Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

SATYAGRAH: Nationwide stir against amendments to RTI intensify

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 14, 2006

SATYAGRAH: Nationwide stir against amendments to RTI intensify
----------

Noted activist and Magsaysay Awardee 2002 Sandeep Pandey is on fast 
since last 7 days in New Delhi, against the proposed amendments to RTI 
Act. Senior social activist and Padmabhushan Anna Hazare is fasting in 
Maharashtra against the aforementioned amendments in RTI Act. Read more...

1) On the eve of Independence Day: PEOPLE WILL RISE TO SAVE DEMOCRACY
    by Aruna Roy, Arvind Kejriwal and Sandeep Pandey

2) Anna Hazare's letter to all MPs to save RTI Act

3) Letter of Solidarity to saveRTI movement from Amnesty International

4) Suchna Ka Adhikar Bachao Aandolan: (from org: KABIR)

5) Call for National Referendum, URGENT APPEAL by SaveRTI Act Campaign
   with BALLOT PAPER

====================================================================
1) On the eve of Independence Day:
               PEOPLE WILL RISE TO SAVE DEMOCRACY

Dated: 14th August, 2006

The government has decided to bring some drastic amendments to the 
Right To Information Act 2005, thereby killing the spirit of the Act, which 
had started proving to be a very empowering Act for the people. This 
Act, for the first time in the history of the country, gave its citizen 
the right to determine how decisions are being taken, policies are being 
shaped and money is being spent in the name of the people. By bringing 
about the seven proposed amendments, the Act would be rendered 
worthless.

There is a nationwide protest going on by citizens and 
people's organizations to protest against the amendment. A fast is going on 
in Delhi and another in Maharashtra. But the government continues to 
maintain stoic silence and seems to be totally insensitive to the popular 
demand to not to tamper with the Act. The motive of the government 
seems suspect.

If the government shamelessly pushes the amendments to the 
Act through the Parliament, the people would have no choice but to 
protest vigorously. People will have to come out in large numbers on the 
streets to demonstrate their anger against this anti-democratic step of 
the government.

In the past whenever democracy has been under seige the 
people of this country have fought with determination to preserve their 
democratic right. Once again people will rise and save democracy. On the 
18th of August, 2006 mass meetings are being planned in Delhi, Lucknow, 
Jaipur, Varanasi and Gorakhpur. Many more such meetings will be 
organized nationwide to mobilize people's power against the insidious steps 
being proposed by the government. The victory will always belong to the 
people and their determination to save democracy.

Aruna Roy       Arvind Kejriwal    Sandeep Pandey
====================================================================
2) Padmabhushan Anna Hazare's letter to all MPs in India

From:
K B alias Anna Hazare,
Ralegan Siddhi,Tal Parner,
Dist - ahemednagar
Pin 414302
Tel - 02488-240401/240227
Date - 12/08/2006

Dear Sir/Madam

You may be aware that the central Govt has taken a decision to bring 
about major changes in Right To Information Act 2005 and to get amendment 
bill passed in the current session of the parliament. The proposed 
amendments are of far reaching consequences and if passed ,would render 
this revolutionary act absolutely innocuous. 

The proposed amendments seek to take out the following vital pieces of 
information from the purview of this act 

(i)File notings except so called "substantive" file notings on 
plans,schemes,programs that relate to development ans social issues; 

(ii)The material on which decision are taken in council of ministers 

(iii)The identity of individual or group of individuals   who advise 
the govts. On major development issues

(iv)The information pertaining to any examination conducted by any 
public authority, or evaluation made by it for judging the suitability of 
any person for appointment or promotion to any post 

(v)The disclosure of information pertaining to any course ;and 

(vi) The document ,manuscript and file during the decision making 
process of the matter 

apart from this ,the proposed amendment seek to take away almost all 
the powers of information commissions, thus reducing them to a status of 
merely an advisory body 

You will appreciate that making these changes in the act would mean 
taking away the rights given to the people of India by way of this Act,58 
years after independence. 

I,on my part ,have been doing whatever is within my capacity to stall 
the proposed amendments to the Act. I have brought the dangerous 
implications of proposed amendments to the notice of Hon'ble President, the 
Hon'ble Prime Minister ,and other important leaders of the ruling 
coalition. But as there was no immediate response and as the matter is very 
urgent and is concerning to freedom of the people of this country.I have 
started "fast unto death" since 9th  August ,at Alandi,the seat of 
great Saint Dnyaneshwar Maharaj,near Pune.

I appeal to your conscience to please oppose the proposed amendments, 
if at all they   are placed in the Parliament, and do your best to 
prevent these amendments from being passed

Your's faithfully

K B alias Anna Hazare

====================================================================

3) Amnesty International India expresses solidarity with the movement

From:
Amnesty International India
C 161, 4th Floor, Hemkunt House
Gautam Nagar, (Behind Indian Oil Building)
New Delhi - 110 049

Ph: +91 11 41642501 / 26854763
Fax: +91 11 26510202
------------------

August 11, 2006

Letter of Solidarity

To
The Campaign to Save the Right to Information Act
Camp: New Delhi

Amnesty International India is concerned at the Cabinet decision to 
amend the Right To Information Act to exclude file notings from the Act. 
This, we feel, would curtail the citizen’s fundamental right and would 
be against the letter and spirit of the Act.

Exemptions of file notings would deny the right of the citizens to know 
the authority that has commented on the issues concerned, as well as 
the content of the comments. We feel that such a decision would have an 
adverse effect on bringing in accountability and transparence in 
governance. The Act, it is widely recognized, has been a tool to check 
corruption at all levels. Any attempt to dilute the Act would only encourage 
such wrong practices, which result in denial of people's fundamental 
rights.

Passing of the Act has been the result of a tireless and perseverant
struggle of a large number of people and grassroots organizations in
different parts of the country. The attempt to curtail the powers of 
the Act would inevitably dis-empower the people.

Amnesty International India, while extending support to the dharna 
(sit-in) in Delhi, appeal the Government to desist from any action, which 
would weaken the Act.

Mukul Sharma
National Director
Amnesty International India

~~
Joe Athialy
Campaigns and Communication Coordinator
Amnesty International India

Email: jathialy@amnesty.org
====================================================================
4) 
Suchna Ka Adhikar Bachao Aandolan

Press Release

New Delhi August 11, 2006: An enthusiastic beginning to the People's 
Referendum to demonstrate mass public resentment towards the proposed 
amendments to the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 marked the fifth day 
of the ongoing dharna at Jantar Mantar here today, even as Sandeep 
Pandey's hunger strike went on for the fourth consecutive day. 
Ex-parlimentarian Kuldeep Nayar cast his first vote in favour of keeping the law as 
it presently stands. Eminent personalities such as Prabash Joshi, B.N 
Yugandhar (member, Planning Commission), B.D Sharma (former 
Commissioner, SC/ST Commission) and noted activist Swami Agnivesh also came to the 
venue of the dharna to cast their votes, besides many hundreds of 
activists and supporters of the campaign present at the protest. The 
referendum was also taken to a couple of schools in Delhi, Lady Shri Ram 
College and Jawaharlal Nehru University later in the evening. The Hela Qayal 
Party, a group of farmer-singers from Sawai Madhopur district, 
Rajasthan, communicated the spirit of the RTI Act to the people with their 
powerful lyrics and music.

"The struggle for file notings is not new � 10 years ago, when the 
people's movement for a right to information act was gaining strength, and 
the Press Council of India held meetings with bureaucrats, the officers 
said they would give information but not file notings. They are saying 
the same thing today. It is our duty that before it gets passed in 
Parliament, we fight against it. People should vote in crores for this 
referendum so that Parliamentarians get scared before they even bring in 
such an amendment," said Prabhash Joshi. Raising slogans like "Hum 
ladenge, hum jitenge (we shall fight, we shall win)," Swami Agnivesh asserted 
that we should not let anyone take away this right from us.

Support also came in the form of letters written by the secretary and 
coordinator of Resident Welfare Association (RWA's) Federation to a 
Congress Lok Sabha MP, requesting him not to vote in favour of the 
amendment when it came to the Parliament.

Earlier in the day, a session on the use of the RTI Act in exposing 
corruption and arbitrary use of power in environmental issues was 
discussed. Suman Sahai of the Gene Campaign introduced the session. Divya from 
Centre for Science and Environment spoke of how they have now raised 
many questions on the distribution of water in Delhi and obtained 
information. Karamat from Pakistan spoke of how Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle 
had taken over even religious monuments in the name of conservation in 
Pakistan and were bombarding people with their advertisements. This was 
also strongly condemned by Dr. Sandeep Pandey. Prof. V.P Srivastav, a 
professor of Mathematics demonstrated to the people with a simple litmus 
test as to how harmful drinks like Coke were to one's health. 
Cautioning people against privatisation, Prof. Trilochan Shastry (Professor, 
IIM) said, "If we privatize everything, whom will we demand information 
from?" Speaking on the need for learning from each others' experiences, 
Tony Tujan from International Initiative on Corruption and Governance, 
Phillipines said that just as how there were issues on privatization and 
corruption in India, they existed too in Phillipines and there was a 
need to international co-operation and support for one another. 

Many RTI activists who had come from other states like UP, Chattisgarh 
and Orissa also shared their experiences with the use of the RTI Act 
during and after the Drive against Bribe campaign in July.

-----------
Bibhav Kumar
KABIR
09868342634

======================================================================

5) URGENT APPEAL FROM CAMPAIGN TO SAVE RTI ACT

CALL FOR A NATIONAL REFERENDUM (Please see Ballot Paper below)

-----------------------------
By Suhasini, mkssrajasthan@gmail.com

Dear Friends,

As you know the Central Cabinet has approved in great haste and 
*without any public consultation *a set of 7 amendments to the Right to 
Information Act, to prevent amongst others, the access to file notings, which 
records the deliberative process (who made what recommendation, and 
why). Even beyond notings, no information will be given out while the 
decision making process is on. This will severely restrict the right and 
cripple the Act. The Bill to amend the RTI Act, is likely to be placed in 
the current, monsoon session of Parliament.

There are multiple protests and strong voices being raised against 
these amendments. Since this is a denial of a basic democratic right, there 
is an urgent need for a very strong voice of protest, from all of us as 
responsible citizens.

We have come together under the banner of the "Campaign to save the RTI 
Act." One important initiative is to seek the people's mandate, a 
"referendum" on the "Proposed Amendments to the Right to Information Act". 
We feel it would immensely strengthen the protest and build public 
opinion. People from all over the country could poll on a simple ballot 
saying yes /no to the amendments (suggested design of Ballot boxes and 
Ballot paper are being sent as attachments) Through this procedure the 
people could directly approve or reject a measure proposed to be passed by 
parliament, without consulting us- the citizens.

We hope that we will be able to get a clear message across to the 
Government, that any proposed amendment to the present Right to Information 
Act will be absolutely unacceptable. This "Referendum" could also serve 
as a warning to all MPs that if the amendments are passed, the people 
will express their anger through their votes in the next general 
election.

Details of Referendum
---------------------
- First round of counting will take place in the evening at the Dharna 
Sthal on 17th August 2006 followed by several rounds of counting in the 
next days
- Results of Referendum held ay different places should reach the 
Dharna Sthal latest by 10 am, 23rd August 2006
- For any further details please contact Ravi / Hari Om at Dharna Sthal 
(Phone- 65121727)

=====================================================B A L L O T ..... 
P A P E R

The Government wants to amend the Right to Information Act 2005 and 
exclude some important categories of information from being accessed.

The Campaign to Save the Right to Information feels that these 
amendments would considerably weaken the Act.

Do you want the Act to remain as it is? (Tick one of the following)

Yes, information should remain accessible		

............

No, the information should be restricted		

.............

Name: ................................................................

.............................................

Address:..............................................................

.............................................

Signature:...................................

==================================================

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