Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

IAS officer’s wife e-attacks ‘corrupt’ bureaucracy

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 26, 2007

IAS officer’s wife e-attacks ‘corrupt’ bureaucracy
Bhargavi Kerur
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 08:17 IST

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1105996

Woman uses website to take on Karnataka babudom after her husband is moved 6 times in 6 months

BANGALORE: A website launched by an IAS officer’s wife in Karnataka that claims to crusade against corrupt bureaucrats has shaken the state’s babudom. JN Jayashree’s site, www.fightcorruption.wikidot.com, details her attempts to secure information through the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Jayashree took recourse to RTI after her husband MN Vijayakumar, who is the managing director of the state-owned Mysore Lamps, was transferred six times between September 2006 and February 2007. Some of his postings lasted only three days. Jayashree said she wanted to unearth the reasons for the ‘harassment’.
Read latest news at DNA

“Failing to get appropriate information, I decided to go public with my campaign,” Jayashree said. She has filed 12 applications under the RTI Act, seeking facts related to the state government’s alleged ‘shielding’ of corrupt officials. “I want to assist people who have knowledge of corrupt practices but are afraid to take these up for various reasons,” Jayashree said.

For his part, Vijayakumar has lodged a compliant against state Chief Secretary PB Mahishi with the state’s anti-corruption ombudsman. Vijayakumar has accused Mahishi of shielding corrupt officers. The ombudsman has ordered Mahishi to respond to the charges by June 27.

When DNA contacted Mahishi, he refused to comment either on the site or on Vijayakumar’s complaint.

Vijayakumar, whose petition is pending, is not talking to the media either.

Although Mahishi has hinted at legal action if the website is not shut down, Jayashree remains unrelenting. “I have launched it as an independent citizen of India,” she said. She has complained to the State Women’s Commission that Mahishi is trying to infringe on her “fundamental right.”

The commission has asked Mahishi to appear before it on July 10. The three-month-old site has drawn appreciation from activists and whistleblowers from across the world. It has even attracted some support from babudom. “If we had more Jayshrees, the system would have been better,” a woman IAS officer has said on the site’s forum.

Posted in Karnataka RTI | 6 Comments »

After politicos, babus put on notice now:Lokayukta, it comes under RTI Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on April 15, 2007

After politicos, babus put on notice now
 
By Bala Chauhan, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Lokayukta says that it is not just the elected representatives but also the bureaucrats who are duty-bound to declare their assets.
 

After going full blast against politicians who have failed to give timely or complete information on their assets and liabilities, the Lokayukta has trained its guns on the babus.

Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde told Deccan Herald that it is not just the elected representatives but also the bureaucrats, who are duty-bound to declare their assets.

“After assuming charge in August last year, I met the bureaucrats at Vidhana Soudha and asked them to file their assets and liabilities (A&L) before their heads of department, since this information can no longer be considered ‘private’ under the Right to Information Act,” said Justice Hegde.

“But only three officers — Jamdar, Anup Pujari and V P Baligar — have submitted the details. There’s a provision under their service rules that they need to file details of their A&L. I’ll have to check how many of them have done it so far,” he said.

Regarding serving ‘reminders’ on defaulting politicians, Justice Hegde said he thought it was “advisable to issue reminder notices to them on filing complete forms rather than give an ultimatum.”

‘Grace period’

“These were not statutory notices. We sent reminders to those politicians who had not filed a complete statement of assets and liabilities under Section 22 of the Lokayukta Act.

“As per this section, the elected representatives must also file A&L details pertaining to their dependent family members, in the prescribed format of Form Number 4, by June 30. They’ve been given a grace period of 60 days after which they can be prosecuted under Section 176, IPC,” Justice Hegde said.

Mens rea

“I could have chargesheeted them but Section 176 also stipulates that we ascertain mens rea (intention to commit an offence). Therefore, I thought it advisable to issue a reminder to them. We’ve given them time till April 21 to submit complete forms after which I’ll proceed against them.” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has said he will not interfere if the Lokayukta takes action against defaulting politicians.

http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/apr152007/state2335442007414.asp

Posted in Karnataka RTI | 1 Comment »

DoPT the NODAL Agency to adopt RTI is CULPRIT on attacks on RTI:still RTI survives !!

Posted by rtiact2005 on January 30, 2007

DoPT is no good !!

DoPT is messing up eGovernance of INDIA.

All the Secretaries’s of  DoPT should be CRIMINALLY CONVICTED for having done this to CITIZENS of INDIA.

SALARIES and PENSIONS  of all DoPT Secretaries should be SUSPENDED for 20 years.

_______________________________________________

RTI survives another attack

FROM DoPT !!!

Aloke Tikku and Chetan Chauhan
New Delhi
Jan 29th, 2007
Hindusthan Times E paper

A QUIET second attempt to maul your right to information has been put down. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has tossed out the government view that individual commissioners had no powers to decide appeals and issue directions to government bodies, saying this interpretation would make the law “meaningless”.
“No such interpretation can ever be accepted which will make the Act, which confers the right on a citizen to access information, totally unworkable,” a full bench of the commission headed by Wajahat Habibullah held on Monday, staving off the second attempt by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) to take the sting out of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. RTI campaigners Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia welcomed the CIC ruling. “DoPT’s reading of the law had the potential to kill the appeals procedure,” said Kejriwal, a Magsaysay awardee.

The CIC also upheld public access to file notings under the law and rejected the contention that the commission had no powers to tell the department of personnel and training to remove a misleading portion of its website. “No public authority, government or statutory organisation can ever claim that it is above the law,” the commission held in its 25-page decision that asserted the autonomous character of the CIC.

The case had its origins in the railway ministry last year explaining its refusal to allow an applicant access to file notings on the plea that the website of DoPT– the nodal department for RTI – had excluded file notings out of the purview of the law. The commission consequently told DoPT to correct the misleading portion of its website. This was around the same time that the government was making its first abortive attack on the law; finalising amendments to the RTI law that campaigners feared would “cripple” the transparency law.

Posted in CIC | 1 Comment »

RTI survives another attack :: Jan 29th 2007.

Posted by rtiact2005 on January 30, 2007

 

RTI survives another attack :: Jan 29th 2007.

Aloke Tikku and Chetan Chauhan
New Delhi
Jan 29th, 2007
Hindusthan Times E paper

A QUIET second attempt to maul your right to information has been put down. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has tossed out the government view that individual commissioners had no powers to decide appeals and issue directions to government bodies, saying this interpretation would make the law “meaningless”. “No such interpretation can ever be accepted which will make the Act, which confers the right on a citizen to access information, totally unworkable,” a full bench of the commission headed by Wajahat Habibullah held on Monday, staving off the second attempt by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) to take the sting out of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. RTI campaigners Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia welcomed the CIC ruling. “DoPT’s reading of the law had the potential to kill the appeals procedure,” said Kejriwal, a Magsaysay awardee.

The CIC also upheld public access to file notings under the law and rejected the contention that the commission had no powers to tell the department of personnel and training to remove a misleading portion of its website. “No public authority, government or statutory organisation can ever claim that it is above the law,” the commission held in its 25-page decision that asserted the autonomous character of the CIC.
–>

The case had its origins in the railway ministry last year explaining its refusal to allow an applicant access to file notings on the plea that the website of DoPT– the nodal department for RTI – had excluded file notings out of the purview of the law. The commission consequently told DoPT to correct the misleading portion of its website. This was around the same time that the government was making its first abortive attack on the law; finalising amendments to the RTI law that campaigners feared would “cripple” the transparency law.

Posted in CIC Rulings | Leave a Comment »

How RTI Act came to his rescue

Posted by rtiact2005 on January 13, 2007

How RTI Act came to his rescue

Karthik Subramanian

 http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/13/stories/2007011319560300.htm

A resident has resolved his property tax row “I was made to run from pillar to post despite a court ruling in my favour. Ultimately it was RTI that helped me.”

 

 

 

CHENNAI : A residents’ welfare activist from Pattabiram has used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to settle a 15-year-long dispute with the Avadi Municipality over property tax assessment.

Augustine Roy Rozario, a resident of Cholan Nagar in Pattabiram, said he had disputed the municipality’s assessment of his annual rental value and subsequently the half-yearly property tax in 1989.

“The officials had fixed the tax twice as much as that for other similar houses nearby. I had submitted a revision petition within 30 days of the assessment and subsequently filed petitions at the Tax Appeal Committee meetings. They never revised my tax and ultimately issued a notice in 1992 saying that my property would be attached if I did not pay dues, as calculated by them.”

Mr.Rozario moved the Poonamallee court in 1992, which ultimately gave an order in his favour in 2004. The court ordered that the assessment done by Avadi Municipality was arbitrary. The municipal officers, however, decided to challenge the order as it was granted ex-parte. With no legal action in the last two years, Mr.Rozario decided to seek information under the RTI about the reasons for the delay in re-assessment of his property to settle the issue.

“Not an easy task”

Even though it was the questions he filed under the RTI that finally helped Mr. Rozario resolve the tax dispute, he said the procedures he went through were not easy.

“It was not easy to file the application, as I had to obtain the treasury challan from the Chennai Collectorate, get the head of accounts from the general-secretary of the Thandurai-Pattabiram Consumer Protection Council, remit Rs.10 in cash at the State Bank of India, Treasury Branch, in Thousand Lights, and finally send the application by registered post.”

Mr.Rozario was shocked when his application was returned because of a spelling mistake in the name of the Principal Information Officer.

“I had spelt the name as Varadarajan instead of Varadarajulu. However, the officer was courteous and kind enough to accept the application when he personally explained and handed over the representation.”

Though the Municipal Administration Department had forwarded the RTI application to Avadi Municipality, Mr.Rozario did not get a reply within the stipulated 30 days. He then sent an appeal under Section 19(1) of RTI to the Appellate Authority.

Finally, the revenue officials of Avadi Municipality visited Mr.Rozario’s residence in December and he was able to get the property reassessed.

Posted in Tamil Nadu RTI | 5 Comments »

`RTI Act will help alleviate poverty’

Posted by rtiact2005 on January 13, 2007

`RTI Act will help alleviate poverty’

Staff Reporter

http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/13/stories/2007011309530300.htm

It will end corruption: Commissioner

 

 

 

KOLLAM: P. Fazaluddin, State Information Commissioner, has said that the revolution evolving through the Right to Information Act will help towards poverty alleviation. He was addressing an awareness workshop on the Right to Information Act organised by the State Information Commission and the District Literacy Mission here on Friday.

Mr. Fazaluddin said that the freedom to ask and the right to know form the basis of any democracy. Until the enactment of the Right to Information Act, the media performed that duty. When the people’s money reached the exchequer, they also have a right to know how it was being utilised, he said.

Transparency in fund utilisation will end corruption and work towards poverty alleviation, he said.

The workshop was inaugurated by District Panchayat president K. Devaki.

Director of the State Literacy Mission M. Jayadevan delivered the keynote address. He said that the Literacy Mission can play a big role in spreading awareness on the Right to Information Act.

District Coordinator of the Literacy Mission S.P. Hariharan Unnithan also addressed the function.

Posted in Kerala RTI | 7 Comments »

Awareness campaign on RTI Act to cover 31 lakh people by November

Posted by rtiact2005 on January 9, 2007

Awareness campaign on RTI Act to cover 31 lakh people by November

Staff Reporter

http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/09/stories/2007010901810500.htm

Pilot project in Kannur, Palakkad and Kollam districts

 

 


  • 8,000 Preraks under State Literacy Mission to be involved in the project
  • Bureaucracy yet to be sensitised to the importance of the Act: Palat Mohandas

     

    KANNUR: The State Information Commission, in association with the State Literacy Mission, will launch a pilot project to spread awareness of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

    Chief State Information Commissioner Palat Mohandas said here on Monday that 8,000 Preraks under the Literacy Mission would be involved in the project to be launched in Kannur, Palakkad and Kollam districts. They would contact 31 lakh people by November, he said.

    Stating that the campaign mechanism would be made a permanent entity, Mr. Mohandas said the project envisaged involvement of the Preraks as resource persons who would be able to help the people draft applications for information from public authorities. The Commission would also hold periodical sittings in different districts to let the public know more about the Commission’s proceedings.

    The Chief Information Commissioner said that though the State Government had been bound to train officials in the RTI Act in one year after it was enacted, the bureaucracy in the State was yet to be sensitised to the importance of the Act. The public awareness of the Act was also not satisfactory, he observed.

    Terming the Act as people-centred, Mr. Mohandas said the State Syllabus Committee was examining the proposal for including the contents in the Act in the school syllabus.

    State Information Commissioners P. Fasaludheen, V.V. Giri and P.N. Vijayakumar were also present at the press conference.

    The Commission informed the mediapersons that a total 471 applications had been received as on December 31, 2006 seeking information under the Act and 120 of them had been disposed of. As many as 226 applications had come up before the appellate authority of which 126 were pending. Mr. Mohandas said 60 per cent of the applications for information were individual-based.

    He said the Commission would not intervene in administrative matters to get information sought. The Act could be invoked to get information as available with the public authority.

    Officer found guilty

    The Chief Information Commission said that an officer was found guilty under Section 20 of the RTI Act at the sitting here in the morning. The Commission imposed a fine of Rs.3,500 on Public Information Officer of the District Industries Centre in Kozhikode P.K. Narayanan for delaying the provision of information sought by an applicant. He said that two officers had been punished under the Act earlier.

  • Posted in Kerala RTI | Leave a Comment »

    RTI Act a milestone: State Information Commission

    Posted by rtiact2005 on January 9, 2007

    RTI Act a milestone: State Information Commission

    Staff Reporter

    http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/09/stories/2007010901630200.htm

     

     

    THALASSERY: As secrecy strangles democracy, which requires transparency for its survival, the Right to Information (RTI) Act is an important milestone marking the shifting from the secrecy-ridden, colonial administrative system to a truly democratic system, according to the State Information Commission.

    An audience comprising political activists, advocates, officials and police officers at a legal workshop on the RTI Act organised by the People’s Council for Civil Rights (PCCR) here on Monday was presented with the details of the Act and told that the enactment was intended to make citizens well informed and intelligent.

    Inaugurating the workshop, Chief Information Commissioner Palat Mohandas said that the Act reminded citizens once again that they were the masters of the country.

    The civil service the country had inherited from the British only reinforced the idea that everything that the Government was doing should be done in secrecy, he said adding that the Official Secrecy Act and the oath of secrecy taken by the Ministers are remnants of the British legacy.

    There were enactments that ensured that information was not passed without clearance from higher officials and that no information was passed to `unauthorised’ people, he said.

    All these enactments cumulatively ensured that all Government proceedings remained secret.

    “Everything that is democratic should have transparency, accountability and predictability of processes,” he said adding that the RTI Act also envisaged participation of the people in the democratic processes.

    Change mindset

    Calling on Government officials to change their mindset to treat citizens as their masters, Mr. Mohandas said that under the Act 98 per cent of information concerning public institutions were eligible to be known to the public.

    The greatest test of the strength of democracy was how much information was available to its citizens, he pointed out.

    `Mother of all freedoms’

    Delivering the keynote address Information Commissioner P. Fasaludheen termed the RTI Act the mother of all freedoms available to the citizens. While more countries were enacting similar legislation ensuring accessibility to information, the RTI Act here, which had been rated fifth best RTI enactment in the world, was yet to be effectively utilised by the public and the Government, he said.

    `Cluster of rights’

    The RTI was a cluster of rights as it encompassed a right to reliable and total information, he added.

    PCCR president T. Asafali presided over the function.

    Senior advocate T.A. Ramadas and District Superintendent of Police Mathew Polycarp were also present.

    Posted in Kerala RTI | 1 Comment »

    RTI ACT :: Meeting with President

    Posted by rtiact2005 on November 2, 2006

    As a followup to the letters/emails/petitions to the President from
    across the country and world, Demonstration at Vigyan Bhawan and then
    assurance by the President to meet and hear the aggrieved(with the
    functioning of CIC ) citizens, we met the President this afternoon .
    We appealed to him to intervene in the functioning of the Information
    Commission,which has made a mockery of the Right to Information Act in 
    its very first year.
    
    Initially we briefed him about the RTI Act and the ray of hope it
    awakened in the common man. The President was also apprised of the
    functioning of CIC where 
    
    - an appellant is often not called for hearing. Appeals are 'disposed
    off' without an appellant being heard.
    
    - The officers, who are violating the RTI Act by not giving
    information,have not even once been penalized as per the provision of
    the Act, by the CIC.
    
    - As a result, the rate of pendency of appeals is rapidly increasing.
    
    - Public Information Officers feel fearless and challenge the
    information applicants by not complying with providing information.
    
    - In its hearings the Commissioners do not treat the citizen at power
    with public authorities. Hearings are rescheduled if the public
    authorities want it. If an appellant is a few minutes late the hearing 
    is dismissed.
    
    - Appeals made by students for transparency in the examination system
    are dismissed on the dubious ground that transparency in the
    examination system could adversely affect the integrity of the system.
    
    The President gave a serious hearing to the difficulties. During the
    half an hour meeting He took personal notes on separate note sheets to 
    all the points that were discussed. The best part of it was that it was 
    not a one sided meeting, he discussed at almost every point and after 
    understanding our viewpoint he proceeded to next point. This was a good 
    sign.
    
    Finally we requested him to institute and independent enquiry Under
    Section 14 of the RTI Act, We said that  "He holds the balance between 
    the State authorities and the common citizen who have no means other 
    than the RTI Act, to seek justice from a system, which asks for bribes at 
    every step. If the Act is not given a chance to be put into practice 
    and if the custodians of the Act, the CIC throttles the Act then 
    intervention by the President alone is the hope of the common man."
    
    The President said that he'll go into all the details provided by us
    and then assured us that he'll do the needful.
    
    Manish Sisodia
    09868875898
    --------------------------------
    I am sendig the appeal also, which we submitted to the President.
    ---------------------------------
    
    An Appeal to the President of India Shri A P J Abdul Kalam
    by the citizens of India – the users of the Right to Information Act 
    2005.
    
    Dated: 25.10.'06
    The President of India, Shri APJ Abdul Kalam
    Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi
    
    Respected President,
    
    We the citizens of India and the users of the RTI Act 2005 are greatly 
    concerned about the functioning of the Central Information Commission 
    and the State Information Commissions. The National RTI Act 2005 came 
    into effect a year ago. Several states including Delhi had similar Acts 
    in force for the last 4 to 5 years. During this period, a large number 
    of under-privileged people began to see a ray of hope because they were 
    able to get their food rations regularly as a result of using the Act. 
    About 200 poor children in resettlement colonies of east Delhi were 
    able to get admission in proper schools. People began to get their work 
    done without having to pay bribes.  Some of these cases are mentioned in 
    an enclosure to this letter.
    
    A great deal of hope was generated when a nation wide campaign was 
    launched to create awareness about the RTI Act last July in 55 towns of the 
    country simultaneously with the active participation of NDTV. Cynicism 
    was on the decline for once, and people began to feel that through the 
    use of RTI they could change things for the better.
    However, this wave of hope has turned into despair due to the
    functioning of the Central and State Information Commissions. They
    were entrusted with the implementation of the RTI Act to bring about
    transparency and accountability in government functioning, but in fact 
    they are making a mockery of the Act.
    
    An analysis of the orders passed by the Central Information Commission 
    (CIC) revealed the following:
    
    1. In 71 percent of the total appeals received by the Commission, the
    CIC  'disposed of' appeals without calling the appellants. The CIC did 
    not adhere to the principles of natural justice, which requires
    hearing the appellants to ensure that denial of information is in
    accordance with the exemptions listed in the law. The Commissioners
    have publicly stated that they do not need to hear people before
    dismissing their cases.
    
    2. The CIC has not imposed penalty in even a single case during the
    first year on officials guilty of denial of information which amounts
    to serious violations of the RTI Act. The RTI Act explicitly provides
    for penalty in such cases. Out of the 1500 cases decided by the CIC so 
    far, penalty had been imposed in only two. One has already been
    withdrawn and the other is in the process of being withdrawn. CIC had
    issued show cause notices in 59 cases without result or penalty. With
    nothing to fear, the government functionaries and public authorities
    have increasingly begun to withhold information. Public Information
    officers are taking advantage of this situation, and openly
    challenging the right of the people to know.
    
    3. The pendency of cases at the CIC is increasing day by day with the
    CIC receiving on an average 2000 cases every month. Since penalty is
    not being imposed as stipulated in the RTI Act, the number of appeals
    is naturally on the rise. The CIC has displayed a lack of knowledge of 
    principles and procedures of justice. In a recently held public
    hearing on the functioning of the CIC, the former Chief Election
    Commissioner, Shri T.S. Krishnamurthy suggested that the CIC could do
    with judicial training by a retired Judge.
    
    4. Appeals on information about examination results, which affect the
    future of the appellants have been dismissed with order after order,
    on the dubious ground that transparency in examination system would
    affect adversely the integrity of the examination system.
    
    A long time after independence, we had seen a ray of hope for a
    cleaner and better future. This hope would be shattered if an inquiry
    were not held into the functioning of the CIC and things are allowed
    to drift in the present direction.
    
    Sir, your Vision 2020 of an India with eGovernance presupposes total
    transparency and free availability of information through
    inter-connectivity at all levels of the government. The direction that 
    the CIC is taking would never allow realization of this vision of 
    yours.
    
    We appeal to you Sir to invoke section 14 of the RTI Act, which
    provides the President with the power to institute an enquiry into the 
    functioning of the Central Information Commission. The CIC is meant to 
    be the protector of the RTI Act for the people of India. Left to the 
    CIC, the Act will be killed by its own custodians. We look up to you to 
    prevent that from happening. Let the ray of hope lighted by the RTI Act 
    survive and shine brighter on our democracy.
    
    Yours Sincerely,
    Dr. Sandeep Pandey
    Smt. Madhu Bhaduri
    Shri Manish Sisodia
    Shri Rakesh Agarwal	           
    Km. Santosh

    Posted in RTI Activists | 1 Comment »

    Rs 56,000 for information under RTI

    Posted by rtiact2005 on November 2, 2006

    Rs 56,000 for information under RTI

    Manish Pachouly & Dhaval Kulkarni

    Mumbai, November 1, 2006

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1833687,0008.htm

    Seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act can be costly at times. Especially when you are asked to cough up as much as Rs 56,000 for some information, you would probably think again before using the Act.

    Advocate Vinod Sampat, too, was shocked when he was asked by the Andheri Land Records office to pay an amount of Rs 56, 268 to get information on the structures located on collector’s land across the city.

    Sampat had made an application on September 21 to inquire about it. He needed the accurate information to be part of the reference books he is writing on property matters. “I wanted information on such properties because buying properties situated on collector’s land costs an extra amount,” said Sampat.

    “However, I was shocked to see the amount asked by the Andheri office,” he said. And the amount was asked only for information on the properties situated under the jurisdiction of Andheri office.

    A shocked Sampat wrote to the Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi, on Wednesday, asking him to ascertain the amount demanded from him. He also wrote to the Land Records Officer, Andheri, MT Ingle seeking a clarification on how the amount was arrived.

    As per RTI rules, Rs 2 per page is demanded to provide information. “That means they were giving me 28,000 pages as information,” said an amused Sampat.

    He said that if his queries were not answered, he would file an appeal with the appellate authority.

    When contacted, Ingle said he had charged Sampat according to the rates specified by the state government and the revenue department.

    Joshi said that in such cases, it is better for the applicants to ask for the inspection of the files so that they can pin-point the actual documents needed. They can also come in appeal to the commission, he said.

    “The information officers can charge rates only as prescribed by the state government and in this case, it is found that the concerned officer is trying to willfully mislead the people, strict action will be taken,” he added.

    However, Sampat said that the inspection point should have been mentioned in the letter, “instead of just frightening the applicant by demanding such an astronomical amount.”

    “Do you believe that the Land Records office must have counted all the 28,000 pages?”

    manish.pachouly@hindustantimes.com

    Posted in RTI Cases | 2 Comments »