Narmada dam in Gujarat, the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People has said that there is no case for raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project and that it should be frozen at the current height of 121.92 metres. Questioning the demand for raising the dam height to the next and final
level of 138.68 metres, the Network said Gujarat could not utilise 93.55 per cent of the water that was available to it from the Sardar Sarovar Project in 2007. It obtained this information under the Right to Information Act from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited, the Gujarat government organisation in charge of the controversial project.

Complete Article

State government rules mar spirit of RTI Act: study

The Right to Information (RTI) Act has become a complicated tool for the common man to use because of different rules framed by various state governments, a study by a voluntary organisation says. On the basis of a research in seven states - Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh - this
year, the Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) study concludes that the state RTI rules going against the spirit of the RTI Act would create doubts in the citizens' minds instead of facilitating access to information.

The study notes: "The Delhi High Court and Allahabad High Court have fixed Rs.500 as the application fee for seeking information while the Karnataka government has framed RTI rules which require the request for information to be related to one subject and not exceeding 150 words."

Complete Article

CIC struggles to clear huge backlog of cases

It is supposed to ensure that people get information under the RTI, but the Central Information Commission (CIC) is itself suffering from a huge pendency of cases and over 6,000 appeals filed with it are still pending. In all, 6,364 cases were pending with the CIC till the end of March, 2008, as per a reply to an RTI application. According to RTI experts, it would take an year or more for a new case to come up for hearing before the CIC, and by then the information one has sought could become irrelevant.

Dy Collector fined under RTI in Gujarat

A deputy Collector posted in the Kutch District has been slapped a fine of Rs 15,000 for not providing information to an applicant. The Gujarat Information Commission has also instructed that there should be an inquiry by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to find out about the reported loss of document which had the required information. In this case a person Kantilal Bhagat of Mundra wanted to know the name of the persons who was issued a stamp paper on July 13, 2004 by a stamp vendor Mayank Mehta. However after repeated queries, the Deputy Collector J D Joshi told Mehta that the register containing the information was missing and he could not provide the information.

Complete Article

Government yet to draw up list of Hospicio assets

The present status of Hospicio's movable and immovable property remains a mystery.This fact is attributed to the failure of the directorate of accounts in carrying out a special comprehensive audit of the hospital's assets and liabilities.
Former medical superintendent Dr Lanfredo da Costa's attempts to draw up a list of assests, landed property, occupants and tenants went in vain. Even more shocking is the revelation made by the directorate of health services that the original inventory list prepared on December 24, 1976 - when the government took over - has gone missing. Interestingly, an order of the Goa state information commission dated
March 4, 2008 brings to light inefficiency of the commission in seeking relevant information from concerned authorities. Besides, the commission has failed to pursue the matter thereafter.

Complete Article

Mumbai has lost more than 25,000 trees

More than 25,000 trees uprooted to make way for developmental projects have not been replanted. This is because those who uproot the trees can't be bothered about replanting them, and those who are supposed to ensure that this happens do little by way of follow-up action. The rules may appear to be tree-friendly but in fact are not. According to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, when permission for removal of trees is granted, the applicant has to plant three trees of the same or suitable species within 30 days from the date on which the tree is felled, or the time given by the tree officer, and must deposit at least Rs 2,000 for each tree felled. The amount, which can even go up to Rs 5,000 depending on the species, is refunded within two years if the tree is deemed to be growing satisfactorily.

Complete Article

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More defence papers come under RTI ambit

In a move that could open the floodgates for Right to Information (RTI) applications in the defence forces, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has allowed approach papers and notings (documents with remarks related to the officer by his superior) to be put before the review selection board, to be disclosed within 10 days.

Complete Article

Done on paper, not on ground

Wrong information furnished under the Right To Information (RTI) Act about development works undertaken by Annaithu Grama Anna Marumalarchi Thittam (AGAMT) has annoyed villagers in Pallavalli panchayat in Tirupattur taluk. P S Bala Subramani, a resident of the village, had sought information on the development activities in the village under the RTI Act. The works listed in the reply were contradictory to what was actually done in the village.

Around 15 works at a cost Rs 20 lakh were completed under AGAMT for 2007-2008 in the panchayat. Enquiries revealed that some of the works, including erecting play kits in playground and setting up a library, that were mentioned as completed were not completed till date. The work for setting up a fishery was also not taken up. The officials had also confirmed completion of 263 metres of tar road from Vasanthapuram
I Street to Rangan House.

But officials had laid only material roads. "We have provided area measuring 9 metres breadth and 270 metres length in agriculture lands belonging to four of our brothers to lay a road a year ago. "We have also given a concurrence letter to the panchayat, but the local body has not yet laid the road except the existing material
road," said Srinivasan, a resident of the area.

Complete Article

Patiala DCs return Red Cross funds

Admitting delay, but not misappropriation, all three deputy commissioners of Patiala Division, who were earlier charged with squirrelling away Rs 44 lakh from the state Red Cross societies, have now deposited the money in the Prime Minister's Relief Fund. This was done following Punjab and Haryana high court directions. NGO Resurgence India procured this information by using the Right to Information (RTI) Act. It was found that lakhs of rupees collected by Red Cross societies of the state for Gujarat earthquake, Orissa cyclone and Kargil war victims were diverted.

Complete Article

Man withdraws plaint, NGO fumes

One month is all a government department gets to furnish information under the right to information (RTI) Act. Instead, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has allegedly used that period to persuade an applicant to withdraw his petition. On March 19 this year, S Samayan of T Kallupatti natural resourceprotection committee filed an RTI application seeking information on stone crushers in Kilankulam, Vannivelanpatti and Ammapatti panchayatsat T Kallupatti in Madurai.The information sought included the number of licensed stone crushers in the area, pollution control norms that are expected to be followed,actions taken by the TNPCB against the crushers that violated pollution norms in the last two years and the plight of the workers in the crushers. Meetchi Makkal Iyakkam, an NGO revealed how the stone crushers bought peace. Angayarkanni of People's Watch, a human rights outfit, wondered why TNPCB officers wanted Samayan to withdraw his petition. She sought the intervention of the State Information Commissioner in the issue.

Complete Article

I-T investigation wing out of RTI ambit

The Right to Information Act aims at bringing in transparency, containing corruption and instilling the sense of accountability in citizens. But, Directorate General of Income-tax -Investigation (DGIT-I), which investigates income tax evasions, conducting searches, seizure and surveys, has been quietly put outside its ambit.
RTI activists are terming this silent exemption to DGITI, as a blow to anti-corruption and transparency movements in the country. They have also been asking how it can be considered either a `security or intelligence' organization?

Complete Article

You can get info on BIAL under RTI

In a landmark verdict passed by the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC), the consortium company of Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has been deemed as a 'public authority'. Dwelling into the financial structure and funding patterns of BIAL, the commission found that the private-public consortia has been 'substantially financed' by the government of India under the Comptroller and Auditor General (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Services) Act 1971, or CAG Act, thus making it (BIAL) more a public enterprise than a private one.

Complete Article

For private real estate developers, CHB is a 'profit-making agent'

The Chandigarh Housing Board, an autonomous body whose mandate is to provide housing to the middle class and economically weaker sections of the society, has indeed emerged as a profit-making agent for the real estate developers. Had the Chandigarh Administration or Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) levied the same conversion charges to the real estate giant Parsvnath Developers Limited, which they are charging from the city industrialists, it would have earned the exchequer hundreds of crores more as compared to what they have earned now. The prime commercial land, measuring 123.79 acres, which was earmarked to provide housing to Information Technology professionals, has been allotted by the Chandigarh Administration to Parsvnath for raising a huge housing complex next to the Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park. The Chandigarh Administration allotted the land to Chandigarh Housing Board at the rate of Rs 308.77 for every square yard, i.e. Rs 18.5 crore for 123.79 acres. The land was further sold to Parsvnath at Rs 829 crore. The actual value of the land, on the same formula, which the Chandigarh Administration is using in case of conversion charges of industrial land, would indicate that the Administration has lost approximately Rs 1.43 lakh per square yard. The exact loss has cost the exchequer nearly Rs 8,568 crore.

Complete Article

Now, hospital rights on RTI activist's list

Having propelled the public to invoke the Right to Information (RTI) Act for obtaining information on a variety of issues, social activist and Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal is taking his campaign for people's rights to hospitals in the Capital. From today onwards, volunteers from the Sunder Nagri branch of Kejriwal's Parivartan will begin a campaign at the government-run Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital in Shahdara to identify lacunae in the distribution of medication to patients. Their tool will be RTI applications once again. Parivartan volunteers will be filing these on behalf of patients denied medical facilities by the hospital.

Complete Article

465% increase in some netas' assets

If it wasn't for Dr Trilochan Sastry and his colleagues, we would never know how much our leaders are raking it in while we are not looking. On Sunday, for instance, he came out with fresh figures (politicians would call it assault) that 79 candidates contesting in the second phase of the Karanataka polls - scheduled for May 16 - increased their assets by a combined 465 per cent. In 2004, these politicians had declared assets worth a total of Rs 98.4 crore. Four years down, the figure has somehow swelled to an astonishing Rs 556.4 crore. He wisely leaves the interpretation of the numbers to you. "It is not for me to comment," says the IIM-Bangalore professor.

Complete Article

CIC suggests UPSC file FIR to prove its case

The Central Information Commission (CIC), has suggested to UPSC to file an FIR against an RTI applicant for allegedly submitting forged records relating to civil services exam candidates. On being denied information, the applicant Satya Narain Shukla, a Lucknow resident, submitted a list before the CIC, claiming that records containing details sought by him were maintained by the UPSC. However, the apex recruitment body claimed that such records were not available with it and the documents submitted by Shukla were forged.

Complete Article

Shunted GAS officer resorts to RTI

For a state government which recently had a GAS promotee IAS officer touching Chief Minister Narendra Modi's feet, this could be another bitter pill to swallow. NM Chavda was the only officer of the 11 who were selected by the UPSC in 2006 for promotion from Gujarat Administrative Service (GAS) to Indian Administrative Service
(IAS), but was not appointed. He has scored a victory using Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

President's power bill: Rs 4 crore a year!

The Rashtrapati Bhavan [Images] has consumed electricity worth more than Rs 16.5 crore in the past five years and the prime minister and his office has consumed power worth Rs 37.26 lakh in the past three years, information gained through the Right to Information Act has shown. The Rashtrapati Bhavan has consumed a total of close to 3 crore units of electricity in five years. The prime minister has consumed 7 lakh units in the past three years. Replying to a an RTI query by activist Chetan Kothari, the CentralPublic Works Department replied that all the bills have been aid by the department. The department said there is no separate meter for the prime
minister's residence and the consumption is for both his home and office.

Complete Article

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gujarat NGO plans RTI arm

The Right to Information which has armed common man with the most powerful weapon to informed living was passed by the Parliament on May 12. After the success of 'RTI on Wheels', the Gujarat Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) will now form an 'RTI Army'. This is after the success of its 'RTI on Wheels'. The organisation has planned manyinitiatives to mark the third anniversary of the Right to Information Act. The RTI Army will be formed where local residents will undertake the responsibility of running it, said Pankti Jog, coordinator of the MAGP in a statement issued here on Sunday.

Complete Article

RTI helpline: 20% calls from Public Information Officers

An analysis of the calls received on the right to information helpline run by Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) has revealed that around 20 per cent of calls are from Government Public Information Officers (PIOs). The helpline which completes two years of its existence tomorrow, has till date received more than 25,000 calls, of which 90 per cent were from Gujarat and 10 per cent from other states.

"When we analysed the data on calls received we were surprised that 20 per cent of the call were from PIOs from government agencies, who themselves are designated to provide information to people by their respective organisation," said MAGP coordinator, Pankti Jog.

Complete Article

Reconsider amendment to RTI Rules: Seshadri

Forum for Information Awareness Convener S Sheshadri on Saturday urged the Karnataka government to reconsider the recent amendment to Right to Information Rules 2005,as the same was clear violation of Right to Information (RTI) Act and it was 'anti-people, retrograde, disparage and illegitimate'. In a letter to the President and the Prime Minister, copy of which was released to the press here, Mr Sheshadri said that the amendment has restricted the information sought for shall not exceed 150 words on one subject and separate application should be made for different subjects. Earlier there was no such restriction on quantum of information and fees required to be paid.

Complete Article

Rs 20L rehab plan for Khairlanji witnesses

In the first case of its kind in Indian judicial history, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has drafted an ambitious rehabilitation plan for the main witnesses in the Khairlanji dalit murder case, which rocked the state in November 2006. The CBI has proposed to the state government that the two main witnesses should be given a house in Khairlanji village in Bhandara district, jobs in the state government and agriculture land. The witnesses however had rejected the proposal and asked for Rs 10 lakh each. According to reports, their plea has been accepted by the state government.

Since there were reports that the CBI had submitted an action plan for the rehabilitation of the main witnesses—Mukesh Pusam and Suresh Khandate — criminal lawyer Neeraj Khandewale, counsel for six of the accused, moved the Bhandara district collector, superintendent of police and local tehsildar under the Right to Information Act. Khandewale asked for the entire correspondence the CBI had with the
chief secretary, collector and SP on the rehabilitation plan. "Now I have all the information on rehabilitation. It has been proposed to give the witnesses a house, job and agriculture land in village Khairlanji,'' Khandewale told TOI on Friday.

Complete Article

Highest fine under RTI: School to pay Rs 2 lakh to harassed teachers

The highest compensation under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been imposed on a little-known government-aided secondary school in Delhi, which "defiantly" ignored repeated orders from the Directorate of Education to reinstate two of its teachers.

In its ruling issued on April 28, the Central Information Commission (CIC) ordered S D Secondary School at Kirti Nagar here to pay Rs 2 lakh to a young couple, both staffers at the school, who were suspended after they lodged a police complaint of sexual harassment at workplace.

"The compensation is unprecedented. The imposition of such a high amount as per RTI standards was prompted by the school's defiance in not complying with the Directorate of Education's repeated orders to take back the Bhartis," Information Commissioner M M Ansari, who heard the case, told The Indian Express.

Complete Article

Information given under RTI wrong, says MLA

Former Ambala Cantonment MLA Anil Vij, alleged that information supplied to him by the executive officer of the Ambala Sadar Municipal Council under the Right to Information Act, 2005, was wrong and misleading. He had sought information regarding a plot of land — Survey Number 178 (Building Number 180-180/1-13) Minerva Complex Rai Market, Ambala Cantonment — from the state public information officer/estate officer, Ambala Sadar.

The MLA alleged that the information issued did not answer the questions raised by him in his application. "Instead, the MC authorities have twisted the information provided with regard to the present status of the Minerva Complex, which has been sublet by reconstructing a huge multi-storeyed building rented out for lakhs of rupees per month," said Vij.

Complete Article

Bhopal gas victims to use RTI to seek info

Twenty years after a gas leak from Union Carbide factory in Bhopal killed thousands of people, the government is now looking at allowing Dow Chemicals - the owner of Union Carbide - back into India. Victims like Sufiyan is a living example of how things are still not well in Bhopal even after 20 years of the gas disaster. There are many others like him who are condemned to a life of disability. But their suffering hasn't got the government to act.

''All we want is that the guilty should be punished and those who suffered should get proper compensation and healthcare. 23 years later, we do not even have clean drinking water,'' says a victim Rashida Bi.

Fed up with assurances from the government, the victims have now decided to use
the Right to Information Act. The idea is to flood the prime minister's office with RTI applications and force answers.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chandigarh Administrator has no office: UT Admn

Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner, has reserved orders on a complaint on the issue whether the Administrator of City Beautiful is a public authority or not. In an interesting turn of events, the UT Administration claimed before the CIC on Thursday that no office of the administrator existed and that the Chandigarh Administrator was a virtual figurehead only. Joint Secretary, Home, Bhupinder Singh, who appeared on behalf of the Administrator, said that all files in the administrator's office are dealt with by officers of the Punjab Government.The CIC was hearing the case through video-conferencing that was conducted at the UT Secretariat here. The UT Administration remained adamant on the very existence of the Administrator's office and denied that any such office ever existed.

Complete Article

Friday, May 09, 2008

Appoint PIO soon: CIC to Haj Committee

The Central Information Commission has asked the Haj Committee of India (HCI) to appoint a public information officer under the RTI Act, saying the post should not remain vacant even for a day. Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal expressed his displeasure over Assistant HCI instead of appellate authority, representing the body — established under the Haj Committee Act 2002 for making arrangements for the pilgrimage — in a hearing before the Commission.

Complete Article

CIC summons IIT professor to explain cut-off formula

It is a testing challenge to the fairness of what is considered one of the most competitive examinations in the world, IIT-JEE. The chief organiser of the 2006 examination, Prof V K Tewari of IIT Kharagpur, is due to appear on Thursday before the Central Information Commission to account for his failure to explain the basis on which he had arrived at subject-wise cut-off marks.

Tewari has been summoned to show cause why, as "the custodian of the information," he should not be penalized as neither of the versions he gave of the statistical formula tallied with the cut-off marks that had been applied to filter out candidates in the 2006 IIT-JEE.

Complete Article

Four retired officials appointed Information Commissioners

Tamil Nadu Governor S S Barnala today appointed retired IAS Officer T R Ramasamy and three others as State Information Commissioners in the Tamil Nadu Information Commission. The Governor administered the oath of office to Mr Ramasamy, Mr R Perumalsamy, Mr T Srinivasan and Ms Sarada Nambi Arooran, all retired officials, at a simple function in Raj Bhavan, an offical release said here.

Complete Article

RTI applicant seeks copies of registers in Priyanka-Nalini meeting issue

The controversy over the meeting between Priyanka Vadra, daughter of Rajiv Gandhi, and Nalini, life convict in the former Prime Minister's assassination case, at the special prison for women in Vellore has taken a new turn with an applicant, under the Right to Information Act, seeking copies of the main gate registers in which Ms. Vadra's visit could have been recorded. Initially, in her reply to the applicant — D. Rajkumar of Anna Nagar in Chennai — prison Superintendent Rajasoundari said no person visited Nalini either on March 14 or 19. Following this, Mr. Rajkumar moved the State Information Commission seeking an enquiry against the jail official for providing false information.

Complete Article

RTI cannot be used for bank dealings

Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that an applicant cannot have access to information regarding a bank's transactions under Right to Information (RTI), as they have to maintain the secrecy of these transactions. This stands good for even for an applicant who is an owner of the land regarding which the information was being sought.

Complete Article

Pune Commissionerate ignorant about RTI, say activists

More than two-and-a-half years after its inception, the right to information act 2005 is yet to make its way into the corridors of the police commissioner's office. a group of members of the rti forum visited the cp office on monday seeking information of some files under section four of the act but the office showed its inability and sought time till june 30 to gather details.

"we had intimated the commissioner of police jayant umranikar on may 1 about our inspection visit. he had assured us that the joint commissioner of police rajendra sonawane would provide all the required information under section four of the act," said rti activist vijay kumbhar. however, to its surprise the team found that the policemen were totally ignorant about the section as well as the act which clearly states that all public servants have to make available suo moto information.

when contacted, sonawane told dna that the commissioner's office held a meeting on monday to discuss details of the information sought. "the cp has asked all the officials to start gathering information so as to make it available by june 30," he said.

Complete Article

UT Admn, social activists spar over hike in RTI fee

The sparring duel between the UT Administration and social activists of Chandigarh on the issue of the hike, effected by the Administrator, who is also the Governor of Punjab, in the RTI fee, is headed for a climax, and may well land in courts. The Chandigarh Administration had effected five-fold hike in the RTI fee last February, ostensibly with the objective of discouraging non-serious parties from seeking information. The decision attracted instant growls of protests from social activists who tend to describe their fight against the fee hike as a fight between "corrupt bureaucracy" and the "common man."

Complete Article

Candidates took recourse to RTI to fight judicial recruitment scam

The SC has smelled a rat in the recruitment of lower judiciary judges by HC and indicted it for changing the rules. Five candidates who were to appear for the interview on July 12, 2006 were informed that the interview was postponed. After three such postponements, the five were jointly called to a chamber by the selection committee comprising five judges of the Delhi HC only to be told that the interview had been put off again.

After six postponements, interviews finally took place and the registry came out with names of three successful candidates. Two of those who appeared for the interview - Himani Malhotra and Vineeta Goyal - moved the SC saying they found, using RTI, that the rules of selection was changed midway by introducing cut-off marks for interview. They added that if there were 16 vacant posts, then all five appearing in the interview should have been selected.

7 Apr 2008, 0244 hrs IST,
Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN

CIC directes the MRD to give info to Indian PhD student

The Central Information Commission directed the ministry of rural development to give information to an Indian Ph.D student from Cambridge University under the Right to Information free of charge as it earlier denied her the information.

On April 30, information commissioner M.M. Ansari penalised the CPIO of the ministry of rural development for not giving the appellant, Dipta Chopra,the information which she asked for under the RTI Act. Later, the MoRD agreed to give her the information but did not want to give her the file notings.

The CIC also asked the ministry to give this information and all without any charge. Ms Chopra, who is doing her Ph.D in Formulation of the Social Policy of NREGA, said, "I wanted the information for my Ph.D studies. I am yet to go over the information which was provided to me but it is 600-odd pages and I trust it's all there."

Complete Article

Priyanka did meet Nalini, says jail official

Putting an end to the controversy over the visit of Priyanka Vadra to the Special Prison for Women, Vellore, to meet life convict Nalini Sriharan, the Tamil Nadu Prison Department has finally confirmed that their meeting did take place on March 19. Maintaining that it was well within the legal framework, Jail Superintendent P. Raja Soundari on April 28 wrote to a petitioner, who had sought to know about Ms. Priyanka's visit under the Right to Information Act, that the meeting was allowed as per Rule 520, 522 and 526 of the Tamil Nadu Jail Manual (Part II).

Complete Article

Dharana On Orissa informatioon Commission

To-day, around 30 Activists and senior citizens hailed from different districts had sat on Dharana at PMG Square demanding enquiry into and Action against the mal-functioning of State Information Commission, Orissa. A 3-members team consisting of Mr. pradeep Pradhan, Mr. Tapan Mohapatra and Mr. Kedar nath Sahoo had met Hon'ble Governor at Raj Bhawan and discussed with His Excellency about the cases how the
decision of the Information Commission is anti-citizen and agaisnt the spirit of the Act. The members also appraised to the Governor about the implmentation of RTI Act and the failure of public authorities to make publish suo moto disclosure of information in Oriya language. His execellency was also appraised about how the
Information Commission is not hearing the cases relating violation of Section 4 of the Act and suo moto rejecting it. Governor immediately instructed his Secretary to write letter to Govt. on it. The members presented all the testominies to Governor during discussion. The study Report on Functioning of State information commission prepared by Right to Food Campaign was also presented to Governor. having gone through all these documents, His excellency requested the members to provide all the records and documents where the Commission has precariuosly failed to give justice to the people.

Thanking you
Yours sincerely
Pradip Pradhan
Date 4.5.08

RTI: MLA offers to tell all

Although one can seek information from state and central government offices under Right to Information (RTI), seeking information on elected representatives is excluded from the Act. But this is MLA has decided to go 'transparent'.

Chandrapur MLA Sudhir Mungantiwar has invited citizens from his constituency to 'feel free' to come to his office and seek information about him, his funds and his activities. His party workers assist citizens who come with queries and they are provided with the information and documents they need. Sources say that this could be an 'election gimmick' prior to the state assembly polls. However, the locals are excited about posing queries to their MLA.

4 May 2008, 0434 hrs IST,
Mazhar Ali,TNN,

UP House threatens info panel with contempt

Amid a raging national debate over the Right to Information Act, the UP assembly has triggered a new controversy by seeking to initiate contempt of the House proceedings against the State Information Commission (SIC) and petitioners who sought information.

Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar took a decision to this effect recently after an all-party meeting. CM Mayawati also attended the meeting. The issue was raised in the assembly on February 15, 2008. In fact, Rajbhar has only ratified his predecessor Mata Prasad Pandey's decision. The row is set to give a new dimension to the issue, after Parliament and the judiciary took conflicting stands on the subject.

4 May 2008, 0420 hrs IST,
Arvind Singh Bisht,TNN

Parties will have to show I-T returns

In order to avoid disclosing their income tax returns, political parties have attempted to ward off RTI queries, calling appellants "busybodies'' or claiming parties were not "public authority''. But not any longer. These excuses have been swept aside by the Central Information Commission (CIC). In a recent order, the CIC held that all political parties should disclose their income tax returns on a request filed by an NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms. The decision, which will end the resistance of parties, is being viewed as a blow for transparency as it increases scrutiny into funding of political parties, a perpetual source of speculation.

Complete Article

Monday, May 05, 2008

Protest change of timing of the programme "Janane Ka Haqq' by DD Ahmedabad

Here is an appeal from our project partner MAGP. 'JANANE KA HAQQ' is one programme on DD News that was hugely popular as it covered RTI from the 'aam admi's' or the common man's perspective. It seems that some people are not comfortable about the rising TRPs of a RTI program and the time had been changed from prime to obscure. This is an appeal from to write into the CEO of Prasar Bharati to not just support the programme but also to ensure that it gets back its prime time slot.

Email CEO Prasar Bharati, B. S Lalli at ceobci@yahoo.com and CC pharinesh@gmail.com - Harinesh Pandya, coordinator of MAGP.

-vishal

Dear Friends,

Warm greetings.

I am giving here below draft of a letter to CEO Prasar Bharati with a request for changing of telecast time of the popular RTI program on DD - JANANE KA HAQQ Programme (Hindi) from Saturday 10:30 am to the earlier slot of in the evening between 7:30 to 9:00 pm. I request all Hum Jananege members to kindly sent similar letter to CEO Prasar Bharati. Kindly send us a copy of the letter send by you.

With regards and thanks
Harinesh Pandya
MAGP

Draft of letter

[note: the posting date of this post has been manipulated for "sticky" effect :)]

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Online Petition against Amendment to Karnataka RTI Act 2005

http://www.petitiononline.com/krti2008/

(posted by Tanveer (Syed Tanveeruddin) on Humjanenge)

Not just CJI, all SC judges outside law

If Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has announced that, being a constitutional office holder, he fell outside the ambit of the RTI law, the Supreme Court registry has claimed such immunity for other judges too by casting a veil of secrecy over all matters relating to their code of conduct, complaints against them and declaration of their assets. Responding to an RTI application, the SC's central public information officer (CPIO) Ashok Kumar said, "The matters covered under resolutions like `in-house procedure to probe against judges', `declaration of assets by judges', `restatement of values of judicial life', etc, are not handled by the registry and the information relating thereto is not held by or under the control of CPIO.'' Asked whether CJI was subject to RTI for his administrative (as opposed to judicial) functions, CPIO sidestepped the question saying it was beyond his jurisdiction "to interpret the law, opine, comment and advise on matters.'' Though the SC is cited as a public authority accountable under RTI, CPIO's reply to applicant S C Agrawal implies that no question can be asked about CJI or any of the
other judges, thereby defeating the legislative intent of extending the transparency law to the judiciary as well.

Complete Article

No Priyanka-Nalini meeting took place: Jail official

Controversy broke out over Priyanka Gandhi's reported meeting with Nalini Murugan, who is serving a life-term for her role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi at the Vellore prison, with the jail Superintendent saying that no such meeting took place.
The denial came by way of superintendent Rajasoundari's written reply to city lawyer D Rajkumar's query under the Right To Information Act (RTI) seeking details of the meeting.

Complete Article

Mumbai Police owes Rs 37 crore to BEST

Right to Information (RTI) application filed in Mumbai has revealed that the police department owes Rs 37 crore in unpaid bills. The offices of the commissioner of Mumbai Police and the state Director General of Police have not paid their electricity bills for the last five years. However, these are not the only culprits, also guilty of unpaid bills are almost all police stations, offices of the assistant
commissioners and deputy commissioners as well.

Complete Article

Thursday, May 01, 2008

GIC denies govt staffer access to info under RTI

Containing corruption being one of the primary objectives of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) has disallowed a government employee, charged in corruption case, from accessing file notings in his case papers from the Anti Corruption Bureau, on grounds that it would impede his prosecution. GIC cited a Central Information Commission (CIC) decision in a similar case where it disallowed an applicant from accessing information pertaining to his case, saying that he would get the information later but not at the stage when prosecution proceedings have been initiated against him.

Rahul Mangaonkar
Times News Network
May 1,2008

Seminar on RTI at Gurgaon

A Workshop on Right to Information Act was today organised at Gurgaon by Haryana Rural Development Institute, Nelokheri. Rajeev Sharma, Commissioner, Gurgaon division, gave the valedictory address in which he said every citizen had a right to know all the decisions and policies of the government under the Act and officers should give the information demanded promptly.

Complete Article

Lok Sabha committee asks Centre to amend RTI law

The Lok Sabha wants to reserve the right to decide if it should reveal information about House proceedings under the transparency law. The Lok Sabha privileges committee has asked the government to amend the Right to Information Act to make it mandatory for those seeking information to explain why they want it. It cited the constitutional provision that the proceedings of Parliament or any of its committees cannot be called in question in any court. The committee added that the right to decide whether or not to part with any sensitive information should be vested with the Speaker, who would act after consulting it

Complete Article

Parties can contest CIC order on source of fund

Political parties could seek legal recourse to try and prevent the implementation of the Central Information Commission (CIC) order that requires them to make public their income-tax returns under the Right to Information Act which will, for the first time, bring their sources of funding under public scrutiny.

In anticipation of this, activist group the Association of Democratic Reforms, or ADR, which had filed the petition that resulted in CIC’s order, has filed a caveat, in both the Delhi high court and the Supreme Court, whereby it would be granted a hearing in case the order is stayed.
The commission, in its order of 29 April, which was reported in The Economic Times of 30 April, had directed that the details on tax returns by the political parties be furnished to ADR within six weeks.

Complete Article

Big spend, bigger corruption

In the absence of a proper system of checks and balances, corruption has firmly gripped the funding of civic projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). An embarrassed state government, while maintaining that audits were being conducted at the local level, has asked citizens to wield the Right to Information (RTI) Act to stem the corruption!

Complete Article

Citizens can get info on parties' I-T returns

In an order that will bring transparency to political funding, the information commissioner on Tuesday upheld citizens' right to seek details of income-tax returns submitted by political parties. Barring the Communist parties, all others were against allowing a peep into their declared income and sources. The direction came on an RTI application of a Delhi-based NGO seeking details of tax returns of political parties from the I-T department. A refusal by the department of taxes to pass on the details forced the applicant to move a petition before the apex transparency panel. Even as it directed a disclosure of the I-T returns of political parties, the commission is known to have categorically exempted revealing of their Permanent Account Numbers (PAN).

Complete Article

Red tapism shadows RTI Act Implementation in UP

It is a sorry state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh on the Right to Information (RTI) front, with close to half of the over 9,000 appeals and complaints made in a year yet to be disposed. Between April 2006 and March 2007, the total number of appeals and complaints made under the transparency law stood at 9,946. And of these, a total number of 4,088 appeals and complaints were pending disposal. The information was given in a reply to an application filed by RTI activist Retired Commodore Lokesh K Batra to the Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission (UPSIC).


Complete Article

Privileges Committe - 'Parliament RTI query must specify the reasons'

Parliament may want the judiciary to come under the Right to Information (RTI) scanner. But it wants certain concessions while coming under scrutiny by the common man under the very same act. This is evident in the suggestion made by the Lok Sabha privileges committee which has suggested that the RTI Act 2005 be amended so that an applicant seeking information or documents from Parliament will have to specify the
reasons for asking thus. Under the present rules, applicants do not have to state the reasons for seeking information which also includes the Parliament.

Complete Article

Except judicial decision making, judiciary under RTI Act

A parliamentary committee today held that judiciary comes under the purview of the Right to Information law with regard to all activities of administration except "judicial decision making". "Except the judicial decision making, all other activities of administration and the persons included in it (judiciary) are subject to RTI Act," said the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Law and Justice. The opinion of the committee headed by E M Sudarsana Natchiappanan comes against the backdrop of a raging controversy over whether the judiciary comes under the RTI purview.

PTI
29 April 2008

No NCW reply to RTI

The National Commission for Women could not locate the relevant documents concerning the meeting of chairperson of NCW Girija Vyas with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. This was revealed when an application was filed for information at the NCW under the Right to Information Act. The NCW also failed to answer an application under the Right to Information Act 2005 on the basic information sought about the number of members in the commission and their responsibilities and roles in more than two months. The applicant filed by RTI activist retired commodore Lokesh Batra asked for information about the number of complaints received by the NCW in the wake of the Nithari killings of children which were discovered in Noida. He also asked about the action taken by the NCW and other information from the NCW.

Complete Article

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