Indiatogether : RTI : THE MAKING OF A NEW LAW
Posted by rtiact2005 on September 18, 2006
Indiatogether on Right To Information
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
|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
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
– Delhi (applying rules only)