Monday, June 30, 2008

Raj Bhavan to disclose report on imposition of Presidents Rule in Karnataka

In an another land mark judgment Katnataka Information commission orders for disclosure of Report sent by the Governor of Karnataka to President of India recommending imposition of President Rule in Karnataka under Right to Information Act. The Commission held the view that there was nothing in the recommendation(s) made by the Governor to the President of India, which would lead to incitement of an
offence or which would constitute breach of privilege of the State Legislature. The provisions of sections 8(1)(a) or 8(1)(c) were therefore not attracted in this case. Commission also held that information is also not exempt from disclosure under any other provision of the Act.

[posted by Sri B. H. Veeresh on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

Can House panel details be disclosed?

The Central Information Commission (CIC) will examine whether evidences and proceedings of parliamentary committees and state legislatures can be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The issue — based on a query by Goa's leader of Opposition and BJP MLA Manohar Parrikar — will be heard by a full CIC Bench. Lok Sabha secretary general and legal experts on parliamentary privileges have been invited to give written submissions and opinion on the issue that will be heard on August 1. At present, minutes of parliamentary committees and its proceedings are confidential and disclosure can invite contempt of the House.

Complete Article

Not disclosing govt file notings violation of RTI law: CIC

The Centre's decision of not disclosing file notings under the Right To Information act has drawn flak from the Central Information Commission which held that this amounted to violation of the transparency law. Turning down a plea of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) that file notings were exempted under the RTI act, the commission said it meant, "substituting the law". "The circular of DoPT is curious in that it seeks to substitute the law passed by the parliament with its own interpolation inserted in its website," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. The circular was brought to the notice of the transparency panel
during a hearing on a complaint of a retired IAS officer Des Raj Dhingra, alleging that the DoPT had refused to provide him information relating to file noting on his RTI plea.

Complete Article

Micro-films sent to US sans Akademi consent

The micro-films of 1238 rare books from the library of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi were taken and sent to the US Congress library without the approval of the general council or the executive committee of the Akademi. According to the details provided to former publication officer of the Akademi C K Anandan Pillai by the Public Information Officer of the Akademi under the Right to Information Act, micro-filming of these selected rare books from the library of the Akademi was done at the archives of Tamil Nadu from July 17, 1996 to March 26, 1998 for an Indo-US project.

Complete Article

DDA, Delhi Police top list of RTI queries in capital

People in the capital seem to be most unhappy with the ways of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Delhi Police, if the number of applications made under the Right to Information (RTI) Act is any indication. According to figures compiled by Kabir, an NGO working on RTI, the capital's land management agency received 12,970 RTI applications from October 2005 to December 2007 and Delhi Police 12,229 during the same period. "We filed RTI applications in various departments of Delhi to understand the growth and trend of the RTI Act in the national capital since it was notified in 2005," Neeraj Kumar, who works with Kabir, said. "Delhi Police and DDA received maximum applications, which clearly implies that people face maximum problems at these places," he said.

Complete Article

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pay-parking file not yet moved to cops

Even though the Panaji police claim to be investigating the pay-parking scam allegedly operated by a city corporator, the controversial file is still in the possession of the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP). Says opposition corporator Suresh Chopdekar, "The file is very much in the possession of the CCP. Why is the police not asking the city corporation for the file of the pay-parking tender if they are investigating the matter?" Chopdekar demanded that the police should summon the concerned clerk in-charge of the file if it wants to conduct a thorough probe.

Complete Article

Residents irked over BMC plan

Juhu residents are once again having sleepless nights. Through a right to information act (RTI), they found that BMC is now planning to close the Irla nullah adjoining the open space that is maintained by Ronson Foundation (RF). Residents procured two sites plans through RTI - one dated 199 and the other 2006. However, the recent plan shows the nullah covered. Sanjay Hegde, president, Gulmohur Area Societies Welfare Group (GASWG), said "It is so insensitive of BMC to do something like this. If they close the nullah then how will the water pass?" Ashoke Pandit, member GASWG, said, "BMC is doing this only to help the foundation. They will slowly extend their boundaries and take over the nullah too." He further added that they now will protest to BMC's decision by writing to the commissioner.

Complete Article

TDR windfall for open spaces in suburbs

Details procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act have revealed that some wards in the suburbs have lakhs, and others crores, of rupees to maintain open spaces. The BMC created a new budget head last year wherein a portion of money collected from builders who bought transfer of development rights (TDR) would be used exclusively to provide and maintain open spaces. If builders use TDR but do not provide the required open space, then they must pay compensation to the BMC. "The ward where the TDR has been used will have the first right to decide the manner in which the money will be used," said Ram Dhas, chief accountant, BMC. "The fees or compensation at the end of the year is transferred to a special fund called the development fund."

Complete Article

Amend "misleading" contents on website: CIC to DoPT

The website of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) keeping a record of file notings exempted from the purview of the RTI Act has been termed as "misleading" by the Central Information Commission. The Commission also asked the department to amend the portal. The transparency panel asked the Centre to amend the contents of the portal to bring it in tune with the Right to Information Act, which
does not include file notings under the exemption category. "Since this incorrect quotation has misled members of the public, our decision in this matter would be placed before the Minister of State, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions for appropriate and early action," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.

Complete Article

RTI guardians under scanner

Two state information commissioners are under the Jharkhand Governor's scrutiny for awarding huge compensations to individuals denied information under the sunshine law. Syed Sibtey Razi's office will soon question Shristidhar Mahto and Gangotri Kujur, both of whom had ordered compensation to the tune of Rs 60 lakh to be paid to RTI applicants in different cases. The Raj Bhavan believes the amount is too high to qualify under Section 19 (8) (b) of the Right to Information Act (see box) that limits individual compensation to the costs and expenses incurred to file an RTI application.

Complete Article

Mobile phones, internet lead to students' suicides - IIT

The Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has blamed constant use of mobile phones and enormous internet surfing by the students for increasing number of suicides on the campus, officials said. In a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed on June 2 by the institute's alumni association, the premier institute said that as students are in regular touch with their family members, friends and relatives, several thoughts occupy them. This in turn, at times, disturbs the students, who do not get peaceful time to study. And later, they take the extreme step for not performing well in the exams. Earlier, when the mobile phones were not so popular, the students were not able to stay in touch with their families and hence got time to study, officials said.

Complete Article

Teacher posted to Kargil for unearthing corruption via RTI

Information comes at a price, and who can know this better than a Kendriya Vidyalaya teacher who has been transferred to Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir for seeking information about alleged corruption. "I was transferred to Kargil and was also relieved by the school administration here the day they received an order in this regard as I have exposed corruption in purchase of books, construction of playground and illegal felling of trees among others and sought information about it under RTI," Manjulal Kajodia said after beginning his protest against his transfer. Mangilal Kajodia began a non-violent protest against his transfer in front of the Bank Note Press (BNP) here in whose premises the Central School is situated.

Complete Article

Where ignorance is a right

The Right to Information (RTI) Act needs to be put on oxygen in Uttar Pradesh. A wake up call has almost become a necessity for even senior officials candidly admit their ignorance about the Act. Ironically, this is the situation which prevails three years after the law was enacted on June 15, 2005 by the Parliament. What is most disturbing is that neither the chief secretary (CS) nor the director general of police (DGP) evinced any interest in creating awareness about the Act, according to the observations made in various judgments of the State Information Commission (SIC).

Complete Article

8000 teachers 'missing' in govt schools

Over 8,000 teaching posts lie vacant in government schools across the Capital, an application filed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act has found. And the vast majority of vacancies, says the response to the RTI filed this March by retired government school principal Jai Bhagwan Gupta, are for Trained Graduate Teachers (TGTs) — up until February 27, 6,379 TGT posts lay vacant. An official at the Delhi government's Directorate of Education (DoE) said the number is closer to 7000 today.

Complete Article

Jharkhand Info panel chief snubbed

Ending days of shadow boxing, Governor Syed Sibtey Razi today directed the state chief information commissioner, justice (retired) Hari Shankar Prasad, to withdraw his controversial order detailing his own post-retirement benefits. He also told Prasad, who is to retire after two days, to contact the state government for his retirement benefits. The Governor's office had taken umbrage at the commission's decision to frame its own rules, apparently to bypass the state government. Today, Razi set the record straight and said in case of any conflict over regulations, the state would prevail. Razi also sought annual reports of all the commission's cases.

Complete Article

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Congress opposes decision to expand Jharkhand State Information Comm

The Congress on Saturday opposed the Jharkhand government's decision to raise the strength of the State Information Commission a week after it reportedly recommended addition of three more names to the six-member body.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

RTI exposes financial irregularities in coop bank

The Right to Information (RTI) Act has brought to the fore financial bungling worth approximately Rs 42 crore committed by the employees of Sitapur Cooperative Bank Ltd. The bungling is shown in the special audit report for the period 1989-90 to 2005-06. The information has been provided by the office of district assistant registrar, cooperative societies, Uttar Pradesh, Sitapur. An application addressed to public information officer (PIO)/district assistant registrar. Khalik Ahmad, in October 2007, had sought information on the total embezzled amount, mis-appropriated amount and irregular amount shown in the special audit report from the year 1989-90 to 2005-06 in the District Cooperative Bank Ltd, Sitapur (headquarters).

The information released by the PIO in November, 2007, showed embezzlement worth Rs 57,201,142.71, mis-appropriation worth Rs 25,27,91,306.41 and irregular amount to the tune of Rs 10,61,55,390.08 for the bank as pointed out in the special audit report for the years 1989-90 to 2005-06.

Complete Article

RTI effect: Metro told to ensure transparency, update website

It's time the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) updated its website so as to bring in public domain certain vital information regarding its functioning and policies. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the DMRC to get in tune with the requirement of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, requiring a public body to digitise and publish its records on the Internet. Reading from provisions of the RTI Act, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah directed DMRC to upload on its website (www.delhimetrorail.com) the funding pattern, necessitated to be disclosed under the transparency act.

Complete Article

Seeking info on father-in-law, man told: RTI not for family rows

The Right to Information Act (RTI) Act is hardly the right door to knock on in order to settle personal scores arising out of domestic feuds, the authority dealing with RTI appeals has observed. Drawing a line to distinguish between bedroom battles and seeking information for public interest, the Central Information Commission (CIC) expressed its desire to be "kept away" from "household squabbles". Dealing with an RTI plea recently, Commissioner A N Tiwari observed: "The Commission would like to be kept away from domestic disputes, and will view with disfavour, colourable use of application under RTI Act to settle personal scores."

Complete Article

CIC takes on IAS lobby over appointment criteria

Thanks to judicial intervention, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has mustered the will to take on the powerful IAS lobby on an appeal filed by Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal. The disclosures ordered by CIC on June 12 have opened up the
possibility of finding out how many of the senior officers appointed to the levels of secretary and additional secretary in various ministries fulfiled the prescribed criterion of "specific suitability."

Complete Article

Co-operatives come under RTI Act: HC

The High Court on Tuesday observed that "The state still relies on the English language even 40 years after the reorganisation of the state and after 35 years of implementation of the Official Language Act." The Court made this observation while hearing a petition by Kannika Parameshwari Co-operative Society, Hassan. The Society had appealed against the State Government's decision to bring them under Right To Information Act.

Complete Article

Army gagged, warned against leaking secrets

The Government has issued a directive banning officials who have served in sensitive security agencies from writing books or appearing as guest experts on TV channels. A life-time ban has also been imposed on officers from publishing anything relating to "sensitive assignments" they carried out during their service. To impose the ban order, the Government has amended the Central Services pension rules to deter officers from giving out "sensitive information", even in the form of statements to the media, on the secrets they held while in service.

Complete Article

Reminder call to schools for answers

In an apparent bid to tighten the noose around private schools affiliated to CBSE and ICSE, district education officer Ashok Kumar Sharma has issued directives to principals that may curtail the autonomy enjoyed by them. In a "last reminder", the district education officer has directed the management of private schools to send "required information" and follow "government guidelines" within a week. Failing this, schools should be prepared for serious "action". He has also threatened to recommend cancellations of CBSE/ICSE affiliations if schools failed to abide by the rules and follow the directives.

Complete Article

Cases worth Rs 41L pending against telecom company

An application under Right to Information (RTI) has revealed that there are 44 consumer cases pending against a private telecom company in various consumer forums in the state. And the financial implication of all these cases is estimated to be Rs
41.8 lakh. One Piyush Luktuke had, under RTI sought to know from the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) list of cases pending in the consumer courts of Gujarat against the telecom company. This along with the names of the parties and the amount claimed by them.

Complete Article

Fresh trouble for Najma Heptulla

Former Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson and senior BJP leader Najma Heptulla took away 42 files containing personal details of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad from the records of Indian Council for Cultural Relations. She is currently under the CBI scanner for having allegedly morphed a 1958 photo to show her seated with the late leader. In response to a RTI query seeking details about the files missing from the ICCR records, the council in its reply stated: "As desired by Smt. Najma Heptulla, the then President, ICCR, personal files of Maulana Azad were sent to her by then DG. These have not been returned till date".

Complete Article

Jagadananda new Orissa RTI commissioner

The Orissa government Monday appointed eminent social activist and state planning board member Jagadananda as the new Right to Information (RTI) commissioner of the state. The post was lying vacant for the last six months following the end of tenure of the first commissioner, Professor Radha Mohan. With the appointment of Jagadananda, the two-member RTI commission would now be fully operational. DN Padhi is the chief commissioner.

Complete Article

Star student wins marks

Star student Puja Burnwal stands vindicated. Not only has she passed the higher secondary examination with first division, the Jharkhand Academic Council has been asked to give her Rs 90,000 as compensation for harassment, under the Right to Information (RTI) act. Puja, a student of science stream, had appeared for the council's Intermediate exam in 2007 and secured 72 marks in physics, 70 in maths, 70 in chemistry and 49 in economics. But she got only 15 in English. When the council merely re-counted her marks instead of re-checking the paper, Puja's mother Shanti Devi contacted RTI activist Devnandan Prasad. Prasad, not only demanded the copy of the English answer paper but also asked for the name of the examiner. Failing to get a reply in three months, they moved the state information commission on September 27. In the commission's hearing on May 22, 2008, the council said they could not show the answer paper as it would affect the confidential nature of the examination.

Complete Article

Atal was to hand over Jinnah House to Wadia?

Will India's ties with Pakistan be affected adversely if the Manmohan Singh government admits that seven years ago the Vajpayee government had decided to hand over Jinnah House in Mumbai to his sole heir and only child, Dina Wadia? Rejecting the government's plea for blanket immunity, the CIC has ordered partial disclosure of documents on an RTI plea made by her son, Nusli Wadia. In its 10-page order on June 19, CIC rebuffed the government's bid to deny information to Wadia under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act without explaining how the disclosure of the documents related to the Vajpayee government's decision on Jinnah House would undermine the country's relations with Pakistan.

Complete Article

Information tabled in House can be accessed under RTI

Information tabled in the legislature cannot be held back by citing the excuse of secret information, thanks to the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This was made clear in an order issued by state information commissioner, Nagpur Division, Vilas Patil, on a petition by a social worker here,

Mohsin Ahmed had petitioned Patil after he was denied information by the state Government regarding the proceedings in a high-powered Government committee about the excise and sales tax payment default of Rs 156 crore till 2006 by Meher Distilleries of Thane. Ahmed's complaints against Meher Distilleries forced the Bombay High Court to direct the company in 2001 to pay up its dues. The company had moved the Supreme Court against the verdict, but there too its special leave petition was rejected.

Complete Article

Crores spent, yet obsolete laws live

Several recommendations of the various law commissions on repealing of obsolete laws, including the Official Secrets Act, have failed to elicit a positive response from the government in an exercise over which crores of rupees were spent during the past ten years. In reply to an application filed by RTI activist Debashish
Bhattacharya, the law ministry said that the recommendations made by the law commission may 'be accepted or rejected'. "They are recommendations. They may be accepted or rejected. Action on the said recommendations depends on the ministries/departments, which are concerned with the subject matter of the recommendations," T K Viswanathan, secretary in the law ministry, said in the reply.
Asked about the enormous amount of tax payers' money spent on recommendations which are not implemented, he pleaded helplessness over the issue. Bhattacharya said these recommendations are coming from retired judges of High Court and Supreme Court.

Complete Article

Delhi leads in RTI applications; Goa last in filing

The national capital leads the country in terms of applications moved under the Right To Information (RTI), with an overwhelming 35,250 petitions being made in Delhi in the last three years. On the other extreme is Goa, where only 811 RTI applications have been made in the same period, according to official statistics.

Complete Article

Villagers invoke RTI to claim revenue dept records, seek compensation

At a time when the aviation industry is going through a rough patch, the capital's airport is being drawn into a controversy over land ownership: around 150 villagers now claim their families weren't adequately compensated for the land on which the Birsa Munda Airport was built way back in 1963. Their claims are based on a set of documents they received from the state revenue department after applying for certain details under the Right to Information Act.

The documents — over 1,035 pages — provide acquisition details of 982.44 acres of the 1,568 acres on which the airport is situated. The bone of contention is over the remaining land for which the revenue department could not produce acquisition details, since it pertained to "pre-Independence days". The villagers, represented by the Visthapit Sangharsh Samiti, are now thinking of moving the High Court against the state government for not parting with all the information.

Complete Article

Saturday, June 21, 2008

RTI comes to the rescue of IITians

Innovation is not the only forte of IITians. Their latest experiment with the Right to Information (RTI) has helped about 1,200 IIT research scholars in matters as varied as hiking scholarships and finding out the reasons for the spurt in suicides in IIT-Kanpur as well as felling of trees in the IIT-Bombay campus.

A simple RTI application of research scholars at IIT-Bombay to the HRD Ministry and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) earlier this year seeking information on the fellowship hike for M.Tech students had the HRD Ministry announcing an increase in fellowship for students who had cleared the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering last year. Before 30 days, the stipulated period for
providing information under the RTI Act, the ministry released additional money to all IITs and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, to increase the stipend.

Complete Article

Power of RTI: girl gets back valuables from groom

Rashi (name changed) knew nothing about the Right to Information (RTI) Act until the 23-year-old daughter of a retired bus driver used it to get back her valuables from her estranged fiancee's family. The resident of Kalyanpuri area in east Delhi had got engaged to a man in January 2008. The groom's side took cash, jewellery and household items from Rashi's family and forced them to throw a lavish party on the occasion. Rashi's father spared no expenses even though he has three other children to bring up on his modest savings as a retired bus driver

Counselled by the NGO, Rashi's family decided against the marriage and also wanted the money and valuables back from the groom, who is a daily wager with a civic agency in the capital. 'On March 18, they filed a complaint with the women's cell at
Nanakpura, which asked them to file the same with the women's cell in Krishna Nagar,' Joshi said.

However, police did not take any action. About 15 days later, the girl's family decided to file an RTI application in the matter, asking Delhi Police for the daily progress report in their complaint. 'The power of RTI can be gauged from the fact that after filling the application April 1, we received a call from the women's cell at Krishna Nagar on April 3. We had only asked about the action taken by police on our complaint,' Rashi told IANS. 'Within a week, we got our cash, jewellery and household items back,' Rashi said.

Complete Article

Govt clueless about death toll of Pandits in the Valley

The Centre may have the number of security personnel or militants killed in J and K since the outbreak of violence in 1989, but it does not have any count of the Kashmiri Pandits who fell prey to insurgency. This admission, by the Centre, came in response to an RTI application filed by a Kashmiri Pandit, Aditya Raj Kaul, who wanted to know how many of his community members were killed in the state since 1989.

Complete Article

Unable to trace privy purse files: MHA, archives to CIC

In a shocking revelation, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the National Archives of India (NAI) have told the Central Information Commission (CIC) that they are unable to trace files pertaining to the post-Independence Government and its policies concerning privy purses. The information regarding Cabinet papers, file notings, discussion notes, minutes and such other important policy records concerning the Government and rulers of former princely states was sought by Jaswant
Singh, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

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Bishnupur DC served show cause for supplying forged documents under RTI

The Manipur information commissioner today served a show cause notice to the deputy commissioner of Bishnupur district asking why penalty should not be imposed on him for providing forged documents while providing information to an applicant under the RTI Act. Manipur chief information commissioner, RK Angousana gave the ruling
in connection with a complaint filed by an individual named S Tomba Singh of Bishnupur ward no. 11 against the deputy commissioner, Bishnupur district and principal secretary (health), the appellate authority of the RTI alleging that the documents provided by the SPIO of the office to him were not genuine but forged ones.

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UTI MF may have to face RTI roving eye

UTI Mutual Fund, the third-largest asset management company in India, could be made accountable under the Right to Information Act. In a move that could allow investors to seek data on the company's financial management, the Central Information Commission (CIC) would soon consider whether the financial control and profit sharing pattern of UTI Asset Management Company (AMC) calls for public accountability under the transparency law. Investors have taken the RTI route to get hold of closely-guarded financial data. Notably, the CIC had last year directed stock
exchanges and SBI's financial services arm, SBI Cards, to set up an information redressal mechanism under the transparency law.

Complete Article

Centre seeks 'facts' on foreign trips of UT bureaucrats

Ministry of Home Affairs tells Adviser to furnish details on the expenditure incurred on the visits The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has asked UT Adviser Pradeep Mehra to explain the 'factual position' on the expenditure incurred by a few senior bureaucrats on their foreign trips in the recent past. A recent communiqué sent by the MHA refers to the "questionable" expenditure of lakhs of rupees by former UT home secretary Krishna Mohan, Secretary (Tourism) J S Bir, Director (Tourism) Vivek Atray and former finance secretary S K Sandhu, during their official visits abroad. The issue came to light on February 11 this year, when a local resident sought information under the Right to Information Act about the expenditure incurred by UT bureaucrats during their official trips to foreign countries.

Complete Article

994 miss IIT chance- Disclosure raises questions

Right to Information (RTI) query filed by an IIT Kharagpur professor has revealed that deserving students have not been able to make it to IIT. In 2006, nearly 994 deserving students did not make it to the IIT merit list because of complicated and faulty admission procedures. To clear the IIT-JEE examination, a candidate has to get a minimum cut off in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics because these subjects
form the basis of the IIT Curriculum. The top aggregate scorers then qualify for the 5479 seats. However, professor Arvind Kejriwal who himself is from IIT Kharagpur filed an RTI wanting to know how these minimum cut-offs were calculated and the marks of all the two-lakh fifty-thousand plus students who appeared in the 2006 examination. The computer engineering professor then computed this data using the
IIT's own formula and found that the cut off's for the three subjects come to seven, four and six. Two other independent statisticians verified this as well.

Complete Article

Cops play security card against RTI

Jharkhand police have refused reply to a Right to Information Act (RTI) application seeking the number of primary and secondary schools occupied by paramilitary forces.
Though the state information panel asked the home department to furnish the information on April 28, the police refused to divulge the details as it could "hamper the state's security" and "harm life and property of people". In the reply to the application filed by state general secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Shashibhushan Pathak, director-general of police (human rights) Ramlakhan Prasad said: "As the information is related to the life and property of the common masses, disclosure of the information is exempted under section 8(a) and section 8(g) of the RTI."

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500 villagers in TN invoke RTI Act on iron ore mine project

Over 500 villagers from about 50 villages in and around Kanjamalai, opposed to the proposed iron ore mining in vast tracts of reserve forest land in their area, today resorted to a novel protest by invoking the Right to Information Act asking the Tamil Nadu government to come clean with details of the project. The villagers from in and around Kanjamalai in the district caught the officials by surprise by barging enmasse into the District Forest office here to present their petitions under the RTI Act, seeking details such as who gave the lease order and how such a project can be permitted in reserve forest land.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
chennaionline.com

Jharkhand CIC orders illegal, say colleagues

The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Jharkhand Harishanker Prasad is under fire for two controversial orders passed by him recently, which his colleagues termed illegal. Prasad, who is due to vacate office on June 30, had passed orders on May 25, seeking post-retirement benefits for himself. In his first order, he has sought Rs 14,000 as monthly allowances for two staff peons and a clerk. He has also claimed Rs 1,500 per month under the head of his telephone bill in his second order . According to the RTI Act, CIC's rank is equal to a member of the Election
Commission of India. But the Act says nothing about his post-retirement entitlements. Prasad, a retired judge of the Jharkhand High Court(JHC), defending his orders, said he had done nothing illegal. "Madhya Pradesh's CIC D N Srivastava got these perks after his retirement. So my orders are valid," Prasad told The Indian Express. But none of his six Information Commissioners (ICs) think so.

Complete Article

President`s secretariat told to be definite in RTI replies

The Central Information Commission has asked the President's secretariat to be more definite in its responses to applications seeking information under the Right to Information Act. "The President's secretariat is cautioned to be more definite in its
responses to RTI applications in accordance with the provision of the act," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. The commission's direction came on an appeal of Noor Saba, who had filed an RTI plea with the President's secretariat, seeking information as to under "what circumstances an appointment (with the President) was not given to her since June nine, 2005."

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Youngsters grasp Section 4 fundas

The second workshop of RFII to make citizens aware of the power of Section 4 of the RTI Act was held at the Ex-Fergusson Association (EFA) Hall on Saturday, June 14. A pro-active participation by the participants who belonged to all age groups made the workshop lively and intensely interactive.

The objective of such workshops is to instil into the citizens' minds that, instead of invoking Section 6 of the RTI Act which requires him/ her to write an application and mandatorily wait for 30 days to get the reply, it is more effective and in fact, instant, to invoke Section 4 of the RTI Act which requires no formal application. Al that the citizen needs to do is to send an intimation letter (RFII has made the draft if such a letter) to the relevant authority giving the date for inspection of files.

Young Rohan Parmar of Yugpath asked, "I want to know the reasons for road divider being bifurcated near to Limaye Society. The road is one way and right turns are not allowed. This makes it inconvenient to most commuters. Whom should I contact to see the files regarding this?" Vijay Kumbhar answered, "This action is covered under the Section 4 so you could go for file inspection to traffic planning department. However, you need to send the intimaiton letter to the municipal commissioner."

Govt staff can access ACR under RTI: HC

In what will lessen the government's stranglehold on information related to employee performance, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that an employee is entitled to access his annual confidential reports (ACRs) under the RTI Act. Coming out with a recent order of major import for scores of Punjab government employees and other public servants, the division bench, comprising justice MM Kumar and justice Sabina, agreed with the ruling of the full bench of the Punjab State Information Commission
that an employee couldn't be barred from accessing his ACRs under RTI. Such information was of paramount importance for an employee if he wanted to improve upon existing levels of performance and as such its non-disclosure could seriously compromise canons of excellence, the bench had observed. The order came in the wake of a petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution by the state of Punjab challenging the order, dated November 5, 2007, passed by the state information commission.

Complete Article

RTI undermined as Chhattisgarh panel posts lie vacant

Government institutions in Chhattisgarh have found a loophole to duck orders passed by the State Information Commission: that it doesn't have the required quorum to issue such instructions. Top posts in the State Information Commission, Lok Aayog (the Anti-Corruption Commission) State Human Rights Commission and State Public Service Commission have been either lying vacant or are under the temporary charge of others. Recently, the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB) refused to
abide by an order passed by Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) A K Vijayvargiya, moving the high court against his jurisdiction on the ground of lack of "statutory quorum" as required under the Right to Information Act. The CSEB contended that a single member couldn't pass the order, as the CIC has to delegate his powers under the Act.

Complete Article

RTI Act partisan on HR abuses in Kashmir

Any information sought on human rights violation in Kashmir under Right to Information Act is kept as a `state secret' and there is no provision to obtain it under the act, says New Delhi-based human rights lawyer from New Delhi. Terming Right to Information Act as a "cruel joke" with Kashmiris, Vrinda Grover said, "In other parts of India, people can seek information regarding HR violations under RTI, but for Kashmir no such provision has been kept. Those points which were good in the RTI have been intentionally left out." Grover is here to attend a 2-day legal literacy workshop organized by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons. Grover said that unless RTI gives access to the HR violations and disappearances in Kashmir, "it is a cruel joke with the people of Kashmir."

Complete Article

Probe finds Minister not a graduate

It's official. State Transport and Commerce Minister Jayanarayan Mishra has not passed his degree examination in 1984 contrary to his claim in his affidavit filed along with his nomination papers during the 2004 Assembly polls. Sambalpur Sub-Collector and Election Officer Kailash Sahu, who probed the issue, found the Minister's claim to be false. He submitted his report to District Collector P.K. Patnaik. This has triggered speculation about Mishra's continuation in the Ministry.

Newindpress.com on 15 June 2008

Schools bankroll parties - 'Gifts' flow from Delhi schools to Congress, BJP

Watch it, moms and dads, while you shell out big bucks to get your kids into Delhi public schools! Chances are the cash you are "donating" to the students' welfare fund is going someplace else. A plea filed by a social activist under the Right to Information Act has revealed that public schools in the capital have been making donations to political parties, possibly to court favour with them.

According to documents available with The Telegraph, the Congress treasury swelled by nearly Rs 3 lakh in the financial year 2005-06 and the BJP's by Rs 75 lakh in 2006-07, thanks to "gifts" from public schools. The information was revealed to Afroz Alam Sahil, who had sought a report on donations above Rs 20,000 received by parties. Sahil said he had the records only for the two parties and the list could be longer if other parties were scrutinised.

Two public schools have issued cheques with a c/ in the name of state education minister Arwinder Singh Lovely. The money routed through Lovely shows in the Congress account. These are St Lawrence Convent and Sai Memorial Educational Society,
which have paid Rs 51,000 (cheque No. 144390, UTI Bank) and Rs 75,000 (cheque No. 099701, Indian Bank) respectively.

Complete Article

Bitter pill for doctors

Patients in India may not have a special law codifying their rights (as in many other countries), but several orders of the apex consumer court have helped protect their rights, particularly the right to information, the right to proper and humane treatment and the right to medical records. Now in a recent order, the highest consumer court in the country has upheld the right of the patient to all basic and vital information pertaining to the drugs prescribed by the doctor. Failure to give
this vital information constitutes deficiency in the service provided by the doctor and he would be held liable for the consequences of such deficiency, the apex consumer court has said (Dr V.K. Ghodekar vs Sumitra Prahlad Korgaonkar, RP No. 1727 of 2002, decided on May 22, 2008).

Complete Article

Karnataka Information Panel seeks more teeth

The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) is crying for more teeth for the effective implementation of the RTI Act in the State. With growing incidents of Public Information Officers ignoring the KIC's ruling and the superiors overlooking the order to recover penalty, the KIC authorities have decided to approach the new government to arm them with the power of contempt of court.

Complete Article

RTI rap to cost varsity 4 lakh - PIO fined Rs 40,000

The state information commission has slapped a fine of Rs 40,000 on Ranchi University and its former public information officer for withholding information on RTI applications filed by two professors alleging they had been superseded in promotions. In his order, state information commissioner Gangotri Kujur also ruled that the professors, Amitabh Hore and P.N. Pandey, who sought information from the varsity on the method it adopted to determine seniority, be compensated by paying Rs 2 lakh each. While the compensation amount was to be borne by RU, Kujur said the
fine of Rs 40,000 was to be deducted from the salary of the former PIO, Sudhandhu Kumar Verma.

Complete Article

Now Andhra public can view all GOs on internet

Information, Technology and Communications Department (IT&C) has ensured that automatic uploading of Government Orders on the internet would take place henceforth. At the request of Andhra Pradesh Information Commission (APIC),
Suresh Chand, Secretary, e-Governance, IT&C, spot tests were done on various department for some of the GOs issued and it was found that uploading was most thorough and comprehensive. A simple but very useful IT application ensures that each and every order issued by the departments are available for public viewing on the internet for instant dissemination.

Complete Article

Citizens wield their RTI power

Armed with the Right to Information (RTI) Act, citizens are posing peculiar questions to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) at an average of 10 applications per day. The questions range from appointments, service matters, building penalisation scheme etc. It's not the city folk but people from districts and even other states are demanding information.

Complete Article

RTI Writ pitition filed by Mahesh Panday Paryavaran Mitra in the Gujarat

A non-government organization (NGO) has approached Gujarat High Court over the issue of proper interpretation of the government notification exempting certain departments from the responsibility of revealing information under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Through a writ petition, the NGO - Paryavaran Mitra has sought the courtt’s direction to concerned authorities to furnish information which can be made available to legislators or parliamentarians, to citizens too. The petitioner has claimed that the clause, which protects crime branch and home department from the purview of information laws, needs to be re-analyzed in a proper manner. The petition, moved through advocate Nimish Kapadia, has also sought appointment of more information commissioners along with establishment of five offices across Gujarat. Moreover, there is also a request to quash the circular dated November 14, 2005, which prohibits to reveal file notings. Paryavaran Mitra has requested the court to make 38 such amendments in the procedure of seeking information under the Act.

Times News Network

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Govt still reluctant to divulge details

Is the state government transparent enough to divulge details of the land leased out to Tata Motors in Singur? Apparently not. The state government still appears to be reluctant to make public details of the deal or the lease agreement with Tata Motors for its proposed small car factory land in Singur. The state chief information commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar Bhattacharya, had to issue an order asking the state public information officer of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation to provide information to Mr Salil Kapat, convener of Indian Society for the Fundamental and Human Rights, regarding the land deal in Singur when he faced bureaucratic buck passing for nearly a year after submitting questions in this regard under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

Attacking the right to ask

The thousand-strong gathering at the Theological College grounds in Ranchi on June 10 had no doubts over why Lalit Mehta was killed. The 36-year-old engineer turned activist, had no personal enemies or battles. He was a prominent member of The Right to Food Campaign, working in the Vikas Sahyog Kendra in Palamou District, Jharkhand. All he had done was access National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) expenditure records for researchers verifying official records against field data. On May 14, a day before the planned Social Audit of those works, he was brutally murdered. His face was disfigured, and his body badly mutilated. A diabolical warning to those who question.

The police, with unseemly haste, buried the unidentified body, carrying it back 25 kilometres to the scene of the crime, after a hurriedly conducted post-mortem. But the murder did not stop the research. Twelve days later, the social audit established that a largeproportion of the Rs 73 crore spent in the district had been siphoned off by contractors, officials and the well-entrenched development mafia. The people of Palamou knew that their entitlements were being pocketed by the corrupt. But they have been helpless victims.

Complete Article

Civic spending on road works raises a Rs82-crore stink

Right to information (rti) activists, who have detected a discrepancy of Rs 82.6 crore in the works of five sets of city roads, now want to know if civic officials inflated the cost over and above the amount sanctioned by the standing committee. The panel is the highest sanctioning authority in the civic body. the discrepancy came to light after the activists inspected road works' documents under the jawaharlal nehru national urban renewal mission (jnnurm) under section 4 of the rti act 2005.

Rti activist vijay kumbhar, who led the scrutiny, told dna, "we suspect that the civic body has further revised the estimates of the road works after getting an initial sanction from the standing committee." the civic body's in-charge of the jnnurm cell vinay deshpande said that the matter will be looked into. "the amounts for any work cannot be revised without obtaining an approval from the standing committee," he said.

Complete Article

No Life Or Liberty

On April 1 this year, Hazira Bi, a grandmother of five who lives near the Carbide factory, sent an RTI request to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) seeking inspection of files relating to the disaster. The desperation in her application was palpable: "I am a survivor of the 1984 Union Carbide gas tragedy. I am currently in New Delhi, after having walked 800 kilometres, seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister. The demands are integral to our well-being, health and the well-being of my children and grandchildren as they include actions on vital issues such as livelihood support, social support and drinking water. Therefore, I am constrained to make this request under the 'Life and Liberty' clause that requires you to furnish the information within two working days."

The PMO responded on May 7, over a month later. "We treated it as a normal application because we felt that the information sought does not invoke life and liberty," a PMO official said.

The response of the Central Information Commission (CIC), to whom the matter was referred to on May 12, was no better. In an email response to a complaint — about the lack of action — the Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, wrote: "I'm sorry you haven't received redress, but we could not see grounds for invoking the provision of life and liberty in this case. You may be assured of a
decision in the immediate conclusion of the 10 days provided to the PMO." Till date, well beyond the stipulated 10-day notice period, no decision has been communicated.

Complete Article

Disposal of cases by Karnataka IC for the month of April 2008

Dear All,

Disposal of cases by KIC for the month of April 2008
The Stastics of disposal of casesfor the month of April 2008 @ KIC is given below for the information of the Activists:-

Cases pending at the end of March 2008 is 1933
Number of Complaints and Appeals received during April 2008 is 560
Number of Complaints & appeals disposed during April 2008 is 466
Number of cases pending at the end of April 2008 is 2027.
Number of cases heard during April 2008 is 735
Appeals & Complaints pending less than 3 months is 1282
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 3 months is 732
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 12 months is 13
Number of Information Commissioners at prsent 3

With regards,
Anil Kumar
CONVENOR-KRIA KATTE

Take sec 4 of RTI Act seriously: Kuvalekar

State information commissioner (sic) vijay kuvalekar has asked the government officers to strictly implement section 4 of the right to information act (rti), so that citizens would not be required to frequently file applications for seeking information. he was speaking during the inauguration of a special camp to dispose of
pending rti appeals at the pune bench of the sic. as many as 205 appeals were taken up for reconciliation during the camp held on wednesday and thursday. "if the provisions were implemented then citizens will not be required to file so many applications. besides, it would also reduce the number of appeals and the workload of officers," said kuvalekar. under section 4 of the rti, a government official discloses information voluntarily. there are around 3,300 second appeals pending before the SIC.

Complete Article

RTI: Security cover info denied

The concern for "security" and utilization of public money forced a Panchkula resident to move an application under the Right to Information Act seeking details regarding deployment of Punjab cops on VIP security duties. He also wanted to know the reasons for providing security cover to "significant" persons, daily expenditure incurred on such security and more importantly who was bearing the cost.

Complete Article

994 miss IIT chance - Disclosure raises questions

Nearly 1,000 candidates who were denied admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology in 2006 might have cleared the entrance exam that year had the institutes had followed their stated method of determining subject cutoffs. After 20 months of denial, the IITs have revealed the marks obtained by all general-category students who appeared for the 2006 exam to some parents who have been persistently arguing for greater transparency in the tough-as-nails exam. But the scores, revealed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, have thrown up more questions than they have answered, and shown up contradictions that the IITs appear unwilling to explain.

Complete Article

Rape victim uses RTI to nail corrupt cops

She was 15-year-old and studying in class VIII in Umarpada taluka in south Gujarat when she was raped last year in February. She became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy who died a fortnight later. But with the rapists still roaming free and the police refusing to take an FIR, the victim used Right to Information (RTI) to know when she would get justice. At the hearing before GIC on Wednesday, the victim finally made her voice heard. Arguing confidently, she asked the police inspector of
Mangrol, "Where is that officer who came to our house and threatened us by showing us his revolver?" The police in their reply to GIC have stated that the crime has been registered as number 45/08 under sections 376, 498-A, 323, 504, 506 (2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Immediately after the hearing, panicky home department officials were heard shooting off orders to police in Surat to have the accused arrested immediately.

Complete Article

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wealth of IAS is covered under RTI

In a significant decision the Gujarat Information Commission has allowed access to annual property returns (APRs) of government officers to any citizen under the Right to Information (RTI) act. The ruling came after activist Harinesh Pandya sought details under the RTI of property of IAS officer Rajiv Gupta. Pandya wanted to know
the details of Gupta's property since he assumed office. He had also sought to know the source of income for acquiring the property and whether any of property was sold. The Public Information Officer had refused to disclose the details on the ground that the information was available with them in "fiduciary relationship" and there was no larger public interest warranting disclosure.

Complete Article

Bank insures farmers without their consent

A glaring case of misuse of power by the officers of Kurukshetra Central Cooperative Bank has come to light as under an alleged pact with some insurance companies they got as many as 53,352 farmers jointly insured and debited the premium amounts from their accounts without their knowledge. The officers continued to buy and pay for
these insurance policies for four years and took out premium amounts worth about Rs 31.19 lakh from the farmers' accounts by recovering the money as loans. These surprising facts came to light recently when a farmer-cum-social worker Gulab Singh sought information regarding this issue under Right to Information Act from Kurukshetra Central Cooperative Bank managing director.

Complete Article

Annual confidential report of Army officer not open to RTI:CIC

The Central Information Commission has held that contents of the annual confidential report (ACR) of an Army officer cannot be revealed under the Right to Information Act. In a decision, the apex transparency panel upheld the refusal of information relating to the ACR of all the 1972 batch engineering services officers by the Defence Ministry. "The refusal of information by the public information officer with
regard to ACRs is upheld," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.

Complete Article

Saturday, June 14, 2008

CIC asks EC to provide information on EVMs

The Central Information Commission has held that the information held by the Election Commission (EC) are subject to be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In a ruling, it said that information being under the custody of the district election office would amount to being held by or under the control of public authority and would become subject to the RTI Act. The apex transparency panel directed the EC to provide information to an RTI applicant on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used during legislative assembly elections in Ukhrul district of Manipur last year.

Complete Article

CIC pulls up ISRO on defence info stand

The Central Information Commission pulled up the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) for taking a stand that activities of the defence ministry were not public activity, and asked it to reveal the details asked for by an RTI applicant. Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah asked, "The stand taken in the hearing by respondents (Isro) that matters concerning the ministry of defence do not concern public activity is absurd. Are we to infer thereby that in the view of the department of space, all that the ministry of defence is occupied with is private activity?"

Complete Article

5 months after RTI, women's commission says plea 'not in public interest'

The National Commission For Women (NCW) has refused to answer questions filed under the Right to Information Act on the tour details of its members. The application wanted to know if tours were undertaken by members — to "check out" several complaints that had alerted the Commission about children going missing in Nithari. These complaints had been filed a year before the mass murders were actually discovered in December, 2006.

Complete Article

RTI activists upset over attempt to reduce scope

RTI activists are upset with the Central government's attempts to reduce the scope and coverage of the Right to Information Act yet again in an underhand way. RTI organisation National Campaign for People's Right to Information has issued a statement condemning the contention of the additional solicitor general in the Delhi high court that the Right to Information does not apply to what he calls "constitutional functionaries".

BY SONAL KELLOGG in Howrah India

Ex-chief justice under corruption panel scanner

In a development unprecedented in the country's judicial history, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the government's anti-corruption watchdog, has forwarded a set of complaints with allegations of corruption and misconduct against former Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal to the government for further action.

Complete Article

UT: No data on pending inquiries against CPIOs

The UT Administration does not maintain data regarding the inquiries pending against its Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) who have been appointed to provide information demanded under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In reply to an application filed under the Act, asking for any disciplinary/departmental/ vigilance/CBI inquiries that might be pending against their CPIOs, the UT administration has said that no such data is maintained or available in the office.

Complete Article

Govt hasn't done enough to create awareness about RTI Act

In terms of general public awareness, what the government has done has been very limited, says Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah. the Central Information Commission, or CIC, has played a crucial role in ensuring smooth functioning of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which opened up public entities for scrutiny by citizens. Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah speaks to
Mint, among other things, on issues such as the inclusion of private entities under the Act and lack of adequate support from the government.

Maharashtra: CM's relief fund

Exactly what kind of "relief" would the legendary Shanmukhananda Fine Arts Hall in Mumbai, the bustling Press Club of India in New Delhi, the nondescript Yashwant Rama Salvi Swimming Club in Thane and the distinguished Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies in Pune want from the Maharashtra Chief Minister's Relief Fund (CMRF)? Plenty, if we go by the CMRF records.

These institutions and hundreds of others have been beneficiaries of the largesse shown by successive CMs of Maharashtra. The CMRF was set up in December 1966 with the sole aim of providing relief and assistance to victims of natural calamities across the country, but particularly in Maharashtra. The average amount any year in CMRF is Rs 200 crore. Only 25% of what's collected is disbursed.

Complete Article

Divulging FIIs' info: Sebi asked to decide soon

The Central Information Commission has asked market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India to decide whether information pertaining to investments made by foreign institutional investors in the country can be disclosed under the RTI Act.
The apex transparency panel also asked the market watchdog to decide the matter within two months after holding consultations with the government officials as well, besides taking a view point of FIIs in this regard.

Complete Article

CIC rejects Mukesh Ambani's application

The Central Information Commission (CIC) deemed income tax details of private individuals private and personal and refused to hand over industrialist Mukhesh Ambani's tax details to a Right to Information (RTI) applicant. Rejecting a plea of RTI applicant who had sought a copy of the assessment order of Ambani for the financial year 2004-05 along with a copy of the demand notice against him, the Commission said a confidential information shared by an individual with the government cannot be disclosed.

Complete Article

Delay in RTI info leads to fine for KMC officials

Officials of the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) have been slapped with a fine of Rs 25,000 for delay in supplying information to an applicant who demanded information about the method and period within which the amount of provident fund is given to KMC's retired employees under the Right to Information Act (RTI). The amount of fine will be deducted from the salaries of the concerned officials at KMC. Pandurang Adsule, ex-KMC corporator had demanded the information on 16 February 2006 to the then KMC's information officer Vijay Karale who has now retired from service. The information was not given within a month as per statutory requirement and delayed for eleven months .

Complete Article

MIAL is a part of 'state', says HC

In a landmark judgment with far-reaching consequences for private entities, the Bombay high court has held that Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), though registered as a private company, performs a public function and is a "state" as defined by the Constitution. The ruling on Thursday came in a case relating to a contract for the new duty-free shopping arcade at the international airport. The HC set aside the Rs571-crore retail contract handed by MIAL to Hong Kong-based DFS Group to design and manage the arcade. "Even though it (MIAL) is registered under the Companies Act, its functions in operating, managing and developing the Mumbai international airport cannot be characterised as 'purely private'," Justice DK Deshmukh and Justice ND Deshpande held.

Complete Article

CIC asks IIT to reveal cut-off marks for JEE 2006

The Central Information Commission has directed the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) to provide details to one of its professors on his RTI plea seeking information relating to cut-off marks for the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) 2006.
Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal, however, asked the Institute to delete the names and personal details of the candidates, who had appeared in the JEE 2006. Prof Rajeev Kumar, through his three RTI applications, had wanted to know the cut-off marks for the JEE 2006 -- the procedure and the formulae for arriving at them for each subject

Complete Article

Order on closure of liquor shops a farce

An 'inspection' carried out by activists under section 4 of the right to information (rti) act has revealed that the state government, contrary to its order allowing closure of liquor shops by voice vote, has also set revenue targets for the excise department. RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said that the government had issued an order for cancellation of licence and closure of liquor shops on the basis of resolutions
adopted by gram sabhas or representation by voters in municipal council or corporation wards. however, the inspection revealed that the government has also
set targets for excise duty on liquor.

Complete Article

Want to know judges' leave status? RTI plea gets a thumbs down

"Information asked for cannot be supplied as you have no concern with the information and there is also no public interest in the information sought by you." This is how the UT District Courts reply to an RTI appplication reads. What is more
intriguing is the fact that the application had sought information about the total number of leaves a magistrate or sessions judge in the UT District Courts is entitled to and the maximum number of leaves availed by all judges from January to December 2007. The application was filed by Chandigarh Newsline. The reply does not cite any rule or section of the Right to Information Act while denying information.

Complete Article

Maharashtra emerges as leader in RTI activism

In Mumbai, for instance, the SIC has over 3,600 appeals and complaints pending, while the figure for the whole of Maharashtra is around 16,000. Citizens file appeals and complaints with the SIC when the response from a government department is not forthcoming, or the replies are wishy-washy. The groundswell of applications in a state like Maharashtra reflects the public hunger for information – ranging from details of a pension scheme, to modifications in town planning schemes and from information about a polluting unit to the manner in which money has been disbursed from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

Complete Article

IGP, SP issued notices by state information panel

The State information Commission has issued notices to the IGP, Mr Kishan Kumar and the superintendent of police (headquarters), Mr Allan Dsa on an appeal filed by the dismissed PSI, Mr Nerlon Albuquerque. The dismissed PSI filed an appeal before the State Information Commission after his request to Mr Dsa who is the public information officer and the IGP who is the first appellate authority was turned down.

It may be recalled that Mr Nerlon was dismissed from service over the infamous Scarlette case based on an inquiry conducted by DySP, Mr Nilu Raut Desai wherein Mr Nerlon was indicted for improper investigations and treating the case as a mere suicide. Raising doubts over the authenticity and genuineness of the inquiry conducted against him without seeking his presence, Mr Nerlon had sent a notice to the SP (HQ) and IGP requesting them to furnish the inquiry report. His request was turned down. When contacted Mr Nerlon said that not taking his statement during the course of inquiry and now by not providing him the inquiry report clearly speaks about the malicious motives of the concerned officers and added that it is obvious that the enquiry is conducted in a biased manner with the sole intention of dismissing him.

Complete Article

Monday, June 02, 2008

Govt withholds fuel efficiency data

Auto manufacturers share fuel economy data for car models at the time of certification of new vehicles with the government. "But the ministry withheld this information under the Right to Information Act, calling it of commercial importance and third party information. This data is routinely published in other countries to
help consumers select fuel efficient vehicles and help governments set up fuel economy standards," she added.

Complete Article

Goa IGP, SP issued notices by state information panel

The State information Commission has issued notices to the IGP, Mr Kishan Kumar and the superintendent of police (headquarters), Mr Allan Dsa on an appeal filed by the dismissed PSI, Mr Nerlon Albuquerque. The dismissed PSI filed an appeal before the State Information Commission after his request to Mr Dsa who is the public information officer and the IGP who is the first appellate authority was turned
down. It may be recalled that Mr Nerlon was dismissed from service over the infamous Scarlette case based on an inquiry conducted by DySP, Mr Nilu Raut Desai wherein Mr Nerlon was indicted for improper investigations and treating the case as a mere suicide.

Complete Article

Sitting tight on information

The government may have brought in progressive legislation like the Right to Information Act, but babudom is still the same. It seeks to slow down the flow of information, even if the information happens to be 50 years old and is of little use to anybody but historians. The files now being made available from the Nehru era should have contained documents that could have thrown light on the 1962 war, the
Chinese takeover of Tibet, the military standoffs with Pakistan, the Cold War's compulsions and several other epochal events in a young nation's life. But they are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Complete Article

RTI POWER - NDTV Metro Nation Show on Saturdays 9 - 10 pm

A new program on Right to Information is being telecast every Saturday at 9 pm on NDTV Metro Nation. The program is one hour long and is called Fight for your Rights - Arvind Kejriwal is the anchor. The first episode was telecast on Saturday, May 17th. The channel is NDTV METRO NATION (Not NDTV India or Profit or Imagine or other associated channels). If you miss it on saturday, look out for repeat telecasts on Sunday. ( It is on regular cable channel. On Tata Sky DTH, you can access it thru red button on NDTV 24x7 Channel 532 ACTIVE NEWS. ) - 9 to 10 pm.

[posted by Chandra Jain on the AntiBriberyCampaign group]

Debate over Right to Information Act

A seemingly innocuous note from the chief minister's office to the parliamentary affairs department requesting the concerned officer to seek views of the designated public information officer of the High Court has triggered a debate on whether it is a violation of statutory provisions under the Right to Information Act or not.

Complete Article

Pending RTI complaints on rise in Mumbai

The Right to Information Act may have been meant to empower citizens by providing accurate information and data. But the lengthy court proceedings and pending cases under the sunshine law are now a cause for concern for users of the Right to Information tool as well as activists promoting this Act. Till March 2008, as many as 3600 odd appeals and complaints under the RTI are pending with the State Information Commissioner in Mumbai. Across the State, there are around 16000 applications and appeals are pending. According to information collected by activists from the Information Commissioner's office, various public information officers across the State received more than over 3 lakh applications in 2007, making it the leading state in the RTI usage. At this rate, the number is expected to cross 10 lakh by 2009, which means the number of pending cases would also multiply, said activists.

Complete Article

Depts divided over Centre's mandatory rules, Acts

Are the offices under the Chandigarh Administration following the four Acts mandatory for government offices? Replies obtained with the help of the Right to Information Act revealed a scene of confusion across as many as 80 departments. The Acts in question are Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure, Public Records Act and Rules, Right to Information Act and Destruction of Records Act, compliance to which, legal experts say, are a must.

Complete Article

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Constitutional posts don't come under RTI Act: Centre to HC

The Centre has said constitutional functionaries do not come within the ambit of RTI Act and that Information Commission cannot direct the government to reveal information pertaining to their functioning. "President, Chief Justice and other constitutional functionaries are beyond the jurisdiction of the authorities under the Right to Information Act," Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra contended before the Delhi High Court.

Complete Article

1984 riot victim denied aid

Sardar Ravindar Pal Singh Chawla's tyre shop at Bettiah in Bihar's West Champaran district was set afire during the anti-Sikh riots in November 1984. Two-and-a-half decades on, justice eludes Chawla. Chawla's miseries did not end with the burning of his shop. After he shifted his business to another place at Bettiah, he started getting threatening calls. His brother was even assaulted.

In February 1988, Chawla met the then Bihar chief minister, Bhagwat Jha 'Azad', who assured him of help. The very next day while he was on way from Patna to Bettiah, his workshop at Bettiah was burnt,again. An investigation carried out by the then SDM, R K Srivastava, found the facts furnished by Chawla true and recommended allotment of land to him. However, the recommendation remained on paper. For, the
West Champaran district administration refused to acknowledge him asa riot victim. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement on a financial package for the 1984 riot victims in 2005 raised fresh hopes in Chawla family which has since shifted to Patna. They were to be awarded 10 times of the initial compensation of Rs 9,600 given
immediately after the riots, besides land. The State Information Commission recently issued a letter to West Champaran DM, asking him to confirm if Chawla was given a compensation of Rs 9,600 after the riots. The commission also slapped a fine on the then DM, M K Singh, for not providing the information to the commission on time.

Complete Article

CIC split over making public property details

Thanks to its disorderly functioning, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ended up creating an anomaly on whether annual property returns filed by government employees should be put in the public domain. Four different members of CIC dealing with cases from four different departments have given conflicting rulings under the RTI Act on this sensitive question. As a result, some departments are required to disclose the property returns of their employees while other departments have been allowed to treat the same as "personal information" exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

Complete Article

In 2007, Gujarat used only 7% Narmada dam water

Gujarat, the state meant to benefit most from the dams of the Narmada Valley Development Project used less than seven per cent of the water it received in 2007, according to data obtained by a Delhi-based environmental group. The group filed a Right to Information application with the Central Water Commission, a government body that looks at the use of India's water resources.

Complete Article

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