Sunday, January 31, 2010

Moily hints at changes in RTI Act on judges row

Against the backdrop of the Supreme Court favouring amendments in the RTI Act to provide insulation from disclosure of information pertaining to appointment of judges and decisions of the collegium, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily today indicated changes in the Act.He however, clarified that the proposed changes were independent of the Delhi High Court judgement in this regard and the matter would be looked into by the Department of Personnel and Training which deals with the implementation of the Act.In a landmark verdict against the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court on January 12 held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, saying judicial independence is not a judge's privilege but a responsibility cast upon him. There is some proposal being contemplated. It is in comparision to other judiciaries in the world. But it has nothing to do with the Delhi High Court judgement. It is independent of it, Moily told reporters here. He said the general principle is that the judiciary should be transparent. To a question on the proposed Judges Standards and Accountability Bill the government plans to bring, Moily said while the power to impeach a member of the
higher judiciary would rest with Parliament, the Bill will have details on issues of commission and omission by judges.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Hubby can't access wife's treatment details sans consent

Can someone use the Right to Information (RTI) Act to get his spouse's treatment history from a hospital? No, according to Bihar's State Information Commission (SIC) which recently delivered a judgment, first of its kind, saying such an information can be provided to the petitioner only if the spouse consents for it.

The SIC judgment is based on different Sections of the RTI Act, 2005 and also on the oath taken by doctors at the time of their registration in which they pledge to respect the secrets confided in them by patients. The case related to one Anil Kumar Sonu whose wife was treated in the government-owned Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH). Sonu submitted an application to the PMCH's public information officer (PIO) seeking details of his wife's treatment history.

Sources said, Sonu sought the information for using it against his wife in an ongoing litigation. The PIO, however, sought his wife's consent which she did not give. Sonu was denied the information.

Sonu then moved the SIC which too upheld the PIO's stand. While delivering the judgment, state's chief information commissioner (CIC) A K Choudhary also quoted from Modi's Medical Jurisprudence and said, "Every patient should be treated with attention and consideration, and the confidence which a physician receives should be guarded with the utmost scrupulous fidelity and honour."

Choudhary told TOI on Monday, "The doctor-patient relations are fiduciary relations and the consent of patients must be taken before sharing their treatment details with others. Moreover, doctors while taking the oath at the time of registration pledge to respect the secrets confided in them by patients."

In case of minor patients, he said, the consent of the parents or the guardian is a must for such purposes.

Labels: , , , , ,

Complete Article

Row over plan to buy books for SC/ST girls

A controversy surrounds a proposal worth Rs 13,54,50,000 to purchase books for girl students belonging to the schedule caste and tribes in primary section passed by the primary education department. According to rules, the department has to put out a tender calling for bids from government and private publishers. However, the first phase of this proposal was carried out without informing any party. Four Marathi publishers — Mouj, Majestic, Jyotsna and Lok Vangmay — independently filed for queries under the Right to Information Act (RTI), in which the official has admitted to lapses.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Friday, January 29, 2010

Govt rejects disclosure of file notings on Afzal's mercy petition

The Ministry of home affairs has rejected an RTI application seeking file notings on the mercy petition of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru , citing "safety and security concern.". As per rules, the comments of the government of the state where the
crime has been committed has to be taken before deciding on a mercy petition. It may prejudicially affect country's sovereignty and integrity, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said.As per Section 8 (1) (a) of the Act, disclosure of information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country or its security, strategic, scientific or economic interests can be withheld.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

BMC ordered to computerise all land lease data in 21 days

The chief information commissioner of Maharashtra, Suresh Joshi, has directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the city's two collectors to computerise all land lease data within 21 days. This follows the collector's and the BMC's inability to produce information on lease data sought under the Right to Information Act (RTI). The order, passed on January 21, is considered a landmark since it is the first to take on the administration for the way it collects and holds data that can be
sought under the RTI Act. Section 4 (a) of the act, which talks about suo motu declaration of information, says that public authorities covered by the act have to maintain information in such a way as to make it easy to share it with the public.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Feel the power of RTI at book fair

With an attempt to drum out a campaign to sensitise people in West Bengal about the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the activists have set up a stall at the Kolkata Book fair to spread information on the same. The unique stall — tathyer adhikar (Right to Information) — set up at the book fair stall number 552 aims to sensitise people on the potentialities of the RTI. On the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Saturday, RTI activists are expected to be joined in by officials of the West Bengal Information Commission. The campaign, however, has had to face its share of challenges. “Despite poor infrastructure and no electricity for the first two days, we have tried to reach as many people as possible. We will observe January 30 as RTI day where various activists from the state will assemble,” said Amitava Chowdhury , an RTI activist.
Complete Article

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Man uses RTI to recover stolen phone

Maneet Singh Bakshi lost his Motorola L-9 to a pickpocket at a roadside eatery in Rohini, west Delhi. He went to the local police to get a first information report (FIR) registered but was laughed at. "The officers told me to buy another phone and forget about the one I lost," Bakshi, a Rohini-based trader, said.

Not willing to give up, he drafted an RTI application with his IMEI (a number unique to each cellphone and encrypted on it) and SIM details and submitted it to the office of the commissioner of police, Delhi. "I registered a complaint. It is a simple task to track down a phone with the IMEI, but the police officials refused to do it," Bakshi said.

Within 30 days, the Delhi Police responded: "An FIR has been registered in the Rohini police station. The IMEI number has been put on surveillance." And within a week of that, the police called back with news that Bakshi's phone had been recovered.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

CIC rap for UGC on deemed varsities

In the wake of the deemed university controversy, Central Information Commission has slammed University Grants Commission (UGC) for lack of transparency in information related to deemed universities. Ruling that UGC appeared to act as if the RTI Act did not apply to it, the information watchdog has awarded a compensation of Rs 2,000 to an applicant and issued a showcause notice to UGC for not responding within the stipulated 30-day period. An applicant, A N Prasad, had sought information related to the number of times the review committee had rejected applications of colleges and universities for deemed status during the period between 2005-2009 and copies of reports on the basis of which the recognition could not be granted to a college or university during the same period.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Tender proceedings should be open to all: CIC

In an unusual order, the central information commission has agreed that minutes of tender committee meetings should "ideally" be made public, but left it to the government department concerned to take a call on it. "The minutes of the tender committee should ideally be put in public domain, so as to enable the citizens to observe and scrutinise the decision making process in the matter of award of tenders," Information Commissioner M M Ansari said in a ruling. He said the respondent (East Central Railways) has just mentioned that the minutes are confidential, but did not give reasons for the same and termed it as "unacceptable".

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sharm el-Sheikh query spurs Centre to restrict RTI reach

The government is considering expanding exemptions to the Right to Information Act to buffer itself from having to reveal information having sensitive foreign policy or security implications by strengthening clauses of the law relating to "national security". The recent case of an RTI inquiry seeking to know the "authorship" of the
controversial India-Pakistan Sharm el-Sheikh joint statement seems to have jolted the government into action. The query was turned down by the ministry of foreign affairs on the grounds that the statement was put together at the India-Pak summit itself. But while the government argued that there had been no draft and hence there was no question of an "author", it had alerted it to the need for a legal cover. Similarly, though less publicised, the government has been receiving RTI queries seeking to know the Prime Minister's "opinion" on various issues and the manner in which this had been recorded.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Identity of air passengers cannot be disclosed: CIC

The list of passengers on a flight cannot be given under the RTI Act as no public interest is served in its disclosure, the Central Information Commission has held while rejecting the plea of an ex-Navy official accused of murdering a woman two years ago. Currently lodged in Mumbai's Arthur Road Prison, Manish Thakur is accused of shooting his girlfriend 24-year-old Kaushambi Layek, an employee of Tata Consultancy Service, whose body was found from the honeymoon suite of a hotel on May 14, 2007, where both had allegedly checked-in. Police allege that Thakur had escaped to Goa after committing the crime. He was arrested from INS Hansa in Goa where he was undergoing advanced training and was produced before a Mumbai court on May 18.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

CIC orders recovery of travel costs from RTI applicant

In a rare order, Information Commissioner M M Ansari has directed the Railways to recover cost borne by its staff on travelling to attend RTI hearings from an appellant who had pleaded before the CIC to get details of his transfer orders. "The DRM, Western Railways, Bhavnagar (Gujarat), is, therefore, directed to consider recovery of the expenditure incurred on the officials for attending hearing on January 15, 2010 from the salary of the appellant, who is held responsible for misusing the provisions of the RTI Act by filing frivolous petitions before the Commission even though there are no refusal of information to him," Ansari said. Surprisingly, there are no provisions in the RTI Act for punishing or slapping penal provisions on an information-seeker.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Reply quickly to queries: Maharashtra CIC

Maharashtra's top information official has said public undertakings must answer queries posed by the public under the Right to Information (RTI) Act within seven to 15 days. At his annual review meeting with secretaries, commissioners, and managing directors of public-sector undertakings, chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi said there was no need to wait for 30 days, the maximum limit specified under the act, to respond to an RTI query. "The RTI Act is like the chariot of Lord Jagannath," Joshi said. "It needs to be pulled purposefully by everyone."

Labels: ,

Complete Article

'Polygraph test report can be disclosed after probe'

The reports of lie-detector tests conducted by investigative agencies can be disclosed under the RTI Act once the inquiry gets completed, the Central Information Commission has held. Information Commissioner Sushma Singh directed the Delhi Police to provide "full report of the Polygraph test of the suspects" to Captain K S Dadhwal who had
filed an RTI application seeking the same in a criminal case. The Delhi Police had refused to disclose the report in their initial reply. Later, they had provided the gist of the test saying that the analysis and evaluation of the Polygrams did not reveal deceptive responses.

Labels: , , , ,

Complete Article

Deputy tehsildar found dead

A 44-year-old deputy tahsildar, Selvaraj, on magisterial training at Sankagiri was found hanging in the room of his house at Dasanaickenpatti, near Salem, on Saturday morning. Selvaraj's wife Gomathy, a teacher, who went to serve him coffee found him hanging and shouted for help. The Mallur Police brought down the body and started investigations. According to police, no note written by the victim was found. However, according to inquiries, Selvaraj was pulled up by the Right to Information Commission for an inquiry recently. The Commission observed that Selvaraj had deliberately withheld information and also misled the petitioner, when the latter sought information under the RTI Act regarding a land takenover by the government. Although the petition was made to the Mettur tasildhar, the task of delivering information was assigned to Selvaraj. The Right to Information Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the public information officer, Mettur taluk office. Police are yet to conclude that the incident had anything to do with the death. According to Gomathy, Selvaraj was depressed but was encouraged by family and relatives. He had been consulting the public pleader with regard to the RTI Commission's order, she told the police.

Labels:

Complete Article

Ganga Expressway project to affect 1,024 villages

The Ganga Expressway Project would affect 1,024 villages. These villages would come under the `right of way' (ROW) plan of the expressway. Surprisingly, the state government has no statistics regarding the population and the families which are going to be affected by the project. This came to light when a query was asked by corporator Kamlesh Singh under RTI Act. Kamlesh's question was: How many villages are going to be affected by the Ganga Expressway Project and what is the population of these villages and the number of families which are going to be affected? The answer has been provided by Prabhu Shankar, under secretary in Industrial Development Section of the state government through letter number 4261(1)/77-3-09, dated January 11.

To a question that how many hectares of agricultural land would be acquired and the quantity of crops produced there, the answer was: According to the directives of Allahabad High Court issued on May 29, 2009, the government was told to obtain clearance on environment. The department said that it would be able to give information regarding agricultural land only after obtaining clearance. Pointedly, 14,705 hectares of land would be acquired.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Buldhana Municipal Council CEO fined Rs 56k for denying info

Former chief executive officer (CEO) of Alandi Municipal Council and the current the CEO of Buldhana Municipal Council, Sanjiv Ohal has been slapped with a staggering fine of Rs 56,000 for not giving information under the Right to Information Act (RTI). This is a first in terms of such a heavy fine being charged from a class-I officer in Pune Division. RTI commissioner (Pune Division), Vijay Kuvalekar has issued the order to Ohal to pay fine for not giving detail information within stipulated time to RTI applicants Sharad Murde, Dinesh Randhve and Ramkrishna Pawar. The trio had filed RTI requests for detailed information on illegal construction, public work and road widening works in Alandi Municipal Council. They had filed three separate applications.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Now queries just a call away for DU students

Got a problem unearthing facts? Do you want to have a look into your answer sheets after revaluation? Or, are you seeking information on your mark sheet? Whatever it is… the Delhi University (DU) students now can receive an answer to every query they make through the Right to Information (RTI) Act which strengthens them against any issue lying under the carpet. What's even more is the information is just a phone call away!
Launched last month by the Youth Task Force (YTF) for the DU students, any query about the Act and its use is now accessible just a call away.

The helpline proposes to help students providing the names of the concerned Public Information Officers (PIOs) in various DU colleges as well as prepare them to draft a query. Currently, the DU students can assess only one helpline number (9990112334).

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Give info to ADSJ about his seniority, court PIO told

A Division bench of the State Information Commission, comprising CIC R I Singh and SIC PPS Gill, today directed the PIO of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to provide information sought by an Additional District and Sessions Judge pertaining to determination of his seniority. In October 2007, J S Khushdil, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Bathinda, had asked the PIO to provide information under the RTI Act, about the decision taken by the sub-committee, comprising Justice J S Khehar, Justice K S Grewal and Justice Hemant Gupta, on July 5, 2007, on the representation submitted by him with regard to determination of his seniority. The PIO, however, dismissed the request of the appellant, and his appeal was also rejected on the grounds that the information sought does not relate to judicial functions of the court and falls under the exemption clause. The PIO and the first appellate authority relied on High Court of Punjab and Haryana (Right to Information) Rules, 2007.

Labels: , , , ,

Complete Article

Appoint information commissioners for Kashmir, Habibullah

Central Information Commission (CIC) chief Wajahat Habibullah, who is waiting to head the Jammu and Kashmir information commission, has advised Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to move on with implementing Right To Information (RTI) in the state. Habibullah, who is yet to be relieved of his duties at the centre, has urged Abdullah to appoint other information commissioners so that at least the commission can start functioning in insurgency ridden Jammu and Kashmir. “I have advised Chief Minister Abdullah to go ahead and appoint other information commissioners so that the Jammu and Kashmir information commission starts functioning,” Habibullah told IANS.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Heartburn over RTI on Netaji's daughter

Even as the government is still struggling to uncover the mystery shrouding Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's death, an RTI over the leader's German daughter is causing bad blood between the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Home Affairs.Ajay Madhusudan Marathe, a Mumbai resident, had filed a right to information plea with the PMO on November 2, 2009. He sought to know on what basis Government of India recognizes Anita Pfaff, a German, the biological daughter and sole descendant of the Azad Hind Fauj. Marathe also sought to know whether any DNA test was conducted to ascertain the real identity of Pfaff, a professor by vocation."Indians are curious to know whether Bose did in fact father a child whilst in Germany,attempting to gather support for the Indian National Army," Marathe said.The PMO transferred the application under sections 6(3) of the RTI Act to the Home Ministry on November 10, 2009.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Sharm-el-Sheikh statement: MEA can seek HC stay, says Habibullah

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah on Wednesday said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) can "very well go to the High Court and get a stay" on the Central Information Commission (CIC) direction to the foreign office to disclose file notings on the drafting of Indo-Pak Joint Statement at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt during the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held last year. "There is a clear provision in the Right to Information (RTI) Act which says that the government need not disclose information given by a foreign country in confidence or if the data would affect the relationship with that nation. The MEA can of course go to the High Court under this provision," Habibullah told The Indian Express on Wednesday. Two specific clauses of Section 8 of the RTI Act deal with disclosure of documents relating to India's relationship with foreign countries.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Chandigarh scores over others in liquor intake

Contrary to popular belief, a comparative analysis by a non-government organisation here has revealed that Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh beat Punjab in per capita consumption of alcohol during the year just gone by. According to the NGO, the average consumption across the region was 12.44 litres as compared to the national average of 0.82 litre. According to data released by People for Transparency as part of its “Stop under-age drinking” campaign, per capita consumption of alcohol in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh during 2008-09 worked out to a heady 16.59 bottles. Information supplied by the respective Excise and Taxation departments of the different administrations indicated that nearly 4.5 crore adults, including women, consumed about 74.46 crore bottles of liquor of different brands during the year.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Railways asked to pay Rs 1 lakh to RTI applicant

In a significant order, the CIC has awarded compensation of Rs 1 lakh to an RTI applicant who was not informed about his marks in an examination conducted by the railways. The commission also penalised the information officer of North-Eastern Railways Rs 25,000 for giving misleading information. Applicant Majid Hussain had moved the CIC after his repeated requests for information pertaining to the marks obtained by him in the selection process conducted by North-Eastern Railways, Lucknow (2005-06), remained unanswered."The appellant has indeed suffered detriment in seeking information which is critical for securing justice. The respondent is, therefore, liable to pay a compensation of Rs 100,000 for all kinds of losses, including mental harassment, career opportunities, suffered by the appellant," M M Ansari, information commissioner, said.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

CIC order puts External Affairs Ministry in a spot

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) finds itself in a spot with the Central Information Commission (CIC) calling for the inspection of files related to the India-Pakistan joint statement issued on the sidelines of last years Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt.With India having a history of not permitting access to any foreign office file, no matter how old, the CIC decision has left the MEA scrambling. Officials said such an order was likely to discomfit even those countries which allowed the opening up of their records after 20 or 30 years.The CIC came under fire from the former Foreign Secretaries, Muchkund Dubey and Lalit Mansingh, who have termed the order impractical.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Monday, January 18, 2010

641 babus squat on prime property

It is not only politicians who cling to official accommodation they are no longer entitled to. There are 641 central government officials in the Capital who are doing just the same, the directorate of estates has admitted in reply to an RTI application filed by Hindustan Times. The reply, dispatched on January 8 this year, shows that most of the houses bureaucrats are occupying illegally lie in prime areas of the city: Pandara Road, Shahjahan Road, Chanakyapuri, Lodi Gardens, Moti Bagh and R.K. Puram.
The figure is the same as that quoted by Saugata Roy, Minister of State for Urban Development, while replying to a question in the last session of Parliament.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Allow inspection of Sharm el-Sheikh files: CIC to MEA

The Central Information Commission has allowed the inspection of files pertaining to controversial Sharm el-Sheikh joint statement of India and Pakistan last year, responding to a RTI application. The RTI applicant had sought to know the names of officials involved in the drafting of the document, which had kicked up a political row here as it contained a reference to Balochistan, where Pakistan has been alleging Indian hand in terror incidents, and delinking of talks from action against terrorism by Pakistan. Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit came down heavily on the External Affairs Ministry for not complying with its directive to produce the file for perusal on December 8, 2009 and not providing the information within mandated 30-day period before issuing show-cause notice.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

AI asked to give details of top bosses' perks

The Central Information Commission (CIC) today directed the state-owned Air India (AI) to make public the details of all the perks and privileges enjoyed by their top-brass. Information Commissioner Sushma Singh told the officials of National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) - company formed after the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines - to give the details of "pay, perks and privileges" enjoyed by its chairman, managing director and functional directors to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal. In a reply to his right to information (RTI) application, NACIL's General Manager, Finance, who should be in the thick of company's financial matters, had said the information about pay and perks of the company's top bosses is not with him. The Commission also asked the air carrier to transfer the application to Civil Aviation Ministry so that similar details about the Minister could be furnished and provided to Agrawal.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Who drafted Indo-Pak jt talk, CIC asks Ministry

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the External Affairs Ministry for the files on the India-Pakistan joint statement, issued after the meeting at Sharm-al-Sheikh. The petitioner, S C Agrawal in a right to information application, had asked for the copy of the joint statement and the names of the officials involved in framing the statement. But the Ministry had refused the direction of the information commissioner to disclose the names and file-noting to the petitioner in December 2008.
Following this refusal, the CIC directed the Ministry to release to the petitioner the files related to the joint statement.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Swords that pierced Satish Shetty, stabbed democracy: Anna Hazare

"The swords that pierced Satish Shetty did not just kill an Right to Information (RTI) activist, but also stabbed the spirit of democracy." This poignant expression of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare sums up the sense of despair that has taken over social activists after the 38-year-old Shetty, who fearlessly used RTI Act to expose various scams in Pune district, was fatally attacked at village Talegaon on Wednesday. Talking to PTI from Ralegaon Siddhi in Ahmednagar district, where he is recuperating from an eye surgery, Hazare, with whom the slain activist had worked for about seven years, said, "This is a serious development as the assailants who stabbed Satish have also killed democracy."

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Murder of Shri Satish Shetty at Talegaon

*Resolutions Approved in the RTI Activists Meeting*
*Held at Patrakar Bhawan,Pune on *

*17 January 2010*, *4 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.* **

1. To approach the Hon’rtble High Court to appoint an officer to supervise the conduct of the case so that it is brought to fruition within a specified time-frame and also to ask for the case to be handed over to the CBI. It would be desirable to make an intervention in the case that the Hon’ble High Court would take up *suo moto*.

2. To take up a case for amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code to include death sentence for the killers in all cases where the plotters have given ‘*supari’** *and a murder takes place. Advocate Netra Prakash Bhog would prepare a draft amendment.

3. To take steps to form a RTI Council with a view to protecting the interest of the RTI requisitionists, to guide them on how to progress the cases and to follow up the cases by keeping copies of all the RTI requisitions and replies received from the members of the Council. To start with, it is necessary to draft a constitution of the Council with the assistance of legal experts, to decide the Act under which to register the Council and to work out the objects of the Council in detail. Conveners would hold meetings to interact with the volunteers and RTI Activists. Many activists have opted to work voluntarily for the Council:

4. Convenors would prepare a draft Whistleblowers Act based on the US Act. The draft should relate to the conditions obtaining in India. The Council or RTI activists would then progress the issue.

5. It is necessary to approach the Hon’ble High Court to obtain orders regarding the responsibility for implementing Section 4 of the RTI Act and to issue directions for its implementation.

6. Mr. Sandeep Shetty (brother of late shree satish shetty) is digitizing all the documents pertaining to RTI requisitions made by Mr. Satish Shetty. He will hand over the digitised copies to Mr. Vijay Kumbhar who would then study the documents with the help of Mr. Vivek Velankar. A committee of M/s Vijay Kumbhar and Vivek Velankar would then segregate the documents by subjects and decide on the experts in the various fields who would progress the cases. The cases generally pertain to PDS, City Survey, Registration/Stamp Duty, Land grabbing and illegal constructions.

18 January 2010

Labels: , ,

'Grade corrupt officials to stop attacks on activists'

Saturday's show of solidarity by voluntary organisations condemning the serial attacks on social activists threw up some interesting ways of tackling corruption in public
office. The idea to set up a voting system to grade the most corrupt officials in the government, police and the BMC drew spontaneous support. The meeting was held in a private hall near Crawford Market, whose redevelopment has become a bone of contention between developers and activists.A moment of silence was observed for slain RTI crusader Satish Shetty. Though the speakers appreciated the government's effort to bring the attackers to book, they were disappointed by the lack of conviction in most other cases of assault, including that on CitiSpace founder Nayana Kathpalia and AGNI members James John and H S D'lima. Kathpalia and her colleague Neera Punj did not attend the meeting.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

RTI crusaders vow to unite, will form council

Right to Information (RTI) activists in Pune have decided to form an RTI Council to reduce threat perception of RTI activists who expose wrongdoings by disseminating sensitive information procured by them. A decision was taken in a meeting of RTI activists held on Sunday to discuss the situation following the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty on January 13 in Talegaon Dabhade.

The meeting was attended by Major General (Retd.) SCN Jatar, former inspector-general of police SM Mushrif, RTI activists Vivek Velankar and Vijay Kumbhar, civic activists Manav Kambale, Maruti Bhapkar and Satish Shetty's younger brother Sandip. Several other RTI activists of the city also attended the meeting.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Thursday, January 14, 2010

NCPRI Statement on Murder of RTI Activist Satish Shetty

The National Campaign for People's Right to Information is deeply shocked and grieved at the brutal murder of Right to Information activist Satish Shetty.

Mr Shetty, 38, was killed by 3 unidentified men on the morning of January 13 in Talegaon, Pune. He had been actively using the Right to Information to expose land scams and fake registration cases in the Talegaon, Lonavla and Dehu Road regions of Maval. The DIG (Registration) stated that Shetty's complaints had initiated investigations that brought to light tax evasion and illegal sale of government land. The investigation in the Sabele Whaghire 500 acre land scam, that is still in progress, had also led to the suspension of a sub-registrar. Shetty had been a longstanding activist who had uncovered scams around the Mumbai-Pune expressway several years ago and had exposed the setting up of banquet halls and restaurants in residential areas. Besides, he had revealed cases of illegal selling of kerosene to bogus ration card holders and the abuse of power by government officials. He had been working on spreading awareness about the Right to Information and was a popular figure among Talegaon residents who regularly sought his help for solving their problems.

The murder of Satish Shetty is not an isolated incident of threat to life and liberty of people using the RTI to expose malfunctioning and corruption. All across India, RTI activists face threats and attack. However, too frequently, even where they ask for police protection on grounds of significant threats, it is denied them. In the present case, the DSP has admitted that despite Shetty's requests, protection had not been provided because the procedural police verification process takes time. This is not a good enough reason. The murder of Satish Shetty is a deeply painful but important instance of the potential of Right to Information to curb corrupt elements within government and society but also a reminder that those defending the law and blowing the whistle on wrongdoing must be assured adequate protection.

The NCPRI is determined that the killers of Satish Shetty will be brought to book and we will be watching the progress of the investigation. The Campaign trusts that the government shares our need to take immediate and stringent action in this regard and bears out its oft-stated commitment towards ensuring a corruption free democracy, where voices raised against corruption are not suppressed by brutal violence.

Ajit Bhattacharjea, Aruna Roy, Charul Bharwada, Harsh Mander, Jagdeep Chokkar, Jean Dreze, Maja Daruwala, Nikhil Dey, Prashant Bhushan, Shekhar Singh, Suman Sahai, Trilochan Sastry, Vinay Mahajan

On behalf of the Working Committee
National Campaign for People's Right to Information
ncpri.india@gmail.com, 98103 82973

Labels: , , ,

RTI activist murder: Firm official questioned

A day after Pune-based Right To Information (RTI) activist Satish Shetty was brutally murdered, the police have started questioning those linked to the cases exposed by Shetty. Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural, Pratap Dighavkar said five investigation teams have been set up. Deputy Superintendent Shrikrishna Kokate said companies that had been affected by Shetty's RTI queries would be questioned. Shetty's brother Sandeep had named companies in the list of suspects in his police complaint. "So far we have no clue about the assailants. But we have confirmed that after the murder, they escaped from the spot on a motorcycle. We are probing whether they were contract killers," he said. Four persons have been detained for questioning.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Bombay HC queries govt over attacks on social activists

In the backdrop of recent attacks on social activists, the Bombay High Court on Thursday sought to know from the Maharashtra government what steps it was proposing to take in this regard. During the hearing on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding an alleged land scam, the court touched upon the attack at the residence of Naina Katpalia, who is associated with NGO Citi Space here, and the killing of RTI activist
Satish Shetty at Talegaon near Pune yesterday. The police are bound to protect the people who approached courts, it said. The court also asked the advocate general to take instructions from the government in this regard.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Land mafia suspected to be behind RTI activist's murder

Right To Information activist Satish Shetty (38), who had been raking up several public issues about the realtors, especially those in the Maval area, was attacked with swords by masked men, while he was on his morning walk around 7.15 am. Shetty died on the spot. The murder triggered instant protests in the city with shop owners in the Panchavati and Jijamata chowk area downing shutters in protest. Only last week, Shetty had filed a complaint that a two-wheeler had tried to run him over at Jijamata chowk in Talegaon.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

HC order unlikely to make SC yield

Much as it may seem to boost transparency, the reiteration on Tuesday by a larger bench of the Delhi high court that the CJI’s office came under the purview of RTI is unlikely to provide any greater access to information on the judiciary than whatever little is currently available from the Supreme Court’s registry. For, in keeping with a stay imposed by it last month on a related order of the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Supreme Court may intercept the high court order as well once its registry appeals against it. CJI K G Balakrishnan has made no secret of his hostility to CIC’s view that the Supreme Court was liable to disclose even the records held exclusively in his office, unless the information in question fell under any of the 10 categories of information exempted by Section 8 of RTI Act.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

CJI comes under RTI, rules Delhi HC

In a landmark verdict, the Delhi high court on Tuesday said the Chief Justice of India is a public authority and his office comes within the ambit of the RTI Act as the concept of judicial independence is not judge’s personal privilege but responsibility cast on the person. This is in sharp contrast to Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan’s stand that his office was outside the ambit of the transparency law.

However, the high court added that notes, jottings and draft judgments of the CJI’s office would not fall within the umbrella of the transparency law. But “if the judge turns in notes, along with the rest of his files to be maintained as a part of the record, the same may be disclosed,” court said.

The apex court will now have to appeal to itself against the high court order. As soon as the court pronounced its verdict, counsel for the apex court sought the certificate copy of the HC order to file an appeal.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

DAVC not totally exempted from RTI: Madras HC

The Madras High Court has held that the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) was not excluded from the purview of the Right to Information Act when it pertained to allegations of corruption and human rights violations against public servants. "This court is not inclined to go into the efficacy of the exemption given to
DVAC from the purview of the Act. But when the very same organisation deals with corruption cases of public servants then exemption under section 24(4) of the RTI Act can not be taken advantage of," Justice K Chandru said. He dismissed two writ petitions filed by the SP, Central Range Office of DVAC challenging two orders issued by the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (SIC) in September and October last year directing that certain information sought for by two individuals be furnished to them.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

11K cases pending with info officers

Even as the Right to Information Act (RTI) enters its fifth year, the information commissions across the state are struggling to clear the huge backlog of cases, which is apparently making applicants lose faith in the sunshine act. According to the record, a whopping 11,355 second appeals were still pending with the seven information commissioners across the state till November, last year. A second appeal is filed by the RTI applicant after both the RTI query and the first appeal gets rejected. An audit of the pendency of second appeals with various information commissions show that the information commission in Pune has the highest number of pending cases (3,723), followed by the Aurangabad commission with 2,667 cases. Amaravati and Mumbai division (including Nashik) come in the third and fourth rank with 1,762 and 1,126 cases.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

PIO asks for application on prescribed form, reprimanded

A PIO of the office of Director, Food and Civil Supplies Department, Punjab, got an earful from a Punjab State Information Commissioner for denying information to a retired employee of the department on the ground that his RTI application was not filed on a prescribed form. The case concerns retirement benefits of complainant Brij Lal Sharma of Barnala that have not been released by the Food and Civil Supplies Department as a case involving loss of wheat worth Rs 60,817 in 2002-03 was stated to be pending against him. The complainant had filed an application under the RTI Act, asking for an attested copy of any notice, if it was issued, for this alleged shortage, and a copy of evidence showing that it was delivered to him.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

CM, Guv's homes have faulty meters

A recent RTI query revealed that even the who’s who of the city have to make do with hardly-working meters. In fact, the BMC data shows that the 1.83 lakh defunct water meters (old) include those installed at VIP bungalows, including that of CM Ashok Chavan and governor S C Jameer. This information came to light when a Charni Road resident, Chetan Kothari, applied under the RTI Act to know how much water was supplied to the CM, governor and civic chief. The reply revealed that the exact consumption at the governor’s and CM’s bungalows could not be determined as both the houses had faulty meters. Civic chief Sawdheen Kshatriya lives at an unmetered house. All these meters in question are the old plastic mechanical ones, making them easy to be tampered with. The BMC charges a rent for the mechanical meters; for a 2-inch pipeline, the rent of the meter is Rs 150 per cycle.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Indian Baboos Bribed: US Ambassador Meera Shankar Lettert Dtd 12.5.09

Dear All,

On 12th May 2009, US Ambassador Meera Shankar wrote to Shri Nair Pricipal Secy PM that illegal payments have been made to officials is in India. Following are the details...

1) Meera Shankar Letter Page 1:
http://www.box.net/shared/ia1iu84b87

2) Meera Shankar Letter Page 2:
http://www.box.net/shared/an7qoh0eck

3) Min of Extnl Affairs Letter dtd 30th Dec 2009 Page 1:
http://www.box.net/shared/emjm8pmgrd

4) Min of Extnl Affairs Letter dtd 30th Dec 2009 Page 2:
http://www.box.net/shared/e3k45m9e3n

5) RTI Application dated 12.10.09 in MEOA office
http://www.box.net/shared/aoiltkr0y0

6) DoPT informs Govt Of Maharashtra Officer Bribed ( Page 1 & 2 )
http://www.box.net/shared/0e78det04z
http://www.box.net/shared/j0q5efcpun

7) DoPT RTI Application
http://www.box.net/shared/0eqrheyahg

8) Another RTI Application was filed in Chief Minister of Maharashtra Office to find out details. However, Chief Minister office shrugged its responsibility to furnish me details & simply forwarded RTI Application to Power Business, & Labour Dept

http://www.box.net/shared/s8dy52ot8e

regards
Vihar

[posted by Vihar Durve on Humjanenge]

Labels: ,

Are our MLAs sick? Medical bills Rs 5 crore RTI Reply: Govt Has No Info On Their Diseases

Our elected representatives are quick to point out how low their salaries are. But what’s not disclosed is the hidden perks they enjoy. For example, in a society where universal healthcare is a distant dream, MLAs receive life-time free medical aid from the government for their families and themselves even if they make it to the Vidhana Soudha just once. When the figure is totted up, it works out to a hefty sum: Rs 5.2 crore, for example, between January 2007 and October 2009 in Karnataka. An MLA has availed of Rs 17.68 lakh from the government as medical reimbursement in just 10 months! The best part is the government has no clue about the disease he is suffering
from. Ashok Mahadevappa Pattan (P M Ashok), a Congress MLA from Ramdurg in Belgaum
district, is the man who has received this sum after submitting bills. In 2009, from January to October, except three months — January, May and September — he has got reimbursements from the government. The highest was in February, when he got Rs 5,83,710.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Admin difficulties can’t be cited to deny info under RTI, says HC

Pronouncing a series of pro-transparency judgments on Thursday, the Madras high court held that administrative difficulties cannot be cited to deny information to applicants under the RTI Act. Justice K Chandru, who delivered three judgments in all, said: "The right to information having been guaranteed by the law of Parliament, the administrative difficulties in providing information cannot be raised. Such pleas will defeat the very right of citizens to have access to information."The first matter relates to an application made to the Tamil Nadu Archives for information relating to old maps, settlement records and title deeds. The archives authorities said they were only custodians of records and they were not bound to provide any information to anyone.Noting that the archives had 65 lakh documents concerning 45 government departments, it said without the consent of the parent department the information sought cannot be furnished. Rejecting the submissions, Justice Chandru said Tamil Nadu Archives is a public authority and that since it is empowered to retain records, it cannot object to the disclosure of such information.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Babus' assets can now be disclosed through RTI

Corrupt babus, beware. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has just held that citizens have a right to know everything there is about the assets bureaucrats own, the expenses they incur, and their lifestyles. Those who seem to be living beyond their means will have a tough time explaining it. In two recent orders, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi held that government servants will have to disclose a lot of financial information to citizens under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005. Information relating to a government officer's assets and liabilities — at the time of joining the service, before it and at any point of time during service — his accommodation, use of official vehicles for private purposes, monthly salary, and even the amount of fees spent on children will have to be disclosed.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

RTI applies to Commonwealth Games Organising Committee

The Delhi High Court on Thursday ruled that the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (CGOC) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) fall under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and have to provide information to an applicant. Dismissing the appeals of the Games Organising Committee and the IOA against the Central Information Commission's (CIC) order to provide information, Justice Ravinder Bhatt ruled that both are public authorities under the RTI Act and have to provide information and cannot keep their accounts private. "India is in the midst of challenges. The model chosen by the government of ensuring spread of welfare and its benefits, includes functioning through non-government agencies, who are tasked and assisted for this purpose. The crucial role of access to information here cannot be understated," the bench said.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

PPs need not divulge State information

Even though Public Prosecutors (PPs) are public authorities, they are basically advocates and they need not divulge privileged information relating to their client -- i.e. the State -- under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Madras High Court has observed. Justice K Chandru made the observation while allowing a writ petition from the office of the Public Prosecutor attached to the Madras High Court challenging an
order dated October 22, 2008 and the subsequent summons issued on September 10, 2009 of the Registrar of the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission requiring the PP to appear before it with necessary documents.

Labels: , , , ,

Complete Article

Your tax return can soon become public property via RTI

The Right to Information Act (RTI) may yet come back to bite the hand of the citizen who is supposed to be its main beneficiary. In an order with far-reaching implications for privacy, central information commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi has suggested that your tax return — your most intimate financial information which you may want to guard from gangsters or even a curious neighbour — can soon become public property.

If anyone asks for it under the RTI Act, the income-tax department will have to hand over the information. The order pertains to any information regarding tax assessments, returns, evasion and even notings by income tax officials submitted to the tax department. The case which opened the pandora's box relates to an RTI query filed by Rakesh Kumar Gupta, who wanted information regarding the income tax files and assessment orders of Escorts, a Delhi-based company, its chairman Rajan Nanda, various branches of the Escorts Heart Research Institute, and Naresh Trehan, a
heart surgeon and former head of the research institute.

Labels: , , ,

Complete Article

Elected representatives not ' public authorities' under RTI

In India, unlike in the US, an elected representative is not liable to answer queries on personal matters under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. So queries such as that of Dr Awadesh Mishra, an RTI applicant, asking how many NGOs Rahul Gandhi had recommended to departments and ministries for participation in their schemes, go unanswered. A recent order issued by the Central Information Commission (CIC) has given elected representatives a loophole to slip through the RTI Act. They can now
state they are not " public authorities" who can be directly queried under the Act.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

SC: RTI Act doesn't apply to judgments

Can a judge be asked under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as to why and how he came to a particular conclusion in a judgment? No, says the Supreme Court. The apex court saw the mischief potential of queries under the RTI Act in relation to a judge and his judgments and a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice B S Chauhan firmly said that a judge speaks through his judgments and he could not be made to answer questions relating to his verdict in a case. "A judge speaks through his judgments and he is not answerable to anyone as to why he wrote a judgment in a particular manner," the Bench said dismissing an appeal filed by one Khanapuram Gandaiah, who had not even challenged the verdict in his case before an appellate forum.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Sunday, January 03, 2010

RTI activists plan umbrella organisation

With a view to bringing RTI activists and NGOs under one umbrella, the Chennai-based Right to Information Movement (RIM-Chennai) has planned to form a federation of RTI organisations. RIM-Chennai founder-president John Lopez told Express that, “The proposed federation would work towards the goal of bringing all RTI organisations in the State together for a common cause pertaining to RTI Act and its implementation.” Besides, a number of RTI activists in the city, including the well-known R Natarajan from R A Puram, there are about 15 RTI organisations here and all of them are working independently for a public cause. Lopez further said that a meeting of RTI organisations has been planned in March. For further details about RIM-Chennai, contact Lopez at 22423809/9444484517.

Labels:

Complete Article

Saturday, January 02, 2010

RTI clinics. So that you can keep a tab on babus

In a bid to increase awareness on the Right to Information Act, the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), a non government organisation will be conducting RTI clinics, every month. The human rights organisation, whose primary agenda is to monitor and take corrective action human rights issues, has taken up the task of educating the citizens of Bangalore on the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Labels:

Complete Article

Postal orders must be accepted for RTI application fees

Postal Orders are the most convenient and popular mode of remitting fees under ‘Right To Information’ Act while sending RTI petitions through post. But despite Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT)’s repeated warning and circulars, most public-authorities do not accept postal-orders with Payee’s names endorsed as “Accounts Officer” as directed by DoPT.

However many public-authorities accept ‘blank’ postal-orders of rupees ten towards RTI fees, and themselves fill up the Payee’s name as per their requirements. But in many cases, ‘blank’ postal-orders are returned by public-authorities.

Only remedy for a permanent solution is to issue special postal-orders in denomination of rupees ten with payee’s name printed as “Accounts Officer” for exclusive use of RTI purpose. With internet banking now in full swing, all postal-orders should be payable at par at all post-offices without any need to endorse payable post-office.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

Give information or shell out Rs 25,000: CIC to BoI

The Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, recently issued a show-cause notice to the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) at Bank of India’s Ahmedabad Zonal office, asking why a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000 should not be imposed on him for delay in providing information. The order dated December 15, 2009 was issued after the Bank of India failed to respond to complainant Jivanlal Shah’s application filed under RTI. The 70-year-old Ambawadi resident had sought records of his correspondence with the bank’s Ellisbridge branch as well as zonal office over the past three years. The Commission has now directed the CPIO to provide the information by January 8, 2010.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Wajahat keen to take over as JK’s CIC

The chief information commissioner of India, Wajahat Habibullah, on Saturday expressed hope to take over as head of the Information Commission of Jammu and Kashmir soon saying he was eager to assume the assignment. “I am eager and enthused to assume the new role in Jammu and Kashmir. But let the Central Government name my successor first,” Habibullah told Greater Kashmir on phone from New Delhi.

Labels: , ,

Complete Article

Friday, January 01, 2010

Wakf boards’ data to go digital

“Computerisation of the records of the State Wakf Boards will involve preparing a detailed inventory of wakf properties and creation of a centralised and web-enabled data base, which would help RTI applicants to get proper information regarding issues relating to such properties,” a source in the Ministry of Minority Affairs told Deccan Herald.

CEO of Karnataka Board of Wakfs would be a member of the Project Management Committee, which would be headed by the DDG of National Informatics Centre (NIC). The scheme of computerisation would be implemented across all the 29 State Wakf Boards during the plan period 2009-2012 at a total cost of Rs 22.84 crore. In the Budget Estimate of 2009-2010, an amount of Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for this purpose. While the Ministry of Minority Affairs would oversee the entire project and look after fund allocation and management, the state governments would set up committees for coordination with field departments for effective implementation with two representatives as experts from outside the Government and one from IT Department.

Labels: ,

Complete Article

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

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]