Friday, January 30, 2009

Blind man shows the way using RTI

Today, Rangpar villagers are happy to see that there is a two km road connecting their village to the highway. The Gando Baval (babool) shrubs along the roadside have been cleared by the gram panchayat authorities. But it was not all that simple to get these basics to this small village of Wankaner taluka in Rajkot district. It took a visually challenged Ratna Ala, 26, to open the eyes of the authorities through the Right to
Information (RTI) Act.

Complete Article

Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) blog

Dear friends,

Please visit Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) blog at -

http://www.mahitiadhikar.blogspot.com/

We need suggestions and comments from you all.

with regards,

Harinesh / Pankti
MAGP

Maghamela: RTI reveals huge kerosene scam

Queries under Right to Information (RTI) Act have unearthed a scam in Maghamela - a festival which is observed by lakhs in the Oriya month of Magha at Chandrabhaga beach near Sun Temple at Konark here every year. This year Maghamela will be observed on February 2. Reports said Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare through the
sub-collector, Puri, has been supplying kerosene to pilgrims during Maghamela. The decision to supply kerosene was taken as there were no lighting facilities in the area and kerosene lamps were used by the devotees. However, after long years of electrification of the area, the government has not amended the decision and is still supplying kerosene. In short, the Government is spending lakhs of rupees for a purpose which is no more desirable. The continuation of the scheme is not only an unnecessary burden on the State exchequer but also breeding corruption.

Complete Article

RTI Debate by My Himachal & CENSUD in Joginder Nagar

Govt. of India and UNDP has launched Capacity Building for Access to Information (CBAI) Project on pilot basis in Mandi and Hamirpur districts. Centre for Sustainable Development ( Censud) is the executing agency for mass awareness campaign under this project. My Himachal is the online partner of Censud making available all activities under this project on its blog. A declamation contest was organised under this project on RTI at Govt. Sen.Secondary School ( Girls) Jogindernagar. Dr. Sunil Thakur, Principal of the school presided over the function. Shailja and Ritu Thakur stood first and second while Priyanka and Divya stood third.

Complete Article

Mah SIC Appls & Complaints Displs

Dr Joshi (Mah CSIC) gave monthly data of 2nd Appls & Complaints Disposals 15026 as compared to CIC 9920.
We were honoured to meet Annaji on 26.1.09 , Annaji Hazare is meeting Hon President of India & PM & Mah. Governor with Foll demands.
a) Remove Infn Comner who do not dispose off 250 to 300 2nd appeals monthly. Those who dispose off only 40 to 50 Appeals are helping corrupt officers.
b) Introduce RTI Stamp
c) Pass Law about Property Decln
d) Observe Compliance of Sec 4 etc etc.

Posted by Vihar Durve on HJ board

Information commission needs more teeth

It has become imperative to fine-tune the Right to Information Act (RTI) by bringing in amendments, besides giving more powers to State Information Commissions. Speaking to The New Indian Express, Coimbatore Consumer Cause secretary Kathir Mathiyon said the RTI Act introduced in 2005, a path-breaking initiative by the Congress-led government, had failed to achieve its purpose. Lack of adequate powers for State Information Commissions to take penal action against the official concerned for either delay or denial of information is the reason for the sorry state of affairs, he said.

Complete Article

RTI helped HIV positive people get pension

Right to Information helped the HIV+ patients to get their pension in Gop Block of Puri District in Orissa. Pension was released from Jan to May '08 for all the HIV+s of Gop Block (Number hidden) but was not given to them due to irresponsibility of concerned officials of the Block Office. If any of the HIV+ patients or their relative / representatives were coming to Block office for pension, the officials were avoiding them with different clues. When one of the RTI Activist came to know about this unhealthy practice of officials, he applied under RTI Act to know the reason of this quietness on 18th Nov, 2008. In reply of this application the PIO informed that within 15th Dec '08 pension has been given to all of the HIV+s through the concerned VLWs of their GPs at their doorstep & has assured that in future their pension will be given as earliest. This single RTI application helped the HIV+ patients to get pension & also rectified practice of officials. Its also informed that till date the HIV+s have received pension of the period up to May '08. The pension of rest of the months have not sanctioned by the admn till yet.

N.A.Shah Ansari
Young India,
Konark, Orissa

RTI query on bureaucrats gets engineer transfer

Information is not the only return that an application under the Right To Information (RTI) can fetch you. It got Kashinath Shetye a quick-fire transfer, a punishment posting and a vigilance enquiry after he filed RTIs seeking information about the who’s who in the bureaucracy and the police department. he RTI applications were made by Kashinath Shetye, who is a junior engineer in the state electricity department and his wife Sanyogita. Shetye’s exhaustive questionnaires sought detailed information from senior officials like the chief secretary, inspector general of police, the state law secretary and others. Sanyogita Shetye’s application to the under secretary (personnel) dated July 25, 2008, sought a certified copy of the chief secretary’s vehicle log book, details of appeals heard, disposed by the official and the top most bureaucrat’s annual property returns from 1990.

Complete Article

K'nataka HC Orders Disclosure Of Assets

The High Court of Karnataka has upheld an order passed by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike special commissioner under which Health Department officials have been asked to furnish information on their Assets and Liabilities. The Informqtion was sought by an editor of a weekly under the RTI Act. Justic E N Kumar, who dismissed petition filed by senior health inspector L R Mohan Raj and others, observed that the RTI Act is meant to be usd for matters related to public interest. "The public has a right to seek information about any official, and this was made known when the law was enforced." Justice Kumar observed.

Times of India
Bangalore Edition
28 January 2009

Intention of information seeker not important: Goa SIC

The intention of the citizen asking information under the right to information act should not be the concern of the information officer, is what a recent order of the Goa state information commission (SIC) says. Stating that, "the citizen's intention in asking information need not be gone into as per the provisions of the RTI Act", the SIC dismissed arguments by the Mapusa municipal council's information officer, in
connection with an RTI application by Ribandar resident Kashinath Shetye. MMC had alleged that the appellant was "harassing all the municipalities and corporations in Goa and hence, the request for information is made with mala fide intention".

Complete Article

Saturday, January 24, 2009

SC stand on judges' assets harms RTI

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has urged the Supreme Court registry not to press its writ petition pending before the Delhi High Court in the case related to declaration of assets by judges.
"The Supreme Court registry may use its wisdom to save the Right to Information Act by not pressing the writ petition it filed in the Delhi High Court. The petition will harm the RTI Act," the Parliamentary Standing Committee chairman EM Sudarsana Natchiappan has observed. Talking to reporters after a two-day review of implementation of RTI Act, reservation policy, vigilance and prevention of corruption in public sector undertakings here today, Natchiappan said the Standing Committee would soon submit a recommendation to Parliament for doing away with application fee for RTI petitions.

Complete Article

CIC sets deadline for details on appointment of Himachal CJ

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has hit again at the higher judiciary by giving the Justice Department a month’s deadline to make public “files, documents, records” on the appointment of Justice Jagdish Bhalla as the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh in February 2008. Dismissing the department’s contention that appointment files of judges in the higher judiciary was exempted from disclosure under the Right to Information Act, 2005, Information Commissioner A N Tiwari confirmed that such information was liable to be disclosed and did not attract any of the exemption provisions in the Act.

Complete Article

MCC officials in the dock for delay in RTI info

Delay in providing information sought under the Right to Information Act has landed two officials of the Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) in trouble. G V Rajashekar, executive engineer, and Jagadeesh, chief accounts officer, of the MCC will have their pockets lighter for the next two months. The Karnataka Information Commission has docked Rs 5,000 each from the officials for their delay in providing information sought under the RTI. Rajashekar incidentally is the principal information officer of the corporation.

Complete Article

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chief justice wants high court judges to declare assets

Under mounting pressure for more probity and transparency in the judiciary, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) has written to all high courts across the country to consider adopting the apex court judges' practice of declaring their assets. "The CJI (K G Balakrishnan) has written to chief justices of all high courts to consider adopting the apex court judges' practice of declaring their assets at the time of their appointment and every year subsequently," a Supreme Court official, who did not want to be identified, told IANS. Supreme Court judges have been declaring their assets since 1997 to the CJI at the time of their appointment as an apex court judge and thereafter every year as per a resolution passed by the apex court on May 7, 1997. "The high court judges may consider adopting a similar resolution in case it does not have a system of judges declaring their assets soon after the assumption of office and regularly updating the declaration made by them," said Balakrishnan in his letter to high court chief justices.

Complete Article

SC judges may declare assets

Faced with increasing pressure to declare their assets, a view is emerging among the Supreme Court judges that it is high time they do it on their own without waiting for the final decision of the Delhi High Court on the issue. A section of the Supreme Court judges does not want the raging debate on the contentious issue to dent the image of the judiciary, which is already facing a credibility crisis, the Hindustan Times has learnt. Possible solutions under contemplation included putting the judges’ assets details on website. The Supreme Court had refused to accept the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) directive to furnish information whether judges were declaring assets details to the Chief Justice of India and challenged it in the Delhi High Court. The HC had on Monday stayed the CIC order and listed the matter for hearing on February 11, 2009.

Complete Article

Learn to use RTI, learn to ask why

Students from schools can file an RTI seeking information on the lack of basic amenities like restrooms, safe drinking water, blackboards, teaching kits, playgrounds and libraries, as it is their prerogative. It is important that they know what questions are to be asked. Parents can also make use of the Act on behalf of their children. Crucial issues like a child on sick leave not being allowed to take an exam despite the parents having provided all medical documents can also be questioned using the Act. College students can make use of the Act to know why their certificates or hall tickets are being delayed when the exam dates are due, why results are not released, why a convocation ceremony is not held and such like. Students will definitely get answers to their problems using the RTI Act if they raise the necessary questions.

Complete Article

Info should be given in manner it is asked: CIC

Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that information should be provided in the form and manner it is asked by the applicant under Right to Information (RTI) Act. It said this while disposing a case where applicant had sought details about release of arrears for freedom fighters. Ramesh Patel of Bodakdev had under RTI applied to the deputy secretary of the freedom fighters' division (FFD) of the ministry of home affairs (MHA). He wanted to know about action taken by various authorities on Gujarat High Court's ruling of October 29, 2004 ordering release of arrears with 9 per cent interest.

Complete Article

Students file RTI plea, say college duped them

Over 200 students from the International Business School (IBS) at Ballard Estate have lodged a complaint with the state's department of technical education and the MRA Marg police alleging that the institute is not recognised by the UGC. "Our institute has many branches across India and is conducting regular MBA (industry integrated) course as a study centre of the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning Management (EIILM), Sikkim,'' said a student. In response to an RTI application filed by the students, the UGC had stated that it had not permitted EIILM to "affiliate'' IBS, Mumbai. "As such, MBA degrees (regular or distance learning) awarded by IBS, Mumbai cannot be treated as valid,'' read the UGC reply.

Complete Article

Doubts arise over relevance of Lokayukta

Data for five years show that the state Lokayukta has disposed of over 95% complaints without any hearing. The government agency received 13,523 complaints (till October 31 last year) while 12,999 complaints were disposed of without hearing in the last five years. What is more shocking is that the Lokayukta heard only 59 cases till October-end last year, just over one case every week. The agency registered 2,781 complaints till October-end, while 2,465 were disposed of without hearing. The Lokayukta incurs an expenditure of Rs 1 crore to the state exchequer towards salaries for its 85 employees. But activists are now questioning the relevance of such an institution in view of its failure to probe complaints.

Complete Article

NGO activity funded by govt falls under RTI purview

Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) has ruled that even though an NGO is not owned, controlled or substantially financed by the state government it qualifies to be a public authority and has to maintain transparency and accountability in its working. Citizens hve a right under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to seek information on those activities for which the government has given financial aid to the NGO, GIC ruled. For non-government funded activity of the NGO, information can be sought from
its controlling public authority.

Complete Article

Rajya Sabha wants members asset declarations publicised

The Indian Rajya Sabha (Upper House) chairman wants to publicise the
declaration of assets and liabilities that members of parliament (MPs) file upon
taking oath, to be in accordance with the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Why not place these declarations on the Rajya Sabha website, he asked the
House's Ethics Committee. In any case, anybody can get these details by filing an application under the act, and hence, why not put the details on the website itself to end the need for compilation of the information whenever sought, said a reference by the chairman that the committee will examine today (Wednesday).

Complete Article

Rajya Sabha wants members asset declarations publicised

The Indian Rajya Sabha (Upper House) chairman wants to publicise the
declaration of assets and liabilities that members of parliament (MPs) file upon
taking oath, to be in accordance with the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Why not place these declarations on the Rajya Sabha website, he asked the
House's Ethics Committee. In any case, anybody can get these details by filing an application under the act, and hence, why not put the details on the website itself to end the need for compilation of the information whenever sought, said a reference by the chairman that the committee will examine today (Wednesday).

Complete Article

406 highway projects stuck in litigation

The government may have plans to award just 53 projects covering 55,000 km of national highways this year, but as many as 406 contracts awarded over a period of time are under litigation because of various reasons. The number of projects stuck in the courts was disclosed to The Indian Express in response to a right to information (RTI) application made a few weeks ago. The number of projects in litigation is almost eight times the number of projects the National Highways Authority of India plans to award this year. The National Highways Development Programme was launched as an ambitious infrastructure development programme in December 1999. “As many as 70 per cent of these cases are on account of incomplete projects stuck on account of land acquisition problems,” said Murali M, director general, National Highway Builders Federation (NHBF), representing the country’s top road developers.

Complete Article

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Amid crunch, charity office told to spare staff for polls

The office of the Charity Commissioner, which says it has a staff crunch, has now been told by the Election Commission to spare three officers for election duty. This will severely affect the functioning of the office, said Sandeep Khardekar, vice-president of the BJP unit in Pune. Following an RTI petition by Khardekar, the office had said it did not have enough people to monitor over 32,000 trusts, including several top hospitals that are obliged to reserve 10 per cent of the beds for BPL families and 20 per cent for economically weak families.

Complete Article

Despite Satyam taint, PwC will advise govt on transparency

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the audit and consultancy firm which failed to detect the fraud in Satyam Computer Services, has been assigned to study the central government's transparency efforts by examining the issues and constraints in implementing the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The department of personnel and training (DoPT) will pay Rs 69 lakh to PwC for this study and almost 55 per cent of the amount has already been given. Sources in DoPT said the final report of the study, which was commissioned on March 19, 2008, was expected in a few weeks. Discussions are in progress on PwC's interim report which was submitted a few months ago. PwC's RTI report is expected to teach the Central and State Governments how they can make this law effective. But the irony is that if PwC had lost anything, it is credibility and transparency. India Today tried to contact Joint Secretary (RTI) SK Sarkar but he was out of town. But DoPT sources confirmed that there is no proposal to review the PwC agreement in light of the Satyam scandal. PwC's officer Nilachal Mishra said the study will not be affected by the Satyam fiasco and that the report would be submitted within a month.

Complete Article

Monday, January 19, 2009

RTI Effect: LIC launches first campaign to revive policies lapsed for over 5 years

A report on this website regarding lapsed and subsequently discontinued policies of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) made an impact. For the first time in its history the LIC has offered to revive 'policies lapsed for more than five years'. The LIC has given advertisements on Sunday in almost all newspapers in this regard. This scheme is open for the period from January 19 to February 28. This website has reported on December 24 last that 5.91 crore life insurance policies had been discontinued by the insurer due to non-payments of premiums by the policy holders during last seven years (2000-01 to 2006-07). These were the policies which could not be revived under the norms of LIC. India Today had gathered this information under RTI Act from the LIC for the particular policies which have been lapsed due to discontinuance for five years.

Complete Article

Oil company executives protest govt's claim on wages

After striking work for two days last week to demand a revision in pay, officers of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPC) have now taken the Right to Information Act route to register another protest. Although the officers are furious about the suspension of more than 70 of their colleagues for resorting to the strike, the immediate provocation is over the Union Petroleum Ministry's pronouncements, published in newspapers, that oil company officials are amongst the highest paid in the country. While the government claimed that they were drawing a gross salary between Rs one lakh and Rs three lakh a month, about 100 officers from the oil companies in Chennai, including 60 officers from IOC on Nungambakkam High Road, have sent applications under the RTI Act to the Petroleum Ministry asking it to justify its statement. Stating that most of them were drawing a monthly salary less than Rs 50,000 after 20 years of service, while entry-level officers were drawing Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000, the agitators in their applications wanted the ministry to provide details relating to officers' current salaries as well as the hike in salaries proposed in the pay revision.

Complete Article

Lenient Uttar Pradesh SIC behind rising RTI offenders?

Are the orders passed by the State Information Commission (SIC) in sync with the RTI Act? The question arises because often government departments show scant regard for the orders passed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Cases abound where despite numerous hearings and penalties imposed on the erring public information officers (PIOs), applicants are still awaiting information. Are lax orders, therefore, responsible for aberrance on the part of officers?

Sample a case in which a PIO and the finance controller, directorate of higher education, Allahabad, were slapped with a fine of Rs 25,000 in an order dated October 20, 2008. The order observed that two show-cause notices had already been issued against the defying officers. But it allowed the two officers to file their representation against the fine on the next hearing, scheduled for December 18, 2008. Was it apt to allow the officers to submit an application against the decision of fine imposement?

A similar order was passed against the PIO at the office of commissioner, Meerut division, on November 19. A fine of Rs 25,000 was imposed as penalty on the PIO for neither providing the information nor appearing in the commission. Nevertheless, the order fixed the next hearing into the matter on January 19.

Complete Article

Govt swears by oath, opposes change

The oath of secrecy administered to a Union or state minister while assuming office will continue and it will not be replaced by an oath of transparency as recommended by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its report on Right to information: Master key to good governance. Further, the recommendation by the ARC to repeal the Official Secrets Act (OSA) has also not been accepted by the government.

Complete Article

RTI activists CIC role under cloud

Of the nine members appointed so far to the three-year-old Central Information Commission (CIC), Shailesh Gandhi, the latest nominee who joined in September, had raised the greatest expectations. He is the first member to be appointed from among activists to this bureaucrat-dominated institution. But, for all his avowed zeal to
clear the backlog of appeals by a self-imposed deadline, the government's experiment of casting an activist in the role of a detached adjudicator already seems to be coming unstuck. This is apparent from a series of orders passed by Gandhi on disclosure of information related to examinations. Displaying an elementary lack of judicial discipline, he brushed aside a five-member decision, which was binding on him. And then, rendering himself vulnerable to the charge of bias, this IIT graduate refused to apply to JEE a standard of transparency that he had himself laid down for a
CBSE examination.

Complete Article

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Supreme Court registry challenges CIC order

The Supreme Court Registry on Friday filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against an order passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC), asking it to provide information in the possession of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), on declaration of assets by judges of the apex court and High Courts. By its January 6 order the CIC had directed the Registry to furnish to S.C. Agrawal, an applicant, information whether judges declared their assets as per a May 7, 1997 resolution adopted at an all-India judges conference. The CIC rejected the Supreme Court’s contention that the CJI was not obliged to furnish such information under the Right to Information Act. Nor did the CIC agree with the plea that the Registry and the CJI’s office were independent.

Complete Article

Endless wait for RTI query about ICs

The State Information Commission (SIC) acts to ensure that all the RTI applicants should get the information that they want from the government. But it does not ensure the same when applicants seek information about the commission's functioning itself.

The case of one Ashok Kumar Goyal is an example. Goyal had submitted an application under Right To Information (RTI) Act with the personnel department. He had asked about working hours of all the Information Commissioners (ICs). He also wanted to know if there is any authority who monitors the walk-in and walk-out time of the ICs at the commission.

But he did not get the desired information. His application was forwarded to the administrative reforms department by the personnel department on June 27, 2008, citing the reason that it does not possess such an information. "But, I got no information and then I filed an appeal with the commission,'' said Goyal.

Complete Article

Madras university takes RTI route

If you thought only citizens filed applications under the Right To Information (RTI) Act to extract details about long pending projects, you are wrong. The mindset of most government officials seems to be such that information simply wouldn't flow if you asked for it in the usual course. Authorities at the University of Madras appear to have learnt about the trick employed by officials to dodge probing questions the hard way.

The University of Madras was forced to pay the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Rs 9,348 under the RTI Act to get details about cost estimates of completed works and the various stages of other works on its campuses, which it had entrusted to the CPWD. Incidentally, the university itself had in the past attempted to dodge questions posed by some RTI applicants.

Complete Article

Remove disparity between Delhi and Srinagar Acts

Indian democracy has many things to boast upon but the Right to Information Act (RTI), which was passed in 2005 in Lok Sabha, is a step toward ensuring civil liberties. But J&K has been left out of this Act’s purview with the excuse that the State has already passed it in 2002 with some heaving security related restrictions, which make the Act look like a rejoinder of the central RTI. The newly formed Cong-NC coalition government is learnt to have made up its mind about bringing Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act (JKRTI) at par with the central Act experts here believe implementation of the act will be a challenge for the government. There is a sense pervading within informed sections that the citizens here lack awareness about various other rights and prompting them toward RTI would also be a challenge.

Complete Article

BSNL to rebate rent to customers for dead, faulty phones

Customers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd's (BSNL) landline telephone services in Pune whose telephones had been dead or faulty for 15 days at a stretch between April 2007 and July 2008 are all set to get a rent rebate. BSNL's administrative department wrote to the finance department in December, asking it to extend the rent rebate to all eligible customers. The move comes after the matter was taken up with BSNL by Sajag Nagrik Manch president Vivek Velankar. Velankar had filed a plea under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to know the rent rebate passed on to customers whose phone connections had been dead or faulty for 15 days between April 2007 and July 2008.
"The information provided by BSNL revealed that only 1,720 of the 24,430 such customers received the rent rebate," said Velankar. "All customers whose telephone lines have been dead or faulty for 15 days at a stretch are eligible for the rebate," he added.

Complete Article

'Vague' replies land top cops at CIC office

In an unusual development, more than a dozen senior Delhi Police officials joint commissioners, additional commissioners and deputy commissioners landed up at the Central Information Commission office on Thursday after 22 senior police officers were summoned by chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah in reference to an appeal. The hearing was for a RTI appeal filed by one Ajit Kar, a resident of Satyaniketan. The RTI sought answers to 43 questions.

According to Kar, he had initially filed an RTI on various issues concerning "Delhi Police and the citizens'' and wanted the seven joint commissioners of Delhi Police to answer them. "However, the answers I received were mostly vague. Some of the questions were partially or generally answered, while some others were misleading. Hence I appealed to the CIC to provide me relief in the manner that the respondents may be ordered to supply specific and accurate information,'' Kar said.

While most of the officers turned up in person, a few sent their representatives.

Complete Article

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Law does not permit online lotteries: RTI

Instant lotteries may soon run out of luck with the law. Admitting that there is no law for such lotteries in the state, principal secretary Ranjana Sinha said, "Either we have to put an end to the online lotteries or draft a law accordingly.'' In a reply to the RTI query filed by the Maharashtra Rajya Lottery Association president , Nanasaheb Kute-Patil, the state lottery department said that there is no Central government law for single digit lotteries, commonly known as online lotteries.
Following persistent complaints from Kute-Patil and his Buland Chhava Organisation , the state government had initiated a CID inquiry which came to the conclusion that online lotteries are in violation of the 1998 Central Lotteries Act. The Act says that a state government may organise, conduct or promote a lottery, but no lottery shall have more than one draw in a week.

Complete Article

Judges not bound to disclose their wealth: CJI

With Supreme Court moving an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the CIC order on making assets of its judges public, the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has made it clear that the judges "are not bound to disclose" their wealth. "There is no statute or law which insists that the judges or the superior courts should submit declaration of their assets. Even then, our judges are submitting the declaration of assets to the Chief Justice," the CJI said. His remarks in an interview come close on the heels of the Supreme Court Registry taking the unprecedented step of moving the High Court, challenging the January 6 decision of the central information commission.

Complete Article

Complaints pile up against ICs in Uttar Pradesh

The growing dissatisfaction over sloppy pace of implementation of the Right To Information (RTI) Act in Uttar Pradesh has even not spared the information commissioners (ICs). Its two and a half years long existence has raised serious questions about the functioning of the ICs, entrusted with the task of implementing the Act. Consider the facts: The governor's office has received 67 complaints till
September 2008 against the ICs. This has been revealed by the public information officer (PIO) of the governor office in response to a RTI query by Ram Sharan Sharma in October 2008.

Complete Article

All is not 'fine' with the RTI chief in Mumbai

No wonder, the public information officers are emboldened to be stingy with information, asked for under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In spite of RTI being clear on the subject, the state information commissioner for Mumbai, Ramanand Tiwari, has cumulatively fined Rs5,000 on public information officers for violating RTI. He has fined only three officers hitherto, from the time he took over as SIC, Mumbai, on March 1, 2008, till September 30, 2008 (seven months). It is what activists call the 'proof of grouse' they hold against the state information commissioner, for making the Act almost redundant.

Complete Article

Friday, January 16, 2009

SC moves HC against CIC order on judges' assets

Worried over the fallout of a recent Central Information Commission (CIC) order on making the assets of judges public, the Supreme Court registrar on Friday challenged it before the Delhi high court saying that this information, not being in public domain, could not be given to RTI applicants. The high court is the appellate authority for challenging CIC's decisions — a fact that led to this unusual situation of the apex court moving a lower court over a dispute.

Complete Article

RTI doesn't dig PWC

Ministry of Public Grievances and Pensions Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for ˜Understanding the Key issues and Constraints in Implementing RTI Act". It is interesting that on implementation of RTI Act 2005, Standing Committee on Personal, Public Grievences, Law and Justice had invited suggestions. RTI activists were already angry but now after the Satyam issue their anger has come to the surface. and they have demanded a review of the agreement with PWC.

Vihar Durve, RTI activist informed that DoPT had made the agreement with PWC on
March 17, 2008. Despite full knowledge of the fact that PWC knows almost nothing
of RTI, Ministry of Public Grievances and Pensions and DoPT went ahead with the
appointment. Durve said he felt that instead of PWC, DoPT should have appointed National Campaign For People's Right To Information India(NCPRI), founding body of RTI. Durve had filed RTI application to know more about the agreement.

Complete Article

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'Joshi is murdering Right to Info act'

Once again, the Chief Information Commissionar (CIC) of Maharashtra Suresh Joshi, is embroiled in a controversy. RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar has critisised Joshi publicly as a murderer of the RTI Act. Kumbhar, along with some activists will complain to Governor S C Jamir against Joshi very soon. Pune Mirror had published a report some time back about vetaran activist Anna Hajare critisising Joshi on the cabinet papers issue. Joshi's position is now in further danger. Kumbhar said, "We will complain against the CIC to the governor very soon. We will also demand the governor to review the performance of all the commisioners. Because of their inactiveness, the state has a whopping 14900 pending second appeals."

Complete Article

RTI plea finds ayurveda centres in poor health

Information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by a retired ayurvedic officer laid bare the dismal state of 47 ayurvedic dispensaries in the border districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran. Twelve dispensaries are without Ayurvedic Medical Officer (AMOs) and in the rest some doctors, who are allegedly enjoying official and political patronage, are on the same post for more than 15 years. Apart from this, though the doctors are drawing salaries up to Rs 30,000 per month on an average, the medical fee, charged from patients, which is deposited with the government treasury, is just Rs 200 per month. The main reasons for low patient turnout are the lack of awareness about ayurveda and absenteeism among doctors.

Complete Article

J&K CM's promise evokes optimism

The chief minister, Omar Abdullah's promise to bring the J&K Right to Information Act at par with the central Act and to give more teeth to it, has evoked optimism among various sections of people here. After amendments, the Act will serve the purpose for which it is meant. It will go a long way to introduce accountability and transparency in the functioning of the state administration, said senior attorney, Zaffar A Shah.

Complete Article

RTI exposes Manipur SPIO's misinformation

A SPIO under the RTI Act, 2005 in Manipur is likely to face a major penalty if he could not explain why he is not providing corrected and complete information to a member of the gram panchayat seeking list of the beneficiaries under the Central Sponsored IAY scheme in her village. The Chief Information Commissioner, Manipur Information Commission has served show cause notice to the SPIO who is a block development officer in Imphal west to explain why he is furnishing "incorrect,
incomplete and misleading" information on the list of the beneficiaries under Indira Awaj Yojna (IAY) and development works
taken up in a village to the applicant seeking under the Right to Information Act, 2005, official of the Commission said Tuesday

Complete Article

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sassoon diverts funds meant for emergencies

Using the Right To Information (RTI) Act, an activist has brought to light financial irregularities to the tune of over Rs 1.77 crore at the Sassoon General Hospital. Activist Vihar Durve had filed for information regarding Sassoon's personal ledger account (PLA) funds under the RTI Act on December 4, 2008, and received a reply on January 3. It was revealed that the hospital administration used monwy from the PLA funds to purchase medical equipment and give salaries. This was done despite stringent government guidelines that funds collected under the PLA head should only be used for procuring emergency medical services and life-saving drugs only under exceptional conditions.

Complete Article

RTI commissioner reprimands T varsity registrar

Registrar of Telangana University K Shivashankar was reprimanded by the Right to Information (RTI) commissioner for not furnishing the details on the recruitment procedure of teaching and non-teaching staff to a complainant. Based on the complaint filed by B Narayana Rao, a lecturer in a private college here, the commissioner asked the university officials to immediately provide him all the details. Sources said the RTI commissioner Adurti Subba Rao summoned the registrar and university RTI officer J Yellosa to his chambers in Hyderabad and sought their explanation for failing to provide information to the complainant.

Complete Article

Property grabbers on the prowl in Delhi

If you own a flat or a farmhouse, beware! It could slip out of your hands if you don’t occupy it, for property grabbers are misusing the Right to Information Act (RTI) to scour for information about your property, forge ownership documents and then sell your precious possession to unsuspecting buyers. Ask Sanjay Aggarwal. It was a regular November day for the Satya Niketan resident. He was driving by Vasant Kunj when he saw a flurry of construction activity at a flat that seemed to be familiar. To get a closer look, he got off the car and learnt to his shock it was the flat of his dreams — D1/ 1050 Vasant Kunj — that he had bought with his hardearned money. Somebody had moved into it.

Complete Article

Government admits to tobacco industry pressure in an RTI

The government has buckled under pressure exerted by the bidi industry on pictorial warnings on tobacco products prescribed under the Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), claims the central government. The Central government in its reply to a query filed under the Right to Information Act has admitted that due to the pressure exerted by the bidi industry and other interested parties, the Group of Ministers constituted to look into the matter had recommended that the graphic pictorial warnings to be displayed on the tobacco products be watered down from stronger evidence-based to weaker warnings.

Complete Article

RTI applicant intimidated in Manipur

A woman applicant seeking information under Right to Information Act in connection with construction of a road by PDW at Wabagai has been allegedly threatened to withdraw her application. Participating in a discussion session organised jointly by Wabagai RTI Nupi Lup, Hiyanglam RTI Nupi Lup and Keirak RTI Nupi Lup at Wabagai Lamkhai Bazar today, the woman applicant informed the gathering that she has been threatened to withdraw the application submitted in connection with construction of the 4 km-long road stretch from Wabagai Makha Leikai to Wabagai Thingel Leikai. decrying the threat, the gutsy applicant said that as a citizen, it is the bounden duty of every one to keep abreast of the developmental works being taken up by the Government and it is the corresponding duty of the Government to provide the information being sought.

Complete Article

Allahabad MC not providing proper information under RTI

The Right to Information Act (RTI) is a tool to find the shortcomings and corrupt practices in various public organizations. However, the authorities of Allahabad Municipal Corporation seem to be least bothered to provide information to the public under RTI. Ironically, even the corporators are kept in the dark and the reply is given
in ambiguous and confusing language. When this is the response towards the corporators, the information provided to the commoners can be well imagined. Anand Agarwal, a corporator, has sought information from the AMC, regarding the number of applications received under the RTI from July 2007 to May 2008 and the action taken by the AMC in two pages. But the AMC gave him reply in just one line.

Complete Article

Reservations are a ploy for vote bank politics

While political leaders of various parties keep pleading for expanding the scope of reservations in jobs, but when they come to power and occupy ministerial berths, they mostly pose faith in officers from the general category. The ministers have full freedom to choose their personal staff. However, while exercising that discretion, they somehow end up favouring the general category. This interesting fact came to light
after RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya gathered information from the Government of India under the Right to Information Act. Out of the total staff of 229 pertaining to 48 union ministries for which information was made available, 206 were from the general
category. The percentage came to 90. Of the remaining, 11 officers were from the Scheduled Castes (SC), two from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 10 from Other Backward Classes (OBC).

Complete Article

Right to Information Act uncovers government follies

Before the introduction of Right to Information Act, we were unaware of the mysteries of the government machinery and its decisions. Thanks to the RTI Act, at least we can probe into the weakness of different departments of the government. Not a single department of the government is free from follies. All government organisations have their deficiencies. Now, through the RTI Act, these lacunas are exposed to us. Shortcomings are part and parcel of every organisation. However, there should be a mechanism for minimising these mistakes and it is possible too. In this connection, human rights violation should be our prime concern because this is directly associated with human welfare.

Complete Article

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Delay in posting PIOs violation of RTI Act

Chief Information Commissioner Palat Mohandas has said that the delay in appointing public information officers (PIO) in the offices of the Ministers in the State amounted to violation of the Right to Information Act. Mr. Mohandas said though a PIO had been appointed in the Chief Minister's Office following a directive of the State Information Commission, the offices of other Ministers were yet to have PIOs. The commission had already directed the Ministries to have PIOs in their offices, he said. The Ministers' offices were public offices and thus came under the purview of the Act. "Teething troubles cannot be an excuse now as three years have passed since the Right to Information Act was enacted," Mr. Mohandas said. He said there was now increased awareness of the Act and its scope.

Complete Article

RTI top guns caught by Act; cases pile up

City-based Right To Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar has opened a can of worms relating to the functioning of two top state officials of the RTI Act, 2005. By invoking the Act and obtaining documents on the correspondence between the State Information Commissioner (SIC) of the Nagpur bench and the state Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Kumbhar has brought out the problems between the two that is affecting the clearing of RTI cases in the state. He had asked for a copy of the correspondence between the two. Nagpur bench SIC Vilas Patil recently wrote a letter to CIC Suresh Joshi alleging that the working of his office is neither transparent nor efficient. Patil's letter said that in spite of making suggestions frequently for
transparency in the business of the state information commission, there has not been any improvement in its functioning. "The SICs are treated as subordinates while as per legal provisions, they are equal in status to that of the CIC," he had written. Patil has said he will approach governor SC Jamir and the high court. Patil was objecting to the comment in an order by Joshi to him stating that the CIC would write annual confidential report of SICs.

Complete Article

Records sought under RTI found "tampered"

The conduct of the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Punjabi University, Patiala, has come under the scanner of the State Information Commissioner for the alleged tampering with the official record of the university in order to conceal material information demanded under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The PIO has been asked to appear in person by the State Information Commissioner to explain as to why no action should be taken against him for deliberately concealing the information asked for by the petitioner, an advocate.

Complete Article

Religious bodies encroaching govt land

It is not exactly a theological problem, but it does involve religion. More than 22 acres of government land in Mohali, worth crores of rupees, has been encroached upon by various religious establishments. A TOI Right to Information query has revealed that out of 57 such establishments in the city, 27 exist on government land. The reply also mentioned that four out of the 18 establishments that were allotted government plots and nine constructed on private land had been guilty of encroachment. Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) had issued notices to the religious bodies incharge of such buildings.

Complete Article

RTI crusader turned Info Commissioner clears 500 appeals in a month

RTI crusader Shailesh Gandhi, who now works as a Central Information Commissioner (CIC) in Delhi, has created a record of sorts by clearing more than 500 appeals and complaints in a month. But this is not about individual glory says Gandhi. "The same model can be followed in Mumbai and Maharashtra to clear the backlog of cases threatening to defeat the very purpose of the Sunshine Act,'' he told TOI.

Gandhi came up with a two-pronged strategy to reduce the number of appeals at CIC after he joined on September 18 last year. He studied the appeals in detail. Where the public information officers (PIO) denied data without any valid reason, he sent them a notice urging them to provide the information in 30 days. In around 30%-40% of the appeals filed, the PIO responded within a week saying they had provided data to the applicants.

Complete Article

RTI effect - Peripheral road and toll fee challenged

Barely a month after the collection of toll fee by NICE company on the peripheral road, things have again run into rough weather. First it was the rate structure and now the road itself under challenge. V Nagaraj, state coordinator of DSS, in his PIL not only challenged the December 18 notification issued by the state government, permitting NICE company to collect toll fee from motorists for using the road, but also claimed that the road alignment is not as per the original framework agreement. "The petitioners couldn't lay hands on these notifications as the government was not forthcoming. All these have been now obtained under RTI," Nalini Chidambaram, counsel for the petitioner, told the court.

Complete Article

Friday, January 09, 2009

RTI reply reveals huge discrepancies in Modi's VGGIS figures

CM claimed 63.5 per cent success rate, but RTI data brought it down to 25.25 per cent. Modi had on Wednesday claimed a spectacular success rate of 63.5 per cent in terms of implementation of the proposed investments committed in the two earlier VGGIS, in 2005 and 2007. But statistics accessed from the office of the Industries Commissioner under the RTI Act show the actual success rate was only around 25 per cent.

Complete Article

Make promotions in government sector more transparent: CIC

In a move that may improve career prospects of millions of government sector employees, Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered that the promotion process be made more transparent by sharing the benchmark for promotions with the officers considered for the same. Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra, while hearing the petition of a Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) employee, said: "If certain bench mark is decided for promotion, then there is no reason why that bench mark should not be known, at least to those who are being considered for such promotion."

Complete Article

RTI plea filed in Pragya Thakur case

On sensing violation of human rights, Janadhikar activist Ajay Dixit put up an RTI petition to the Director General of Police, Maharashtra, raising finger at the arrest of Pragya Thakur in Malegaon blast case. In the RTI request, Janadhikar activist Ajay Dixit demanded the list of police personnel, (including the female police officers), copy of arrest warrant, three medical reports -- at the time of her arrest; at the time of taking her into police custody by ATS; and just before sending her to judicial custody by the court.

Complete Article

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Now a question mark on the integrity of RTI officials

The growing dissatisfaction over the implementation of the Right To Information (RTI) Act has now extended to the information commissioners (ICs) responsible for attending to the complaints. The two and a half year long ineffective existence of the Act in the state has now led to fingers being pointed at the functioning of ICs. The office of the governor has received 67 complaints till September 2008 against the ICs. This has been revealed by the public information officer (PIO) of the governor office in response to a RTI query by Ram Sharan Sharma in October 2008. Surprisingly, the PIO has also added that not even a single complaint deserved action.

Complete Article

CJI not exempt from RTI purview, CIC tells SC

In a boost to judicial accountability, the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Tuesday rejected the Supreme Court's claim that the Chief Justice of India was beyond the purview of RTI. Accordingly, CIC directed SC to make public the information available with CJI as to whether its judges had been, in terms of a 1997 resolution, regularly filing declarations of their assets. The decision taken by a three-member bench of CIC headed by Wajahat Habibullah contradicts CJI KG Balakrishnan's public statement that being a Constitution office holder, he was exempt from RTI. This is also contrary to the file notings made by Justice Balakrishnan, reported first in TOI, approving SC's evasive reply in November 2007 that the information relating to declaration of assets by judges was "not held by or under the control of" its registry and therefore could not be furnished by its information officer under RTI. Upholding an appeal filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, CIC rebuffed SC's attempt to withhold information on the ground that the registry, which came under RTI, was distinct from the CJI's office, which was the custodian of the declarations of assets made by SC judges.

Complete Article

BMC's power bills touch sky, Mumbaikars ask why

While power remains in shortage in Maharashtra, details from a Right to Information application have revealed electricity bills worth crores incurred by different wards of the municipality. Though the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) says it will look into the matter, the question remains, why is so much of power being consumed here. Electricity bills for the Governor's residence -- Rs 1.25 crore for over three years, Mantralaya's bills -- Seven and a half crore rupees, If that's not shocking enough, here are the charges for one ward office of the city municipality, Rs 19.10 crore! This amount incurred by the Andheri West ward office is more than that of the BMC headquarter. An RTI application has found that the amount incurred by several ward offices in Mumbai is just as high.

Complete Article

Ministry clarifies to RTI applicant on MPs’ pay hike

The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) classifies the country's lawmakers as "urban non-manual employees" whose pay is linked to the Consumer Price Index. The germ of the idea, the ministry says, came from an "expert from IIM Ahmedabad" invited to help with a study conducted by a joint committee set up to decide on salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament (MPs) in 2000. The ministry was replying to a Right to Information (RTI) query from C P Rai, a senior citizen and a resident of Laxmi Nagar here, quoting the Lok Sabha Secretariat on why parliamentarians get their salaries and allowances revised in a "day's time without any homework" done while Government servants have to wait for the recommendations of the Pay Commission. The ministry's written response to Rai, on record before the Central Information Commission in a hearing on January 2, attempts to methodically explain that parliamentarians do not get pay hikes and perks in the wink of an eye as he believed it to be.

Complete Article

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sharp rise in gun licences issued in city

The number of gun licences granted by the Mumbai police more than doubled from 2006 to 2007. In 2006, the police issued 172 licences, and in the following year, the number shot up to 416. The jump was despite the fact that there was no significant increase in the number of applications for arms licences. The city police rejected almost two-thirds of the applications for arms licences in the five years from 2003 to 2007. During this period, 3,712 applications were received, but only 1,393 were approved. Most were rejected because they did not cite adequate reasons to justify the need for a weapon. Of the 1,393 licences granted, 546 were for pistols and 847 for rifles, said businessman and activist Chetan Kothari, who got the information through the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Renewal of a licence for a year costs Rs 50 for a pistol and Rs 20 for a rifle.

Complete Article

Request for sample of Bullet Proof jackets given to Mumbai Police rejected

Dear all,

Info asked & recd:--

Request sample of bullet proof jacket given to Mumbai Police- used jacket will do - the jacket should be certified. RTI 2005 talks about certified sample under section 2 (f) & 2(j) iii.

The reply recd from DG's office - The info & sample you had requested is very sensitive in terms of security of the country & the public , hence after careful consideration the info ( sample) is rejected under section 8 (a), (c), (h), (g) and section 9.

I am, of course, going for an appeal , any comments on the reply above?

( I have also asked for inspection of all files related with buying of these jackets & eagerly awaiting a reply)

Thanks & Rgds
Ajay Marathe
Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra

[posted on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

Basic facilities ignored, SSA funds used for decoration of schools

While government schools in the city clamour for essential basic facilities, the education department has reportedly spent over Rs 10 lakh on the beautification of schools. From the installation of air-conditioners and close-circuit television cameras in the State Institute of Education (SIE) to showing circus and movies to students and teachers, a majority of the funds have been sourced from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) finance pool. According to information furnished by the department in response to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by advocate Arvind Thakur in August, the department had spent more than Rs 60,000on circus and movie shows of Taare Zameen Par for students and teachers

Complete Article

Log on to know more about the right candidate

Gilani (an environmental engineer), with the support of a few like-minded
people, is in the process of collating background information on electoral
candidates, making it easier for people to choose their leaders. People can
check out the representatives on websites such as mumbaivotes.com and praja.org
before making a choice. Members of the Praja group leveraged the RTI Act to find out how the 227 corporators in Mumbai had used the discretionary fund allotted to them
during their official term of 2002-2006. Then they also prepared a performance
audit. Then came a comprehensive report card about the city; residents across 23
wards rated public services, administrative staff and their political
representatives.

Complete Article

Pupil-teacher ratio in city schools a dismal 80:1

Students in city schools are battling an alarming trend. Contrary to the norm of 40:1, urban schools have a disturbing ratio of one teacher for every 80 students. This is in stark contrast to the pupil teacher ratio (PTR) in rural schools which is 47:1.
Even as emphasis is being laid on decreasing the PTR, data provided by the Education department in response an RTI query presents a dismal picture. The primary students reportedly have no other choice but to vie for the teacher’s attention in a classroom of 80 students. There is reason to cheer, however, for students of the upper primary level in both urban and rural schools. While the PTR at this level in rural schools is 30:1, the urban figure stands at 38:1.

Complete Article

Cabinet note accessible, but shouldn't be made public: DoPT

Veering away from normal practice, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has said Cabinet notes ”categorised usually as secret” can be disclosed to an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, provided the confidential papers are not circulated in public in large. A Cabinet Note has always been categorised as a secret document and are issued to Ministry/Department concerned with a unique number code depicted on each and every page of the document,said a letter from the DoPT produced before the Central Information Commission (CIC) on December 29.

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, who heard the appeal by
Poddar against the DoPT's advisory rider on circulating the Note in public,has
gone on to commend the Government's stand. The issue raised in the hearing by appellant (Poddar) with regard to the Cabinet Note has been clarified. The supposed condition is only advisory in nature and it is left to his discretion as to what use he would make of it,Habibullah said.

Complete Article

Seeking info? no need to cite reason

This has been a common excuse that various State Information Commissions and Central Information Commissions (CIC)s had used to deny information to RTI applicants. In the past, the applicants were told by the commissions that certain information could not be provided as they did not come under the domain of the larger public interest or that candidates had did not cited valid reasons for obtaining the data under the RTI Act. The CIC, in a landmark order, not only directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Benaras Hindu University to provide the complete text of the question paper provided by the varsity to the examiness of the MD/MS exams, but also
stated that the clause of public interest could not be invoked for denial of information in this case.

Complete Article

How many got UP govt land for gratis? Revenue dept clueless

The Right to Information is always a potent tool. It might not assure the correct information but it sufficiently exposes the intention of the government to hide the information that might land it in soup. The plea of the revenue department that it does not possess the records on the government land which has been transferred to the private individuals and organisations free of cost or by violating the defined governmental provisions could be an example.

An applicant Izhar Ansari had questioned the revenue department about the area of government land which had been allotted to private people, private companies, trusts, organisations and industries free of cost. He had filed the application on January 7, 2008. "But, I am still to get the information," said Ansari. The next hearing into the matter is scheduled in the last week of January.

Complete Article

Info commissioners murderers of RTI : Kumbhar

Right to information (rti) activist vijay kumbhar on sunday said the bureaucracy dominated by ias officers has been trying to defeat the purpose of the act since the very beginning. he added that information commissioners, who belong to this lobby, are the real murderers of the act.

Kumbhar was awarded the sajag nagarik mahiti adhikar purskar as a recognition of his work in the field of rti for 2008. the award consists of a memento and rs
11,000. former justice pb sawant presented the award. kumbhar in his acceptance speech said the ias officers have never accepted the responsibility as a public information officer but have succeeded in occupying posts of information commissioners considering the perks and privileges. many information commissioners do not study the rti act even after their appointment. hence their
orders some times do not conform to the legal provisions.

Complete Article

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Chakia Official fined under RTI Act

The State information commissioner PN Narayanan has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 against circle officer of Chakia for not providing information to an applicant, Rameshwar Sah, seeking information under the provision of Right to Information Act. The fine has been imposed against the official with effect from August 26, 2008 to December 11, 2008. The commissioner imposed the fine acting on the complaint (No.
9720/08-09) filed by Rameshwar Sah against the public information officer. The matter will come up for the hearing again on March 20, 2009.

Complete Article

RTI education broadcast on AIR FM

Dear Friends

Continuing our efforts to make maximum people aware about right to information, Kabir is starting one hour weekly radio show on AIR FM channel. This programmes would be aired at 5 pm every Sunday on AIR FM's Rainbow channel and would be relayed in following cities and frequencies–

Station Frequency
AIR-Aligarh 101.3 MHz
Radio Kashmir, Jammu 100.3 MHz
AIR-Kanpur 103.7 MHz
AIR-Kasaoli 107.2 MHz
AIR-Kochi 107.5 MHz
AIR-Kurseong 102.3 MHz
AIR-Mussorie 102.1 MHz
AIR-Shillong 103.6 MHz
AIR-Delhi 102.6 MHz

The show is being hosted by Manish Sisodia and Priyanka Tyagi of Kabir. The first show would be on air this Sunday i.e. on 4th January 2008 at 5 pm.

Please circulate this message to as many people as possible. We look forward for your comments and suggestion to make the show more effective and useful.

Regards
Neeraj Kumar
Tel. 011 - 2248 5139

Information commissioner unaware of law: RTI applicant

In a bizarre case, an RTI activist's appeal was turned down by none other than the state information commission on the pretext that the RTI Act does not cover the organisation the activist sought information from. What left the applicant even more flummoxed was the fact that the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG), the organisation in question, was of the opinion that the RTI Act was binding on them.

"I do not understand where to go and what to do. How can a commissioner who is supposed to uphold the spirit of the Act be soignorant about it? What is he doing on that chair? He has not just denied the information, but set a very bad precedent," said Rajan Alimchandani, 63, who provides free consultancy on housing-related issues.

Complete Article

Saturday, January 03, 2009

No justification needed to seek info, says CIC

In a landmark order, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said the public interest clause cannot be invoked for denial of information and directed Benaras Hindu University (BHU) to provide complete text of its MD/MS question paper. Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi passed the order quoting the rarely used clause under RTI Act's section 3. The section states that subject to the provisions of the Act, all citizens shall have the right to information. "As per the Act, citizen's right to access information is absolute, subject only to limitations
prescribed under it. The section 3 forms the core of the Act and is a crisp, unambiguous declaration of the aims and its objectives. To make this right meaningful and effective, citizens aren't required to give any justification for seeking information," the order said.

Complete Article

RTI Activists in Assam pass resolution

In a concerted bid towards effective implementation of the Right To Information Act 2005 in the State, several organisations today adopted resolutions, which included a demand for the immediate appointment of the State Chief Information Commissioner and nine other Information Commissioners. The absence of the CIC after the last incumbent moved on to another position, and the dearth of 10 Information Commissioners have, according to RTI activists, undermined information dissemination in Assam.

The organisations active in the area of RTI Act implementation further demanded that SEBA and CBSE lower the amount taken for crosschecking a single answer script from the present fee of Rs 500, which was “unreasonable and unjustified”. Shifting the office of the State CIC from the Janata Bhawan complex to a more public-friendly area was the third resolution adopted by all the stakeholders who were participating in a seminar organised by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity, a group that was instrumental in streamlining the PDS system in three districts by using the RTI Act.

Complete Article

RTI query reveals chargesheet not filed in 2005 extortion case

The Gujarat state CID Crime branch is yet to file a chargesheet against two police officers and a BJP leader in a May 2005 extortion case, a Right To Information (RTI) enquiry has revealed. In response to an RTI application filed by Nadeem Sayeed, the Ahmedabad City Civil and Sessions Court stated that a chargesheet was yet to be filed against suspended cops Manoj Patel, Farook Qureshi and BJP leader Kamlesh Tripathi for allegedly trying to extort Rs three lakh from a builder in May 2005. All the three main accused are now out on bail while the case is yet to go on trial as the state CID Crime branch has not yet filed a chargesheet.

Complete Article

RTI award for Vijay Kumbhar

Right to Information (rti) activist Vijay Kumbhar has been selected for the 'Sajag Nagrik Mahiti Adhikar Puraskar' an award in recognition for the work in the field of RTI for the year 2008. The award consists of a memento and Rs 11,000. Justice (retd) P B Sawant would present the award to Kumbhar at a public function to be held on Sunday at the Institution of Engineers, J M road, Pune.

Complete Article

RTI must reach out to masses - Arvind Kejriwal

Retired bureaucrats who are appointed as information commissioners, with their ambassadors with beacons, Rs 80,000 per month pay and other perks, hear less than 1.5 cases a day. In November, the nine information commissioners dealt with only 602 cases. One particular commissioner heard 32 cases and the other only 44. Hearings in RTI do not take more than 10 minutes on average. Contrast this with a high court judge who takes up 200 cases in a month, all of which involve prolonged arguments and complex issues.

There is also a need to simplify the procedure of obtaining information RTI. Half of our country's population is not yet literate enough to understand how to obtain the information under the RTI. If the concept does not reach the masses, it would cease to be effective as it would remain limited to a miniscule percentage of population. The Centre and the states should follow the Bihar example of setting up a call centre where people can register their RTI applications over the phone.

Complete Article

City resident seeks info on recent promotion of officers

Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, has been making waves ever since its coming into force in India and now it will make the Bihar government stand clear on the recent promotion of six IAS officers to the rank of chief secretary in addition to the existing five. One C M Kumar of Chitragupta Nagar locality has filed an application with public information officer (PIO) of Bihar government's department of personnel & administrative reforms, seeking information on the certain points "As far as my knowledge goes, only six IAS officers (three cadre and three ex-cadre) can be there in the chief secretary rank. The state government has violated the IAS (Pay) Rules to give undue benefit to some senior officials," he said.

Complete Article

RTI activists set agenda for new year

With more than 14,000 Right to Information (RTI) appeals pending before the state information commission, the commission has decided to give special importance to Section 4 of the Act that makes it mandatory to give suo motu information on particulars of a public institution, its functions and duties. This Section, activists say, provides transparency as an applicant can get information under it without having to apply for it.

Complete Article

Legal body rapped for RTI delay

For all his declarations of making judiciary in the Capital more responsive to the Right to Information Act, Delhi High Court chief justice A P Shah's message appears to be lost on his subordinates. And again, it's been left to the Central Information Commission (CIC) to point this out. Unhappy with the manner in which an 83-year-old RTI applicant was made to run from pillar to post by Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) which refused to acknowledge the RTI filed by him regarding legal aid the CIC has summoned its PIO. It has also slapped a show cause notice on DLSA, demanding an explanation as to why it shouldn't be penalized by way of a hefty fine for sitting over the RTI plea for almost three months. Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has asked the DLSA official to appear before him on January 7 to answer why the plea of one Prem Chand Gupta has been ignored despite it being routed twice via HC. There was no response from the authority even though it has an office in HC itself and must have received the query in time.

Complete Article

No need to make illegal mining report public

The High Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the state government to make public the Lokayukta report on illegal mining which was submitted to the government on December 18. The vacation judge bench comprising Justice K Bhakthavasala and Justice K Srinivasa Gowda dismissed the petition on the ground that there was no merit in it. The court also observed that the petitioner had the liberty to approach the government under the Right to Information Act to access the report. The petition was filed by city-based advocate S Vasudevan, questioning the government's action of appointing a three-member committee of IAS officers to oversee the Lokayukta report.

Complete Article

My Report Card for 2008: Shailesh Gandhi

I took charge on 18 September and discovered that there was almost no office or staff available. I was given 11 departments including Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi government and HRD with a total pendency of about 1650 cases. In October, when I started my hearings and disposals, my staff was of 5 people. The task looked daunting. I then started finding staff for my office, who have to be hired through a contractor. The government offered to give me some (Computer) illiterate staff, which I have refused. By November, I had a total of 12 people with me, but was told that only 8 people would be paid by the government. Therefore I have four interns who are not paid by the government. The government will provide me more than 8 people, only if I am prepared to take computer illiterate staff.

However, there is an immense feeling of satisfaction, since I have been able to dispose over 450 cases in December itself. In October-November I had disposed 333 cases. By April 2009, I will be able deliver on my promise of having a pendency of less than 90 days. I see no problem in disposing over 4,500 cases in a year. The Central Information Commission presently gets about 14,000 cases in a year and has one Chief Information Commissioner and seven other Commissioners. If each Commissioner disposes atleast 3,000 cases per year, there need not be any backlog. Citizens will insist on accountability of a minimum disposal from Commissioners, and a fixation of norms. If the Government appoints Information Commissioners without norms of a minimum performance, it would only be a burden on the Public exchequer, without any benefit for the Right to Information. My New Year Promise for 2009 I shall ensure that over 95% of the appeals and complaints before me will be disposed in less than 60 days by September 2009. A Very Happy and Informative Year for all of us.

[portion of the note posted by Shailesh Gandhi on the Humjanenge yahoogroup]

RTI Chat : Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi

Shailesh Gandhi, convenor of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, who was recently appointed Central Information Commissioner, New Delhi, will be hosting a chat on rediff.com on Monday, December 29, between 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm IST. Don't miss the chance to find out from CIC Shailesh Gandhi how you can arm
yourself better in the struggle against officialdom.

Chat Transcript

Cong accuses Guj government of denying information under RTI

Congress leader Arjun Modhvadia on Wednesday alleged that the Naredndra Modi government has denied to provide information under Right to Information Act (RTI) pertaining to a number of issues. He alleged that Gujarat government denied information regarding industry, houses and incentives. "I have a number of examples where the state government departments have denied information," he said, adding that even appeals are not taken up in time. He said that the information sought in 2007 on expenses of security arrangements of Modi since he took over the charge as Chief Minister is still pending.

Complete Article

5.91 crore LIC policies discontinued in 7 years

Life Insurance Corporation has given an interesting data to India Today : 5,91,96,235policies have been discontinued during the last seven years (between 2000-01 and 2006-07). These are the policies whose holders were not able to pay the requisite premiums. However, the LIC did not provide the details of the premium paid against these policies till the date of their discontinuance. India Today had filed an RTI application last year to LIC to disclose the number of lapsed policies and the amount earned by LIC against those policies.

Complete Article

Home, Law min in row over State Emblem of India Act

When it comes to deciding on prosecution for any violation of the State Emblem, two Union ministries seem to be in a quandary. Correspondence between Home and Law ministries following an RTI application appears to bring out lack of clarity in dealing with violation under the State Emblem of India (SEI) Act, 2005.

Complete Article

HC tells 2010 Games organising panel to answer RTI queries

The 2010 Commonwealth Games are about prestige and status of the country and the people have the right to know how its organising committee is gearing up for the event, the Delhi High Court has said while pulling up the panel for its refusal to answer RTI queries. "Commonwealth is round the corner and the people have the right to know how you are organising it," Justice G S Sistani said.

Complete Article

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]