Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Archive for September, 2006

Delhi gears up for Right to Know Day

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 28, 2006

Delhi gears up for Right to Know Day

http://www.newkerala.com/news4.php?action=fullnews&id=28328

Delhi gears up for Right to Know Day

New Delhi, Sep 27: Civil rights activists in the capital are preparing to hold meetings, distribute publications and send text messages to city residents to encourage them to stand up for their rights on International Right to Know Day Thursday.

“This day has been celebrated the world over for the past four years but not many people in the capital are aware of this day and its importance. So we will take the initiative to generate awareness among residents of the city,” said Aditi Datta of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

“We have decided to send SMS messages to people and distribute our publications on ‘right to information’ and ‘right to know’, so that people can demand their fundamental rights,” said Datta.

She added that preparations were also on to organise a national conference Oct 12 against the amendment of the right to information bill by the government.

Civil society members working at the grass-roots level in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi are also likely to take part in the conference.

“Some of the leading activists in the country have been invited to speak on the subject and we would try to highlight people who have benefited using their right to information,” said Datta.

“The objective of the conference would be to formulate strategies to stop the government from amending the right to information bill. We suspect that the government might try to present the bill in the winter session of parliament,” said Datta.

She said the bill would complete one year on Oct 12, but the right to information commissions have not yet been set up in some states.

“People continue to struggle to get information from the state after using their right to information. Red-tapism continues to be a hindrance,” added Datta.

Activists said the occasion would also provide an opportunity to reflect on the progress of India’s Right to Information Act and the efforts made by the government to transform the bureaucratic culture of secrecy and red-tapism.

“We believe that the right to information bill has not been effectively implemented in the country as only 3,056 cases have been reported till Sep 4,” said Neeraj Kumar of National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.

He said his organisation plans to conduct 20 seminars across the country to make people aware about the bill.

Kumar added that the group would target states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, where awareness about the bill was the lowest.

— IANS

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Posted in Delhi(UT) RTI | 3 Comments »

Beware, Danger to democracy is lurking, Keep vigil and be ready to fight second War of Freedom:: Anna Hazare

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 28, 2006

From : Anna Hazare.

Beware, Danger to democracy is lurking, Keep vigil and be ready to 
fight second War of Freedom;

Britishers enacted, “The Official Secrets Act 1923” to systematically 
loot India. This law of Secrecy became major enemy of democracy and 
while snatching away freedom from people, it became a weapon in handful 
officials with power to inflict atrocities on citizens.  This Act should 
have been scrapped or drastically pruned on 26th January 1950, the day, 
we celebrated free India’s first Republic Day but unfortunately even 
after 59 years of Independence this Act is very much in full force. In 
the state of Maharashtra, .Several activists had to struggle hard to 
protect citizens from social injustice by forcing government to enact new 
laws of right to information, enhanced powers for Gram-Sabha, removal of 
administrative delays and laws regulating transfers of Government 
servants 

Right to Information Act did not remain limited only to the state of 
Maharashtra, but it became Law for the entire Nation and citizens started 
experiencing new found freedom by reaping benefit of this law. However 
this new law started pinching few people in government and under the 
garb of improving the law, they plotted to take away freedom of people. 
Fortunately the calamity has been temporarily averted, but the situation 
calls for alertness on the part of citizens, as the danger of sabotage 
is still lurking.  

Dangerous changes that were projected in the Act;

The Central Government contends that the Act of 2005 was enacted 
without provision for making the file notings available to citizens and that 
the government now intends for the first time to incorporate the same 
in the Act.  

Factual position;

Information has been defined in Sec 2 (f) of the Right to Information 
Act 2005 and it includes “Records” besides other Information listed 
therein. Sec 2 (i) defines “record” to 

include any document, manuscript or “File”. When considered to gather, 
above provisions clearly include file in the definition of 
“Information”. Notings being integral part of “file”, notings can not be excluded.  
When we talk of a “file” we mean complete file with notings made in the 
file, which can not be separated. There is a clear provision in the 
present law that the notings in the file are available to the people. 
There is no justification what so ever to amend the Act for making 
available the file notings related only to social and development work as 
envisaged. Few bureaucrats and politicians having ulterior motives, who have 
taken wrong and unjustifiable decisions during the past and have fear 
that they will get exposed, have started creating impression that such 
rights are not  in the basic Act and are therefore pressing for the 
amendment to deprive people of their rights. If such amendment is 
implemented it will mean we have accepted the amendment which provides file 
notings in respect of social and developmental work only and the 
bureaucrats and the government will deny information about other file notings to 
people on important matters. It is therefore essential that the 
proposed amendment should be resisted at each level and a mass upsurge from 
the citizens is required to block the ulterior motives of vested 
interests. It is therefore necessary to form committees in each village to 
protect Right to Information Act.

More over it is planned to increase the number of exclusions under sec 
8 (1). Presently there are 10 existing exclusion clauses in the 
original act, which the government plans to increase by three more, thereby 
diluting the Act and limiting the right of Information to the people. 
e.g. (1). the current Act clause 8 (1) (i) permits publications of 
decisions taken by the Council of Ministers and the material on which the 
decisions are based. However, after proposed amendment, such information 
may not be available to the people.

In fact the RTI 2005 Act provides that any information that is bound to 
be supplied to the Lok Sabha and Raj Sabha, cannot be denied to the 
people. That is why the proposed amendments are unjust and incorrect. If 
these amendments are passed, the Council of Ministers may take decisions 
at will and not be answerable to the people. e.g. if a particular 
agricultural land is sought for industrial use and the council of ministers 
decide to acquire the land for conversion in spite of resistance by the 
concerned farmers and adverse file notings by the district authorities, 
the fact of case will never be known since file notings will not be 
disclosed.  

(2) The government also intends to conceal details of opinion, legal 
advice and recommendations of experts or group of people who have 
examined a project/program related to social or development work, outside the 
preview of section 8. 

Such amendment is unfair and unjust since there should be no harm in 
providing information, if an individual or a group of people who have 
worked sincerely and have given their professional / legal opinion keeping 
in mind public interest. If proposed amendment is allowed to be passed, 
people will have to accept public losses based on dishonest 
recommendations.  

(3), u/s 8 (1) the government also plans to exclude information about 
examinations conducted by the public authorities for appointment / 
promotion of candidates to various posts in the government. Similarly 
information will also be denied about admission criteria to be applied for 
various educational courses.  

This amendment too is unjust. It may not be objectionable to deny 
information about deciding eligibility of the candidate in various 
competitive tests conducted by various bodies, but once results are declared 
there should not be any objection for a candidate to see answer books of 
candidate, who have scored higher marks.

This will help bring uniformity in marking system in the written 
examinations and prevent malpractice in allotment of marks to improve the 
standard of examining answer books. It is also necessary to know the basis 
of granting promotions because there usually are many complaints of 
corruption and dishonest means used in this process. It is essential to 
maintain transparency in such matters.  

It is astonishing that the government wishes to keep the admission 
process to various education institutes out side the purview of information 
Act. It Is known fact that millions of rupees are collected by the 
educational institutions for granting admission to management, medical and 
technical faculties. In such situation, keeping the information outside 
preview of RTI will encourage corruption. It is therefore necessary to 
oppose this amendment with full force. If this amendment is permitted, 
auction system will prevail in the education system in the private 
educational institutions that will make education a profitable business.

(4) Exception in section 8 (1) is also planned to prohibit supply of  
information regarding notings, extracts, hand written notes, files and 
legal opinion until final decision is taken in the matter and the issue 
is complete and over.  

If these amendments are passed, the RTI will loose its soul. Deliberate 
attempt will then be made to take away all the rights given to people 
by the original Act. It has been experienced that decisions in 
government offices are invariably delayed and their implementations are also 
deliberately delayed. Once this amendment is passed, the Ministers and 
bureaucrats will further delay their decision – some times indefinitely 
and take shelter under “the matter is under consideration”, for not 
supplying information. Possibility decision taking process will continue 
indefinitely. Therefore it is necessary to resist these amendments, in 
order to protect the Act and effectively check corruption.

(5) In order make impression that additional powers are to be granted 
to the Information Commissions, government propose to add two 
sub-sections in section 18. According to proposed sub section 18 (5), the 
commissions will be given more powers and responsibilities to make the Act 
more effective. However, actually the proposed sub section 18 (6) takes 
away most rights of the commission. The original Act provides authority 
to receive application if PIO or AA refuses to accept the same. The ICs 
in such cases can take cognizance of the complaints and impose fine 
where necessary, after enquiring in to the complaint. But due to the 
proposed amendment the rights of the commissions to take decisions on 
appeals and complaints will be taken away and mere recommendatory powers will 
be vested in the ICs. Final decision shall rest with the government 
making the Act tooth less.  

(6). Some PIOs have started misusing provision of sec 8 (1)j, to deny 
information on pretext that giving information concerning you also is 
not in public interest. 

Right to Information Act is vital for healthy democracy. Similarly the 
Acts like additional powers to Gram Sabha, delays in official matters 
and government officer’s transfer laws are also important.  If members 
of public are educated and awareness created about this Act, 75 to 80% 
corruption will go away and people will enjoy true democracy.  Youth is 
real power for nation and if every youth participates in national 
cause, the whole picture of nation will change within no time.

Embolden yourself to fight Second war for Freedom.

( I am already touring remote rural areas of Maharashtra to create 
awareness about the Right to Information Act 2005 from 14th September 2006  
to 9th November 2006. Please help me in my endeavor and kindly 
circulate this message widely) 

From:"ramesh wasudeo" <rameshw@rediffmail.com>
Date: 27 Sep 2006 15:30:49 -0000

mumbai tel : 022-2636 6251
           : 022-6693 8776 faxfon
roaming    : 98690 12351

Posted in Andhra Pradesh RTI, RTI Activists | 3 Comments »

On Line Course from IIT – Let Education Flourish

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 24, 2006

Please spread this information across your friends…………………… And make
the best use of this.

The IITs have taken up an initiative of starting online teaching and
thus have started offering course materials online for every
engineering stream.

-Many professors from all the IITs have provided course materials
for each chapter and each subject.

-One has to register at the link provided below and can access the
course material.

-Every Chapter has been described with diagrams and charts.

– Please spread this message to everyone, as many can benefit from
this program taken up by the government and IIT.

This is just a trial period going on and hence i request everyone to
register at the link given.

1] Go to http://nptel. iitm.ac.in

2] Click on Courses

3] Sign up as a NEW USER

4] And one can access any course material.

Please spread the word, so that this initiative benefits as many
students as possible.

Posted in Govt. of INDIA | Leave a Comment »

Indiatogether : RTI : THE MAKING OF A NEW LAW

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 18, 2006

Indiatogether on Right To Information
http://www.indiatogether.org/rti/

AMENDMENT
Say no to the new iron curtains
The central government has proposed to exempt file notings and cabinet papers from the RTI law. The government’s idea that it can ‘reveal the decision but not the reason for it’ is anti-democratic. In democracy, people need reasoned decisions, reasons for decisions and not mere decisions without reasons, says Madabhushi Sridhar.
Guest opinions | Laws

INTERVIEW: ARVIND KEJRIWAL
RTI: An enormous power with the people
In conversation with Vinita Deshmukh, Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal talks about India’s RTI movement, and worries that a formidable tool of empowerment might slip out of the hands of citizens if amendments proposed are enacted.
Interviews | Delhi

TRANSPARENCY
RTI law turned on its head
A combination of intimidation and mindless application of the letter of the law threatens to dissuade citizens from putting the RTI Act to use. And politicians are only happy to offer solutions that further dilute the law’s purpose. Suman Sahai and Swati Gola note examples from Chhatisgarh that point to the need for a program for rights literacy.
Chhatisgarh
June 2006

REGULATION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
Biotech Policy: secretive and hasty
The government’s stance towards biotechnology shows such disregard for the public interest that even its own Expert Committee is not privy to the proposed new policy. Suman Sahai protests the reckless endorsement of vested interests while many other stakeholders are kept in the dark.
GM Crops | Agri. Policies
April 2006

URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Pune’s draft plan under a cloud
A Standard & Poor-controlled firm is appointed to draft Pune’s city development plan (CDP) in secrecy. An iron curtain of “don’t ask us questions” appears when information about the contract is asked for. And then, the plan itself is botched up, violating the 74th Constitutional Amendment. Sheela Barse investigates.
Cities | Right to Info | Maharashtra

TRANSPARENCY IN EXAM EVALUATIONS
Can I have my answer papers, please?
In two recent rulings, the Central Information Commission rejected candidates’ requests asking to see their own assessed answer sheets. One of the CIC’s arguments was that the examining authority and the evaluator had a fiduciary relationship and thereby qualified for exemption. Prakash Kardaley wonders if the CIC went too far.
Guest column
February 2006

ANOTHER EXPOSE
Not appointed, despite selection
31 and belonging to a scheduled caste, Chandrakant Sasane has been denied a lecturer position at Mumbai’s N G Acharya and D K Marathe College of Arts and Science. Documents obtained using the Right to Information law point show that the Bombay University selected Sasane for the position over a year ago, says Shailesh Gandhi.
RTI exposes | Education | Caste | Maharashtra
February 2006

FIGHTING POVERTY WITH RTI
Gearing villages up for entitlements
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is to be implemented in 200 districts around the country in the first phase. One of the main challenges will be to ward off corruption. Surekha Sule was recently involved in conducting a training programme, and notes how some villages in Andhra Pradesh are gearing up.
Poverty | A.P.
January 2006

ILLEGAL BUILDINGS
Transparency demanded on demolitions
Member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy and transparency activist Shekhar Singh have asked the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to publicise the names of all the officers responsible for allowing building code violations, in addition to the list of buildings itself. They have also asked for the criteria used to identify violating structures.
Law enforcement | Right to Information | Delhi
January 2006

LOSS OF LAND REVENUES
Absurdly low rents, illegal occupation
The Maharashtra state government is not collecting crores of rupees per year in dues on public lands leased out to private interests. On one occasion, the state’s Chief Secretary R N Premkumar referred to legal impediments, and more recently on 19 December, he said that “the problem of arbitrary lease rents arises because the state does not have a policy on the same.”
RTI Exposes | Cities
December 2005

FOOD FOR WORK SCAM
Another muster roll fraud exposed
Just five days after the Right to Information Act came into force last month, a public hearing in Chhatisgarh showed how the Act can empower ordinary people and enable them to fight corruption. Nearly 80% of money allocated for a project under the National Food For Work Programme in Surguja district was found embezzled and reported.
Government | RTI exposes
December 2005

SUNSHINE LAW
Unleashed from the bottle
When a Pune-based die-hard transparency activist went to a government book depot in the city on 15 October morning to buy a copy of the new Right to Information Act, he was surprised to see that there were already 50 odd citizens in line for copies. True, bureaucrats have also planted landmines, but the citizens may yet win, says Prakash Kardeley.
Guest column
October 2005

SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND
Sunshine law arrives, has muddy landing
The new national Right to Information law came into effect on 12 October as citizens groups nationwide – from Karnataka to Delhi — have virtually been on alert and awaiting the opening of government departments to applications for information. Much remains to be seen and done, reports Subramaniam Vincent.
RTI law
October 2005

RIGHT TO INFORMATION
Karnataka’s transparency rules opposed
The state government published the draft rules for the national Right to Information law (prescribing the specifics for citizens’ using the law) in August. But the rules have fallen far short of citizens’ expectations. A top state official also admitted that they were drafted hastily.
Right to Information law | Karnataka
September 2005

EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE SCAM
Public audit unearths fraud, stayed
The Solapur (Maharashtra) District Collector Manisha Verma discovered a fraud of over Rs 9 crores through public readings of the state’s Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) muster rolls. However, since the discovery the state government stayed the audits and attempted to transfer the collector.
RTI exposes | Maharashtra
September 2005

IN LETTER AND SPIRIT
RTI law: the long road ahead
By 12 October 2005, the Right to Information Act must be ‘fully functional’ in every city, township and village. At a national conference held soon after the law was passed, government officials, civil society groups and national and international experts had met to chalk out an agenda to make this happen. Mandakini Devasher takes stock.
Laws
August 2005

TRANSPARENCY
Karnataka preparing for national RTI
The uncertainty over whether Karnataka would repeal the state’s right to information (RTI) law ended recently. Earlier in July, R Suresh, the state government’s point man for RTI admitted that the law had failed and that it would be replaced with the new Central Act. Activists in Karnataka are not unhappy.
Citizen Direct | Right to information | Karnataka
July 2005

LANDMARK CASE
RTI diary: Checking police transfers
It is now emerging that the Mahrashtra Right to Information (MRTI) law will be repealed in October 2005 to make way for the new national sunshine law that applies to all States. This article records one successful case where the MRTI law was used to bring change, notes Shailesh Gandhi.
Citizen Direct | Law enforcement
July 2005

RUSH TO REPEAL
Maharashtra sunshine law to go?
The Maharashtra Chief Secretary has reportedly declared that the Maharashtra Right to Information (MRTI) Act will be repealed in the current session of the state legislature or an ordinance will be issued to repeal it. Shailesh Gandhi says no need to hurry.
Citizen Direct
July 2005

NEW NATIONAL LAW STATUS
A hundred days and counting
Of the 120 days left for the implementation of the national Right to Information Act, a hundred remain. What is the status? The ministry is said to have framed rules, but it is not circulating them. Prakash Kardaley takes stock.
Citizen Direct
July 2005

CITIZENS USING RTI
Karnataka’s RTI experience for the better
A citizens forum at Bangalore has been spearheading interventions using the Karnataka Right to Information Act for the past year. The Katte members’ focus has helped expose the law’s weaknesses and make recommendations to better the recently passed Central Right to Information Bill. Kathyayini Chamaraj reports.
Right to information | Karnataka
May 2005

CENTRAL LAW
More teeth in new RTI legislation
Lawmakers at New Delhi recently passed the Right to Information Bill. The legislation provides for an information commission with powers to enforce transparency. An officer who delays disclosure will be liable to pay a penalty of Rs 250 for every day’s delay. Prakash Kardaley is optimistic about the bill about to become law.
Laws | Guest column
May 2005

LAND REVENUES
RTI finding : Cities subsidising the rich
Property prices have gone up over the decades, but Mumbai leases land to private interests at rates as low as Rs.7 per sq.m. In the last three years alone, revenue authorities have on average lost close to Rs.48 crores, estimates Shailesh Gandhi.
Cities | Right to info | Maharashtra
March 2005

___________________________________

THE MAKING OF A NEW LAW


Beginning with a draft prepared by the National Advisory Council, legislation to create and enable a Right to Information Act for the country has made steady progress, with the law eventually becoming operational in October 2005. India Together followed the process of creating this law, and will track its use by citizens for improved self-government. – Law arrives, muddy landing
RTI law: the long road ahead
A hundred days and counting
More teeth in new RTI legislation
Some shine, still shackled
RTI ball in Centre’s court
Officials resisting RTI law
Draft RTI law needs sharpening
The current law is unacceptable
Interact: FOIA 2004 Progress Watch

JAN-NE KA HAQ Click for In-PIC feature


EARLIER ARTICLES ‘The second freedom struggle’
Some shine, still shackled
Delhi authorities condone vicious attacks
RTI ball in Centre’s court
RTI may check Narmada dams
Officials resisting amending RTI law
The Right fight
Draft RTI law needs sharpening
Assertive citizenship taking root
This journalist demands his rights
A tentative beginning
“The current law is unacceptable”
One step forward, two steps back
Another step towards Parivartan
The pressure for accountability
Right-to-information or disclosure?
SC sets Sep 15 deadline : FOI law
Popularising the right to know
Parivartan: growth of RTI
Delhi HC stays release of records
Testing your municipality’s work
FOI Bill : battle half won
More stories of Parivartan
Elections : Disclosures now Mandatory
Waiting in the wings
Twenty first century democracy’s…
Where did our money go?
Media, democracy and citizenship
Delhi’s Parivartan
The pivotal role of the Press
Voters must know the candidates
Is radio going local
Unlocking the frequencies
The airwaves are the people’s property
What you don’t know can hurt you
Who’s afraid of radio in India
National recognition, community radio
Radio, Telephone, Internet and…
Information is my right

RIGHT TO INFO – LAWS
Federal
Tamilnadu
Goa
Delhi (applying rules only)
– Karnataka

INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS
Parivartan, Delhi
Maharashtra
PROOF, Bangalore

Posted in RTI info in News Papers | 1 Comment »

Indiatogether: RIGHT TO KNOW : PARIVARTAN

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 18, 2006

RIGHT TO KNOW | PARIVARTAN

http://www.indiatogether.org/campaigns/parivartan/

INTERVIEW: ARVIND KEJRIWAL
RTI: An enormous power with the people
In conversation with Vinita Deshmukh, Arvind Kejriwal talks about India’s RTI movement, and worries that a formidable tool of empowerment might slip out of the hands of citizens if amendments proposed by the UPA government are enacted.
Right to info | Interviews | Delhi
August 2006

Another step towards Parivartan
Ration shopkeepers wont divulge their records, Food Department officials wont file complaints, and the police wont act on their own or accept complaints from the public. Is the cycle of corruption complete? A public hearing in Delhi shows there may still be some options. Varupi Jain reports on the latest from Parivartan.
Delhi | Right to know
August 2004

Popularising the right to know
New Delhi’s citizen crusaders seeking enforcement of the state’s Right to Information law are now scaling their methods and inspiration. Following its early successes, the Delhi based non-profit Parivartan has formed a new platform – a Right to Information ‘manch’ – to bring interested people together. Varupi Jain reports.
Parivartan | Delhi | Rights to know
April 2004

And Parivartan goes on …
From halting massive siphoning of food supplies to a restoration of fair operations, some neighbourhood communities in New Delhi have made steady progress in making the Public Distribution System work. Varupi Jain provides an update on the work of Parivartan, whose efforts are leading this change.
Right to know | Delhi
March 2004
Parivartan, here to stay?
This non-profit’s initial success in effective enforcement of Delhi’s Right to Information Act has woken up the establishment to implementation of existing regulations just as much as it has informed citizens about them. Varupi Jain reports on the recent upswing for Parivartan.
Delhi | Right to know | Local govt.
December 2003

Delhi’s citizens act en-masse
On August 29, over 150 citizens filed applications seeking information about PDS ration records in Delhi’s Food and Civil Supplies department. This action followed an episode of harassment of Triveni, a poor citizen at the hands of inspectors of the Food department.
September 2003

Seek and hide
Citizen pressure through the Right to Information Act led to Delhi’s Food & Civil Supplies department procuring PDS records from ration dealers for public release. Subsequently, a large number of ration dealers moved the High Court for a stay on the release. Surprisingly, the Court issued a stay order.
August 2003

Posted in PARIVARTAN | Leave a Comment »

Home ministry refuses Netaji papers to RTI body

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 17, 2006

Home ministry refuses Netaji papers to RTI body
 
New Delhi,PTI:
http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/sep172006/update958342006917.asp

The home ministry has refused to supply the Central Information Commission (CIC) with copies of documents presented before two panels that enquired into the disappearance of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, saying the records dated back to over 20 years.

This was reported by a research group — Mission Netaji — which appealed to the CIC, the apex body under the year-old Right to Information Act, to get the ministry to share records produced before the 1956 Shah Nawaz Committee and G D Khosla Inquiry Commission of 1974, which were set up to shed light on the legendary freedom fighter’s fate.

Both inquiries had arrived at the conclusion that Bose died in an air crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945 — a theory still disputed by many.

The appeal came after the Central government rejected the findings of the Justice Mukherjee Inquiry Commision in May.

The Commission’s findings were diametrically opposed to the conclusions made by the 1956 and 1974 inquiry panels.

Mission Netaji had asked the home ministry for the records on June 23 this year, but this was summarily declined on the ground that the documents were classified. The group then appealed to the CIC for the documents on July 29.

“The matter happened more than 20 years from the date of request and as such, it is refused,” the group quoted Deputy Secretary to the government of India, M M Chopra, on its website www.Missionnetaji.Org as saying in his reply to the CIC on August 21.

In his second letter to the CIC four days later, Chopra wrote that final reports of the 1956 and 1974 panels did not contain any list of exhibits unlike the Mukherjee Commission.

Interestingly, the ministry contradicts its own earlier version in a subsequent paragraph of the letter by offering to look for “such exhibits from available records” within the next two months.

Chopra has, in the same letter, said that if such exhibits are found, the ministry would only share them if they are seen to be not containing any sensitive data affecting national interests.

“The documents sought are basic ones, based on which the Shah Nawaz Committee and Khosla inquiry panel had reached their decision about the fate of one of the greatest sons of India,” the group said.

“By no stretch of the imagination can these documents be labelled as containing information, the disclosure of which would prejudicially affect India’s security, strategic interests,” it said.

Posted in RTI info in News Papers | Leave a Comment »

File of the matter

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 12, 2006

File of the matter

By O P KEJARIWAL

http://epaper. timesofindia. com/Daily/ skins/TOI/ navigator. asp?Daily= TOIA&login=singhyad&AW=1158034285671

The dust has settled, but may rise again. The government announced that it would not bring in Parliament the Bill for proposed amendments to the RTI Act, 2005. But the assurance was only for the monsoon session. The public agitation was, however, for setting aside the very idea of amendments.

   Since the threat to force these amendments into law remains, it is necessary to understand their implications. They revolve around four basic elements: Nondisclosure of file notings, except in social and developmental issues; non-disclosure of identity of individuals who put down file notings; non-disclosure of information pertaining to any examination conducted by any public authority; and nondisclosure of ministerial decisions till the matter is complete or over.

   If these amendments are carried, they could render the Act limp and infructuous. Although there are four amendments proposed, the basic one relates to file notings.

   In all government offices, any issue which comes up for a decision starts with a file on the subject. This file has two parts: On the left, you have the note-sheets on which officers dealing with the issue at various levels record their opinions. On the right, you have correspondence and other papers relating to the subject. Very often, the notings on the left refer to papers on the right, which would be termed as p.u.c. (paper under consideration) .

   Let us suppose a flyover was to be built in a certain area. A file would be created on the subject. The officer concerned would put up the proposal which would pass through different levels till it received the final approval, say, the minister of the department concerned.

   Finally, the tender would be floated, the quotations received, evaluated and the proposal put up for awarding the contract. The amount of the contract together with the party (in this case, the contractor) would have to be finalised. This would be the stage when pressures would be exercised, kickbacks determined, bribes taken. Notings on the file would reflect all these. If those at the helm of affairs want to award the contract to a certain party, either for monetary considerations or on account of family connections or friendly relationships, they would exercise their influence and ask their subordinates to put up the cost, among other things.

   The proposal then would again pass through three, four or even more levels of officials. Then, although a number of officials would put down notings influenced by their superiors, there would be one or two officers in the set-up who are upright and would record their opinions on the file to the effect that the decision being taken was wrong and not in the public interest. This officer would then be overruled by his senior (in most cases he would also be reprimanded verbally) and the contract awarded to the party being favoured by the powers that be.

   Take another example: A poor person applies for a ration card. His application would result in opening of a file. The officials concerned would sit on the file till the poor person greased their palms. With the introduction of the RTI Act, one could demand scrutiny of the file which would reveal names of officers delaying the case. With the opening up of the files for public scrutiny, people are getting their ration cards, passports, and electricity connections quickly, without paying bribes.

   Anything to do with the government process begins and ends with file notings. File notings reveal nuances of an issue: The element of corruption involved, who has exercised what kind of pressure and on whom, which officials have caved in, and who are the honest and upright officials (few indeed nowadays) who have opposed pressure.

   If the proposed amendments were to go through, we would be thrown back to an age of darkness after experiencing a very short phase of hope. By taking out file notings from public scrutiny, the government obviously wants to put a lid on corruption.

   The government will be in no position to take credit for introducing openness, transparency and accountability in public life, if it pursues these amendments. In a list of most corrupt countries of the world, our position is quite high. RTI gives us a chance to bring down our ranking in this respect. Let us not throw it away.

   The writer is commissioner, Central Information Commission .

Posted in CIC | 1 Comment »

DoPT, SC and even insignificant departments flout the orders of CIC, CIC’s and SCIC’s

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 11, 2006

  1. col dr ramesh wasudeo Says:
    September 11th, 2006 at 3:39 pm ethis shows how weak is the position of ICs and CIC. they are supposed to be statutory bodies appointed under the Act. however DoPT, SC and even insignificant departments flout their orders.

    only way is that ICs should open a web site and publish their awards on the net. do they have courage?.

    it is high time CAG, CIC and CVC are given a constitutional independent status equivalant to that of election commission. it is sad that CBI can not proceed against ministers. all their cases against politicians die in due course.

    rW

____________________

  • col dr ramesh wasudeo Says:
    September 11th, 2006 at 3:50 pm epreamble to RTI Act talks of;

    1. transparency &
    2. accountability in the working of every public authority
    3. democracy requires informed citizenry and transparency of information and also
    4. to contain corruption and to hold
    5. governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.

    are these acid tests being applied to recent proposed amendments?

    rw.

  • Posted in RTI Activists | Leave a Comment »

    Mother of All Scams, Union Minister Shri Arjun Singh involved in SCIC KKM

    Posted by rtiact2005 on September 11, 2006

    Date:     Sat, 1 Oct 2005 05:13:47 -0700 (PDT)
    From:    “Venkatappa Kumaraswamy” <vmkumaraswamy@yahoo.com>  View Contact Details View Contact Details   Add Mobile Alert
    Subject:    Mother of All Scams, Union Minister Shri Arjun Singh involved in SCIC KKM

    To:    maja@humanrightsinitiative.org, majadhun@vsnl.com, charmaine@humanrightsinitiative.org, venkatesh@humanrightsinitiative.org, tapasi@humanrightsinitiative.org, sohini@humanrightsinitiative.org, creatorg@sify.com, chriall@nda.vsnl.net.in, ygm_cic@rediffmail.com, charmaine99@hotmail.com, mandakini@humanrightsinitiative.org, kandreaasyan@osieurope.org, manisha@humanrightinitiative.org, jeet@humanrightsinitiative.org

    CC:    “eKaviUdyoga Samithi” <bhujanga@sancharnet.in>, VMKumaraswamy@yahoo.com

     

     

    Mother of All Scams:

    Union Minister Shri Arjun Singh involved

     In appointment of Shri. K. K. Misra,

    the Tainted Bureaucrat

    As The Karnataka Chief Information Commissioner

    An Extract From “AGNI” Kannada Weekly Dated 11th August 2005 From Bangalore

     

    1.     Shri.KK Misra has bagged the appointment as Karnataka State Chief Information Commissioner due to a DEAL arranged by FATHER IN LAW.

    2.     Shri.KK Misra a native of Uttar Pradesh is married to the daughter of Ex Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Congress Member.

    3.     Shri.KK Misra’s Father in Law is a close friend of Union Minister Shri.Arjun Singh.

    4.     Union Minister Shri. Arjun Singh has pressurized Shri. Dhram Singh, Chief Minister of Karnataka to appoint Shri. K . K. Misra as Karnataka State Chief Information Commissioner.

    1. There is no evidence of KKM doing any meaningful service to Karnataka.
    2. Nor there is any evidence that he used his wisdom for saving Karnataka from many of the crisis it faced.
    3. Forget about any service to Karnataka KKM has only given embarrassment to GOK.
    4. Getting High Court directive for his prosecution for Filing of false affidavit to High court is the only his crowning blunder.

    END OF REPORT

    Posted in Karnataka RTI | 1 Comment »

    The RTI Act amendment: Untenable and illegitimate

    Posted by rtiact2005 on September 10, 2006

    SUNDAY-SOUTHASIAN: The RTI Act amendment: Untenable and illegitimate
    K S Subramanian
    kadayam39@hotmail.com
    -The writer is a former member of the IPS and former Director of the 
    Research and Policy Division of the Union Home Ministry
    ----------------------
    
    Published in Mainstream July 30 2006    
    
    "WHY SHOULD NOT SUCH POLITICAL SURVEILLANCE BY THE INTELLIGENCE 
    BUREAU (IB), WHICH IS DIFFERENT FROM ITS LEGITIMATE TASKS IN DEALING 
    WITH THE SUBJECTS OF COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE, ESPIONAGE, SABOTAGE AND 
    TERRORISM, BE BROUGHT UNDER THE PURVIEW OF THE RTI ACT?"
    
    It was Charles Bettelheim who once said that the Indian bourgeoisie 
    is the cleverest bourgeoisie in the world. The recent amendment 
    proposed by the central government to keep out of the purview of the 
    Right To Information Act, 2005, the so called `secretary-level' (even 
    an `under secretary' is a secretary to the government) notes on 
    files, is a good example of this inbuilt cleverness of the Indian 
    bourgeoisie. This is over and beyond the provision for exemptions 
    under section 8 of the Act, which relate to national security and 
    other issues. Thus, while on the one hand an Act on the Right to 
    Information is enacted to please the public, on the other hand 
    efforts are mounted to clip its wings to cover up the secret and ugly 
    underbelly of the State.   
    
    Large areas of democratic political activity get treated as `secret' 
    and `top secret' since `national security' is a catchall concept.  In 
    the 1980's, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) conducted surveillance on 
    President Zail Singh, who was alleged to have links with elements in 
    the Sikh movement in Punjab. Similar surveillance was conducted over 
    a leader of the ruling Congress party as he was felt to have become a 
    political threat to its then supreme leader. The former Defence 
    Minister Jagjivan Ram was placed under watch since he displayed prime 
    ministerial ambitions. These are routine political activities in a 
    raucous and fractious democracy. Why should not such political 
    surveillance by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is different from 
    its legitimate tasks in dealing with the subjects of counter-
    Intelligence, espionage, sabotage and terrorism, be brought under the 
    purview of the RTI Act? 
    
    Secretary level notes on files are dime a dozen in the government of 
    India. Why should protection be afforded to them under the RT I Act?  
    An amendment of the Act to that end is a betrayal of the democratic 
    pretensions of the Indian State. From the 1960's to the 1980s' the 
    Union Home Ministry's Research and Policy (R&P) Division produced 
    several reports on agrarian tensions, communal violence, student 
    unrest, Naxalite activities and so on. Many of these reports were 
    classified for no legitimate reason and were thus not available to 
    the public.   
    
    The IB is the main reporting agency of the Union Home Ministry and it 
    has a Pavlovian reflex about anything remotely connected with the 
    communist movement although the communist movement can no longer be 
    perceived to be a security threat to the Indian State even if such a 
    threat might be said to have existed during the survival of the 
    Soviet union. Naxalite violence is a particular bugbear. The 
    Naxalites in many states are mainly demanding enforcement of minimum 
    wages, protection of civil rights and the dignity of women and the 
    proper implementation of rural development policies and programs for 
    the scheduled castes and tribes.  The classification of the reports 
    on Naxalite activities only help protect the police who often indulge 
    in gross abuse of human rights of the poor and give false reports on 
    the number of deaths in police `encounters'. In a series of violent 
    incidents in the central districts of Bihar in 1981, both the state 
    police agencies and the Central IB reported the number persons killed 
    in police actions against Naxalites to be 12 persons, all of whom 
    were reported to be `Naxalites'. However, the chief secretary of the 
    state, who attended a meeting later in the Union Home Ministry, 
    admitted that the numbers of persons killed in police `encounters' 
    was nearly 60 and not just 12 as reported by the local police and the 
    IB in league with each other to protect the police. Not one of them, 
    he stated, was a `Naxalite'! The minutes of the meeting at which this 
    admission was made were classified as `top secret'! To what purpose?  
    To protect the morale of the state police and protect the DM and SP 
    of the district from suspension and prosecution? Such instances can 
    be multiplied. 
    
    There is no earthly justification for protecting the ugly facts about 
    administrative and police behaviour at the cutting edge level from 
    public scrutiny and action. The only conceivable reason for doing so 
    would perhaps be the fact that the administration is unable to 
    successfully implement development programmes and schemes for the 
    poor in a fair and legal manner to meet the increasing political 
    awareness and consciousness of the people over their human, legal and 
    social rights under the Constitution and general and special laws of 
    the land.          
    
    The post-colonial Indian State must reform itself if it wants to 
    retain a degree of legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of the 
    Indian public. Politicians in power have a special responsibility to 
    bring far reaching administrative and police reforms. The recent 
    government move in setting up the Police Act Drafting Committee 
    (PADC) to revise the Police Act of 1861 is cold comfort in the face 
    of the massive human rights violations by the police during the 
    genocide in Gujarat 2002, the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, 
    the Bombay killings of 1992-93 and the anti-Sikh carnage of 1984, 
    which underline the need for fundamental police reforms. Further, the 
    PADC does not include a single woman in the context of the increasing 
    violence against women reported by official agencies themselves. Why 
    cannot the proceedings of the PADC be made available to the public 
    under the RTI Act? 
    
    (The writer is a former member of the IPS and former Director of the 
    Research and Policy Division of the Union Home Ministry) 
    Email: kadayam39@hotmail.com

    Posted in RTI info in News Papers | 2 Comments »