Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI law mutilated – ARVIND KEJRIWAL

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 24, 2006

RTI law mutilatedAdd to Clippings


Let’s put aside for now the fact that ‘certain’ file notings have been kept out of the purview of Right to Information Act, 2005. A look at the orders passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) would make one believe that the RTI law was amended, rather mutilated, quite sometime back.

A few examples serve to provide a disturbing insight into the workings of our new information law. Petrol pump allotments are mired in corruption. Manish Dyaneshwar applied for a petrol pump. He did not get it.

Under RTI Act, he asked for copies of all applications and marks given by interview board to each applicant. CIC ruled that such information could not be provided, as it would violate the applicants’ privacy.

Tapas Dutta wanted a copy of the minutes of a meeting of a departmental promotion committee in a government department. CIC ruled that the minutes could not be made public, as that would violate the privacy of candidates.

A government officer faced corruption charges. Ravi Kumar wanted to know whether the government proposed to take any action against that officer. CIC denied him this information. A government officer was found medically unfit for a job.

He was nevertheless issued an appointment letter. Someone asked for a copy of the medical report. CIC turned down the plea, saying this would violate his privacy.

I applied for inspection of files through which AIIMS decided to introduce user charges, thus making treatment so expensive that it became out of bounds for the poor. CIC disposed of my case without providing this information.

I was not even provided an opportunity to present my case. In a bizarre judgment, CIC ruled that one could not ask for information which can be replied in the form of a yes or no.

In another case, the commission ruled that you cannot ask any questions which started with why, when, whether. One does not find such provisions in the RTI Act.

In one case, CIC said that the expected benefits from disclosure of information should invariably outweigh the costs of providing it. This is not written anywhere in the Act. Besides, on what machinery or expertise does CIC have to do a cost-benefit analysis?

These judgments are in violation of the RTI Act. Those who have attended hearings at the CIC would vouch that while hearing any case, it desperately hunts for a clause under which it can deny information.

Interestingly, people were obtaining all this information under state RTI laws. Nine state governments have their respective state information laws under which people obtain such information.

CIC is not empowered to change the concept and definition of information. If appointments and promotions cannot become transparent, one wonders what RTI is meant for. The problem does not lie with the Act.

The Indian law is said to be among the more progressive RTI laws enacted by more than 65 countries. The problem lies with its interpretation.

When former bureaucrats were appointed to the posts of information commissioners, doubts were raised about whether they would have the will and strength to make governance transparent. Our worst fears have been confirmed.

Information commissioners flout the basic principles of natural justice. Cases are disposed of without hearing the parties. A bank employee was witness to bogus building repair bills claimed by his headquarters.

He applied under RTI Act for a soft copy of the list of all repairs shown in the accounts. The commission called for the bank’s version and without hearing the applicant disposed of the case, denying information.

CIC did not give the applicant a chance to present his case. CIC disposes of half the cases without hearing the applicants. RTI rules clearly lay down that every applicant has to be heard before deciding his case.

CIC argues that since it is a quasi-judicial body, it is not bound by the principles of natural justice and, hence, need not hear applicants.

The problem is that the information commissioners, being former babus, were never in the habit of hearing out people before taking decisions. CIC, therefore, needs to be tamed.

The writer is with Parivartan, an NGO working on RTI issues.


4 Responses to “RTI law mutilated – ARVIND KEJRIWAL”

  1. RTI – OR – NO – RTI

    There are hundreds of victims of blackmail and extortion,
    involving NRI’s and Indian diaspora in the criminal cases
    registered in India, without any punishment to the

    NRI’s and Indian Diaspora families are separated from
    their near and dear ones in India. They have been prevented
    to visit India even for social or religious purposes for years till
    false cases are ended, for fear of arrest without bail and jailed
    without committing any offence or breaking the laws of land.

    Abuse of anti-dowry laws has become serious enough
    that the United States Department of State has
    published the following travel warning on its Web site,
    http://travel.state.gov, about “Dowry/Visa Demands” for
    travellers to India.

    Angela Aggeler, a spokesperson for the State Department
    in Washington, D.C., says that “American citizens are often
    extremely desirable” to Indian families with marriageable
    Aggeler, who has lived in India, says she empathises with
    citizens in this predicament. “I know how complicated the
    law is in India,” she says.
    Aggeler says the State Department decided to publish the
    travel warning after receiving information from the three U.S.
    embassies in India as well as from local law enforcement
    agencies and global agencies such as Interpol .

    The travel warning published and advisory issued to US citizens
    of Indian Origin is as under:
    A number of U.S. citizen men who have come to India to marry
    Indian nationals have been arrested and charged with crime
    related to dowry extraction.
    Many of the charges stem from the U.S.citizen’s inability to
    provide an immigrant visa for the prospective spouse to travel
    immediately to the united states.
    The courts sometimes order the U.S.citizen to pay large sums
    of money to his spouse in exchange for the dismissal of charges.

    Canadian Government has also issued following advisory:
    Growing numbers of Canadian citizens have been caught up
    in marital fraud and dowry abuse in India. Most cases involve
    Indo-Canadian males who abandon their wives in India after
    cheating them out of large sums of money. Other cases
    involve misuse of Indians Dowry Prohibition Act. This law,
    which was enacted to protect women and makes demanding
    a dowry a crime, is sometimes used to blackmail men through
    false allegations of dowry extortion. Individuals facing charges
    may be forced to remain in India until their cases have been
    settled or pay off their spouses in exchange for the dismissal
    of charges. To avoid such problems, you are advised to register
    your marriage in India along with a joint declaration of gifts exchanged,
    as well as consider a prenuptial agreement.

    I am father 77 years old, who’s son committed “SIN” of sponsoring
    a girl from India to marry her in US. I even did not attend their
    marriage or stayed with them after their marriage.. I have been
    named in this false prosecution and declared Proclaimed Offender.
    My mother died 2 years ago in India, but could not attend her funeral.

    In this case; a false Criminal Complaint was registered in India
    against entire US Citizens family under section 498A with the
    collusion and connivance of the police and law enforcing machinery
    in December 2002..

    She did not disclose in the F.I.R ” that the Divorce proceedings
    were going on against her in US court and she had filed her
    response in September 2002 asking for Rs. one crore as
    alimony alternatively restoration of conjugal rights.

    Complainant had also sought assistance of “abused women’s”
    organisation in US in her divorce matter in US, but the organisation’s
    lawyer withdrew as soon as it became clear that her case was based
    on Blackmail and Extortion.

    She did not make any allegations ( as made in the police
    complaint in India ) to the US women’s organisation’ or US
    police, during her stay in US for the period of about 6 months.

    This is clear evidence of manipulation, misuse and naked abuse of
    Indian Legal and Judicial System by the unscrupulous woman to
    blackmail for extortion in collusion with corrupt Indian Police and
    Law enforcing machinery .

    Matter is legally very simple, that the marriage was solemnised and
    registered in US. They lived in US after marriage and never visited India together.The divorce was also decided according to US laws by US Court.
    The decree of divorce was delivered and acknowledged by complainant in
    April 2003; approximately 2 months before the the arrests were made by
    Nagpada Mumbai Police. This shows that the Indian Courts have no Jurisdiction in the matter is very much clear.

    The criminal proceedings have been launched under Indian
    Dowry Prohibition Act, and section 498A under which the
    competent authority to deal with such matters is designated
    as “Cruelty Against Women’s” Cells.Even Commissioner of
    Police has no authority to deal with these complaints directly.
    In Mumbai, the “Maharashtra Commission for Women” (MCW)
    is the designated competent authority.The Officers designated
    to investigate the allegations before recommending prosecution
    to police must not be below the rank of deputy superintendent
    of police.

    In this matter the assistant police Inspector has abused, over-riding
    all the legal authorities, designated by the legislation and registered
    the criminal case and launched prosecution, without any enquiry,proof
    or investigation; with the connivance and collusion of Indian Judicial

    My wife ( 70 years old medically disabled) accompanied by
    my son were arrested unaware on June 29, 2003 at Mumbai
    Airport while returning to US, after a short visit to meet her
    ailing 92 years old mother.

    They were jailed in Police lock-up for two days.
    Their US Passports were seized by the Police.

    They had to bribe Rs. One Lakh to the magistrate apart from
    paying to Police and Prosecutor to get the Bail.
    The Bail was granted after two days, against Rs, 50,000/. Cash
    Security for each accused and order of daily reporting at police
    station for interrogation for two hours.

    Then there was another Rs.Fifty Thousands bribe paid to the
    Magistrate through same Court Lawyers working as agents for
    release of seized US Passports and permission to leave India
    for six months, on the grounds of livelihood.
    The US Passports were returned after 15 days against further
    Cash Security of Rs.20,000/- for each passport.
    They returned to US after 15 days of agony, brutalities and
    expenses of about Rs.Seven Lakhs for the arrest and release on
    false charges by the Indian Law and Justice regime.

    My entire family of US Citizens have been declared and notified as
    Proclaimed Offenders by Indian corrupt Judicial System.

    This is how Indian Courts & Justice System works.
    Police will arrest the accused and produce him before magistrate.
    The magistrate will immediately grant police custody, without bothering
    about nature of case.Now police will demand money, otherwise the
    accused will not get bail.
    The magistrate will grant bail only when public prosecutor gives
    him signal that money has been received and it will be honourably
    The Extortionists are
    1. Police
    2 .Public Prosecutor
    3. Advocate of accused
    4. Magistrate
    There is Criminal +Police+Judicial nexus for Extortion


    Version No. 1
    The F.I.R states that the complainant had married in India during the
    month of November 2001.She received US visa on December 06, 2001
    and travelled to US on December 09, 2001 where she was ill treated
    and returned to India on June 28, 2002.

    Version No. 2
    The same Police officer has stated in the Remand Application to the
    Court that the complainant had married in India during the month of
    February 2002 and was ill treated in India.

    The F.I.R states that she was in USA from 9th December2001 to
    28th June 2002. She lodged complaint at Nagpada Police Station
    in December 2002; about SIX months after returning to India.The
    reasons for delay of Six months in lodging the Criminal Complaint
    with Nagpada Police Station have not been recorded or explained
    in the FIR.
    There are Two unexplained versions of story by the Nagpada Police.
    1. One story was for making arrests under non bailable warrants,
    showing that the complainant married in India on 17th November
    2001 and was Miss-treated.
    2. Second story for getting remand for Police custody of the
    accused persons shows that the complainant married in India
    during February 2002 and was Miss-treated.


    The FIR registered by the police states that the complainant
    FRAUDULENTLY obtained Immigration Visa from US Consulate
    at Mumbai.
    The FIR states that, since US Visa was not immediately given to
    married women by the US Consulate ; she FRAUDULENTLY applied
    and obtained US Visa as unmarried woman on 6th December 2001.


    The marriage and the divorce including the allegations in this matter
    are subject to US legal Jurisdiction. Nothing in this matter happened
    within the Jurisdiction and territory in India.

    The Courts in India have no jurisdiction at all to proceed and prosecute
    foreign national for the offences allegedly committed by him in his own
    country. Indian courts are not the International Court of Justice.
    The conduct of law enforcing machinery in India, in this matter is most
    irresponsible and undesirable.

    The residential property used as vacation home in India was
    searched without obtaining necessary search warrants from higher
    authorities or informing to local police jurisdiction by the said assistant
    Inspector of police.

    Under Article 226 of Constitution of India, the Prosecution has no
    Jurisdiction to even investigate the alleged offences even if TRUE.

    Under section 177 of criminal procedure code 1973 of India;
    No part of cause of action arose within the jurisdiction of the
    court where the complaint was filed and Non-bailable arrest warrants
    were obtained against entire family of US citizens without any
    investigation or evidence and arrest warrants executed.
    The entire proceedings have no foundation, and this is the question
    of law regarding lack of Jurisdiction.

    Indian Penal Code Section 188 states that courts in India can not
    take cognisance of any offence against foreign national without
    “Previous approval of central government ministry of External Affairs”.
    There is no evidence that any attempt was made to obtain approval
    Nor any attempt was made, to inform to higher authorities.
    Even higher authorities in police department of government of
    Maharashtra were not informed about arrest of foreign nationals.

    The obligations under Article 36 of Vienna consular Convention
    Treaty of which India is signatory were also not honoured after
    arrest and confiscation of passports of foreign nationals by the
    Mumbai police authorities.The US Consulate in Mumbai was not
    informed about the arrest of US Citizens.

    Under Section 406 of Indian Penal Code 1860 the alleged acts
    which took place beyond the territory of India, even if assumed
    to be correct does not make out the case to proceed against the
    accused. An FIR can only be filed in the court of concerned area
    to who’s jurisdiction the offence has occurred.

    Under Section 482 of India’s Criminal Procedure Code 1973, the
    courts in India has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint even
    if allegation there in are accepted in Toto.

    Domicile is the key to matrimonial proceedings.
    This was held by the bench of Bombay High Court,
    comprising Justices S.B. Mhase and Dilip Bhosle.
    They held that,
    “Domicile is essential condition for both the bride
    and groom were domiciled in India at the time of
    their marriage being solemnised in India”
    They also held that,
    “Even if one of the spouse is not domiciled in
    India at the time of alleged marriage even if
    assumed that marriage took place in India,
    the proceedings in India are bad in Law.
    The foreigner’s marriage act of India also confirms
    this position.

    None of the offences shown in the FIR registered by Indian Police
    were committed within the jurisdiction of the said Police Station.
    The FIR clearly indicates that the alleged offences took place in
    New York USA. The FIR does not disclose Prima-Facie offence
    taking place within the jurisdiction of India.

    The acquittal does not wipe out the ignominy suffered during and
    prior to trial by the innocent accused family who were all arrested
    without bail and jailed without committing any offence.

    The Indian Judicial system must strongly deal with frivolous
    complaints and prosecutions by unscrupulous corrupt law enforcers;
    for wasting court’s precious time and putting financial burden on public exchequer. The costs should be recovered from guilty and the victim
    should be compensated.

    Preventing the miscarriage of justice, is just as much the work of the
    Courts, as it is their work to uphold the law of the land.

    The case registered by the Assistant Police Inspector is a criminal
    conspiracy criminal intimidation and framing of incorrect records and
    writings by Public Servant.
    This offence is punishable under section 218, 506, 167 and 120 B
    Indian Penal Code.

    The complainant is also liable to be prosecuted and punished under
    Sections 177,181,182,191,193,195,200,211,383,385,500 504 and506,
    of Indian Penal Code and section 250 of Cr. P.C.for filing false and
    fraudulent complaint to Blackmail for Extortion.

    The Indian Passport in the hands of such Dangerous manipulator
    who dares to fool the law and Law Enforcing Machinery need to be
    withdrawn, by Ministry of Home Affairs.

    The passport need to be impounded or revoked for the offences
    involving MORAL TURPITUDE under section 10 (3) (c) (d).(e) (h).
    of Passport Act.

    Misuse and Mockery of Indian law and Judiciary must be stopped
    and Blackmailers and Corrupt law enforcing machinery punished.

    Gope Lalwani

  2. S.K.Kapur said

    Dear Members,
    Yes the amendment may take away the important part of the Act but I am confident that the times will change as the governments change. Let us protest but still make full use of the remaining parts and let the dust settle.
    Mahatma Buddha had said that the only thing permanent is the CHANGE.
    so worry not.

  3. Dhirendra Krishna said

    My dear Arvind,

    DOPT has made a error in their web site by stating defination of information, that is contrary to Section 2(f) of the Right To Information Act 2005. They are not authorised to state anything contrary to law on the web site.

    This can be challanged in Supreme Court, as DOPT does not have any authority to misinterpret the provisions of RTI Act. There are excellent chances of getting favourable judgement on such PIL.

    Cabinet is not a competent authority to ameend RTI Act: only the Parliament has requisite power.

  4. Manoj k. kamra said

    Dear Arvind ji
    you have mentioned—that In another case, the commission ruled that you cannot ask any questions which started with why, when, whether. One does not find such provisions in the RTI Act.

    What is meant by the clause 7.9—“An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form(why,when,whether) in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resoures of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question.”

    In my opinion as per 7.9,information can be asked in why,when,whether.

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