Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Change Official Secrets Act to suit RTI provisions: CIC

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah on Tuesday advocated for changes in the Official Secrets Act to bring it in conformity with provisions of the Right To Information Act. Habibullah while speaking at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries said, "OSA needs amendment as it's a contradiction to RTI Act." The CIC also called for a improvement in the RTI Act as well saying that at present only "held" information can be given under the Act, thus other important information like project delays cannot be asked under the Act.

Complete Article

CIC issues notice to SC

The CIC has issued a show cause notice to Supreme Court officials for not providing information to an RTI applicant in a timely manner. Central Public Information Officer Supreme Court of India is further directed to show cause as to why a penalty of Rs 250 per day from the date when the information fell due 20-05-2007 to the date when the information is actually supplied ... should not be imposed on him, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. The case relates to the RTI application filed by one Trilokchand Gajanan Verma of Aurangabad who wanted to know the status of the special leave petition filed by him in the apex court.

Complete Article

CIC issues show cause notice to NCW

The CIC has issued a show cause notice to the National Commission for Women for not providing information to an RTI applicant within the mandatory period stipulated under the RTI Act. "The NCW is in the habit of delaying furnishing of information and also not responding at all to RTI requests," Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit said in her order. Asking the Chief Public Information Officer of NCW to explain why a penalty of Rs 250 per day should not be imposed on him for not replying to an application, Ms. Dixit said there was an urgent need to streamline the functioning of the organisation.

Complete Article

The Right Act

He has empowered the marginalised by helping them exercise their right to information. Shiv Sahay Singh catches up with Iftikar Ahmed to find out more. He is a familiar figure in the densely-populated minority-dominated area of Mominpur in Kolkata and can be seen actively discussing with youths how to make the government answerable. Meet 24-year-old Iftikar Ahmed who is working round the clock to set up youth groups that would form a communion that can actively file RTIs and take up social work for the welfare of the community with the latter’s participation.

Complete Article

Holes in Pughoboto welfare works

A public hearing over the state of the government’s welfare-related functioning in Pughoboto was held at Pughoboto on April 23. Propped up by records obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the public hearing organized by YouthNet found the now-familiar story of huge discrepancies especially in matters of funds. The YouthNet and Sümi Aphuyemi Kiphimi Küqhakulu (SAKK) team have traveled into more than 10 villages out of 22 to check the authenticity of the RTI information received from the government.

Complete Article

Ex-PAU employee struggles to get information under RTI Act

Satish Kumar, a retired accountant from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), has been running from pillar to post to get complete information sought under the RTI Act. According to Kumar, while PAU is facing financial crisis, no step has been taken
to recover dues from many university officials. In many cases payments that were made to them were later found to have been made wrongly.

Kumar said: "In certain cases, officials were pardoned for their faults after it was found that they did not cause any financial loss to the university. The Board, however, has to regularise these pardons which has not been done till time." Kumar has recently written two letters to PAU V-C Dr Manjit Singh Kang listing various cases of financial discrepancies. The information on these cases was sought by Kumar under the RTI.

Complete Article

Delhi dreams...Mumbai nightmares

With Lok Sabha elections in the city just around the corner, the question of whether MPs can fight shy of local issues has again come to the fore. Praja, an NGO, has brought out a white paper on the pressing issues in each constituency, which range from education to crime, civic complaints to diseases. The information, obtained through the RTI, pertains to 2008. I don't buy the argument that local issues are not the responsibility of an MP. When hundreds and millions of people are miserable in a constituency, there is no way an MP can ignore their condition.

Complete Article

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Disposal of cases by KIC for February 2009

Dear All,

Disposal of cases by KARNATAKA INFORMATION COMMISSION for February 2009 is posted for the information of the Activists:-

February 2009
Cases pending at the end of January 2009 is 5102
No. of Complaints and Appeals received during Feb is 845
No. of Complaints & appeals disposed during Feb is 732
No. of cases pending at the end of Feb is 5215
No. of cases heard during Feb is 1355
Appeals & Complaints pending less than 3 months is 3296
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 6 months is 1841
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 12 months is 78
Number of Commissioners at present 4

With regards,

[posted by Anil kumar on the HJ group]

RTI sucess story from J&K

Dear All

I have attached the photos of the damaged mud house which belonged to a widow namely Khaati from Hanjoora village in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district J&K.This is the poorest family in this village and the widow has 6 daughters. No politician came to her rescue and the IAY houses were alloted to infulential people of the area.Then RTI activists from our group intervened abd Khaati got some 25000 Rs from Rural Dvelopment Department under IAY schme and she constructed a one room house adjacent to this so called damaged mud house. I have attached some photos also.We had gone to Khati's house yesterday and we were happy to see her new under construction house.It may be an ordinary thing for many people but i can say this is my biggest achievement. Because politicians have only used Khati's family as a vote bank but our boys did the real work with sincere intentions. My appeal to people is that they should not only decide things sitting in the drawing rooms,Right to Information can bring about a revolution in the matters of governance in J&K.The only thing is that we must launch a rigorous campaign on it. Let us support RTI Movement in J&K. This is just to bring about accountability and transparency in our administration. We must not wait now.

Hope to hear from you soon.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
22nd April 2009

Links to the house

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Panels formed by SC under RTI ambit, rules CIC

In a far-reaching order, the Central Information Commission has ruled that any specialized committee formed by the Supreme Court is also a public authority and therefore falls under the purview of the Right To Information Act. The order came in the specific case before the CIC about the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) created under the orders of the apex court. The CEC, initially a five-member body and later enlarged after a long-running controversy about its original members, was set up by the court to handle all the forest-related matters before it. The CEC had contended that it was not a `public' authority under the RTI Act as it was not created or funded by the government but formed by the court. But the commission disagreed with the contention pointing out that any body created under the Constitution is an agency that is answerable under the information Act.

Complete Article

Publish reasons for all decisions affecting public: CIC

The Central Information Commission has directed the Chandigarh Administration and other public authorities to ensure proper implementation of the Right to Information Act 2005. This followed complaints by social activist Hemant Goswami and Society for Prevention of Crime and Corruption volunteers. In a 12-page order deciding 52 complaints moved by Hemant Goswami and his team of volunteers against various departments of the Chandigarh Administration, Information Commissioner M.L. Sharma ordered, "while formulating important policies or announcing decisions affecting the public, public authorities are required to publish all relevant facts about such policies and decisions for the information of the public at large, as mandated under section 4(1)(c) of the Act." The order specified that such information should be provided free of cost. "Needless to say, the information disclosed by the public authorities under section 4(1)(b) and (c) of the Act is proactive disclosure and public authorities are required to provide immediate access to this material as and
when so requested, without the requirement of filing of any written request and charging of any fee," the order states.

Complete Article

Rajya Sabha to provide asset details of ministers under RTI

The Rajya Sabha has agreed to provide asset details of the union ministers, who
are members of the house, to an RTI applicant. The Rajya Sabha secretariat while replying to an RTI query from activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, said details about assets and liabilities of 16 out of 18 union ministers belonging to Rajya Sabha were available with it. It also asked Agrawal to deposit requisite fee for the papers.

Agrawal wanted information on assets, wealth and income of all the ministers in the UPA government and their spouse. But the matter kept scuttling between the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat as who holds the requisite information. In December last year, the PMO informed Agrawal that details could not be given as the information was exempted from disclosure.

Complete Article

RTI helped them foil builder from stealing their homes

It is easy to let go when one has to fight against a builders lobby. And it makes things more difficult if one is poor or illiterate. For DB Parmar and Rajab Alam Sheikh, battling for two years to establish their identity as legal tenants inside the Kaurana building complex in Parel was frightening and rewarding at the same time. Both, victims of a builder's highhandedness, would have lost their homes had it not been for their RTI application. Their rooms, each measuring 12X10 ft, stand next to a three-storey building that is being demolished to make way for a highrise. Except the families of Parmar and Sheikh, 70 families have given in to pressure tactics of the builder and vacated their rooms.

Complete Article

Monday, April 20, 2009

BJP fails to trigger anti-Chawla mine

BJP on Monday trained its guns on the Manmohan Singh government for stonewalling efforts to find out why the recommendation of N Gopalaswami, who superannuated as the Chief Election Commissioner here on Monday, for the removal of Navin Chawla as a member of the poll panel was turned down. BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley had on March 13 invoked Section 6 of the Right to Information Act (RIT), 2005, described as one of the biggest achievements of the UPA government, to lay his hands on the entire bunch of correspondence on the subject between the former CEC, PMO, the ministry of law and justice and the President. The request, made to the legislative department of the ministry of law and justice, was rejected subsequently. In its reply, the ministry of law and justice took refuge behind "fiduciary relationship" to block the efforts to find out the facts. "As regards the information sought by the applicant in his RTI application, it is submitted that the documents referred to in these sub-paragraphs being third party information under section 11 of the RTI Act, 2005, cannot be made available and such documents are confidential and tendered in fiduciary relationship; hence the same is exempt under clause (e) of sub-section (1) of the said Act," the ministry said in its reply.

Complete Article

Sunday, April 19, 2009

GIC hears Samirkhan encounter case

On October 22, 2002, city crime branch gunned down his son claiming that he was a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi. But, he believes this was a fake encounter. Sarfarazkhan Pathan's attempt to get to the bottom of son Samirkhan's encounter through Right To Information (RTI), hit a roadblock when he was told that CID was exempted from disclosing information under this act. However, putting the ball squarely in the court of Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), Pathan has not only sought access to information, he wants blanket exemption being enjoyed by CID to be removed. Moreover, Pathan has reminded GIC of its statutory obligation of guaranteeing constitutional right of information and preventing frustration of this
fundamental right by misuse of power.

Complete Article

CIC pulls up officials for not giving details to RTI applicant

The matter of establishing samadhis and memorials of political leaders has reached the corridors of the CIC, which has come down heavily on Delhi government and Ministry of Urban Development officials for not providing details about the issue to an RTI applicant. "The sequence of events is displaying a pathetic admission of a complete lack of accountability and the incapability of the governance system to even know who is responsible for what," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said in his order. RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal sought details of the policy about setting up memorial and samadhis of the leaders from Urban Development Ministry but did not get a reply.

Complete Article

Simple RTI question gets outrageous answers

Think again if you believed that the Right to Information (RTI) Act could be a quick-fix solution to the traffic woes in your area. As enforcement of a no-entry' rule can get you limited success of at least getting signboards put up, that too after a two year wait. That's the time it took this issue to reach the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC). Which in turn noted "the boards were fitted displaying the notification after the appeal, and to that extent RTI can claim a measure of success".
In September 2007, Chhagan Dhaduk of Jetpur filed an RTI application with the local police station, demanding accountability on enforcement of a notification issued for regulation of traffic. The issue being that despite an area having been declared as prohibited during certain time of the day, vehicles were violating the rule with impunity.

Complete Article

Thursday, April 09, 2009

PM's travels have cost exchequer Rs 234 crore

If much is said about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's popularity overseas, it is perhaps in no small measure because much has been spent by him in travelling to meet world leaders. Singh has run up a travel bill of Rs 233.8 crore for official foreign visits in the last five years, according to data released by the government in response to a query under the Right to Information Act. His predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee spent Rs 185.60 crore on foreign tours during 1999-2003, as per official data.

Complete Artiacle

Two officials fined in Bihar

State Information Commission (SIC) on Friday slapped fine on two government officials for violation of the Right to information (RTI) Act. They are block development officer of Biharsharif in Nalanda district and circle officer (CO) of Manigachhi in Darbhanga district. The BDO, who failed to respond to the application of one Awadhesh Kumar, would have to cough up a fine at the rate of Rs 250 per day effective from March 24 with the upper limit being Rs 25,000. The CO, who did not provide information to one Rajendra Prasad Singh, would have to cough up Rs 7,000 as fine, said an official press release.

Complete Artiacle

New RTI Act holds troops accountable for HR abuse

For transparent and accountable governance in the State, members of civil society have advocated formation of a "pressure group" for effective implementation of Right to Information Act. They also hailed passing of RTI Bill in the assembly saying that it holds the troopers accountable for human rights violations. They were speaking at a seminar "JKRTI—Role of Media and Civil Societies" organized by JK Right to Information Movement in collaboration with Action Aid International. Social activist A R Hanjoora said the recently passed RTI Bill was the best ever law that the strife-torn state has had. "RTI Act 2004 was so weak. Now we have the same RTI as that of New Delhi. We have a strong Act now as far as bringing transparency and accountability is concerned," he said. "The need of the hour now is to form a pressure group so that the Act is implemented effectively," he said. He said the best thing about the new RTI Act was that it makes troopers accountable which was not possible under the earlier Act.

Complete Article

CIC bars disclosure of inquiry report in harassment case

The Central Information Commission has refused to permit disclosure of the court of inquiry report in a case pertaining to the sexual harassment of a woman Army officer by her superior as it would compromise with the privacy of the victim. The report, which found former Maj Gen A K Lal guilty of sexually harassing Captain Neha Rawat posted under his command in Ladakh, was demanded by his wife Akansha Lal under the RTI Act. Upholding the reply given by Army in this regard, Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said, "the disclosure of this report and placing in public domain can seriously harm the reputation of other individuals including lady officers of Army...".

Complete Artiacle

Gujarat got more funds from UPA than NDA: Congress

Congress on Wednesday rubbished the charge of discrimination against Gujarat by the Centre, claiming that the BJP-controlled state received more funds under the UPA than during NDA's stint. The party released a book containing statistics about central funds under various categories and claimed that the figures had been collected from the state government only through the RTI route. Arjun Modhwadia, the party spokesman in the state and author of the book, said that despite senior BJP leader L K Advani's election to the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar four times, during the six years of NDA rule, the state had not received neither much funds nor a major projects. Modhwadia said all the departments together had received Rs 25,935 crore from the Centre during NDA rule whereas the UPA regime allocated a whopping Rs
59,989.83 crore under different heads to the state. Modhwadia said this was clear proof of the UPA government's non-discriminatory attitude to the state and also the NDA's indifference. Modhwadia said projects and schemes in the state directly implemented by ministries of the central government in 2004-2008 of the UPA regime added up to Rs 34,070.33 crore as against Rs 14,257.21 crore from the NDA government between 2000-2004.

Complete Artiacle

Activist demands updated info on state government website

Civic activist Vivek Velankar has complained to the chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi against Government of Maharashtra for displaying obsolete and incomplete information under section 4 of right to Information Act on their website www.maharashtra.gov.in.

Velankar said the government is supposed to monitor, correct and update information as per the section 4 of the Right to Information Act (RTI). "It was expected that the Government of Maharashtra will set an example by publishing updated and complete information on its website. We have found that most of the departments have put up incomplete and obsolete information, which defeats the purpose of RTI," Velankar said.

Complete Article

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

RTI activist found bleeding near Jnana Bharati dies of his wounds

In a shocking incident, an RTI activist who had succeeded in saving government property worth crores of rupees from being encroached by land sharks died under mysterious circumstances near Bangalore University's Jnana Bharathi campus on Monday night. The man has been identified as 48-year-old Venkatesh, a resident of Hosahalli in Vijayanagar. He was found lying near Papireddypalya Circle around 9 pm with injuries on the head. Passersby, who saw him bleeding, shifted him to a private hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. As Venkatesh and his two-wheeler were found on the road in Kamakshipalya traffic limits, the traffic cops suspected him to be a victim of a road accident. But the bike did not have any damage. His body was sent to Victoria Hospital for autopsy and that is where the case took an intriguing turn.

Complete Article

Please email the following officials demanding an investigation into the matter.

Hon'ble Governor of Karnataka:
PB No 5033,Rajbhavan Road, Bangalore 560001. Email: rbblr@vsnl.com

Cheif Secrtary To Govt of Karnataka :
Vidhana soudha, Amdekar Veedhi , Bangalore 560001. Email: acs@karnataka.gov.in

Home Secrtary :
Vidhana Soudha, Ambsdkar Veedh

RTI Effect: AMC wakes up to drainage crisis

For close to a decade, Isanpur was given stepmotherly treatment by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) with leaking drainage lines posing a serious health hazard in the area. And, then came an RTI (Right to Information) application demanding accountability that forced AMC to act and invest Rs 10 crore to spruce up the drainage network. Moreover, the municipal commissioner ordered an inquiry and initiated disciplinary action against officers who ignored the application. Hirenkumar Shah of Krishnadham Row Houses in Isanpur had lodged a complaint with AMC in April 2007 regarding overflowing drains. When no response was forthcoming, he filed an application under RTI Act demanding to know what steps were being taken by AMC to resolve the problem.

Complete Article

Still no clarity on RTI for state bar council

In what might make the seeking of information from the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG) more difficult, the registrar at the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said that since all bar councils came into effect through a central legislation, applications seeking information from any bar council should be sent to the CIC in New Delhi. Talking to DNA from New Delhi, LC Singhi, the CIC registrar said, "Ideally, the second appeal to a bar council in the country should be sent to the CIC since the bar councils exist under a central legislation. However, the law is open to interpretation and it is up to the state to give a decision." The first appeal is to the local appellate authority and the second appeal can go either to the state information commissioner (SIC) or the CIC. Singhi was reacting to a clarification sought by Rajan Alimchandni, who was not satisfied with the information he had received from the BCMG and the local appellate. He filed his second appeal to the SIC, Ramanand Tiwari, who claimed the BCMG is beyond the RTI Act's purview.

Complete Article

Sexual harassment is a human rights violation: CIC

Sexual harassment amounts to human rights violation and no organisation, including RAW, should be exempted from the purview of RTI Act in such cases, the CIC has said. While hearing the plea of a women RAW officer, the Central Information Commission held, "... this entire application centres on allegations of sexual harassment which is a material basis for allegations of human rights violation. We have also on earlier occasion also held that overt gender discrimination amounts to violation of human rights."

Complete Article

Monday, April 06, 2009

BR Singh likely to be appointed as J&K Chief Info Comm

The `Man Friday' of former chief minister and Patron National Conference Dr Farooq Abdullah, BR Singh, who retired as financial commissioner in 2008, is likely to be back with prize posting. The former IAS officer has been tipped for the post of Chief Information Commissioner, the post which has been created in the amended Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act (RTI). Well informed sources said that the chief minister Omar Abdullah has asked the chief secretary SS Kapoor to complete all requisite formalities for the establishment of State Information Commission, which will be set up soon after the Model Code of Conduct comes to an end. Sources, preferring anonymity, told News Agency of Kashmir that the government as per the section 12 of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, amended by the government in the budget session this year, has to establish the State Information Commission comprising one Chief Information Commissioner and two Information Commissioners.

Complete Article

Govt denies RTI applicant details about health of PMs

The Centre has refused to disclose information about the health of prime ministers and presidents, including details of their medical expenses, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, terming them classified documents. An RTI applicant had asked the prime minister's office (PMO) to furnish details of the health of all the prime ministers — present and past — and the expenditure incurred by different governments for their treatment. The application was forwarded to the secretary, department of health and family welfare. The reply from the director, emergency and medical relief (directorate general of health services), stated: "Such information cannot be provided as per the exemption clause provided in the RTI Act as the medical care scheme for prime ministers is a classified document." However, the response did not mention any specific clause or section of the Act under which the information was denied.

Complete Article

NBRI demand for ID proof from applicant unjustified

An RTI applicant may or may not possess a ration card. The Act has no provision requiring an information seeker to submit any proof of identity. This restricts a public authority from asking an applicant to submit such details unless it has `very strong' reasons to do so. However, National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) seems to make it a common rule now. It will provide information to the applicants only when they submit a copy of voter card, PAN card or ration card. The response issued by NBRI on March 31 to a query regarding the number of PhD degrees awarded under the guidance of few of its scientists clearly asks an applicant to submit the proof of identity in support of being a citizen of India. The response does not mention the reason behind asking for such a proof. It is also not clear if it was a case-specific response or will it be a common rule. Though the public information officer (PIO) of the institute could not be contacted and the reason behind the move could not be ascertained, sources claimed that this might help the institute to check the number of applications coming from fictitious sources.

Complete Article

Use of RTI good but information should be under purview

Earlier a demand such as remove unauthorised constructions and inform me about the details when it's done', made in this case by Saijpur Bogha's Maheshchandra Waghela, would have simply been trashed by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). However, since Waghela had made his application under RTI, not only was his demand entertained to the extent to explaining to him why it could not be done by the public information officer (PIO) of AMC, even its appellate authority ordered a site inspection and report.

The Gujarat Information Commission though is not amused. As it has ruled that Waghela's demand for removal of unauthorised construction is not within the purview of definition of information' given in RTI. By stating to the effect that remove unauthorised construction and furnish information', Waghela made a demand which neither the PIO, nor the appellate authority, nor the GIC has the competence and jurisdiction to do under RTI.

Complete Article

Credit societies too under RTI purview

In a major development bringing transparency in the affairs of various credit and thrift cooperative societies registered under the Act and operative in the city, the Central Information Commission has asked registrar, cooperative societies, UT, to provide information related to one such society, thus bringing it under the purview of RTI. With this order, anybody having doubt and smelling foul play in the functioning of these societies can now seek the entire records under the RTI Act. Central information commissioner (CIC) ML Sharma passed these orders while hearing an appeal filed by Sector-27 resident Satish Chander Ummat. The appellant was a member of Chandigarh SBI MMBE Thrift And Credit Society Limited and had sought some information pertaining to the affairs of the society under the RTI Act from the office of cooperative department, Chandigarh. But when the appellant failed to get the sought information for more than one year, he moved an appeal before the CIC, New Delhi.

Complete Article

Jamia asked to provide information to RTI applicant

The Central Information Commission has directed Jamia Millia Islamia to provide details of money spent every month towards legal costs, including court cases, during the past three years. Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi brushed aside the university's argument that RTI applicant C S Kalra, a resident of Vikaspuri, sought the information "more in private malice than in public interest". Kalra, in an application filed on October 27 last year, sought a complete list of empanelled lawyers, legal advisors, scales of payment for every appearance, and money "spent or committed" for court cases from the university for a period of three years till the date of the application.

Complete Article

Audio Record of Shailesh Gandhi’s talk on 28th March

On Saturday, March 28, CIC Shailesh Gandhi gave a 25-minute talk at The Times of India building, Mumbai, along with four others. The full audio recording of Shaileshbhai’s strongly worded talk is posted here in MP3 format: http://www.box.net/shared/49xg3lojm9


1) To facilitate listening and reduce the download time, I have deleted pauses, word-repetition, a few unfinished “hanging” sentences and some applause, reducing its length to less than less than 18 minutes. I have filtered out background noises and enhanced clarity to the best of my ability.

2) Removing the pauses has raised the forcefulness and tempo of the talk. It may seem seem as though SG was speaking in anger; that was not so.

[posted on HJ]

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Deemed varsities can't skip RTI: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that all deemed universities in the country are public authority and cannot escape divulging information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This interesting ruling was made by Information Commissioner Sailesh Gandhi on an application moved by Mahavir Chopda of Mumbai against NMIMS University, Mumbai, when the latter refused to divulge information on the fee collected by it from students who had cancelled their admissions. While giving the judgement, Gandhi also directed the university to present all information sought by the applicant by April 20. In his application moved before the CIC, Chopda sought to know how many students cancelled their admission after paying fee to the university’s FT-MBA course. He also wanted to know what amount of fee was retained by the NMIMS.

Complete Article

NRIs face difficulty in availing RTI facility

Non-resident Indians are finding it diffcult to take advantage of the Right to Information Act with complaints of a cumbersome process of fee-payment for information seekers living outside India. An RTI applicant Commodore Lokesh Batra raised the issue with Indian mission in Washington citing problems faced by NRIs in filing RTI applications. "There is no definite procedure to deposit the fee of Rs 10 from there (USA) to the public authority anywhere in India which is a big difficulty for accessing
the information," Batra said.

Complete Article

CM orders probe into beating of RTI activist

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday ordered an inquiry into an incident involving beating of an activist who was seeking information about a water plant in Chadoora under the Right to Information Act. The activist, Nazir Ahmad Ganai, was picked by Chadoora police and allegedly severely beaten by a police officer at Chadoora Police station, news agency CNS reported. Nazir received wounds, the CNS said.

Complete Article

CIC recommends review of exemption granted to DRDO under RTI

The "absolute exemption" granted to organisations like DRDO under RTI Act may be reviewed by Cabinet Secretariat after the CIC recommended such an exercise keeping in view that even the Military authorities do not enjoy such privileges. "We recommend that the Cabinet Secretariat review the absolute exemption granted to an organisation such as DRDO, specifically keeping in view that no such exemption is even granted to Military authorities, the hard core of national security. "This is to ensure that vital elements of management of administration, notwithstanding the overriding demands of National Security and Intelligence, continue to conform to the spirit of the RTI Act," the Central Information Commission held in its order.

Complete Article

RTI info carries police bluff in cheating case

The Malvani police faked the arrest of a former senior police official and two Mhada officials in a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy. Replying to an RTI application filed by social activist Mohan Krishnan of the National Anti Corruption and Crime Preventive Council (NACCPC), the police claimed to have arrested Datta Chaudhari, a former additional commissioner of police, along with two former Mhada officials, VS Kokane and PM Varghese. The reply sent on behalf of senior police inspector Jaywant Hargude recently asserts that these arrests were made in connection of the cheating and criminal conspiracy case filed by Mhada over a property in Malvani in 2001. In reality, the arrests were never made.

Complete Article

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Thousands die on trains in India

An average of 17 people died every weekday commuting to work on overcrowded trains in Mumbai last year, figures released by the government indicate. Using India's Right to Information Act, The Times of London obtained figures showing there were 4,357 fatalities involving Mumbai's suburban rail network in 2008. The majority of deaths, 3,443, resulted from people being mowed down by trains while crossing the tracks.

Complete Article

RTI helpline receives over 3,700 calls in a year

A Right To Information (RTI) helpline, aimed at helping people use the act to its maximum effect, has received over 3,700 calls in the last one year, a participant in the initiative said on Wednesday. The helpline — 09718100180 — was started a year ago jointly by Kabir, an NGO, and Manjunath Shanmugam Trust. "We received 3,757 calls in one year. Of those, more than 2,500 calls were about people asking how to file an RTI application, first appeal and complaint," said Neeraj Kumar, who helps and assist people through the helpline. "A number of calls came from foreign countries also. On average 300 calls were received every month. A lot of people sought help for problems regarding ration cards, passports, voter id cards and others," Mr. Kumar added.

Complete Article

Govt probing assets owned by ex-CJI Sabharwal's family

Months after eminent citizens levelled allegations of misuse of public office against former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal, the government has admitted that it is investigating the judge's family. In reply to an RTI application, the Centre said the CBI was investigating the Noida plot allotted in the name of Sabharwal's daughter-in-law Sheeba while the income tax department was inquiring into a south Delhi property purchased by sons Nitin and Chetan.

Complete Article

Delhi HC stays CIC's order to reveal post mortem reports

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed the the Central Information Commission's (CIC) order directing the police to reveal post mortem reports of two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists and a Delhi Police inspector killed during the Batla House encounter last year. Justice S Ravindra Bhat passed the order on a plea of Delhi Police, which maintained that the disclosure of post mortem reports would affect the ongoing investigations into the September 13 serial blasts in the capital. The court also stayed the order in which the Central Information Commission had directed the police to furnish copies of the FIR against the accused of serial blasts cases under the RTI Act.

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Madras HC upholds exclusion of vigilance commission

The Madras high court has upheld the state government's order exempting the state vigilance commission and the directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption (DVAC) from the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005. A division bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Gokhale and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, dismissed a writ petition from P Pugazhendi, an advocate, seeking the quashing of an order dated August 26, 2008. by which the government invoked its powers under Sec 24(4) of the RTI to declare that the law shall not apply to the state vigilance commission and DVAC. Several activists working for the right to information had questioned the government's move when the order was passed, wondering what was the need for the government to remove these organisations dealing with corruption among public servants to be exempted from the RTI.

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