Wednesday, August 26, 2009

PIOs & APIOs appointments have begun

With respect to implementing the J&K RTI Act 2009, the J&K Government Departments have begun appointing PIOs and APIOs. The following details appeared on GAD website in past few hours. Presumably they are gathering appointments and all departments and public authorities will be listed in due time.

Now, officials seek 'refuge' in SIC

The RTI Act clearly provides that order of the information commissioners is binding and can be challenged at best, if at all, in a court of law. UPSIC, however, seems oblivious of the provision. Had it been otherwise, it would not have accepted the appeal of a senior government official against an order passed by one of the state information commissioners.

The story goes like this. In an order in July, the State Information Commission (SIC) took a strict line of action against principal secretary, public enterprises department, Sunanda Prasad and asked for disciplinary action against her for messing up with the spirit of the RTI Act. But she reportedly filed an ``appeal'' with the incumbent chief information commissioner where it is ``gathering dust'' since then.
The chief information commissioner (acting) Gyanendra Sharma, in one of his recent orders, had stated that principal secretary invited disciplinary action for interfering in the work of the public information officer (PIO) of her department, for not taking her role of first appeals authority seriously and for violating the provisions of the Act. But the official's appeal against the order has rather landed UPSIC in a catch-22 situation. More so because the complainant, Rajeshwar Prasad, on whose complaint the order was passed, has still not got the information he has been
seeking since 2007. The commission had ordered that information be provided to
the complainant within 15 days of passing of the order.

Complete Article

RTI Act spirit being diluted, alleges NGO

The Assam State Information Commission (ASIC) is perhaps diluting the spirit of the country's Right to Information (RTI) Act. Some forces in it are bent on exempting the public distribution system (PDS) from the jurisdiction of the RTI Act. This has been reflected in a latest judgement of the Commission, alleged voluntary organization Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) at a press conference here today.

However, State's Chief Information Commissioner DN Dutt said that the judgement of the Commission referred to here had been kept reserved and a review petition on the issue is pending with the Commission. The Commission will consider all the legal issues involved with the case, he said. He also claimed that the Commission was neither influenced nor misled by anybody.

Complete Article

Disposal of cases by KIC for July 2009

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

Cases pending at the end of June 2009 is 6370
No. of Complaints and Appeals received during July is 1198
No. of Complaints & appeals disposed during July is 1127
No. of cases pending at the end of July is 6441
No. of cases heard during Julyis 2150
Appeals & Complaints pending less than 3 months is 2854
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 6 months is 3453
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 12 months is 134
Number of Commissioners at present 4

With regards,

CIC asks for basis of 2004 Padma awards

The criteria for determining who gets the Padma awards have always remained veiled in secrecy, triggering suspicions, even conspiracy theories, and dimming the glow of the presitigious civilian honours. In what can fortify the apprehensions about the objectivity of the selection process, the Centre has admitted that for the year 2004, not only did the NDA government accept nominations well after the deadline but that the Awards committee members cleared some names on phone.In response to an RTI application, the ministry of home affairs -- the ministry tasked with awarding the decorations -- has also acknowledged that it did not know the field of eminence of the jury members, and that they, 16 in all, took just a few hours to sort 1,000 claims to select the 100 lucky recipients. In its reply to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the MHA has defended its action in weeding out papers relating to the deliberations of the awards.

Complete Article

Information Commission to be set up in J-K

The J-K government has initiated the process for appointment of a Chief Information Commissioner and two Commissioners for implementation of Right to Information Act in the state, the Legislative Council was informed today in a written answer today. The state government had enacted a law early this year for constitution of the Information Commission.

Complete Article

RTI Act in Nagaland not effective

The Right to Information (RTI) Act was enacted in 2005 by the government of India after it was introduced in December 2004. But even to this day, the effectiveness of the Act in Nagaland is still a long way from being satisfactory. Is the reason behind this ineffectiveness due to the ignorance of the people about the Act or is it due to the fact that the departments of the government are ignoring applications of people seeking information and not responding positively and within the stipulated time? On its part, the state government has reiterated proper implementation of the RTI Act 2005 while taking note that many departments were ignoring the Act and information sought are not replied positively and within the stipulated date. An office memorandum issued by commissioner & secretary, department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, reiterated that the RTI, 2005 adopted by state
government needs to be adhered to and implemented by all departments. It stated that Section 5 and 9 has directed all government departments/corporations to designate offices as Appellate Authority/Public Information Officer (PIO) and Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO). Whenever any appointed/nominated appellate authorities, PIOs and APIOs are transferred/retired from their respective departments, the responsible departments are to re-appoint or nominate other appellate authorities, PIOs and APIOs respectively, according to the memorandum.

Complete Article

IIJNM organises RTI workshop

The Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM) organised a Right To Information (RTI) workshop, `State of the RTI', on 14th August, at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore. Guest speaker, Dr Shekhar Singh of the National Coalition for People's Right to Information talked about safeguarding RTI and described how the law was drafted to catch corrupt officials in government departments. He presented the findings
of a recent, nationwide survey conducted by his group. The survey tested the knowledge and use of the RTI by more than 35,000 citizens across 10 states. The survey found out that more than 800 RTI requests were filed to determine government responsiveness. Singh also added that students should make use of the RTI.

Complete Article

Official in dock for ignoring SIC directive

The State Information Commission (SIC) on Tuesday directed Madhubani district magistrate (DM) to take disciplinary action against district additional collector for not depositing the fine amount and not providing information to an applicant as directed by the commission earlier. The SIC also directed the DM to deduct the fine amount from the salary of erring official and inform the commission about it when the case would be taken on the next date of hearing on October 6. The erring additional collector had failed to provide relevant information to one Vishnudeo Bhandari who had sought certain information using the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Finding the additional collector on the wrong side of the Act, the SIC had imposed fine on him.

Complete Article

HC notice to ex-CJ on CIC post vacancy

The Patna High Court on Monday issued a notice to the former Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, Justice J N Bhat, asking him to state whether or not he would take charge as the Chief Information Commissioner of the State Information Commission (SIC). A division bench comprising Chief Justice P K Misra and Justice Shivakirti Singh
issued the notice while hearing a PIL of Vikash Chandra alias Guddu Baba. Advocate general P K Shahi submitted that Justice Bhat was appointed by the state government on October 8, 2008 as the CIC after he had given his consent for it. The PIL has sought immediate appointment of the CIC as the post has been lying vacant for more over ten months. The petitioner pleaded that the presence of the CIC at the SIC is necessary for expediting hearing of the cases related to Right to Information Act.

Complete Article

Haryana CM wants judicial administration under RTI ambit

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said all aspects of judicial administration should be brought fully under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Chief Minister was speaking at the 2009 edition of the annual conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts here.

He said the judicial processes must be realigned to facilitate imparting of necessary information to all citizens concerned. `An attitudinal change is required in the whole system with a paradigm shift from a culture of secrecy to a culture of openness and transparency,' he added. Right to information is a fundamental right of the citizens, flowing from Article 19 of the Constitution and RTI Act had very significantly empowered the citizens and such empowerment should be across all wings of the state, he

Complete Article

RTI reveals 500 Cr stashed away

The Nagaland University Teachers' Association today said it has detected more than 185 illegal fixed deposit accounts in a "certain bank" in Kohima. The illegal bank accounts amount to a whooping Rs. 500 crore, said the NUTA today citing information received under the Right to Information Act (RTI). Another new disclosure made against NU's vice chancellor was that documents have shown the VC to have listed fake addresses for a Rs.109.45 crore project. Under the RTI Act, the NUTA said in a note today, it has detected more than 185 illegal accounts of Fixed Deposit by the university, amounting to more than Rs.500 crore in a `certain bank' in Kohima. "There is also documentary evidence of huge amounts kept in fixed deposits in other banks at Kohima. These illegal deposits are highly irregular and violation of financial regulations," the NUTA said. The teachers have expressed strong objection to the financial corruption even while development activities remain stagnant in all three campuses under Prof. Kannan's tenure.

Complete Article

Govt shells out huge sum in late tax refunds

f only the government had not delayed tax refunds in the past five years, it could have built as much as 3,000 km of highways with the money saved. Tax authorities have coughed up more than Rs 21,000 crore to taxpayers as interest between 2003 and 2008 on account of delays in refunds, while it is bucking up to make sure refunds are not messed up. Officials say legal hurdles often delay refunds.

Under existing rules, the income tax department is bound to pay an interest at the rate of 0.5 per cent per month or 6 per cent annually for delayed tax refunds. The government has asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to issue refunds within six months of filing of returns. The information on the large interest outgo was given by the Finance Ministry in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Delhi resident Devashish Bhattacharya.

Complete Article

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MC lax towards the RTI Act

Though strict actions had been taken many a time against the Municipal Corporation (MC) officers due to there callous attitude towards giving the information under the Right to Information (RTI) act but they continue to defy the law as more then 60% of the total applications received by them ever since the inception of the act have not been replied yet.

This is contrary to the fact that two of its senior officers Joint Commissioner Mahinder Pal Gupta and Assistant Commissioner VK Sharda had tendered written
unconditional apology from the State Information Commission. The information attained by the RTI activist Rohit Sabharwal the President of the Anti Corruption and crime investigation cell in this regard from the MC presents the grim picture of the havoc created by the civic body officers with the act that aims in empowering the general masses. Just look at this fact since the implementation of act from February 2nd, 2006 to March 31st, 2007 the civic body received 682 applications under the act out of which only 281 have been answered by it but 401 out of them are lying pending with it.

Complete Article

Cannot access medical records through RTI: information panel

The Central Information Commission (CIC) recently denied a man access to information about his fiancée's health and the treatment she had undergone at a psychiatric centre, claiming that a patient-doctor relationship was based on trust, which could not be breached. Dipchand Chavanriya, a resident of Ghaziabad, had filed a Right to Information (RTI) petition seeking access to the medical records of his fiancée, Jyoti, from the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Science in Shahdara here. The CIC, the apex transparency panel in the country, however, denied the information to Chavanriya claiming that the RTI cannot act as a "detective" to unearth the medical history of a person.

"A person cannot use RTI to breach the physician-patient bond of trust for his own personal need. But we (CIC) would consider if the information seeker has applied in public good, for example, if he suspects if the other person has a communicable disease, which will harm the public at large," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi told Newsline on Tuesday.

"The relationship between a confessor-confessee, lawyer-client, doctor-patient, chartered accountant-client is fiduciary (bond of trust) and exempted from disclosure under the RTI. It is information given by persons placed in an inferior position to another in a superior state, the latter thus has a duty to keep the information confidential," Gandhi said.

Hearing the case, Commissioner Gandhi observed: "The appellant claims the information is important since it affects his personal life. He does not dispute the claim of fiduciary relationship but feels that since it is important for him personally the information should be provided. "A personal motive (however) is not enough to access information exchanged in trust. The applicant has to prove that such information would serve the larger public interest," Gandhi said.

Complete Article

Info panel fines CDPO

State information commission on Friday imposed a fine on the child development project officer (CDPO) of Dumra in Sitamarhi district for violation of Right to Information (RTI) Act. The official failed to provide relevant information to one Subodh Kumar. The erring CDPO would have to pay fine at the rate of Rs 250 per day effective from May 25 this year with the upper limit of fine being Rs 25,000. SIC directed the official to provide relevant information to the applicant latest by September 22 this year and fixed September 29 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Complete Article

45% urbanites aware of RTI: survey

How many of us actually file an RTI request when we need crucial information? A survey has found only 45 per cent of the urban population is aware of RTI, which means less than half of the populace actually file an application. The question of awareness about the right to information was raised at a conference organized by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media at Alliance Francaise on Friday. The workshop's objective was to inform young journalists about the usefulness of RTI as a tool for investigative journalism. A few surveys on RTI awareness was conducted across 10 states. The results indicated that very few people knew about the right and many used it to `harrass' government officials.

Complete Article

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

RTI applicant asked to cough up Rs 17.44 lakh as photocopying charge

B Sivagami Sundaram, a social worker from West Tambaram, was aghast at the reply he received from the Tamil Nadu food department in response to an application he had recently filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The department had asked him to pay Rs 17.44 lakh as photocopying charges to enable it to provide the information he sought. The department's reply stated that as prescribed under RTI rules Sundaram would have to pay Rs 2 a page to get information that would run into 8.72 lakh pages.

It took a while for Sundaram to realise that he had omitted mentioning a couple of words in his application, resulting in authorities misinterpreting his query and demanding such a huge sum. In his application, Sundaram had wanted to know the number of people covered under the public distribution system (PDS) in the state district-wise and taluk-wise. He had also asked the public information officer to provide the names of the districts and taluks concerned. However, while writing out the application, Sundaram mentioned only names' and omitted the words districts and
taluks'. The public information officer thus assumed that the names of all the people in the state covered under PDS would have to be furnished. Tamil Nadu has about two crore ration cards, covering more than six crore people.

Complete Article

Ludhiana MC official tenders apology

Fearing an action under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, due to his delay in providing information regarding illegal encroachments in city, an assistant commissioner of the municipal corporation (MC) has tendered a written apology to the commissioner.

According to information, Rohit Sabharwal, the president of Anti Corruption and Crime Investigation Cell had applied for time bound information from the MC regarding removal of illegal encroachments in city. However, as he was not able to get the desired information even after the prescribed time limit, he appealed the first appellant authority cum MC commissioner to supply the relevant information.

But, when he too did not render the desired information, the applicant moved the chief information commissioner and demanded severe action against the guilty officials under the service rules. The applicant also sought imposition of fine on the officer for delay in information.

Taking cognizance of the breach, the state information commissioner then issued a showcause notice to the public information officer cum assistant commissioner, VK Sharda, on June 26 for imposing penalty on him for delay in supply of information and awarding compensation to the appellant for loss and detriment suffered by him.

Complete Article

Furnish info to Moira resident: Goa Commission

The Goa State Information Commission has directed the Bardez block development officer to furnish the information requested by a Moira resident even though she sought it on the letterhead of the Moira Civic and Consumer Forum.

After scrutinizing the records, the commission noted that de Sa's request was written on the forum's letterhead and signed by her as for Moira Civic and Consumer Forum. However it also noted, "No doubt that a company, a firm or an association cannot seek information under the RTI Act since, as per section 3 of the RTI Act, only citizens have a right to information. In the present case however, the complainant sought information on the letterhead of and signed for Moira Civic and Consumer Forum, for all purposes she sought the information as an individual citizen and not as an executive member of the forum."

Complete Article

On Right way, he crusades for info

Jaskirat Singh could well be the new-age champion for Right to Information Act, for this 32-year-old techie knows that it can empower ordinary citizens to tread extraordinary paths. The first one from Punjab whose IT company, Webro Soft Solutions Pvt Ltd, was recognized by NASSCOM, the soft-spoken youth's journey began with some awareness campaigns that he ran in 2006 after well-known RTI activist Arvind Kejriwala encouraged him to do so.

But Jaskirat's most significant contribution is easily a software that he designed for providing detailed information about candidates in the poll fray during fifteenth Lok Sabha elections. From their financial assets to criminal records, everything was made available to general public directly or through media reports. "Over 70 reports were prepared by a group of IT professionals and activists in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Bangalore while using the software," says this RTI champion.

Complete Article

RTI exposes flaws in Delhi Airport agreement

A bad agreement could make Delhi airport more expensive for travelers. Mint filed queries under to Right to Information Act and has learnt that the government did not fix a cost for the airport modernization contract it signed with a private consortium. Costs of the project have already gone up by nearly Rs3,000 crore and current tariff structure means those costs could be passed on to passengers. The government handed over development of the Delhi airport in 2006 to a consortium led by GMR Infrastructure.

Complete Article

SC agrees to reveal information under RTI Act

In an apparent climbdown, the Supreme Court today agreed before the Delhi High Court to reveal information under Right to Information (RTI) Act pertaining to action taken by Chief Justice of India on a complaint against an Allahabad High Court judge. Attorney General Ghulam E Vahanvati, appearing for Supreme Court registry, made a statement before the High Court that although he does not accept the "correctness" of Central Information Commission (CIC) judgement but the information would be provided under the transparency act. The CIC had on July 16 held that the office of CJI comes within the purview of the transparency law and the apex court is under obligation to reveal the details of action taken on the complaint.

Complete Article

Make details on RIL gas issue public: Ex-power secy

Seeking a public disclosure of all financial and technical details on the RIL gas issue, a former bureaucrat has asked the government to allow a public debate on the matter to deal with the catastrophe-like situation emerging due to the tussle between the Ambani brothers. In the midst of the ongoing legal battle between the two industrialist brothers, as also their public spat, former power secretary E A S Sarma in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also warned that a higher price fixed by the government for the gas could not only lead to greater profits for RIL, but also an additional subsidy burden for the government. "I believe that all the information on RIL gas should have been placed in the public domain by the ministry of petroleum & natural gas (MOP&NG) under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act. MOP&NG has not complied with this statutory requirement. It should have taken Parliament into confidence fully and much earlier," Sarma noted.

Complete Article

Friday, August 07, 2009

Karnataka Information Commission June 2009 dispoal rate

Dear All,
The Stastics of disposal of cases for the month of June 2009 @ Karnataka Information Commission is given below for the information of the Activists:-

Cases pending at the end of May 09 is 6638
Number of Complaints and Appeals received during June 09 is 962
Number of Complaints & appeals disposed during June 09 is 1230
Number of cases pending at the end of June 09 is 6370
Number of cases heard during June 09 is 1925
Appeals & Complaints pending less than 3 months is 2738
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 6 months is 3503
Appeals & Complaints pending more than 12 months is 129
Number of Commissioners at present 4

With regards,

Interpreting the scope of Section 7(3) of RTI Act- CIC postpones Aug 17th hearing

Dear friends,
The Central Information Commission (CIC) this morning informing me that the hearing in the matter of K K Kishore vs Institute of Company Secretaries of India has been postponed until further notice. Readers will remember that the CIC had constituted a larger bench to rehear the matter regarding the scope and ambit of section 7(3) of the RTI Act. Some public authorities and Information Commissioners have interpreted this section to mean that the Public Information Officer could collect official's
wages, search charges, compilation charges and other related costs from the applicant at his/her discretion. The Government of India through the Department of Personnel does not mention any such discretionary fee in its guidelines issued for the benefit if citzens, public authorities, public information officers and appellate authorities. Nevertheless a controversy has arisen over the meaning of this provision and the CIC intends to hear PIOs of select public authorities on this matter. Several RTI activists have submitted their views stating that there is no scope in that section to allow any such discretion for PIOs regards collection of fees.
The bench was to hold its hearing on 17th August, 2009 at the Institute of Secretariat Training and Management. The notice states that the non-availability of the Chief Information Commissioner on that date is the reason for the postponement. We will keep you informed as soon as we get to know about the next date of hearing. If you wish to check our previous email alerts on this subject click on:

Venkatesh Nayak
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

SC moves HC against CIC order

Even before the Delhi High Court could decide its appeal against an order of Central Information Commission (CIC) to make public assets of judges, the Supreme Court on Tuesday again moved the HC challenging another CIC order to make public how the CJI dealt with a complaint against a sitting judge of Allahabad HC. If parliamentarians are up in arms against law minister Veerappa Moily for proposing in the Judges Assets Bill to keep information about the wealth of judges out of the RTI Act, this SC petition could be an argument in support of the apprehension that there could be harassment of a judge at the hands of a litigant. This is what the SC is projecting in its petition before the Delhi HC. After Allahabad HC dismissed his case, the sore litigant P K Dalmia sent several complaints to the CJI against the judge who decided the case against him. Then, he approached the SC seeking to know the fate of his complaints and whether any action had been taken.

Complete Article

State information commission to be e-enabled

Uttar Pradesh state information commission (UPSIC) may soon be an e-enabled organisation. The commission is one of 19 state information commissions to get funds under the centrally sponsored scheme for IT enablement. The first instalment of Rs 14 lakh of total Rs 21 lakh has reached the commission and needed efforts might begin. The central government is out to strengthen state information commissions and the RTI Act. Apart, under the move to make RTI a stronger Act, Public Authorities (PAs) might have to disclose little more than their functions and duties. The department of personnel and training (DoPT) has started examining if few more categories of the information can be added to the list given in Section 4(1) of the Act which all PAs are required to publish suo motu.

Complete Article

Govt officials fined

The State Information Commission (SIC) on Tuesday imposed fine on two government officials found on the wrong side of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Those fined are the public information officers (PIOs) of Samastipur collectorate and Nurses Registration Council. The erring collectorate PIO would have to cough up fine at the rate of Rs 250 per day effective from July 13 this year, and that of the council at the same rate effective from July 3. In both cases the upper limit of the fine amount would be Rs 25,000.

Complete Article

RTI records should be available anytime

President of the RTI Forum of Senior Citizens for Instant Information, Shriram Pande, has demanded that access to civic records should be given to citizens not just on Mondays but on all the days, as prescribed by the Right to Information Act, 2005. In a letter to municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade, Pande has said that section 4 of the RTI Act clearly states that all government records should suo-moto be declared by the government authorities and be made available for citizens.

"The information should be easily available anytime. There is no limit to which days access should be given. Why is the Pune Municipal Corporation patting its own back for throwing open its records on every Monday for two hours? In fact, they are starting a bad precedence by limiting the access to people," Pande said, speaking to TOI.

Complete Article

Protest DoPT's moves to amend the RTI Act

Dear All,

The DoPT has put out a press release seeking to "strengthen" the RTI Act by bringing in amendments to the Act.

While the proposed amendments in the press release are "good", as described in the CHRI (Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative) folks, the proposed changes can be brought about without amendments to the Act. Hence there is reason to believe that this is a ploy by the DoPT.

CHRI has put up a sample email/letter that can be written to the Ministry to protest moves to amend the Act. All are requested to send similar emails.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

RTI reveals Goa bureaucrats burnt midnight oil to save minister

Senior Goa government bureaucrats burnt the proverbial midnight oil to ensure that Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane was not arrested after he was accused of threatening to kill a lawyer, response to a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed. A controversial file on the subject moved by Goa Advocate General Subodh Kantak June 30, was cleared the same day after office hours sometime between 5.30 p.m. till midnight. Kantak sought that charges against hundreds of people booked under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code since May 2004 - including Minister Rane - be dropped
on a single technicality. While special secretary (home) Diwan Chand made his noting on the file sometime after 5.30 p.m., Law Secretary V.P. Shetye cleared the file at 9.15 p.m. The file was subsequently forwarded with seeming displeasure by Chief Secretary Hauzel Haukhum to Home Minister Ravi Naik and then on to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who cleared it the same night. The chain of events is revealed in the handwritten notings of the senior bureaucrats and top political executives.

Complete Article

Free access to PMC records: staff on protest leave mars first day

Throwing open its doors to citizens, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Monday gave them free access to civic records. Those who wanted information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act were directly allowed to lay hands on the official records. However, the first day activities were marred by the token strike of civic employees. To fill in the shortcomings of the first day, the exercise will be repeated on Tuesday. The civic activists, who were present at the PMC headquarters to watch the proceedings and also to urge more people to take part in the exercise expressed satisfaction and said things have at least started moving. RTI activists Vivek Velankar, Vijay Kumbhar and Jugal Rathi were present throughout the exercise.

Complete Article

RTI prompts civic body to reconsider its order

A Right to Information (RTI) application has prompted the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) to modify its order. TMC Municipal Commissioner Nandkumar Jantre had issued an order in May as per which a new list of public information officers (PIOs) and first appellate authorities was published. However, the appointment came with the rider that the previous orders, issued by heads of departments as appellate authorities, in appeals pending before them stood annulled and the appeals would be heard afresh by the new appellate authorities.

Complete Article

CPI-M urges Govt to make J&K RTI people oriented

State unit of CPI(M) Monday urged the National Conference led coalition government to make the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act people oriented. "The state government should make Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act people oriented by making certain insertions and deletions, which would benefit people at large for fetching desired information cheaply, timely and easily," state secretary of CPI(M) MY Tarigami said in a statement here. He said simplifying the procedural formalities under the Act was need of the hour. "The J&K RTI Act in its present form carries a few provisions, which are contrary to that of Central Act, thereby making it difficult for information seekers to avail the benefits," he said.

Complete Article

Government retreats on judges' assets bill, to work for consensus

The government Monday deferred the introduction of a bill on the declaration of judges' assets, and said it would work to generate consensus on the issue following objections from Rajya Sabha members that it violated the Constitution and the Right to Information Act. "In view of the sentiments expressed by the members and to build consensus on the issue, I am deferring the introduction of the bill," Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said, as member after member, including Jayanthi Natarajan of the ruling Congress, objected to Clause 6 of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill 2009 under which the assets of judges can not be made public.

Complete Article

Sunday, August 02, 2009

RTI unravels hollow claims of police

The claims of the state government on FIRs being promptly registered in police stations stand exposed. Out of the total people who approached senior officials with the complaint that their FIRs were not being registered, 91.6% still failed to lodge their cases at various police stations of Lucknow district in 2008. This, as evident, despite the intervention of senior police officials. Worse, it is not a huge difference from the preceding year of the incumbent government. In 2007, 95.2% people met the same fate. The figures made available through the Right to Information Act cast a grim picture on police promptness in Lucknow.

Aggrieved of police apathy, at least 1,000 complainants took the legal recourse to get their FIRs registered in last two years. The quantum of complaints finally getting place in police registers as FIRs is still abysmally low -- 8.3% in 2008 and 4.5% in 2007. Lucknow SSP office has received 51,379 complaints in last two years (2007 and 08), either manually, by post or after being referred to it by senior officials against FIRs not getting registered. And surprisingly, maximum number of complaints have been brought to the notice of the police by senior government officials (14,761 in 2008 and 17,645 in 2007).

In response to an RTI query made by applicant Izhar Ansari, SSP office has revealed that it received 25,076 complaints in 2008 and 26,303 complaints in 2007 against FIRs not getting registered at 37 police stations of the district. Hasanganj police station invariably topped the chart with 2,517 complaints made in 2008 and 1,688 complaints in 2007. Though police finally registered FIRs in some of these complaints, the number was still less -- 2,101 in 2008 and 1,261 in 2007. The rest -- 22,975 complaints out of total 25,076 in 2008 and 25,042 out of total 26,303 in 2007 -- were discarded by police without any action.

Complete Article

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Board asked to provide access to copies

The State Information Commission (SIC), in an order, has directed the Uttar Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad to evolve a system where the students and their parents can have access to the answersheets after declaration of results of the examination, under the RTI Act. The order will be effective from this year. The order was passed by Information Commissioner (IC) Sunil Kumar Choudhary after one Anurag Sharma, and a few others, had filed a complaint that the UP Board had refused them access to their answersheets as they had been destroyed. The argument put forth by the secretary of the UP Board, Prabha Tripathi, that it was not feasible to maintain the record of answersheets of lakhs of students, was rejected by the SIC. The Board cited a Supreme Court order of a similar case and said that according to the rules, few months after the declaration of result and re-evaluation, the answersheets can be incinerated and it was not possible to provide information related to 2008.

Complete Article

Investigating agencies, paramilitary forces to lose cover from RTI

The Ministry of Personnel and Training (DoPT) last week initiated moves to bring investigating agencies, paramilitary forces and police departments under the ambit of the 2005 Right to Information Act (RTI). Several organisations—that now figure in the list of 18 exempted from RTI disclosures in Schedule 2 of the RTI Act—have received an official intimation from the DoPT about their likely inclusion and have been asked to reply with their objections, if any. The investigating agencies on the list of proposed inclusions are the Enforcement Directorate, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau and the Narcotics Control Bureau. While these agencies had so far enjoyed immunity from RTI disclosure, the Central Bureau of Investigation, has all along been covered under the RTI. The paramilitary forces that have been informed about the move include the Border Security Force, the National Security Guards and the Indo Tibetan Border Force.

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Declare assets, PMC chief Zagade tells staff

Employees as well as officials of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will henceforth have to declare their assets, which could be viewed by the public. Civic chief Mahesh Zagade has issued a circular to this effect recently. With the circular, officials including the Class I and Class II as well as the employees will have to submit the documents to the civic body. With this move, the assets of these officials will come before public scrutiny. Right to Information (RTI) activists have since long been demanding the introduction of this move at the civic body. They were saying that like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), this could be brought into implementation at the PMC. This circular excludes only the Class IV employees. The officials will now have to submit their assets with the properties purchased in the name of their close relatives of family members.

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Msg # Search: Advanced Start Topic Political parties are not covered under RTI, says CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that political parties are not covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Dismissing a petition filed by an RTI applicant, Balwant Singh Khera, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said political parties could not be covered under the act just because they are provided government subsidies like premises at prime locations and free airtime for media broadcast during elections among others. Khera who hails from Hoshiarpur in Punjab has sought some information from 12 political parties including Congress, BJP, CPI, CPM among others but did not get any answer from them.

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