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Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Archive for the ‘ASSAM RTI’ Category

NGO to oppose Centre’s move to amend RTI

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 27, 2006

NGO to oppose Centre’s move to amend RTI
From Our Correspondent
SHILLONG, July 26 – To build awareness among the public regarding the Centre’s decision to amend the Right To Information Act (RTI), the Meghalaya Right to Information Movement (MRTIM) will hold multiple rallies in the city.

MRTIM would hold rallies on August 1, 3 and 4 at Motphran, Police Bazar and Laban to draw the publics’ attention over the Centre’s decision to amend RTI Act. The amended Act will exclude file notings from its purview. MRTIM in a meeting held on Monday last decided to hold the protest rallies. The movement opined that exclusion of file notings from the purview of RTI would weaken the Act and the amended Act would not serve the purpose for which it was initially introduced.

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RTI Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 27, 2006

RTI Act
 Sir,–The Union Cabinet has approved the amendment to the Right to Information Act. The official statement that the amendment was necessary to remove ambiguities and make the Act more effective will not find many takers. This is nothing short of cheating the public.

Ever since the RTI Act came into being, people have become increasingly aware of their right to information. Probably after seeing the people’s response, the Government developed cold feet; hence, such a panic reaction. File notings are the most important part of any information the public seeks from the Government and the latest move is aimed at protecting bureaucrats and their political masters. We can be assured that there will be a consensus on this issue among our parliamentarians. The effect of the RTI Act on making Government accountable has been actually nullified by the proposed amendment and it is a stab in the back of the common people.–Yours etc., Suman Barthakur, Ganeshguri Chariali,Guwahati.

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MeSEB body denied access to personal information

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 22, 2006

MeSEB body denied access to personal information
The shillong times
july 21, 2006
By Our Reporter

Shillong: The State Chief Information Commissioner Meghalaya, GP Wahlang has disposed off an appeal submitted by the General Secretary, MeSEB Engineers’ Association seeking information relating to the Annual Performances Appraisal Report and the Quarterly Self-Appraisal Report individually for the period from 1998 to 2005.

The Public Information Officer and Departmental Appellate Authority, MeSEB has refused access to the above information on the plea that it is personal information and therefore exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

It may be mentioned that the MeSEB has since 1996 introduced two proforma for recording the performance of its officers in the Appraisal System based on Merit-cum-Seniority for consideration of promotion, namely, the Quarterly Self Appraisal Report of officers and the Annual Performances Appraisal Report.

The Chief Information Commissioner after receiving appeal from the General Secretary, MeSEB Engineers’ Association has examined and heard the matter from both sides and delivered his opinion that the information sought for relates to personal information of individual officers of the Board and therefore covered under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act.

However, he opined that giving the overall grading in the assessment collectively arrived at by the Controlling, Reviewing and Accepting officer will enable the concerned officer to know their own respective grading and will help them improve their performances resulting to a better health and growth of the organisation in rendering public services.

The appeal was disposed off with the direction that the Departmental Appellate Authority, MeSEB will furnish the information regarding the overall gradation given in the Annual Performances Appraisal Report and also reply whether Quarterly Self Appraisal Report along with commence are available for each engineers of the Board.

The Chief Information Commissioner has directed the Association to furnish the information within 15 days from issuing the order.

North East Network
J.N Borooah Lane
Jorpukhuri
Guwahati
Assam
PIN 781001
India
Telephone:(91-361) 2603833, Telefax:(91-361) 2631582
Website:www.northeastnetwork.org

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People’s participation must for RTI Act’s success

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 16, 2006

People’s participation must for RTI Act’s success

By A Staff Reporter


GUWAHATI, July 15 – The various aspects of the Right To Information Act and the need for people’s participation in making its implementation a success were underlined in a programme organised by the Living Heritage Foundation in the city today.

Addressing a section of the public and media, UN Bora, joint secretary, Government of Assam stated that the RTI Act was a practical tool for citizens to secure access to information and it made it obligatory for public authorities to maintain records.

Facilitating free flow of information, the Act seeks to provide transparency, and accountability, and thus reduce corruption.

The Right To Information includes access to inspection of work, documents, records, extracts or certified copies and also documents stored in electronic or digital format.

Under its purview, information could be sought from bodies established by the Constitution, legislatures, and even NGOs partially funded by the Government.

Bora also pointed out that application seeking information could be filed before the Public Information Officer (PIO) or the Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) in a form specified for the purpose by paying a nominal fee. The fee of rupees ten could be waived if the applicant belonged to the below poverty line category.

In order to facilitate the process all public authorities are required to maintain their records in an easily accessible format. A proactive disclosure of information has been encouraged under the Act.

PIO, which every department or organisation would have, is obliged to render assistance, dispose request or cite reasons for rejecting a request.

Under the Act, any request of information would have to disposed within 30 days. If the information pertains to life and liberty then the time limit is between 48 hours and 5 days.

He further added that if the PIO caused any delay in providing information, the Act had a provision to penalise the official concerned. Departmental proceedings could also be initiated against him.

Dr Subhram Rajkhowa of Gauhati University’s Law Department while lauding the effort of the Living Heritage Foundation in creating awareness about the RTI Act said that people should come forward to use the legislation for the greater good of society. He mentioned that the Act would enable people to secure information on a range of subjects, within a stipulated period of time.

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ASSAM – http://www.assamtribune.com/ EDITORIAL on RTI Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 8, 2006

MESSAGE FOR TODAY
And yet the order of the acts is planned. The way’s end destinate and unconcealed.
— Boris Pasternak

Right to Information ActRS Mooshahary, the State Chief Information Commissioner, appears unhappy at the tardy implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) in Asom even after eight months of the RTI Act coming into force. In his first interaction with the media, he lamented that requisite number of officials in various government departments are not available to dispense specific information demanded by the public. Only about 50 per cent of the offices have started work, putting up information on the websites. The State Information Commission, set up on March 1, 2006, received only three complaints during the last four months which speaks volumes about public awareness towards this important piece of legislation conferring such a valuable right to its citizens. It is really a sad state of affair that the people of Asom have not taken advantage of the RTI Act to seek information on various critical matters. Lack of public awareness, State government’s apathy in the speedy implementation of the RTI Act, inadequate training of the officials appointed as public information officers/assistant public information officers have all contributed to the ineffectiveness of this important and revolutionary piece of legislation in Asom.

The RTI Act, 2005, conferred to the citizens of India right to information from the Central and the State governments, Panchayat Raj institutions, all public authorities whether controlled, owned or funded by the governments and even the NGOs receiving government assistance. All public sector undertakings come within the purview of the RTI Act. The universities receiving government grant are also within the ambit of the RTI Act. The citizens are empowered to ask questions, inspect sites, take photo-copies of record and files except on those matters specifically prohibited under the Act. The RTI Act, 2005 also empowers the appropriate governments to develop and organise educational programmes, to advance the understanding of the public and to exercise the rights contemplated under the Act. It also makes the appropriate government mandatorily liable to prepare guide book in easily comprehensible form and manner containing such information as may be required by a person who wishes to exercise any rights specified in the Act. Thus the RTI Act, 2005 puts much responsibility on the State Government to create public awareness about the Act, in educating the public in general by organising seminars, workshops, training programmes and making available literature in the local languages regarding the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and the prescribed procedure to apply for information from the concerned public authorities. So far the Asom Government has miserably failed on both the counts and only a few organisations and NGOs have come forward to create public awareness campaigns on the RTI Act, 2005. If such public apathy continues, the RTI Act, 2005 would remain a dead statute like the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The Government of Asom is one of pioneers in bringing a statute – Right to Information Act, 2001, which received the assent of the Governor on May 1, 2002. However, due to reasons best known to the Government, this Act was never implemented and silently buried. In the meantime, the Union Government passed the RTI Act, 2005 extending to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Asom Government constituted the State Information Commission only on March 1, 2006. The fact that this high-powered body has not been provided with adequate staff and infrastructure befitting such an institution, shows the commitment of the State Government in implementing the RTI Act. It is also reported that the Saikia Commission of Enquiry headed by retired Supreme Court Judge KN Saikia enquiring into the secret killings during the chief ministership of Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has not been provided with fund to run the office. Such shabby treatment to a judicial body is unwarranted and the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi should take the concerned officials to task for lowering the image of the Government by their disregard for such high-powered bodies like the State Information Commission and Saikia Commission.

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RTI empowers citizens in Guwahati

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 7, 2006

RTI empowers citizens in Guwahati

Bano Haralu

Friday, July 7, 2006 (Guwahati):

http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?category=National&template=RTI&slug=RTI+empowers+citizens+in+Guwahati&id=89912&callid=1

Roads in Guwahati such as the JN Boroah Lane in Jorpukhuri have their share of potholes and perennially choked drains that get only worse during the monsoons.

Residents have appealed several times to the Public Works Department and the Guwahati Municipal Corporation but the JN Boroah Lane was never fixed.

Therefore, on the March 27, Ronah Bhuyan, a member of an NGO, filed an application under the RTI Act.

“We used the RTI to get the work done. We wanted to know the cost of repair, of the construction and total cost. But, we got no response. However, after the RTI application was filed, the garbage was cleared overnight and the road was also repaired,” says Anju Ara Begum, a resident.

Nevertheless, the petitioner did not actually get the information she had asked for. So she wrote to the Chief Information Commissioner after waiting for the stipulated 30 days.

The Chief Information Commissioner found the petition fit for an appeal, and at a hearing last week, it was found that the official responsible for supplying the information was indeed guilty.

The Chief Engineer Roads was charged with violating sections 4,5,6 (3) and 7 of the Act.

However, since this was the first case heard by the commission, the engineer was not given any punishment.

In fact, he was even spared the fine of Rs 250 that he was supposed to pay for each day of delay after the 30-day period. However, he has been told to provide the required information within 15 days now.

It is clear that the publicity of the potential of the RTI is clearly inadequate.

After decades of citizens being completely disempowered and having no notion of participatory democracy activists of the RTI movement have an uphill task ahead.
 

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GMDA accused of flouting RTI Act norm

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 4, 2006

GMDA accused of flouting RTI Act norm

 http://www.assamtribune.com/

By A Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, July 3 – The belief that no good piece of legislation can bring in any change in the practice of withholding official information concerning public interest, unless the officials running the administration become committed to democratic values, has again been proved right.

Despite the Right to Information (RTI) Act being in force in the State, the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has denied a citizen the information he had asked for on the plea that he had not applied for the purpose properly.

According to Ashok Medhi, a resident of Md Tayebullah Road, Dighalipukhuri East area in the city, while turning down his request the GMDA authorities did not comply with the provision of the said Act, which provided for holding a hearing to settle any of the requests. He described the developments concerning his complaints and requests as products of the pro-builder approach of the GMDA.

The contention of Medhi was that the GMDA had allowed some builders to construct a five-storey building on the Fatik Chandra Road area despite knowing that the land area of the plot on which the building was built did not conform to the stipulation. The builders could manage to enhance the land area of the plot by using permission from the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup district. In fact, the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup district has no locus standi to deal any matter concerning the Kamrup (Metro) district, Medhi said.

Initially, Medhi was denied any information about the building and the permission granted for its construction. When the CEO of the GMDA was approached then under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, the former provided Medhi with some information. But later on detail information was denied to him on the plea that his application was not made under the provision of the appropriate section, said Medhi.

Earlier, The GMDA has turned a deaf ear to the complaint that the builders have violated the floor area ratio provision. Again, the builders have managed to convert the hind portion of the building into a six-storey structure flouting all legal provisions.

Medhi argues citing the GMDA permission for the building that the plot on the Fatik Chandra Road is marked as a high-density residential area, where the floor area limit is 3,888 square feet per floor. But the builders have surpassed that floor area restriction on each of the floors up to the fifth floor and on top of all these, they have added the sixth floor to the hind part of the building, Medhi said.

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