Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Archive for November, 2007

‘Govt Policies cannot be questioned through RTI Act’

Posted by rtiact2005 on November 11, 2007

‘Govt Policies cannot be questioned through RTI Act’
New Delhi, PTI:
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that citizens cannot question government policies and plans by utilising the Right to Information Act.

The Commission noted this while dismissing an application filed by a Mumbai resident Amin Merchant who had sought information from Finance Ministry as to why certain tariff policy was framed by the Centre.

“..it is not open to citizens to question the government about why a certain matter was handled in a certain way and not differently. The public authority owes him no explanation,” the Information Commissioner A N Tiwari said.

Merchant, in his application to the Ministry had questioned its policy for not issuing exemption notification against certain goods.

“While RTI Act entitles each citizen to seek and receive information from public authorities, it does not allow them any liberty to seek explanations and reasons from it,” the Commission said adding that such “freewheeling questioning” should not be encouraged.

Holding that the RTI Act is not a proper instrument for seeking such explanation from the government, the Commission said, “No explanation is owed to the appellant (Merchant) by the Centre, which pilots the budget before the Parliament and is answerable only to the Parliament and to no one else.”

“If he is not happy with some of the proposals such persons may even petition the appropriate department of the government or the Parliament or agitate the matter before a Court of law,” the Commission said.



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Tamilnadu-Application under RTI caught in blame game

Posted by rtiact2005 on November 9, 2007

Application under RTI caught in blame game
Thursday November 8 2007 08:44 IST

CHENNAI: An application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act questioning the non-implementation of the directive from the Madras High Court is caught up in a blame game amid the Revenue department, the Tiruvallur District Collectorate and the Avadi Municipality.

Vamshi S Dixit, an advocate, had submitted an application to the Revenue Secretary and the Tiruvallur District Collector in September, 2007, asking for reasons to account for the non-removal of 137 encroachments on six acres of poromboke land (along the MTH Road) near Pattabiram railway station, despite a directive issued by the High Court to do so eight months ago.

The Revenue department first forwarded the application to the Collectorate which, in turn, sent it to the Poonamallee tahsildar, who forwarded it to the Avadi Municipality.

The civic body, on its part, sent it back to the tashildar saying that the removal of encroachments was the duty of the Revenue department.

Since he could not get a reply for his queries within the legally stipulated time of 30 days, the RTI applicant had filed his appeal petitions both before the District Collector and the Revenue Secretary a few weeks ago. However, he did not get a reply from them either.

“If we cannot get any response for the appeals also within the prescribed time limit, we have no other option except to move the State Information Commission,” said R L Saravanan, a resident and a lawyer in Pattabiram.

It may be recalled that for over two decades, the residents in the area had been demanding that a bus terminus be constructed on the said piece of land for which Sriperumbudur MP A Krishnasamy had also allotted Rs 20 lakh from his area development fund.

Many residents in the area were furious with the official callousness. “We never expected the authorities to show such scant regard for a High Court directive, in addition to violating the terms of the Right To Information (RTI) Act,” said T Sadagopan, local resident and office bearer of the Thandurai-Pattabiram Consumer Centre.


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RTI effect: Netaji papers to be released

Posted by rtiact2005 on November 5, 2007

RTI effect: Netaji papers to be released

Hindustan Times

Aloke Tikku

New Delhi, November 4

The government is finally preparing to make public a selection of secret and controversial documents relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s reported death and subsequent events.

The documents include communications to and from then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the chiefs of intelligence, which had been given to the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee of 1956 and Justice GD Khosla Commission of 1970.

Both had concluded that Netaji died in an air crash in August 1945, a conclusion trashed by the Justice M.K. Mukherjee Commission in its November 2005 report.

The documents were never allowed to be made public for the next four decades. Till July, the Union Home Ministry also staved off attempts to release them under the Right To Information law saying the documents sought were voluminous, top secret in nature and may lead to chaos in the country if disclosed.

But a Central Information Commission decision in the same month has helped bring about the change in its assessment.

Officials said the Shivraj Patil-led Home Ministry had come around to the view that there really was no fear of a law and order problem if the secret documents were revealed.

Last week, Patil moved the Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs to seek a decision on releasing the files.

Sources said the committee was, in principle, inclined to make the documents public but had sought some clarifications from the bureaucracy before putting its seal of approval.

There were concerns that people may read parts of the communication out of context, which could result in a controversy that would necessarily have political overtones.

But the overall view was the worst that the Congress-led coalition government may have to face was a controversy that would die a natural death.

But Mission Netaji — the organisation that used the information law to seek access to the confidential Netaji papers — said he had his doubts if the ministry would declassify the whole lot comprising thousands of papers.

“They will hold back the sensitive papers,” said Mission Netaji.

Source: http://www.missionnetaji.org/page/ht_ccpadecision.html

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Official Secrets Act era gone; disclose Netaji records: CIC tells Govt

Posted by rtiact2005 on November 3, 2007

Official Secrets Act era gone; disclose Netaji records: CIC tells Govt

Why keep records secret if Bose had died in 1945?: Mission Netaji

Disclosure of Top Secret records will lead to chaos in country: MHA

Matter is of a serious national importance: Central Information Commission

In a major boost for the freedom of information movement in India, the full Bench of Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) must declassify records relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s reported death.

The CIC set aside the MHA’s contention that disclosure “may lead to a serious law and order problem in the country, especially in West Bengal” as “facile hypothesis” which “seems to be a position repeated without any discernable application of mind”.

The Bench comprising Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioners Padma Balasubramanian, AN Tiwari, Dr OP Kejariwal and Prof MM Ansari hammered in that the matter was of “wide public concern and therefore of national importance” and rejected the Home Ministry’s “considered view” to not to “supply the documents relating to various Commissions of Inquiry on disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in public interest”.

The documents had been sought in June last year when Sayantan Dasgupta of Mission Netaji requested the MHA to “make available authenticated copies of documents used as exhibits by the Shah Nawaz Khan and GD Khosla panels”.

The idea was to better the understanding about the conclusion drawn by these panels since the Government held their findings true even after receiving the latest report of Justice MK Mukherjee, a top criminal law expert and former judge of the Supreme Court of India. Full Story





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