Monday, November 19, 2012

Govt.'s decides to withdraw proposed Amendments to the RTI Act

Mixed signals

V.VENKATESAN

The government's decision to withdraw the amendments to the RTI Act that it proposed in 2006 is hailed, but suspicions remain that it may try to bring them in through the back door.

RAJEEV BHATT 
Central Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra welcomes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V. Narayanasamy watches, to the inaugural session of the seventh Annual Convention of Central Information Commission in New Delhi on October 12

A decision shrouded in mystery. After the meeting of the Union Council of Ministers on November 1, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V. Narayanasamy told the media that the government had dropped its 2006 proposal to amend the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005, in deference to the protests by civil society activists, non-governmental organisations, and Information Commissioners. Sources within the government have, however, attributed the reversal to the strong opposition to the amendments from the National Advisory Council Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi. Civil society activists hailed the decision to drop the proposal, which had the potential to weaken the law.

The crux of these amendments, which had not been moved in Parliament, was that the government wanted to restrict the disclosure of file notings to those relating to social and developmental issues. Another change that was contemplated was exemption of examination papers, selections to the Union Public Service Commission, and information on ongoing executive decisions from the purview of the Act.

Although the government never released the text of the amendments, the media had managed to reveal what they were, triggering protests from civil society and RTI activists. That the government kept these amendments hanging like a Damocles' sword over users of the RTI Act for six long years despite widespread protests itself calls for an explanation. That it dramatically withdrew them despite sending signals to the contrary is mysterious.

Office procedure manuals state that all government officers involved in the chain of decision-making on any matter should record their opinions, advice and words of caution in the file concerned. These are called file notings; essentially, they are a record of the consultation and discussions that must necessarily be held before any decision is made or any action is planned by a public authority.

File notings reveal the reasons for official decisions. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had declared on its website after the RTI Act was passed in 2005 that file notings were not covered by it. In December 2005, the Prime Minister instructed the DoPT to change the rules so that disclosures pertaining to file notings could be revealed if they were related to social and developmental issues.

Meanwhile, the Central Information Commission held that file notings clearly fell within the definition of the terms "information" and "record" and issued a notice to the DoPT asking it to take its own interpretation off its website. On July 20, 2006, the Cabinet decided to amend the Act to put file notings outside its purview. It also sought to amend Section 2(i) (a) of the Act to specifically provide for the disclosure of file notings of all plans, schemes and programmes relating to developmental and social issues. Activists sensed mischief in this proposal and asked why the government had sought to clarify something that was never in doubt. Moreover, they pointed out that the Act did not exempt file notings specifically.

The possibility of file notings being disclosed under the Act will keep extraneous influences out of the decision-making process, users of the RTI Act say. They are convinced that file notings throw light on the way government decisions are made and that disclosure of file notings will ensure that only those officials who are authorised to take decisions do so. Information on the movement of files and who has had access to them would be an outcome of this disclosure. The chronology of the decision-making process and the rationale behind the decision finally arrived at would become public knowledge.

As the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has suggested in a study, citizens must have the right to hold public functionaries accountable for tendering ill-considered or unlawful advice or advice that is intended to benefit vested interests.

This will be possible only if people have access to all the information about the decision-making process. If a category of discussions and consultations is excluded, the primary objective of the RTI Act, namely, enabling citizens to hold the government and its instrumentalities accountable, will become impossible to attain. Transparency in all the details of the decision-making process will ensure that officials tender only opinions and recommendations that have a basis in law, are in tune with established norms, and are defensible when questioned.

While the government has formally withdrawn its 2006 proposals, the apprehension that it may try to bring the same amendments through the back door persists. On October 14, 2009, at a national-level conference of Information Commissioners convened by the DoPT behind closed doors, the department sought their approval to amend the Act to exclude "information regarding discussions/consultations that take place before arriving at a decision in a public authority", a euphemism for "file notings".

In April 2010, the DoPT admitted in a reply to an application under the RTI Act that it was considering a proposal to deny information to frivolous and vexatious applicants.

Prime Minister's concern

On October 12 this year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while addressing the seventh Annual Convention of Central Information Commission, said: "There are concerns about frivolous and vexatious use of the Act in demanding information, the disclosure of which cannot possibly serve any public purpose. Sometimes information covering a long time-span or a large number of cases is sought in an omnibus manner with the objective of discovering an inconsistency or mistake which can be criticised. Such queries, besides serving little productive social purpose, are also a drain on the resources of the public authorities, diverting precious man-hours that could be put to better use. Such requests for information have in fact come in for adverse criticism by the Supreme Court as well as the Central Information Commission."

He added: "Concerns have also been raised regarding possible infringement of personal privacy while providing information under the Right to Information Act. There is a fine balance required to be maintained between the right to information and the right to privacy, which stems out of the fundamental right to life and liberty. The citizens' right to know should definitely be circumscribed if disclosure of information encroaches upon someone's personal privacy. But where to draw the line is a complicated question."

He also said that a blanket extension of the Act to entities set up under public-private partnerships might discourage private bodies from entering into partnerships with public bodies. These comments disappointed activists.

As if in answer to Manmohan Singh, the Group of Experts on Privacy, constituted by the Planning Commission and headed by former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, in its report on October 16, said that privacy was the narrow exception to the right to information. Information Commissioners, the Group of Experts said, should use a public interest test to determine whether an individual's right to privacy should be trumped by the public's right to information. It recommended that the proposed Act on privacy should not circumscribe the RTI Act.

RTI activists are already concerned about the impact of the Supreme Court's judgment in September which requires all Information Commissions to be two-member Benches, one of whom must be a retired judge. At present, single Commissioners hear and decide cases, so activists fear that compliance with the judgment will, apart from weakening the Act itself, inordinately delay the hearing and disposal of the cases. While the government has sought a review of this judgment, its mixed signals on diluting the RTI Act have only raised doubts about its sincerity in meeting the challenge this judgment poses.

Courtesy_

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A right and wrongs

V. VENKATESAN

The RTI Act needs strengthening, but activists oppose the government's proposals as they suspect its intentions.

V.V. KRISHNAN 
SURVIVORS OF THE Bhopal gas tragedy outside the Prime Minister's Office in New Delhi to file right to information requests regarding the civil nuclear liability Bill, on May 4

AN Act is usually amended to address certain concerns that come up during its implementation. However, the beneficiaries of the Right to Information Act, 2005, oppose any amendment to the Act, because they suspect the government's intentions.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) admitted to considering 11 amendments to the Act in a letter to the RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal in April. Among these were some key amendments aimed at strengthening the Act. One such is a proposal to amend Section 2 (dealing with definitions) to remove the difficulty in ascertaining whether a particular non-governmental organisation should be treated as public authority or not.

Another is to amend Section 4 (dealing with obligations of public authorities) so as to enlarge the scope of suo motu disclosure of information by public authorities. Many public authorities are not forthcoming with their proactive disclosure documents on certain categories of information listed under the Act. Even in those instances where some efforts have been made to put together these documents, they are not easily available except on the Internet.

As a result of this lacuna in implementation, people are forced to seek this information in writing and wait for 30 days for a reply. Those who make the requisition are charged application fees for information that the public authorities are bound to disclose proactively. In some instances, they receive information after three or four weeks. Both actions of the public authorities are against the spirit of the Act. Information disclosed proactively must be made accessible to the person who seeks it without any delay.

The government is also examining an amendment to Section 19 (dealing with appeal) to enable the constitution of the benches in the Central Information Commission (CIC). This is a welcome move, as the DoPT has, in a circular, criticised the creation of benches by the CIC, as in its view they should decide appeals and complaints in a collegium. The Delhi High Court, in a recent case, erroneously upheld this position, which is now under appeal before the Supreme Court. Observers have pointed out that when the Central and State Information Commissions hear cases in benches, they can dispose of cases before them expeditiously, whereas if they hear cases in a collegium, it may lead to a backlog of cases.

What makes RTI activists suspect these seemingly good proposals is that the government is examining them along with ominous ones. A discussion with the stakeholders on these proposals, whenever it is held, would suggest that the government may not, after all, clear the good proposals if there is no agreement on those that are likely to weaken the Act.

Thus, one of the proposals opposed by the activists is the amendment to Section 7 to avoid frivolous or vexatious requests. Section 7 deals with disposal of requests by the Public Information Officer. The definition of what constitutes frivolous or vexatious request will always be debatable.

Another proposal that has invited the wrath of the activists is the one to amend Section 8 (dealing with exemption from disclosure) to modify slightly the provision about disclosure of Cabinet papers "to ensure smooth functioning of the government and to take care of the sensitivity of the office of the Chief Justice of India". This is a sequel to the letter Justice K.G. Balakrishnan (currently Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission) wrote, before his retirement as the Chief Justice of India, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting exemption for the office of the CJI from the purview of the RTI Act. The activists questioned the propriety of the CJI in writing such a letter to the Prime Minister when the Supreme Court was hearing an appeal against the Delhi High Court's judgment that the office of the CJI came under the RTI Act.

What has come as a big relief to the beneficiaries of the Act from this latest reply of the DoPT to an RTI applicant is that the government is no longer considering exempting file notings from its applicability. On October 14, 2009, at a national-level conference of Information Commissioners convened by the DoPT behind closed doors, the department sought their approval for amending the Act to exclude "information regarding discussions/consultations that take place before arriving at a decision in a public authority", a euphemism for "file notings".

SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA 
MEMBERS OF THE National Campaign for People's Right to Information staging a dharna against amendments to the RTI Act. A file photograph

Office procedure manuals require all government officers involved in the chain of decision-making on any matter to record their opinion, advice and words of caution in the file concerned. These are called file notings – essentially they are a record of the consultation and discussions that must necessarily be held before any decision is made or action is planned by a public authority.

As the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has suggested in a study, citizens must have the right to hold public functionaries accountable for tendering ill-considered or unlawful advice or advice that is intended to benefit vested interests. This will be possible only if people have access to all information about the decision-making process. If the category of discussions and consultations is excluded, the primary objective of the RTI Act, namely, enabling citizens to hold the government and its instrumentalities accountable, will become impossible to attain. Transparency in the details of the decision-making process will ensure that officials tender only such opinion and recommendations that have a basis in law, are in tune with established norms, and are defensible when questioned.

Following intense opposition from the Information Commissioners, the CIC and civil society, the DoPT appears to have tentatively abandoned the proposal. The DoPT apparently thinks information regarding who gave what opinion or advice in a decision-making process has no relevance to the general public. It is claimed that disclosure of such information will hamper the free flow of thought among officers. Activists, therefore, wonder whether the DoPT's latest proposal to deny information to frivolous and vexatious petitioners is aimed at refusing disclosure of file notings without actually calling it so.

Another proposal under the government's consideration is to amend Section 24 to incorporate a provision about partial exemption of organisations possessing "sensitive information". Section 24, at present, only says the Act shall not apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule of the Constitution, and that information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded. The expression "sensitive information", therefore, has given rise to misgivings about the government's intentions. The Second Schedule currently includes 22 organisations.

According to the CHRI, the DoPT has announced its intention to review this list and pull out the following organisations: the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Directorate of Enforcement, the Narcotics Control Bureau, the Special Frontier Force, the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Central Industrial Security Force and the Assam Rifles. The CHRI has welcomed the proposal to remove these entities from the Second Schedule, as this blanket exclusion is against the principle of maximum disclosure that underpins the Act. According to the CHRI, this withdrawal of names of organisations from the Second Schedule does not require an amendment of the RTI Act. It can be accomplished by a simple gazette notification, which the government can place before Parliament later for approval.

The CHRI has suggested that there is a strong case for removing all such organisations from the list. The sensitive information held by such organisations is adequately protected by the exemptions provided under Section 8(1) of the Act as is the case with any other public authority. There is no reason why non-sensitive information about their appointed functions must also be excluded from public authority, the CHRI says.

There are other lacunae in the Act, which have so far not caught the government's attention. The RTI Act and the Rules made under it do not specify a time limit for Information Commissioners to dispose of appeals and complaints. A time limit will ensure that there is no accumulation of cases.

The CHRI has proposed that all Information Commissioners should lay down for themselves a maximum time limit within which to dispose of appeals and complaints and this time limit must be disclosed proactively (for example, at least 90 per cent of the cases must be disposed of within three months).

Section 26 makes the government duty-bound to organise educational programmes with particular emphasis on disadvantaged communities. The CHRI has proposed that the Central and State governments must incorporate public education and training of officers with regard to the RTI as an important component of their regular work in all departments. It has urged all governments to allocate adequate resources for conducting public education programmes and training officers and employees of all public authorities.

A study has found that awareness about the Act in rural areas is much less than in urban areas; awareness among women is much less than among men; and the gap in implementation of the Act is because of the absence of accountability in respect of various functionaries. The CHRI has suggested that these are the result of non-compliance with the obligations under Section 26. The governments have not even allocated adequate resources for public education in their budgets even though Section 26 says disadvantaged communities must be the focus of the government's public education efforts, the CHRI has pointed out.

Courtesy_

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Slow disposal of cases is undermining faith in RTI

'Slow disposal of cases is undermining faith in RTI'

GAURAV VIVEK BHATNAGAR

July 7, 2012

SHAILESH GANDHI: 'Complete computerisation could reduce corruption by around 30 per cent.' Photo: Nagara Gopal
SHAILESH GANDHI: 'Complete computerisation could reduce corruption by around 30 per cent.' Photo: Nagara Gopal

INFOR WAR: Members of the Karnataka State RTI Activists Forum on a dharna in Bangalore. Photo: K. Gopinathan
INFOR WAR: Members of the Karnataka State RTI Activists Forum on a dharna in Bangalore. Photo: K. Gopinathan

Interview with Shailesh Gandhi, former Information Commissioner

The only RTI activist appointed in the Central Information Commission as an Information Commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi has set the bar high for the other Commissioners by clearing nearly 20,000 cases in four years. On Friday, July 6, as he demitted office at the end of his term, he spoke to Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar about how to improve the delivery of information through the Right to Information Act. Excerpts.

How do you reflect on your stint in the Central Information Commission?

It has been a very interesting and challenging assignment. In the last 45 months, I have been forced to think more cogently about the law. [I have] gained some insight into the reasons for our unsatisfactory governance. I have realised it is possible to work within the system and force change.

When I joined the CIC, most Commissioners disposed of less than 2,000 cases annually. I set an example of disposing over 5,000 cases and making disposals a key issue; most Commissioners now dispose over 3,000 cases.

Has the Commission succeeded in meeting the objectives for which it has been established?

Not adequately. Most Information Commissions are slowly going towards a situation where pending cases will pile up for three to four years. The pressure on Public Information Officers (PIO) will disappear and the common man — in whose name we cherish and promote RTI — will stop using it. The adherence to good record keeping and Section 4 disclosures by Commissions are not satisfactory.

Has the Commission been able to provide information to RTI applicants in the measure it should have?

It should have done much better. The Commissions should take the responsibility of delivering RTI to citizens. They should also put in greater effort in getting Section 4 compliance.

Do you believe the tool of imposing penalties on Central Public Information Officers (CPIO) not providing information under the RTI Act has been used effectively? Would you advocate its greater use to act as a deterrent against denial of information to applicants and to encourage greater flow of information?

The RTI Act works to a large extent because of the threat of penalties. However, Commissioners have been rather reluctant to penalise PIOs. In over 50 per cent of the cases before most Commissioners, PIOs have defaulted in providing information. For penalty to remain a viable threat, at least around 10 per cent of defaulting PIOs (this would mean about five per cent PIOs) should be penalised. Instead, it is often less than 0.5 per cent. This results in the PIOs losing any real fear of defaulting in RTI.

As an RTI activist yourself, what would your advice be to other applicants on how they should file their appeals?

RTI queries should be short and focused. The information seeker should basically seek records or anything which is likely to be on records. In a good RTI application, the queries seeking information would generally be less than 250 words. It is useful to seek information which will be available with one department and put different RTI applications for different departments. This is not stated in the law, but in practice, a short and focused RTI application gives much better results.

Are you satisfied with the manner in which most Information Commissioners are handling work?

No. Information Commissioners must primarily take decisions based on the law and have belief in transparency. They should also conduct hearings for around five hours each day and give their decisions on the day of the hearing in most cases. Section 4 (1) (a) mandates computerisation of records. Most Commissions are doing nothing in this direction.

What is your opinion on the disposal of cases per Information Commissioner and how do you feel it is impacting the RTI movement?

The national average of disposal must be around 1,000 cases annually. I have disposed over 5,900 cases last year and believe that with proper systems and trained staff it would be possible for an Information Commissioner to dispose over 6,000 cases annually. Because of the slow disposals, matters are languishing in Commissions for years making the information irrelevant and reducing the citizen's faith in RTI.

Any specific satisfying achievements?

Deploying systems and templates in work; using over a 100 interns for short periods to give useful work inputs, besides exposing them to RTI — two have become IAS officers; working without paper files and running an e-office since the last two years, and disposing of around 20,000 cases in less than four years.

From engineer to entrepreneur to RTI activist to Information Commissioner. Where is Mr. Shailesh Gandhi headed next?

I plan to work on RTI from Mumbai. I will teach citizens to use RTI; persuade Information Commissions to deliver on the promise of RTI and become accountable to citizens, and voluntarily declare their Citizen's Charter. Having seen the pathetic state of our government in delivering to citizens, I also plan to work towards getting governments to go for complete computerisation, since this could result in reduction of corruption by around 30 per cent, besides improving the ability to deliver to citizens in time. Citizens need to work for getting a good government which is capable of delivering good governance. Unless we get a first-rate government, we cannot get a first-rate nation.


Courtesy_

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Delhi HC: Marks obtained in CBSE exams can't be given under RTI

Marks obtained in CBSE exams cannot be given under RTI: HC

PTI

NEW DELHI, May 27, 2012

Students are having a last minute preparation for CBSE X exam at a centre in Visakhapatnam. File photo

Students are having a last minute preparation for CBSE X exam at a centre in Visakhapatnam. File photo

In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court has held that marks obtained by a student in CBSE board exam cannot be revealed under the transparency law as it would "defeat" the purpose of the new grading system.

The court set aside the verdict of a single judge bench and the Central Information Commission, which had asked the Central Board of Secondary Education to reveal marks obtained by a girl in her Class X board examination in 2010.

"We are unable to agree; we feel that the CIC as well as the learned single judge, by directing disclosure of 'marks', in the regime of 'grades' have indeed undone what was sought to be done by replacing marks with grades and defeated the very objective thereof.

"The objective, in replacing the marks with grades, as can be gathered from the documents on record, was to grade students in a bandwidth rather than numerically...," a bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.

Writing the judgement, Endlaw said the details of marks, obtained by the student in 10th board, cannot be termed as an "information" under the Right to Information Act as its disclosure would defeat the policy of awarding grades instead of marks.

Allowing the plea of CBSE, it said "no weightage can also be given to the plea of respondent (girl's father) that the marks even if disclosed would not be used for any other purpose.

"The possibility of respondent and his ward, in securing admission and for other purposes, using the said information to secure an advantage over others cannot be ruled out."

The apex transparency panel had allowed the plea of the student saying "since, the marks were available with the appellant (CBSE) and since none of the exemptions under the RTI Act were attracted to support the non disclosure thereof, the appellant was bound to and directed to provide the information sought."

Aggrieved by the order, CBSE appealed to the single judge bench of the High Court which upheld the order of the CIC.

The CBSE then filed an appeal against the order before a division bench which allowed its plea that disclosure of the marks would dilute and defeat the grading system.

"We have already held above that disclosure of marks, which though exists with the appellant would amount to allowing play to the policy earlier prevalent of marking the examinees. Merely because the appellant/its examiners for the purpose of grading, first mark the students would not compel this court to put at naught or to allow full play to the new policy of grades," it said.

Anil Kumar Kathpal, the father of the girl, had sought the details of the marks saying "this information will help me to identify her weak areas in studies and take timely action, so that she can pursue her career after Class XII."

Courtesy_

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Read FULL Judgment of Hon'ble Delhi HC at: http://lobis.nic.in

Read CIC Order dated 27-09-2011 at: http://www.indiankanoon.org 

Also read the Hon'ble Delhi HC Judgment in Image Format



Sources of Hon'ble Delhi HC Judgment at: http://lobis.nic.in

Thursday, May 24, 2012

RTI exposes lavish expenses of President and Speaker of LS

பிரதீபா பாட்டீல்.. 12 வெளிநாட்டு டூர், 22 நாடுகளில் பயணம், செலவு ரூ. 205 கோடி!

திங்கள்கிழமை, மார்ச் 26, 2012, 8:26 [IST]

டெல்லி: குடியரசுத் தலைவர் பிரதீபா பாட்டீல் குடியரசுத் தலைவராகப் பதவியேற்றது முதல் இதுவரை 22 நாடுகளில் சுற்றுப்பயணம் செய்துள்ளார். இதற்காக மக்களின் வரிப்பணத்திலிருந்து அரசு செலவிட்ட தொகை ரூ. 205 கோடியாகும் என்று ஆர்.டி.ஐ. தகவல் மூலம் தெரிய வந்துள்ளது.

மொத்தம் 12 முறை அவர் வெளிநாடுகளுக்கு சுற்றுப்பயணம் செய்துள்ளாராம். கடும் முயற்சிகளுக்குப் பின்னர் கிடைத்த ஆர்.டி.ஐ. தகவல்கள் மூலம் இந்த விஷயம் தெரிய வந்துள்ளது.

கடந்த 2007ம் ஆண்டு ஜூலை மாதம் குடியரசுத் தலைவராகப் பதவியேற்றார் பிரதீபா பாட்டில். நாட்டின் முதல் பெண் குடியரசுத் தலைவர் என்ற பெருமை இவருக்கு உண்டு. நாட்டின் எந்த குடியரசுத் தலைவரும் வைத்திராத செலவை இவர் நாட்டுக்கு வைத்துள்ளார் என்ற பெருமையையும் தற்போது பெற்றுள்ளார்.

இன்னும் நான்கு மாதங்களில் பதவியிலிருந்து ஓய்வு பெறவுள்ள பிரதீபா பாட்டீல், இதுவரை வெளிநாட்டு பயணங்களுக்காக செலவிட்ட தொகை ரூ. 205 கோடியாகும். இது முழுக்க முழுக்க மக்களின் வரிப்பணமாகும்.

குடியரசுத் தலைவருக்கான பிரத்யேக விமானங்களுக்காக மட்டும் ரூ. 169 கோடி செலவிடப்பட்டுள்ளது. பெரும்பாலும் போயிங் 747-400 ரக விமானத்தைத்தான் குடியரசுத் தலைவரின் பயணத்திற்குப் பயன்படுத்தியுள்ளனர். பாட்டீலுடன் பெரும்பாலும் அவரது குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களும் மொத்தமாக செல்வதுண்டு.

தங்குமிடச் செலவு, வெளிநாடுகளுக்குப் போகும் போது அங்கு உள்ளூர் பயணம், தினசரிப் படி, இதர செலவுகள் என ரூ. 36 கோடி வரை செலவாகியுள்ளதாம்.

குடியரசுத் தலைவருக்கான விமானத்தை ஏர் இந்தியாதான் வழங்கும். இந்த செலவுத் தொகையை மத்திய பாதுகாப்பு அமைச்சகமே வழங்குகிறது.

ஏர் இந்தியா நிறுவனம் இதுவரை பாதுகாப்பு அமைச்சகத்திடமிருந்து விமான செலவாக ரூ. 169 கோடியை வசூலித்துள்ளது. இன்னும் ரூ. 16 கோடிக்கு பில் பாஸாகாமல் உள்ளதாம்.

குடியரசுத் தலைவர் இதுவரை பிரேசில், மெக்சிகோ, சிலி, பூட்டான், வியட்நாம், இந்தோனேசியா, ஸ்பெயின், போலந்து, ரஷ்யா, தஜிகிஸ்தான், இங்கிலாந்து, சைப்ரஸ், சீனா, லாவோஸ், கம்போடியா, ஐக்கிய அரபு எமிரேட்ஸ், சிரியா, மொரீஷியஸ், தென் கொரியா, சுவிட்சர்லாந்து, ஆஸ்திரியா ஆகிய நாடுகளுக்குப் போயுள்ளார். மொத்தம் 79 நாட்கள் அவர் வெளிநாடுகளில் கழித்துள்ளார்.

விரைவில் அவர் தென் ஆப்பிரிக்காவுக்குப் போகவுள்ளதாகவும் தகவல்கள் தெரிவிக்கிந்றன.

அவருக்கு முன்பு குடியரசுத் தலைவராக இருந்த அப்துல் கலாம், 17 நாடுகளில் சுற்றுப்பயணம் செய்துள்ளார். 7 முறை சுற்றுப்பயணம் போயுள்ளார். அவருக்கு முன்பு இருந்த கே.ஆர்.நாராயணன், 10 நாடுகளில் 6 முறை சுற்றுப்பயணம் செய்துள்ளார். சங்கர் தயாள் சர்மா இருந்தபோது 4 பயணமாக 16 நாடுகளுக்குப் போய் வந்தார்.

இவர்களின் பயணச் செலவு குறித்த விவரத்தை தெரிவிக்கவில்லை மத்திய அரசு. இருப்பினும் இவர்களுக்கு ஆன செலவை விட பல மடங்கு செலவு குடியரசுத் தலைவர் பிரதீபா பாட்டீல் பயணங்களுக்கு ஆகியுள்ளதாக கூறப்படுகிறது.

English Summary: President Pratibha Patil's wanderlust has cost the public exchequer a whopping Rs 205 crore on her foreign visits, surpassing the record of all her predecessors. Since assuming office as the country's first woman President in July 2007, Patil has undertaken 12 foreign trips covering 22 countries across four continents. She has four more months to go for her five-year tenure and a trip to South Africa is said to be on the anvil.

Courtesy_

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கடற்படை தலைமையகத்தை பார்வையிட் பிரதீபா வந்ததற்கான செலவு ரூ. 23 கோடி!

வியாழக்கிழமை, மே 24, 2012, 15:35 [IST]

டெல்லி: மேற்கு கமாண்ட், கடற்படை தலைமையகத்தை ஆய்வு செய்ய குடியரசுத் தலைவர் பிரதீபா பாட்டீல் வந்தபோது ரூ. 23 கோடி செலவிடப்பட்டதாக தகவல் அறியும் சட்டத்தின் மூலம் தெரிய வந்துள்ளது.

இந்தியாவின் முப்படைகளின் தலைமைத் தளபதி அதாவது சுப்ரீம் கமாண்ட் ஆக இருப்பவர் குடியரசுத் தலைவர். கடந்த 2011ம் ஆண்டு மேற்கு கமாண்ட் கடற்படை தலைமை அலுவலகத்திற்கு ஆய்வுக்காக குடியரசுத் தலைவர் பிரதீபா பாட்டீல் வருகை தந்தார். இந்த நிகழ்ச்சிக்கு மிகப் பெரிய அளவில் செலவு செய்துள்ளது கடற்படை. கிட்டத்தட்ட 900க்கும் மேற்பட்ட விருந்தினர்களை வரவழைத்து ஆடம்பரமாக செலவிட்டுள்ளது. மொத்தச் செலவு ரூ. 23.24 கோடியாகும்.

எஸ்.சி.அகர்வால் என்ற பொது நல சேவகர் தகவல் அறியும் சட்டத்தின் மூலம் இந்த விவரத்தைப் பெற்று வெளியிட்டுள்ளார். அதன்படி இந்த நிகழ்ச்சிக்காக செலவிடப்பட்ட தொகையின் விவரம் வருமாறு...

குடிநீருக்காக ரூ. 12 லட்சம்

இந்த நிகழ்ச்சிக்கான ஏற்பாடுகளில் ஒன்றாக குடிநீர் வசதிக்காக ரூ. 12 லட்சம் பணத்தை செலவிட்டுள்ளனர். அதாவது, நிகழ்ச்சிக்கு அழைக்கப்பட்ட ஒவ்வொரு கெஸ்ட்டுக்கும், தலா 83 ஒரு லிட்டர் மினரல் வாட்டர் பாட்டில்களை வாங்கிக் கொடுத்துள்ளனர்.

ரூ. 17 லட்சம் பணம், குடியரசுத் தலைவருக்கு வரவேற்பு அளிப்பதற்கான ஏற்பாடுகளுக்காக செலவிடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

படிக்கட்டுக்களை சீரமைக்க ரூ. 14 லட்சம்

கமாண்ட் அலுவலகம் அருகே உள்ள ஒரு கால்நடைப் பண்ணையின் வேலிகைளை சீரமைக்க ரூ. 14 லட்சத்தையும், படிக்கட்டுக்களை சீரமைக்க ரூ. 14 லட்சமும் செலவிடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

டைனிங் டேபிள் வாங்க ரூ. 26 லட்சம்

30 டைனிங் டேபிள்கள், 60 டைனிங் சேர்களை மற்றும் விஐபி சேர்கள், பிற மரச் சாமான்களை வாங்க ரூ. 26.96 லட்சம் செலவிடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

960 விருந்தினர்கள் இந்த நிகழ்ச்சிக்கு அழைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளனர். இவர்களைக் கவனிக்க ஆன செலவு மட்டும் ரூ. 17.57 லட்சமாகும்.

மளிகை சாமான் வாங்க ரூ. 28.14 லட்சம்

சாப்பாட்டுக்குத் தேவையான மளிகை சாமான்களை வாங்க ரூ. 28.14 லட்சம் செலவிடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

ஊழியர்களுக்கான கூலி ரூ. 1 கோடி

பல்வேறு பணிகளுக்கு அமர்த்தப்பட்ட ஆட்களுக்கு சம்பளமாக மட்டும் ரூ. 1 கோடி தரப்பட்டுள்ளது.

விழா நடந்த முல்லா ஆடிட்டோரியத்தில் செயற்கை நீரூற்று ஒன்றை ரூ. 6 லட்சம் செலவில் அமைத்துள்ளனர். அடிப்படைக் கட்டமைப்புக்காக மட்டும் ரூ. 11.67 கோடி செலவிடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

கடந்த ஆண்டு டிசம்பர் 20ம் தேதி ஒரே ஒரு நாள் நடந்த நிகழ்ச்சிக்குத்தான் இவ்வளவு செலவு செய்துள்ளதாம் கடற்படை.

English Summary: The Navy has run up a tab of Rs 23 crore for a day's extravaganza for the President. This included a bill of Rs 12 lakh for drinking water and Rs 17 lakh for the presidential banquet, besides spending Rs 14 lakh on alteration of a cattle fence and a similar amount on fixing a staircase. The President's Fleet Review of the Navy, in which the supreme commander of the armed forces inspects the maritime prowess of the force, took place in 2011 and is held once in the President's tenure.

Courtesy_

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Pratibha's foreign trips cost nation a record Rs. 205 crore

PTI

NEW DELHI, March 26, 2012

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil plays table tennis during a visit to M.J. College in Jalgaon on Saturday.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil plays table tennis during a visit to M.J. College in Jalgaon on Saturday - PTI

President Pratibha Patil's foreign visits have cost the public exchequer Rs. 205 crore, surpassing the record of all her predecessors.

Since assuming office as the country's first woman President in July 2007, Ms. Patil has undertaken 12 trips covering 22 countries across four continents. She has four more months to go in her five-year tenure and a trip to South Africa is said to be on the anvil.

A series of RTI applications has revealed that Air India incurred over Rs. 169 crore on use of chartered aircraft, always a Boeing 747-400, on the foreign visits by Ms. Patil, mostly accompanied by family members. A visit to Bhutan was covered by a smaller jet.

A further sum of nearly Rs. 36 crore has been incurred by the External Affairs Ministry on accommodation, local travel, daily allowance and "miscellaneous" expenses, according to its information.

The RTI applications were filed over three years during which the authorities concerned showed great reluctance to reveal information.

The Defence Ministry, which pays Air India for use of chartered aircraft by the President, fended off RTI queries and provided little information.

The airline has billed the Defence Ministry for over Rs. 169 crore for aircraft used by Ms. Patil. Of this, it has paid nearly Rs. 153 crore.

Courtesy_

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Prez's Naval fleet review bled Centre of Rs 23 crore

THURSDAY, 24 MAY 2012 00:11, PIONEER NEWS SERVICE | NEW DELHI

When austerity is the watch word, RTI response reveals that President Pratibha Patil's review of the Naval fleet at Mumbai on December 20, 2011 cost a whopping Rs 23.24 crore.

Another RTI response reveals Deputy Chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Ahluwalia's global forays between May and October 2011, cost the exchequer a sum of Rs 36,40,140 for four trips covering 18 nights, an average cost of Rs 2.02 lakh a day. Similarly, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar's globetrotting comprised 29 trips in 35 months of her tenure, cost the exchequer around Rs 10 crore .

According to the detailed information provided by Naval Headquarters to RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, the Presidential Fleet Review at Mumbai seas incurred massive expenditure under various heads such as repair of submarines, hiring of vessels, transport and casual labour; maintenance of marine assets, repair and refits of aircraft related stores, etc.

The major component of the cost was incurred on the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure development. This was Rs 11.67 crore, including Rs 1.32 crore spent for external paintings of buildings and roof tops, including repair of some buildings.

Rs 1.2 crore was spent on relaying roads; Rs 41 lakh on the special repairs to the road from Afghan Church to RC Church (near Navy area); Rs 27 lakh for the special repair to heritage wall at INS Angre; Rs 8 lakh on display board on main roads; Rs 49 lakh spent on special repairs to external services and rain beating wall of certain at VIP roads and procurement of light fittings and cable, refurbishment of tower, street and security lights among others, said the RTI reply.

The RTI reply also stated that Rs 26.96 lakh was spent to buy new furniture, including 30 dining tables and 60 dining chairs, furniture for VIP

lounge and for cabin staff. Rs 19.68 lakh was spent on the catering. Of this, Rs 17.57 lakh was spent on the catering for presidential banquet involving 960 people while Rs 2.11 lakh on catering for the Presidential yacht/ship involving 750 people.

During Presidential Fleet Review, President Pratibha Patil, took salute from a flotilla of 81 ships, including four submarines and 44 aircraft of the Navy and the Indian Coast Guard.

A separate RTI response shows that between May and October 2011, Montek undertook "four trips covering 18 nights which cost the exchequer a sum of Rs. 36,40,140", an average cost of Rs 2.02 lakh a day. Montek made 42 officials foreign trips and spent 274 days overseas during his seven-year-tenure. Interestingly, out of his 42 trips, 23 were to America. The total cost of his travelling expenses according to RTI response come to Rs.2.34 core.

Meira Kumar during her three year tenure visited 29 countries. RTI responses reveal she led several delegations, mostly to international conferences, comprising several MPS and bureaucrats, costing around Rs 10 crore.

Meanwhile, reacting to Meira Kumar's foreign junkets, Lok Sabha Secretariat on Wednesday in statement claimed that all trips were in her official capacity and "part of official responsibility."

"In her official capacity, the Speaker has to lead Indian Parliamentary Delegations to the Conferences of the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), of which India is a member," the statement said.

Courtesy_

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Meira Kumar took trips abroad every 37 days

PTI May 21, 2012, 09.02PM IST

NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has undertaken as many 29 foreign trips in 35 months since assuming the high office which means she has gone on a trip nearly every 37 days.

The former IFS officer has visited 28 countries accompanied by MPs belonging to various parties as well as senior officials of the Lok Sabha secretariat incurring a total expenditure of nearly Rs 10 crore, according to information given to activist Subhash Agrawal under RTI Act.

The country most visited by her is Switzerland, which is essentially in connection with Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) work, according to details furnished by the Lok Sabha secretariat.

Kumar, who was elected Speaker on June 3, 2009 has, in all, travelled abroad for 146 days till April 30 this year.

For IPU work, Kumar has undertaken seven visits to four countries - Switzerland four times, while once each to the USA, Panama and, Thailand.

In addition, she visited Trinidad and Tobago, UK, Sri Lanka, Isle of Man, Swaziland, Kenya and Tanzania for the work related to Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the reply said.

Kumar also took parliamentary delegations to Italy, Austria, Mauritius, Bhutan, Hungary, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Mexico, Vietnam, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Iran, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.

In five visits to the USA, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, Isle of Man and Swaziland, she was only accompanied by the officials of the Parliament while in rest of the visits she was also accompanied by MPs.

According to the reply, total expenses on these visits were Rs 9.89 crore. She also gave gifts worth Rs 11.66 lakh to her hosts.

Courtesy_


Also read the Clarification Statement by President of India


President's office justifies Pratibha Patil's foreign trip expenses

TNN Mar 28, 2012, 02.43AM IST

NEW DELHI: Caught in a controversy over the President's travel expenses amounting to over Rs 200 crore, Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson on Tuesday said that comparisons of the number of foreign visits by various Presidents was misleading. President Pratibha Patil's office also said that the visits were necessary to deepen bilateral cooperation.

A statement by President's Officer on Special Duty Archana Datta also explained that the visits were undertaken after careful appraisal and recommendation by the Prime Minister's Office and ministry of external affairs.

Defending the size of the delegation that have accompanied Patil on 12 trips covering 22 countries, the statement said that the delegation comprised ministers, MPs, senior officials besides "supporting" and security staff. All Presidents have been accompanied by family members and Presidential guests besides media contingent.

The statement also described as "potentially misleading" comparison of foreign visits undertaken by the President with her predecessors.

It said that among her predecessors, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam had visited 17 countries, K R Narayanan (13), R Venkataraman (21) and V V Giri (22).

In a response to an RTI, the government said that about Rs 205 crore had been spent on Patil's foreign trips.

Courtesy_


Also read the Clarification Statement by Speaker of Lok Sabha


Speaker's Foreign Visits Official in Nature, Clarifies LSS

PTI | NEW DELHI | MAY 23, 2012

The foreign visits undertaken by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar were part of her official responsibilities and not to holiday destinations, the Lok Sabha Secretariat said today.

Reacting to news reports on the Speaker embarking on a foreign visit every 37 days which cost nearly Rs 10 crore, the Secretariat said in a release that Kumar's visits were part of her official responsibilities.

"In her official capacity, the Speaker has to lead Indian Parliamentary Delegations to the Conferences of the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), of which India is a member," the statement said.

It said bilateral exchanges of Parliamentary delegations on goodwill visits have become more regular as parliamentary diplomacy gained ground as a major complement to other diplomatic initiatives.

"The news items and their wording tend to mislead the readers by suggesting that these visits were to holiday destinations," it said.

The statement also said that MPs of all political parties were part of the delegation and often travelled economy class as against their entitlement for first class travel in airlines.

It said that a large number of foreign Parliamentary delegations also visited Parliament in the last three years.

The Secretariat, in response to an RTI query, had said that the Speaker had undertaken as many 29 foreign trips in 35 months since assuming the high office in 2009.

Courtesy_

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