Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jail Superintendent fined for not giving details

Jail Superintendent fined for not giving details under Right to Information Act

Staff Reporter

Coimbatore: The Tamil Nadu Information Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Public Information Officer (PIO) and Superintendent of Central Prison for having failed to furnish the information sought by a convict prisoner A. Samsudeen under the Right to Information Act.

Chief Information Commissioner S. Ramakrishnan has directed the Inspector-General of Prisons to recover the amount and remit it into the public treasury and report the same to the Commission within six weeks. The order also said that the petitioner is also free to claim a compensation under Section 19 (8) (a) for any direct loss to him arising out of non supply of information.

According to the order, the petitioner had asked for information under the RTI Act on October 28, 2008 from the PIO, Central Prison - Coimbatore wherein he is a prisoner. On November 3, 2009, he got a reply stating that information could not be furnished because of security and administrative reasons. He filed an appeal on November 10, 2009 and sent a petition to the Commission on December 20, 2008 and was forwarded by the prison authorities to the Commission on January 7, 2009.

The Commission summoned the PIO, Coimbatore Prison to appear before the Commission on October 30, 2009. The petitioner had sought information about how his name was not included in the list of prisoners to be released (vide government order No. 1762) on the occasion of the Anna Centenary Celebration even though he was eligible. He wanted to know whether he and his fellow convicts had been reported as those incarcerated on a communal case and whether a report was sent to the government.

He had explained that he was seeking the information to make a proper representation to the government that the concession was extended to other life convicts has in his case been unfortunately rejected.

At the enquiry, the PIO chose to absent himself and had sent a representative who was the Additional Superintendent of Central Prison. The official who represented the PIO had no other explanation other than citing that for administrative and security reasons, the information was rejected.

This reason was not one of them listed in Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act where on such grounds information sought could be rejected.

It was denial of information without jurisdiction and legal sanction by the Public Information Officer.

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Courtesy_

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Monday, December 21, 2009

The RTI Act: Guidelines for seeking information from YEA

The Right to Information Act: Guidelines for seeking information from YEA

Short title, extent and commencement

  • Known as 'Right to Information Act, 2005'.
  • Extends to whole of India except J&K.
  • Has become enforceable with effect from 12th October, 2005
  • It is more powerful and stringent than Delhi RTI 2001

Coverage

  • Covers all public authorities, bodies or institutions constituted by Parliament, Legislative Assembly.
  • Includes Parliament, Supreme Court/High Court/Lower Courts, Bodies owned, controlled and substantially financed.
  • Including Non-government organizations substantially financed directly or indirectly.
  • Govt. empowered to notify or issue orders to include such other bodies.

Citizens made the Master

  • The act provides for giving almost all information to citizens barring a few exceptions.
  • It makes the citizen the Master.
  • They can now do social audit of any work through getting information and examining it critically and posing inconvenient questions.

Public Information Officers to give information

  • Public Information Officers to be appointed by Public Authorities for handling applications received under the Act (by 22.9.2005).
  • Assistant Public Information Officer to be appointed to receive applications on behalf of the Public Authority by( 22.9.2005.)
  • Assistant Public Information officers to be appointed in each Sub-Division/Sub-Districts by (22.9.2005).
  • First Appellate Authority to be within the department/organization by Public Authority

Right to Information includes:

  • Inspection of works, documents, records.
  • Taking notes, extracts, certified copies.
  • Taking certified samples of material.
  • Obtaining information in floppies, tapes etc.
Definition of Information

Information means any material in any form & includes: -

  • Records, documents, memos, e-mail, opinion, advice, orders, log book, contract, reports, papers, samples etc.
Filing of application
  • Forms prescribed.
  • Applicant can file application in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or local language.
  • PIO to assist disabled persons in writing down requests.
  • Reasons for seeking information not required.
  • Personal information about applicant not to be asked except for delivery of reply.

Fee

The following fee has been prescribed by GOI & U.P.Govt.:

  • Application Fee: Rs 10/-
  • Additional Page: Rs 2/ per page A-4 or A-3
  • Large size: Actual Charges
  • Sample or Model: Actual cost
  • Inspection of records: First hour no fee there after Rs 5/- per 15 minutes
  • Floppy/Diskette: Rs 50/-

NO fee for Below Poverty Line

Mode of payment

The fee can be paid in any of the following modes:

  • Cash
  • Demand Draft
  • Banker cheque

Disposal of request

  • In cases information is sought concerning life or liberty, it is to be given in 48 hours.
  • Reply in other cases to be given in 30 days.
  • 5 days to be added if the application is received through SAPIO.
  • In case of third party â€" 40 days.

Appeals

  • Appeals lie at two levels.
  • First appeal within department/ organization to senior officer to State Public Information Officer within 30 days.
  • Second appeal before Central Information Commission within 90 days.
  • Appeals to be decided within 30 days.

Third Party Information

  • Where information about third party is sought by the applicant, a notice will be given to third party to present his case within 5 days.
  • An opportunity of hearing will be given within 10 days.
  • Third party will have right to appeal.

Exemption from disclosure of information

  • As per section 8 the following type of information shall not be obligatory
    to be given.
    • Concerning security and integrity of India.
    • Forbidden to be published by the court of law.
    • Disclosure of which leads to breach of privilege of Parliament/Assembly.
    • Commercial confidence trade secrets and intellectual property.
    • Information received in fiduciary relationship.
    • Information received in confidence from foreign government.
    • Disclosure of which may endanger life and liberty.
    • Which impedes the process of a investigation.
    • Cabinet Papers including record or deliberation.
    • Personal information which has no relationship to any public activity.
    • Leads to infringement of copyright.

Penalty Provisions

  • Can impose penalty @ Rs. 250/- for each day of delay subject to a maximum of Rs. 25,000/-.
  • Can issue directions for disciplinary action against PIO in cases of persistent default.
  • Opportunity of hearing to be given.

Need for prompt attention

  • All Officer and staff members need to be sensitized to pay proper attention to this act.
  • Necessary preparatory measures for implementation should be completed as per prescribed schedule in the Act.
  • Officials need to be vigilant in disposal of requests received under the Act.
  • All requests received under the Act need to be dealt within time frame prescribed.

Other Important Points

  • Assistant Public Information Officer can receive applications for any PIO.
  • First Appellate Authority should be senior to PIO.
  • PIO should be senior officers who should be able to control work and dig out information as they have to perform a quasi judicial information.
  • Clear demarcation of work should be done amongst the PIO and Appellate Authorities to avoid confusion.
  • Notify the substantially financed bodies to bring them under the purview of RTI.

Arrangement for receipt for application.

  • Arrangements for receipt of application & fee should be suitably be made to facilitate the work.
  • Information counters should be setup near reception counters.
  • The APIO/PIO/Appellate Authority should be easily accessible to public.
  • Board depicting room number etc of PIO/APIO should be available at the main entrance.

Role of Secretaries /HODs/CEOs

  • Appoint PIO/APIO
  • Appoint first appellate authority.
  • Identify bodies substantially financed to be brought under the purview of the act.
  • Give wide publicity about the provisions of the act.
  • Organize internal workshops for sensitization of officers and staff.
  • Ensure proper arrangements for receipt of application/fee etc.
  • Provide requisite number of counters for guidance.
  • Prepare suo motu information and disseminate to the maximum.
  • Monitor and control the working of all concerned officers.
Courtesy_

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No amendments to RTI now: CIC

No amendments to RTI now: CIC

New Delhi: Dec 5, DH News Service

Information Commissioner lauds judiciary for sharing information

Allaying fears of activists like Aruna Roy, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah on Saturday said there was no urgency to bring amendments to the Right to Information Act.

While the UPA government was keen to amend the much-debated act, activists had been apprehensive that these changes might ultimately lead to the dilution of its provisions. "It is too early to bring in amendments as adequate time should be given for its full evolution. Dilution of this law should not be accepted," Habibullah told a group of women journalists here.

He also informed that the government was not averse to disclose file notings of the Cabinet after a decision was reached on a particular issue.

Commending the role of the judiciary in the evolution of the RTI Act, Habibullah said high courts like the Delhi High Court were helping the Commission to widen the contours of the act through a number of path-breaking judgements.

Rejecting allegations that the judiciary was not doing enough to bring in transparency in issues like the appointment of judges, he said there would always be issues where the limitations of the act would be put to test. "Judiciary is also forthcoming, they are not holding back information," Habibullah said.

When asked about the Supreme Court stay on an order passed by the CIC directing its registry to furnish information about a Union Minister who allegedly approached Justice R Raghupathy of the Madras High Court to influence his decision in a case, Habibullah said: "No one contests it as the Supreme Court is supreme."

Habibullah, who will take over shortly as the Chief Information Commissioner in Jammu and Kashmir, said the assassination attempt on Hurriyat Conference leader Fazal Haq Qureshi would not be a setback to the peace talks.

The senior bureaucrat, who had spent a major part of his career in the 90's in Kashmir, said the prospects of bring about an enduring peace in the valley through dialogue was very bright.

"My motto there will be to give information to the people down in the villages, which is their due, and from which they have been deprived," Habibullah said.

Courtesy_

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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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This Blog Spot is meant for publishing reports about the usage of RTI Act (Right to Information Act, 2005) so as to create an awareness to the general public and also to keep it as a ready reckoner by them. So the readers may extend their gratitude towards the Author as we quoted at the bottom of each Post under the title "Courtesy".Furthermore, the Blog Authors are no way responsible for the correctness of the materials published herein and the readers may verify the concerned valuable sources.

Dinamani - RTI News