Sunday, April 25, 2010

Identity or address proof not necessary for giving info under RTI

Staff unaware of HC's order on giving info under RTI

A Subramani, TNN, Apr 1, 2010, 04.06 am IST

CHENNAI: Though the Madras high court has more than once ruled that an applicant under the Right To Information (RTI) Act cannot be denied information for want of identity or address proof, the court's own officials do not seem to be aware of the judicial order.

Though the HC's designated public information officer had received more than 100 applications under the RTI Act till February-end, information was denied to over 75% of applicants on the ground that they did not appear before the official and hence their identification could not be ascertained.

The court also follows a procedure, which is unknown under the provisions of the RTI Act, whenever it receives an application. For instance, when one M Krishna Parayanar sent in an application, the court on February 26 wrote to him saying he should meet the deputy registrar concerned for verification of residential address and signature.

Courtesy_

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NGOs to come under RTI

NGOs to come under RTI

India Blooms News Service

New Delhi, April 21 (IBNS): Non-government organizations (NGOs) getting govt fund will come under the purview of the Right to Information Act( RTI) and will have to comply with the 'duty to publish', section 4(1)(b) , which has 17 manuals incorporating various kinds of information relating to their functioning and management.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday made these observations while passing an order on a petition filed by National Stock Exchange (NSE), challenging a Central Information Commission order which had directed it to disclose information under the Act.

RTI, the brainchild of activist Aruna Roy, has allowed NGOs to successfully expose bunglings in muster-rolls, maintained by the panchayati raj institutions making them more transparent. It is now the turn of NGOs , dealing with public fund and govt aid to be transparent and accountable themsleves.

According to Dr. RS Tolia, Chief Information Commissioner, Uttarakhand, as the state concern in various facets of rural and social development improved and expanded there was an unprecedented expansion of the NGO sector.

"In due course, it was but natural that the sector attracted those who were there simply to make a 'fast-buck', as an enterprise."

To the extent the public funds they use and utilize, NGOs become amenable to public disclosure, just like any government department, informed Dr. Tolia.

(Reporting by Jayalakshmi Sengupta)

Courtesy_

Friday, April 16, 2010

Maharashtra schools may have to give information on demand

Soon, Maharashtra schools may have to give information on demand

Ashutosh Shukla / DNA Friday, April 16, 2010 1:45 IST

Mumbai: Want information from your kid’s school and frustrated with the stonewalling tactics of the school administration? Well, help may be round the corner.

The state’s information commission has asked the education department to direct all aided schools — there are 1,300 — to keep all information related to their functioning handy.

Schools have to produce this information on demand from parents. All details have to be with the school head or the public information officer, according to the recommendations of Suresh Joshi, Maharashtra’s chief information commissioner, to the state government.

“What happens is that either the trust sends the parent to the school saying they don’t have the information or vice-versa,” said Joshi. “Ultimately the parent does not get any information.”

A few months ago, Joshi had instructed colleges to do the same. The schools will also have to make public information about the public information officer, and the first appellate authority.

This is one of the several recommendations made by the commission to the state government in its annual report for the calendar year 2009. It was submitted on Thursday.

Most of the other recommendations, however, are repetitions, except for the one asking the chief secretary to appoint officers to keep a tab on penalty deducted from the erring employees’ salary. Emphasis on section 4 (voluntary disclosure by public authority) featured amongst the prominent ones followed by the appointment of senior officers as the first appellate authority.

Overall, the implementation of the Right to Information Act (RTI) shows significant improvement. Pendency is down by 3,000 to 13,000.

“We can now safely say that pendency in Mumbai, Konkan and Nagpur regions can be taken up within two months,” said Joshi. The state received 4.40 lakh applications in 2009 as compared to 4.16 lakh in 2008 and 3.16 lakh in 2007. Of the total 36 departments, the top 10 accounted for 82% of applications.

“The forest department has moved to the seventh position from 10th. The irrigation department has made an entry, which shows that tribals are using the act in a big way,” said Joshi.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation alone got 59,018 applications, approximately 60% of pleas received by all 22 corporations. There was also a jump in the amount recovered as penalty from information officers.

Though the total fine amount slumped in 2009 to Rs26.56 lakh (collected from 347 officers) as compared to Rs34 lakh in 2009 (from 256 officers), in Mumbai, the fine amount increased. The city saw collection increase to Rs3.74 lakh with 58 officers being fined as compared to Rs2.4 lakh a year before.

The percentage of total applications moving up to the FAA and commission remained constant. Of total applications, 10% — 43,848 — went for first appeal and of those 50% —18,205— at the second appeal.

The year’s disposal rate at the second appellate authority improved considerably with a jump of 9,000. Complaints, however, jumped by 1,000. “These would not really speak of any trend because people file complaints for various reasons,” added Joshi.

Courtesy_

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stock exchanges come under the ambit of RTI Act: HC

Stock exchanges come under the ambit of RTI Act: HC

New Delhi, Apr 15 (PTI): Allowing public scrutiny of the functioning of stock market, the Delhi high Court today held that stock exchanges are public authorities and are bound to disclose information under Right To Information Act.

The court dismissed the plea of National Stock Exchange and Jaipur Stock Exchange which submitted that they cannot be forced to reveal information to public under the transparency law as they are autonomous bodies incorporated under Company Act and not controlled by the government.

Justice Sanjeev Khanna dismissed the petition of the stock exchanges and upheld the decision of the Central Information Commission which had declared stock exchange as a public authority.

The CIC had in 2007 held that stock exchanges are "quasi" governmental bodies which are bound to disclose information to the public under the Right to Information Act.

Courtesy_

Friday, April 9, 2010

Woman uses RTI to get salary details of cheating husband

Woman uses RTI to get salary details of cheating husband

Last updated on Apr 9th, 2010 at 08:19 am IST--IANS

New Delhi, April 9: The pay particulars of a government employee cannot be considered personal information, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled, while upholding the right of a "betrayed" woman to get details of her husband's salary.

"The Commission holds that the pay particulars of a government employee cannot be considered as personal information by any means and directs the PIO (Public Information Officer) to provide the same to the appellant," Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit noted in her order while backing Chhattisgarh resident Shivkumari Kashyap, whose husband got married for the second time.

Kashyap, who believes that her husband Baldev Singh, an employee of South East Central (SEC) Railway, had entered the name of his second wife in his service book, used the Right to Information (RTI) act to get justice.

She filed an RTI application with the SEC Railway seeking the pay particulars of her husband as well as a copy of his service book, which has all the details of a government servant's official life, including information about his pay, increment and other things.

When SEC Railway denied her the information, Kashyap approached the CIC, stating during a hearing through video conferencing on March 10 that she was the "legitimate wedded wife of Baldev Singh and that her husband has been ill treating her".

"He has also married a second time while remaining married to her (appellant)," her application stated.

"According to the appellant she believes that her husband has entered the name of his new wife in his service book and in this connection she wanted a copy of the service book, besides pay particulars," the CIC was told.

On this, the CIC held that pay particulars of a government employee cannot be considered as personal information by any means.

"Also in view of the harassment undergone by the appellant in the hands of her husband and because the service book details of her husband being sought by her are not personal information as the same are already in the public domain, the PIO may also provide an attested copy of the first page of the service book to the appellant giving details of the name of the spouse entered therein," Information Commissioner Dixit directed.

The CIC has said the information should be provided by April 10.

Courtesy_

Read FULL Judgment of CIC in Ms. Shivkumari Kashyap Vs. S.E.C Railway, Bilaspur at:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

RTI applicant surprised by HC Official's response

RTI applicant surprised by High Court official's response

Mohamed Imranullah S.

MADURAI: An applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, who wanted to know the status of a case originally filed before the principal seat of the Madras High Court in Chennai in 2001 and subsequently transferred to its Madurai Bench in 2004, has taken by surprise by the response asking her to appear in person for verification of her identity, residential address and signature.

M. Shanthi of Karur had filed an RTI application on February 25 seeking details of a civil miscellaneous appeal filed by an insurance company in 2001 against a judgment passed by a lower court earlier. Stating that the case was not listed for hearing for a long time, she sought to know whether it was still pending or had been disposed of.

N. Vijayakumar, Deputy Registrar (Administration) of the Bench and also Assistant Public Information Officer, replied to the application on March 3. Instead of giving a direct answer to the question, he asked the woman applicant to approach her advocate for obtaining the required information.

Not satisfied with the reply, Ms. Shanthi filed an appeal, under the RTI Act, before the Registrar (Administration) of the High Court Bench on March 13, 2010.

Subsequently, she received another letter from R. Susheela Devi, Deputy Registrar (RTI) dated March 31 asking her to come to the Bench during office hours at the earliest for verification of her residential address and signature.

The issue gains significance in view of the fact that there is no provision in the RTI Act which entitles a public information officer to ask an applicant to prove his/her identity. Section 6(2) of the Act categorically states a person seeking information need not give any personal details except those that were required for contacting him.

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

Courtesy_

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

School aided by BBMB bound to give info: CIC

School aided by BBMB bound to give info: CIC

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 2303 hrs

Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has ruled that since the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) is run by the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, a school financed by it is a public authority and covered under the Right to Information Act. Gandhi directed the BBMB DAV Public School, Nangal, to appoint a public information officer and the first appellate authority.

Manju Bala Dhiman of Anandpur Sahib had sought information in August last year regarding the number of posts sanctioned and created in the school’s Nangal and Ganguwal branches since April 1985 and the names and qualifications of teachers appointed on ad hoc basis among other things.

Raneesh Sharma, principal of the Nangal school, claimed that the institution was not a public authority as it was set up consequent to an agreement between the BBMB and the DAV college trust and management society, a private body. The respondent, however, admitted that BBMB was run jointly by the governments of three states.

The appellant pointed out that BBMB was set up under the Reorganisation Act-1966. “Thus, BBMB is a public authority set up by an Act of Parliament and fully owned by the government,” Dhiman said.

The respondent said the land and the building had been provided by the BBMB along with furniture and infrastructure at a token rent of Re 1 per year. “Thus, it appears that the capital cost has been almost completely underwritten by the BBMB, which is run by three state governments. Further, in 2009-2010, out of the total expenditure of about Rs 2.21crore, about Rs 1.85 crore was provided by the BBMB,” it said.

Gandhi ruled: “The BBMB DAV Public School is a public authority as defined by the RTI Act.”

Courtesy_

Monday, April 5, 2010

Attendance of ministers in Cabinet meeting confidential

'Attendance of ministers in Cabinet meeting confidential'

PTI

Information on the attendance of ministers during cabinet meetings is beyond the purview of transparency law, the Cabinet Secretariat has held.

It has said that attendance of ministers during cabinet meetings is exempted from disclosure under the Right to Information Act as it is part of 'deliberations of Union Cabinet' which is an exempted information.

"The information is denied in terms of section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act as this is part of deliberations of the cabinet," Director at the Secretariat, Meera Ranjan Tshering said in an RTI reply to applicant Abhishek Shukla.

The section cited by the Secretariat exempts "cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the council of ministers, Secretaries and other officers" from disclosure.

However, there is an exception in cases "provided that the decisions of council of ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over".

A total of 34 cabinet meetings took place between June 1 last year to February 15 which were all chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the reply said.

Courtesy_

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Get BCCI under RTI too

Get BCCI under RTI too

Hindustan Times

April 02, 2010, First Published: 22:33 IST (2/4/2010)

Amidst the euphoria of the IPL competing strongly with the weepy prime time serials, the hysterical media has almost ignored a very significant move towards forcing our sports federations to become accountable and transparent in their functioning, especially in matters financial.

Sports Minister MS Gill needs to be complimented for bringing all the federations into the ambit of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, which in turn means the public will now have the right to know how and where the money given to them by the government (tax-payer) goes.

Is the money being spent for the purpose it is meant for or does most of it get siphoned off, as is alleged by many?

However, the sports body which generates enormous revenues and profits that could be the envy of any rich corporate body, unfortunately, does not fall under the gambit of this Act.

The reason for the exepmtion presumably being it is a private body which does not take a single pie from the government and hence cannot come under government or public scrutiny.

This is a false presumption, if one goes by the 2004 High Court ruling in the PIL filed against the Board by Rahul Mehra, a lawyer by profession, but an inveterate sports fan by nature. By admitting the PIL, the Court had in its judgment clearly said that the BCCI may be a private body, but it performs a public function and therefore comes under Article 226 of the Constitution (public scrutiny).

The BCCI, which for reasons beyond comprehension, is loathe to subject itself to public scrutiny (unless it has something to hide) shields itself behind the argument that it is a private body and cannot be questioned by the state.

BCCI conveniently forgets that not only does it get tax benefits, it also gets other largesse from the state, like stadias at throwaway rates and, most importantly, is allowed to use the name India for the team which represents it. It gets these concessions because it is deemed a charitable organisation which performs a public function.

Ever since the economic liberalisation in the nineties coincided with private television channels being allowed to enter the Indian market, the BCCI has been getting richer by the day.

Without doubt this has had a huge positive effect on the game with greater funding at the grass root level and the players themselves reaping the enormous benefits of the economic boom, fuelled by the multiplying popularity of the game in the country.

Post IPL, the money which the Board is handling has gone into billions of dollars and, as the custodian of the game whose main stakeholders are its fans, shouldn't it be mandatory for them to come under greater public scrutiny?

By their own admission, all the members of the board and its office-bearers are performing an honorary job and take no salaries for services they render.

The Indian public should salute them for this selfless attitude, which presumably stems from their great "love" for the game. If that be the case then what stops them from willingly coming under the RTI Act, even if the government for some legal reasons is "unable" to do so.

They should remember that the money, which is coming into their coffers is because of the millions of die-hard fans who support the game and spend their money, time and energy in cheering their team and their players.

The reason fans support the Board is because they believe it is "building" India and not "selling" brand India to the highest bidder. That is why it is important that the Board's accounts should come under public scrutiny.

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.

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