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RTI Convention :: NCPRI :: Shailesh Gandhi

Posted by rtiact2005 on October 17, 2006

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: shailesh Gandhi <shailesh2@vsnl.com>
Date: 16-Oct-2006

Subject: RTI Convention

There were some fairly significant developments at the National Convention, -which are at the end of this report,-and I wanted to share them.

Report on the National RTI Convention

The Central Information Commission, to commemorate one year of the
RTI Act, organized a National Convention. The Convention was held from 13 to 15 October, 2006 at the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi. It generated a lot of controversies, even before it began. The Commission first formed a steering committee which included a fair number of civil society activists.

Originally they had planned it as a function primarily for officials. They proposed a function for about 350 people in which there would be about 60 to 70 activists. We protested against this and they accepted the view that without the presence of adequate Citizens, a RTI convention was meaningless.

After this first meeting they completely forgot about the steering
committee and designed a really bad program of RTI discussions interspersed with comedy and puppet shows. This resulted in some RTI activists deciding to skip the Convention.

On the first day, Anna Hazare who spoke before the CIC and the President made a fairly strong statement castigating the Government and the Information Commissions for not coming upto the Citizen’s
expectations in the implementation of the act.

Towards the end of the President’s speech, a group of activists stood up with banners giving a call for sacking the CIC. They were later picked by the police and released after a few hours of questioning.

The Commission said they had invited about 900 people out of whom, about 50% were civil society members and the rest were government officials- PIOs, Appellate authorities, Commissioners and others.
I think there were about 700 people who attended in which there were perhaps about 400 government officials including around 30 Information Commissioners from across India.

The next day had a very good beginning with P.C.Alexander’s erudite and thought provoking speech. I had been dismayed initially when I
had heard his name as the keynote, speaker, but was pleasantly surprised at his depth of understanding of the subject and the current stage of RTI. He was unsparing in his criticism of the Government and the Information Commissions for their faults, and very categorically stated that the Government’s move to amend the law was regressive. With his long experience he stated that giving file notings posed no problem to the honest officers.

After this there were four panel discussions and an opportunity was also given to other participants for about 100 minutes to express their views.

This ended at 2.00pm on the final day.

These sessions were really very interesting with most participants,-
Information Commissioners, other officials and Citizens,- expressing
dissatisfaction with the current status of RTI. By and large everyone voiced the view that RTI had not delivered its promise and potential. Some Citizens were very vociferous and eloquent in attacking the Commissions, PIOs and Appellate Authorities. At times the integrity of officials and Commissioners was also challenged. Bad and illegal orders from all these functionaries were attacked repeatedly, with just a few showing any appreciation of anything done by them.

The three persistent demands by the activists were about penalty imposition, personal hearings and Section 4 disclosure. To me
as an involved observer and activist, this showed a very interesting side of the potential of the Right To Information campaign. Everyone, including Public Servants accepted the importance of the Right, and also in acknowledging the failure to deliver. Though there were more Public Servants than Citizenry, there were very few who blamed the Citizens for any faults, or misuse.

On the first day, Wajahat Habibullah speaking before the President, stated that he was against any move to ban applications on the
alleged grounds of being ‘vexatious and frivolous’ or any amendment of the RTI Act.

After discussions with some activists, I proposed seven resolutions
before the Convention on the final day and six were passed. The first three were passed unanimously, while the balance were passed with an overwhelming majority. It is worthwhile to note that the first three resolutions, including the demand for no change in the RTI Act, had Information Commissioners also raising their hands in support. It will also be useful to keep in mind that the audience had around 50% Public servants.

When the Chief Information Commissioner presented his report to the Prime Minister, he mentioned the first three resolutions in his speech. Minister Suresh Pachouri and the Prime Minister did not respond to these, and primarily read their written speeches paying homage to RTI and their own and Sonia Gandhi’s contributions to RTI.

October 15, 2006

We the People of India, having gathered at the National Convention held by the Central Information Commission at Vigyan Bhawan, have deliberated from 13 to 15th October 2006 on our Right To Information Act, 22 of 2005. As we complete one year of this Historic Act,- which heralds our Swaraj,- we resolve as follows to ensure and safeguard our freedom:

1. The Governments must provide required resources, facilities, funding and personnel to the Information Commissions to be able to implement the Right To Information Act.

2. All Public Authorities must fulfil the requirements of Section 4, and a compliance report should be submitted to the appropriate Information Commissions before 1 January, 2007.

3. The Government must give an undertaking publicly that no changes will be made in the RTI Act until October, 2008.

4. Commissions must give an opportunity for a personal hearing to appellants and complainants.

5. Commissions should go by the letter and spirit of the law, ensuring that all denials of information are only as per the exemptions listed in the Act.

6. The Governments must ensure a common name in whose favour the
application fees can be made by demand drafts or postal orders, and increase the modes of payment of these fees.

Passed by the Convention on 15 October, 2006.

To be presented to the Prime Minister of India.

Being given to the Central and State Information Commissions, for response and action. We also request them to also forward these to the Central and State Governments.

Note: The first three resolution were passed unanimously, and the balance three by an overwhelming majority. The resolution which could not garner a clear majority, inspite of a loud and vigorous thumping from many activists was:

7. Commissions must impose penalties as a matter of rule of law, rather than as exceptions in order to effectively implement the Act and reduce the number of second appeals reaching them.

Personal note: Among other points, I did strongly put across the following:

1. The need for ensuring that the pendency before the Commissions
should not be more than 60 days. I believe this is the greatest danger to the Act.

2. The desirability of a RTI stamp of Rs. 10 available at all post
offices which should be accepted for all applications. The amount obtained from this could be used for RTI propagation. Even if there are one crore applications in the Country, the amount involved will be just 10 crore rupees.

However, these did not find great enthusiasm.

Love

shailesh gandhi
022 32903776; 26001003
All my mails are in Public domain,
and do share them if you wish.
http://www.satyamevajayate.info

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NCPRI, PARIVARTHAN, CHRI need to become TRANSPARENT and ACCOUNTABLE !!

Posted by rtiact2005 on October 1, 2006

Is there an indication that Arvind/Parivartan/Bhushan are interested in anything other than the SKD complaint?

Not a lot of people are happy with them assuming a sort of a monopoly on the role of an intermediary first with the legislative draft-making people (I found out the version they were working on only after an MP put it up in Rajya Sabha – see my blog, this one from Bhushan et al. is severely deficient that has not picked up threads from IWBA including my work with Mr. Shetty) and now with the supreme court.

There has to be an unequivocal communication from them to whistleblowers who have written to the CVC – including VBS whom they know — that they will represent them also or will gladly work with the lawyers representing whistleblowers other than SKD. Please reflect on this.

This is not a simple issue of just working with an organization of that organization does not represent in words and action it wants to stand up for other whistleblowers thus justifying its arrogation of the intermediary role.

Cheers,

SANJAY

___________

Parivarthan does not respond to TRANSPARENCY ?

PARIVARTHAN thinks that they are not ACCOUNTABLE to any one !! WHY ?

Do’t you think that some of them MESSED up CASE of martyr SKD ?

You must know that more people are getting to know the FACTS about NGO’s or GROUPS.

Problem is some of these people in these groups think that they are the only one need to be handling the issues and others need to listen to them.

VMK

____________________________

Respected Sir,

I cannot resist to agree with you 100%. It is more than one year since when the directorate general of vigilance is after me, merely to scuttle my deputation to CBI. Had people like you, Vidshal, Sanjay, Shadiji, YP Sngh , Rajesh, Sucheta, etc. were not there, vigilancewould have digested me by now.

Parivartan and others NGO think that whatever they aredoing for whistleblowers is the best and the first condion of whistleblower s that he should be a martyr.

I don’t seen any ponit in approching Arvind for rederessal.

Regards,

VB Singh

________________________________________________________

Posted in NCPRI, PARIVARTAN | 5 Comments »

Action to defend RTI

Posted by rtiact2005 on September 1, 2006

The Right To Information Act has begun to make an impact in terms of empowering Citizens across the Country to make them monitors on the actions of the Government-questioning, and asking for their fundamental right of Information. The Anti-bribery Campaign from 1st to 15th July 2006 in 42 cities of India, started showing how Corruption and bribery could be challenged by independent lone Citizens using the Right To Information, and demonstrating their sovereignty.

       The Empire has struck back to defend its Raj. It has done this by using the device of saying they will amend the law, so that about 20% of the impact of the law will be nullified. Citizens in many cities in India protested so vehemently and Anna Hazare’s and Sandeep Pandey’s fast put pressure on the Government, resulting in their offering to postpone the amendments. However the Government has clearly stated that they are only postponing the action of diluting the Act which is so important for the freedom of Citizens.

       An initiative has been launched by Citizens in Mumbai to create a mass awareness about RTI and to combat the Government’s move to dilute their right with a simple slogan,

NO CHANGE IN RTI.

      This initiative was been kicked off at a meeting at the Indian Merchants Chamber.

A 2 *3 ft. banner has been designed by Vidya Vaidya and her niece Aditi Chitre exhorting people to record their approval of the this slogan. The concept is very simple and like RTI –easy to use.

We are hoping that various Citizens will agree to put the banners-which are available in English and Marathi – at places where there is traffic of people. These could be housing societies, shops, stores, malls, hospitals, theaters, multiplexes, Ganesh Pandals, places of worship, Gymkhanas etc. A Swaraj box would be kept with it and ballot papers which Citizens could use to say Yes, we agree with the slogan, “ NO CHANGE IN RTI”, or express their support for RTI.  If we can talk to friends and concerned Citizens to implement this simple device to register our active protest against an attack on our Freedom, the Government will have to take back its steps attacking our Freedom. You are an influential group and capable of getting a great deal of support. Do please use your voice and support for OUR Freedom. It would help the cause of RTI if volunteers could spare a few hours at the locations where the boxes are, to explain the significance of this to Citizens and persuade them to use the ballot for their freedom.

       It is suggested that those who keep these boxes, count the ballots every 15 days and send the count to me for the earlier period starting from 16 September. They can inform me by email at shailesh2@vsnl.com or sms it to me at 09820027305. At an appropriate time we will collect all the ballots and send them to the Prime Minister. We are hoping Citizens will take up this cause which impacts their freedom and use their contacts to implement this. If we can get a few thousand places to implement this, we will start a bushfire and send a powerful message to the Government. The implications of our ballots would not be lost on our elected representatives.

shailesh gandhi

 Mumbai

Actions required:

Note on Execution of

CAMPAIGN FOR ‘NO CHANGE TO RTI’

 

A key action in this campaign is for organizers to put up at a visible place three tools for people to effect their choice for ‘No change in RTI’. These tools are – banner, ballot box and ballot papers

 

Action Steps for Organisers

 

1. Order banner from Ravi Wadhwa at tel: 022 20633154. This is available in English and Marathi at the cost of Rs. 100 per banner. Alternatively, if organizers wish to make changes or get them printed themselves, send an email to Shailesh Gandhi at shailesh2@vsnl.com. He will courier you a CD with the design.

It will useful if people could translate them into other languages.

2. Prepare a ballot box. Get/make a cardboard box with a slot at the top. Cover with white paper and write ‘Swaraj Box’ on it

 

 

3. Print ballot papers. The format is given below. Alternatively, order ballot papers from Ravi Wadhwa at 022 20633154.

It should be possible to do alayout of six to a page, and get them Xeroxed, threby the cost would come to around 10 paise.

 

4. Every fortnight, count the ballot  and email the numbers to shailesh2@vsnl.com. Also, store the counted ballots for collection at the end of the campaign.

5. Persuade others to emulate you. The effectiveness will multiply if lots of places keep these.

We can succeed.

 

The Campaign to Save the Right to Information feels that these amendments would considerably weaken the Act. Do you agree you want “ NO CHANGE IN RTI’.

 (Tick one of the following)

 1. I want “ NO CHANGE IN RTI”                         ………..

 

2. The Government has the right to change it            ………….

Name: ……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Address:……………………………………………………………………………………………..

022 32903776; 26001003
All my mails are in Public domain,
and do share them if you wish.
www.satyamevajayate.info

Posted in NCPRI | 5 Comments »

Attacks on the info law won’t work :Indians have a right to know what advice an officer gave and if it was disregarded, why it was disregarded

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 23, 2006

Attacks on the info law won’t work

Shekhar Singh

Posted online: Monday, August 21, 2006 at 0000 hrs

Indians have a right to know what advice an officer gave and if it was disregarded, why it was disregarded

var dc_UnitID = 14; var dc_PublisherID = 2690; var dc_AdLinkColor = ‘blue’; var dc_open_new_win=’yes’; var dc_adprod=’ADL’; var dc_single_line = ‘yes’; Though the government has dropped the move to introduce amendments to RTI Act in the current session of Parliament, perhaps it has not yet abandoned its resolve to ruin this perfectly good law and, in the process, lose much of the goodwill it had earned for introducing it.

What is not clear is the government’s rationale for wanting to exclude not just file notings but also all information prior to decision-making, most information about transfers and postings, and identities of those giving advice or opinions. Interestingly, at a recent meeting the concerned minister denied that specific problems were behind the move, but the July 26 media statement of the PMO and an unsigned and undated note circulated to some MPs, reportedly by the department of personnel, reveal some of the reasoning for excluding file notings.

The first rationale offered is that the Freedom of Information Act of 2002 prohibited access to notings, as did all the state acts and the transparency laws in most “developed democratic countries”. The fact is that the 2002 Act prohibited access to notings only during the decision-making process, as did most state acts. In any case the UPA government repealed the 2002 Act, as it was considered too weak. Therefore, its weakness cannot now be used as a justification to weaken the RTI Act. Also, most foreign countries actually provide varying levels of access to the “deliberative process”, and the few ‘developed’ ones that do not, have other well-established systems which actually work, for ensuring bureaucratic accountability — as evidenced by the low levels of corruption there.

Another rationale is the presumption that individual officers are likely to face threats to their safety or life, and unnecessary litigation, if notings are made public. However, the existing RTI Act already exempts information whose disclosure would endanger the life or safety of any person. Meanwhile, secrecy and lack of accountability continue to threaten the lives and safety of millions of “common” Indians, who are victims of state apathy or terror.

Litigation by those with grievances against the government is often based on misapprehension and conjecture, and costs the litigant time, money and effort. Prior access to the information, which usually becomes accessible only after a case is filed, would allow the potential litigant to make an informed decision on whether there is cause for legal action. Greater transparency would also pressure the government to give less cause for legal action. Litigation would, consequently, decrease.

The third rationale is that officers will not give free and frank opinions if these are accessible to the public, and consequently the quality of governance would suffer. However, officers are pressured to write against their conscience not (please note) by the public, but by their bureaucratic and political bosses. These bosses already have access to file notings and do not need the RTI Act. In fact public disclosure of file notings would help ensure that officers do not succumb to such pressures. It would deter bosses from over-ruling their subordinates and taking decisions that have no basis in law, or are against public interest.

However, the most outrageous rationale offered is that “in the constitutional scheme of governance adopted by us, it is the government of the day and not the individual officers, who is responsible to the people for its actions/decisions. Bureaucrats, in turn, are responsible to the government of the day”. Clearly, the primary responsibility of the bureaucrat is to the Constitution and to the people of India, and not to the government of the day. Even when the final decision rests with the government of the day, the responsibility for the advice given always remains that of the individual officer who gave that advice. And the people of democratic India have a right to know what advice the officer gave, and if it was disregarded, why it was disregarded. This is a fundamental right in a democracy.

Any problems the government faces in implementing the RTI Act should be shared with the people of India. Then democratic solutions can be found. Otherwise, the struggle to protect this right will go on as, most likely, will the attacks on this right. Over time, such attacks will make the people even more aware of how critical this right is, and strengthen their resolve to defend democracy.

The writer is a former convener of the National Campaign for the Right to Information

editor@expressindia.com

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/11038.html

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Transparency

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 10, 2006

TOI had requested me to write an article on Transparency last week. They have published it on August 8  in the Mumbai edition on page 2. Wanted to share it with all of you:

I was meeting a close friend and activist of the Right To Information movement last December. The Right To Information Act had been implemented throughout India, and we were discussing how it would go forward. Our concerns were on various interpretation and implementation issues. We are both members of a very famous electronic board called Humjanenge. But as our discussion progressed we felt that there was a need for a small group of wise people who could discuss important matters though emails amongst themselves. We decided we would form a separate e-board where only a select few would be invited.

Two hours later I was thinking of the absurdity of the whole concept we had evolved. We, -who championed transparency in all transactions, – had decided to make a group of ‘wise’ people who would debate and discuss how to nurture Right To Information. We had also convinced ourselves that WE had the wisdom and maturity to decide who should comprise this group. Was this thought not an indication of a chink in our professed conviction and commitment to transparency? How absurd and inconsistent was our idea? A coterie would attempt to decide on the matters relating to the Right To Information movement, away from the gaze and questioning of others! My honesty and belief in the cause of transparency were appearing to hollow. Was I being a hypocrite who wanted others to be transparent, but saw the need and justification for secret confabulations for the ‘general good’? I realized that our thought went against the very grain of transparency and was a sign of weakness and arrogance. When I called up my friend, he declared he had also had similar thoughts, and hence we gave up the idea.

Does this mean that everything we say and do should be transparent for everyone to see? There certainly are completely private matters, but for anything to do with public activities, transparency is the best guarantee of delivering Public good. Even in interpersonal relationships a healthy and honest relationship is possible only when we are truthful and transparent. But will this not expose our mistakes and follies? We fear that this would invite ridicule, and loss of respect for us. I think the converse is true. When we are transparent in our actions, we are more careful and less likely to do anything we would be ashamed of.   Whenever we make mistakes, we would focus on correcting ourselves, rather than misusing the same resource and time in covering up. This is not very difficult and is beneficial for all of us. One of the measures of judging ourselves on the transparency scale is to count how often we have admitted to mistakes, – to ourselves, – and to others.

In matters of Governance it is still more important to have transparency, and also more difficult to achieve. Transparency in governance leads to a fairer, more efficient and people-friendly society. The propensity for corruption, arbitrariness and nepotism reduces. The Government can be more transparent only when it is acting in the interests of the people. However, it is more difficult to achieve, since arrogance stalks those who are in power. This arrogance of ‘we know what is best for people’ is coupled with the reluctance and absence of admission of mistakes. A case in point is the recent regressive move to dilute the Right To Information Act. The Government proclaims that file notings were never covered in the definition of ‘information’, but goes ahead and changes the definition of ‘Information’ under the guise of the amendments. It proclaims, ” The overall effort is to promote even greater transparency and accountability in our decision making process.”   But in the actual amendments to the exemptions, it expands the scope of three of the earlier ten exemptions and adds three more. This is supposed to be their contribution for the good of Citizens. A move to expand thirty percent of the present exemptions and add another thirty percent is explained as a move to strengthen the Citizen’s rights! Goebbels would envy this exercise.

But when I remember the incident I have given at the beginning, of two small RTI activists thinking that they had all the wisdom and would opaquely arrive at the best solutions for the Right to Information’, I can understand the Government’s state of mind. I am hoping the Government will also realize and acknowledge its folly in this as we did.

Honesty and transparency go hand in hand, since you can be transparent, only if you are committed to honesty.  If we practise Asatyamevajayate, we cannot be transparent. Right To Information is our tool for bringing about a true Swaraj.   Without transparency a true democracy, following the rule of law will remain a myth.

shailesh gandhi

022 32903776; 26001003
All my mails are in Public domain, and do share them if you wish.
http://www.satyamevajayate.info

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Saving our RTI – Write to your MP’s and others

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 1, 2006

Saving our RTI

To locate the address of MPs, you can visit:

http://164.100.24.208/ls/lsmember/membershomepage.asp

 

A request to all freedom loving Citizens, and organisations in India. NCPRI is  proposing that groups and organisations send emails/letters to all MPs as per the following draft. Various organisations, or groups of individuals  in the Country could send similar letters to MPs in their area, and try and persuade them to issue letters supporting our position. Personal meetings would help. It is necessary that we ask our elected representatives to behave responsibly in discharging their duty towards us. This is one issue in if they are not with us, it is reasonable for us to assume they are against us.

If convenient, do let me know which MPs you have contacted and who have responded/not responded.

Love

shailesh

 

Dear        ,

               Citizens of India are very distressed at the Cabinet decision to curtail our New-found Freedom in the Right To Information Act 22 of 2005.

We have just started using this act, and see the immense empowerment to us which will convert India into a true participatory democracy.

The Cabinet decision to amend the most important Act which allows Citizens to monitor and improve Governance, by disallowing File Notings is a Citizen-unfriendly act and strikes at the roots of our Freedom. For your convenience we are giving our major objections to this proposed change in the Act:

1. Putting file notings in the realm of exemptions will make  the Act weaker. There are a lot of instances where honest officers have
recorded their objections to illegal proposals, and the higher officers/Ministers have overruled them, which would come to light. What we

have percieved as Right To Information is being sought to be converted to Right To Corruption. The significance of the proposed amendment

to the Act coming soon after an All-India Antibribery Campaign using RTI is not lost on us.
2.. The move smacks of arrogance of power and arbitrariness. The Government has made no attempt to disclose to the Public, what great harm
has accrued to governance in the last few months, which could not be covered under the present exemptions under Section 8.
3. It makes a mockery of over nine months (from August 2004 to May 2005) of a consultative-deliberative process between Beaureucrats,  Ministers, a Parliamentary Committee and Citizens, by an arbitrary decision of the cabinet. This is violative of the basic principles of transparency and democracy.

 

  We have tolerated enough illegal activities and arbitrariness by all those who are charged with upholding them. We demand that our elected representatives declare if they wish to join us in protesting this move. The Citizens demand that you write to the leaders of your party outlining your opposition to this dilution of the Citizens rights by 13 August, and share a copy of your letter with Citizens. If we do not recieve a message from you by August 14 from any of the MPs, we shall assume that they are against Public Interest and are favouring an attack on our freedom. We will publicise the names of MPs who support our freedom , and those who oppose it. 

            We the Citizens demand an answer and will not be willing to assume that you are indifferent to a matter which concerns us deeply. We believe the survival of our democracy depends critically on this Right, and do not want any dilution of our valued Right.  

We await your attention to a cause which is very importnant and dear to us.

Yours truly,

 

022 32903776; 26001003
All my mails are in Public domain,
and do share them if you wish.
www.satyamevajayate.info

Posted in NCPRI | 1 Comment »

Saving our Right To Information

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 1, 2006

A request to all freedom loving Citizens, and organisations in India. NCPRI is  proposing that groups and organisations send emails/letters to all MPs as per the following draft. Various organisations, or groups of individuals  in the Country could send similar letters to MPs in their area, and try and persuade them to issue letters supporting our position. Personal meetings would help. It is necessary that we ask our elected representatives to behave responsibly in discharging their duty towards us. This is one issue in which they are either with us, or against us.
Love
shailesh

Dear        ,
Citizens of India are very distressed at the Cabinet decision to curtail our New-found Freedom in the Right To Information Act 22 of 2005.
We have just started using this act, and see the immense empowerment to us which will convert India into a true participatory democracy.
The Cabinet decision to amend the most important Act which allows Citizens to monitor and improve Governance, by disallowing File Notings is a Citizen-unfriendly act and strikes at the roots of our Freedom. For your convenience we are giving our major objections to this proposed change in the Act:
1. Putting file notings in the realm of exemptions will make  the Act weaker. There are a lot of instances where honest officers have
recorded their objections to illegal proposals, and the higher officers/Ministers have overruled them, which would come to light. What we
have percieved as Right To Information is being sought to be converted to Right To Corruption. The significance of the proposed amendment
to the Act coming soon after an All-India Antibribery Campaign using RTI is not lost on us.
2.. The move smacks of arrogance of power and arbitrariness. The Government has made no attempt to disclose to the Public, what great harm
has accrued to governance in the last few months, which could not be covered under the present exemptions under Section 8.
3. It makes a mockery of over nine months (from August 2004 to May 2005) of a consultative-deliberative process between Beaureucrats,  Ministers, a Parliamentary Committee and Citizens, by an arbitrary decision of the cabinet. This is violative of the basic principles of transparency and democracy.

We have tolerated enough illegal activities and arbitrariness by all those who are charged with upholding them. We demand that our elected representatives declare if they wish to join us in protesting this move. The Citizens demand that you write to the leaders of your party outlining your opposition to this dilution of the Citizens rights by 13 August, and share a copy of your letter with Citizens. If we do not recieve a message from you by August 14 from any of the MPs, we shall assume that they are against Public Interest and are favouring an attack on our freedom. We will publicise the names of MPs who support our freedom , and those who oppose it.
We the Citizens demand an answer and will not be willing to assume that you are indifferent to a matter which concerns us deeply. We believe the survival of our democracy depends critically on this Right, and do not want any dilution of our valued Right.
We await your attention to a cause which is very importnant and dear to us.
Yours truly,

022 32903776; 26001003
All my mails are in Public domain,
and do share them if you wish.
http://www.satyamevajayate.info

Posted in NCPRI | 2 Comments »

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO INFORMATION – PRESS NOTE

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 22, 2006

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO INFORMATION

NCPRI

PRESS NOTE

There is news that the Cabinet has decided to amend the Right To Information Act to exclude file notings from the Act. NCPRI categorically states that this is a completely retrograde step which seeks to curtail the Citizen’s fundamental right in an unacceptable manner.  If file notings are exempted, it is a sure method of obfuscating the existence of arbitrariness in the decision making process, which enables fixing accountability on specific officers. It will encourage corrupt and arbitrary practices and be a sure way to kill the spirit of the Act. The Ministers have been ill-advised in going back on the promise to Indian Citizens of transparency and accountability. NCPRI and al other Civil Society organizations will strongly oppose this move which encourages opacity in the decision-making process, since this would encourage corrupt practices. We recommend that the Government should stop this move to dilute the Act.  Citizens from all strata of the Nation are using to it with great hope and faith to monitor and curb arbitrary and corrupt practices in the Governance. The preamble to the Act had recognised, ‘AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Goverments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;

AND WHEREAS revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information;

AND WHEREAS it is necessary to harmonise these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal;”

Thus it accepts that after careful thought by the Parliament and Citizens, a careful harmonizing has been done of the conflicting interests. It was after a lot of deliberations that this Act was framed, which codifies the Citizen’s fundamental right under Article 19 (1). An elaborate process was undertaken from August 2004 to December 2004, when the bill was first tabled. Since various stakeholders felt that there were some important deficiencies, a Parliamentary Committee was set up in January 2005, which went into an elaborate consultative process with the Government functionaries and Citizens groups. After a meticulous and detailed exercise, the final draft was prepared by the Government and tabled before the Parliament. After due debate, this bill was passed by both houses of Parliament and assent given to it by the President. Making changes in this law, eems to make a mockery of the entire democratic law-making process, the Government’s promise and actions, and the Parliamentary Committee and Citizens who contributed to this law.

NCPRI suggests that the Government desist from attacking this fundamental right of Citizens. Citizens believe this Act will take the Nation towards a true participative Swaraj, and the Government should focus on how to strengthen the implementation of the Act. This move coming in the wake of an all-India, Antibribery Citizen’s Campaign using Right To Information, would send a signal to them, that this is a move to curb their rights, since it threatens certain undesirable practices.

We call on all Indians to join with us to oppose any move to curtail our fundamental right to know and to work together to insist this retrograde step is not take. Citizens and organizations are requested to write to the Prime Minister and all Political parties and register their opposition. Citizens across the Nation should also organize themselves in meetings to explain to others and register their protest against this assault on an important right, which is important for their Swaraj.

shailesh gandhi

Convenor

Ajit Bhattacharjea; Anjali Bhardwaj; Angela Rangad ;Aruna Roy; Arvind Kejriwal;

Balraj Puri; Bharat Dogra; Debu Bandhopadhya; Harivansh; Harsh Mander; Jagdeep Chhokar; Jagmohan Singh; Jean Dreze; Maja Daruwala; Nikhil Dey; P Wangchuk; Prabhash Joshi ;Prakash Kardaley; Prashant Bhushan; Prabhash Joshi; V.Suresh; Venkatesh Nayak; Vinay Mahajan; S R Sankaran; Samir Acharya; Sandeep Pande;  Trilochan Sastry; Shekhar Singh; Suman Sahai; Vishaish Uppal

Working Committee of NCPRI

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Mr. Shailesh Gandhi has taken up the responsibility as CONVENOR of NCPRI

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 2, 2006

This is to inform you that Mr Shailesh Gandhi has taken up the responsibility of convenorship of the NCPRI from 1 July 2006. His email ID is shailesh2@vsnl.com. I am sure he will inform you soon of his other contact details.

Shailesh is one of our most distinguished RTI activists who has contributed enormously to the implementation of the Maharashtra RTI Act, and to the formulation, the passing and now the use and monitoring of the national RTI Act. He has been a member of the NCPRI working committee for the last two years.

A product of IIT Bombay, he was an industrialist for many years but has recently liquidated his business interest and decided to dedicate most ofhis time to the cause of transparency. In Shailesh we have a rare combination of long experience, inexhaustible energy and unswerving commitment to the right to information.

I am convinced that under his convenorhip the NCPRI will become invigorated and take up many of the challenges that ensuring a universalised access to the right to information poses.

Shekhar Singh


National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
C17A Munirka DDA Flats
New Delhi 110067
India
Tel: +91-11-2617 8048
Telefax: +91-11-2616 8759
Email: ncpri.india@gmail.com

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What is the NCPRI ? – http://www.righttoinformation.info/

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 12, 2006

What is the NCPRI? 

http://www.righttoinformation.info/The NCPRI is a movement of committed individuals working towards making our government and society more transparent and accountable. 

Objectives 

The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) seeks to empower people and to deepen democracy, through promoting people’s right to information. Through the use of this right, it seeks to fight corruption and social apathy, to make governments, and other institutions and agencies having an impact on public welfare, more humane and accountable to the people, and to promote efficiency and frugality. 
Values 

The NCPRI is committed to support participatory, just, secular and humane democracy.

 Methods and Activities 

The NCPRI endeavours to constantly engage and interact with the state and with other institutions and agencies. It campaigns for the enactment and use of a right to information law that is effective and accessible to all, and supports people’s efforts at developing the ability and motivation to use the right to information for addressing individual and social problems. It works at disseminating the RTI law and encourages and supports the development of materials related to transparency and governance, the raising of awareness about the fundamental value of information, the conduct of research, and the setting up of information clearing houses. It seeks to further the cause of transparency by adopting other direct and indirect methods, including the filing of information requests, the fighting of legal cases, and the holding of public hearings. 

The NCPRI seeks to actively work with other progressive campaigns and movements and in solidarity with other progressive elements of society. 

Past Activities 

The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) was founded in 1996. Its founding members included social activists, journalists, lawyers, professionals, retired civil servants and academics, and one of its primary objectives was to campaign for a national law facilitating the exercise of the fundamental right to information. 

As a first step, the NCPRI and the Press Council of India formulated an initial draft of a right to information (RTI) law. This draft, after extensive discussions, was sent to the Government of India in 1996. The Government finally introduced the Freedom of Information Bill in Parliament, in 2002. This was a very watered down version of the Bill first drafted by the NCPRI and others in 1996. 

Meanwhile, the NCPRI was also campaigning for state RTI acts and supporting the efforts of state governments, like Karnataka and Delhi. It also worked at promoting awareness and broadening and deepening the campaign. The first national convention was held at Beawar, Rajasthan, in 2002, and was attended by over a thousand delegates, from all parts of the country. The second convention was held in Delhi in 2004, and again was attended by over a thousand delegates from all over the country. Over thirty workshops were organised as a part of the convention to discuss the use of RTI in different areas of work and governance. 

The NCPRI also organised a public hearing in Bhopal, in 2002, around the proposed Maheshwar Dam on the Narmada River. Three to four hundred people, mainly from among those who were affected by the project, attended this public hearing. Representatives of S. Kumars, the company building the project, also participated.

In August 2004 the NCPRI forwarded to the National Advisory Council a set of suggested amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 2002. These amendments, designed to strengthen and make more effective the 2002 Act, were based on extensive discussions with civil society groups working on transparency and other related issues and were in response to the undertaking given by the UPA government, in their Common Minimum Programme, that the “Right to Information Act will be made more progressive, participatory and meaningful.” 

The NAC endorsed most of the suggested amendments and recommended them to the Prime Minister of India for further action. These formed the basis of the subsequent Right to Information Bill, introduced in Parliament on 22 December 2004. 

However, this bill, as introduced in Parliament, had many weaknesses. Most significantly, unlike the NCPRI suggestion, it did not apply to the whole country but only to the Union Government. The consequent outrage from civil society groups, including the NCPRI, forced the government to review the changes. The Bill was referred to a Standing Committee of the Parliament and to a Group of Ministers. The standing committee asked several of the NCPRI members to give evidence before it, and ultimately endorsed the stand taken by the NCPRI in most matters. . In the next session of Parliament, the bill was passed after over a hundred amendments introduced by the government to accommodate the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee and the Group of Ministers. Most important, the jurisdiction of the Bill has been extended to cover the whole of India. The RTI Act has come into effect all over India from 13 October 2005. 

Structure 

The NCPRI is a non-registered group that is managed according to a constitution. 
Funding Sources 

The NCPRI does not accept institutional funds, from India or abroad, and is financed wholly through individual donations. We have an annual budget of roughly Rs. 6,00,000, which includes all overhead payments and salaries of a skeleton staff that runs the NCPRI's Munirka office, in Delhi. Details of our accounts are available on our website.

Management The founding members of National Campaign for People's Right to Information, which was launched in 1996. are Ajit Bhattacharjea, Prashant Bhushan, Nikhil Dey, Bharat Dogra, Prabhash Joshi, K.G. Kannabiran, Harsh Mander, Renuka Mishra, M.P. Parmeswaram, Aruna Roy, S.R Sankaran and Shekhar Singh. 

The NCPRI is managed by a Working Committee. The members of the NCPRI Working Committee for 2004-06 are Ajit Bhattacharjea, Anjali Bhardwaj, Aruna Roy, Arvind Kejriwal, Bharat Dogra, Harsh Mander, Maja Daruwala, Nikhil Dey, Prabhash Joshi, Prakash Kardaley, Prashant Bhushan, Shailesh Gandhi, Suman Sahai, Vishaish Uppal, Angela Rangad, V. Suresh, Jagdeep Chhokar, Trilochan Sastry, Samir Acharya, Balraj Puri, Manesh Kumar Gupta, Venkatesh Nayak, Jagmohan Singh, P. Wangchuk, Debu Bandhopadhya, Jean Dreze, Harivansh, Sandeep Pande, Vinay Mahajan, S. R. Sankaran, Shekhar Singh (Convenor). 

Contact Us 

www.righttoinformation.info

National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) 
C 17A Munirka 
New Delhi 110 067 
Phone: +91 (0)11 26178048, 
Fax: 26168759
shekharsingh@gmail.com
ncpri.india@gmail.com

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