Tuesday, September 30, 2008

RTI not for assets, liabilities of officials: HC

RTI not for assets, liabilities of officials

Recently, on 1st July 2008, the High Court of Karnataka declared that personal information of the public authorities cannot be made available through the Right To Inforamtion Act, 2005. The order was a result of a writ petition filed by H E Rajashekarappa, Joint Director (Statistics) at Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department, at Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore. Rajashekarappa filed the case on 30th June 2006.

On 17 March 2006, one Narasimha Murthy, retired statistical inspector filed an RTI application with the PIO at the Government Planning and Statistics Department, M S Building, asking for the total assets and liablities of Rajashekarappa, for the period of 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05.

But Rajashekarappa objected to his application and the Public Information Officer (PIO) rejected the application (by an order at Annexure ‘E'). This aggrieved Murthy and he filed an appeal under section 19(8) of Right to Information Act, 2005 before the Joint Secretary, Government Planning and Statistics Department, the Appellate Authority Under the RTI Act.

After this move Rajashekarappa was asked by the appellate body to furnish the required documents sought by Murthy but yet again he asked to cancel the application. The reasons given by his counsels, M S Prathima and S V Narasimhan were that the details of assets and liabilities is personal information and does not fall under the public affairs of the public authority.

The counsels also metioned that the appellate body made a blunder by setting aside the order made by the PIO and asking Rajashekarappa to furnish details. Thus Murthy was asked to pay a penalty of total Rs.10,000, with Rs.5000 due in three months from the ruling, and his application was declared canceled.

The High Court's also ruled that it cannot be said that the RTI Act encompasses the personal information of the officials of public authorities. Thus Murthy had no right to seek such information under this Act. The court also called his application troublesome and an attempt to settle scores with Rajashekarappa.

While the ruling quashed Murthy's application and barred him from knowing the required details, it has left bigger questions on the nature of the curbs on the RTI Act.


Co-operative Societies are not public authorities under the RTI Act

Co-operative Societies are not public authorities under the RTI Act

RTI cannot unlock all co-operative societies

A key right-to-information question was resolved when the Karanataka High Court on 30 June 2008, declared that registered Co-operative Societies are not public authorities under the RTI Act, 2005.

Citing the RTI Act, the High Court said that 'public authority' under this act is a body of self-government established by the appropriate (state legislature, central) government. A non-governmental organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government is also a 'public authority'.

Furthermore, the court noted that while the Co-operative Societies Act and the Karnataka LokAyuktha Act both defined office-bearers of co-operative societies to be 'public servants', this did not amount to these bodies termed as a 'public authorities' under the RTI law.

The issue came up in September 2005, when a co-operative society filed a petition asking if it was a public authority under the RTI Act. That month, the Registrar of the Co-operative Societies (Karnataka) had notified that all co-operative societies in Karnataka were public authorities. Some members of Dattaprasad Co-operating Housing Society, Malleshwaram wanted to know information about the society and some others opposed divulging the information. The chairman of the society took the case further. The respondents for the case were the Registrar of Co-operative Societies and the Karnataka Information Commission.


Also read the complete Judgment on this Issue at:

The High Court ruling on this issue

What documents are needed if your vehicle is stopped for checking?

What documents are needed if your vehicle is stopped for checking?

What is the authoritative answer on what documents are needed if your vehicle is stopped for checking? An RTI application was filed with Bangalore's police department to find this out.

You might say why need RTI application for this. We all produce our driving licence and vehicle papers if a traffic constable stops us. Many of us 'negotiate' the fine amount and pay, or we show our papers and move on.

But do we know if the constable is even asking for correct documents or, more importantly, if he is entitled to check the vehicles and collect a fine? More than two years back, M V K Anil Kumar, an RTI activist and convener of the Bangalore RTI user group Kria Katte, had filed an application to see the rules. The response is informative.

The rules say that you should have a copy of the driving licence, copy of registration certificate, fitness certificate, insurance certificate, tax card and emmission test certificate.

Documents to be produced for vehicle checking
Documents to be produced for vehicle checking

The reply to the application also mentions that vehicle inspections are conducted by Motor Vehicle Department and police officers are empowered to book cases. It also mentions that the police constables or head constables can stop and check the vehicles only in the presence of an officer


Sunday, September 28, 2008

RTI Act: committee mulls scrapping of fee

RTI Act: committee mulls scrapping of fee

All departments to host details on websites

— Photo: K. Ganesan

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice E. M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, left, releasing a handbook on Right to Information Act. Joint Registrar Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar receives the first copy, in the city on Saturday

MADURAI: Government departments have been asked to host on the websites all the information relating to schemes and procedures for the people to get benefits under them and to ensure transparent governance, E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, said on Saturday.

Addressing a one-day seminar on the Right to Information Act and its implementation, he said the committee was visualising a situation in which no application under the Act was received for want of information.

All government departments and public sector undertakings, including the judiciary and legislature, were accountable for using the taxpayers’ money. “Except for the reasoning behind the judgments, all aspects of the judiciary administration should be made transparent,” he said.

Petitions for information from various departments had been flooding in the past two years, and the Central Information Commission had disposed of 16,000 applications and another 8,000 were to be cleared, Dr. Natchiappan said. “It is a teething problem that so much of information is being sought by the public. The officials should complain of short of manpower in giving replies to the people,” he said. As the system became more transparent, the number of applications would come down. “The Act is complimentary to our administration,” he said. United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi had described the Act as a tool to empower the poor.

On fee and rejection

Pointing to the complaints that many applications had been rejected just because the initial fee had not been paid, Dr. Natchiappan said it was unfortunate that in some cases “government departments had spent up to Rs. 10,000 on lawyer fees to contest cases relating to the petitioners’ failure to pay Rs. 10 in fee. We have advised the heads of Union Government departments and the public sector undertakings not to insist on the fee while receiving the applications, but only while giving the replies, depending on the number of photocopies to be taken.” The committee was considering scrapping of the initial fee, he said.

Joint Registrar Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar recalled how the Act had helped the people have access to food, health and other facilities in rural Karnataka.

The government should allocate more funds to popularise the Act, said P. Duraisingam, chairman of the Federation of Consumer Organisations–Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Consumer Research, Education, Action, Training and Empowerment and Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, along with FEDCOT organised the seminar.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Lawyer seeks ‘free’ information from varsity for violating RTI deadline

Lawyer seeks ‘free’ information from varsity for violating RTI deadline

Express News Service Posted: Sep 28, 2008 at 0319 hrs IST

Chandigarh, September 27: A Chandigarh-based lawyer has moved the Punjab State Information Commission demanding that he be provided ‘free of cost’ information by the Punjabi University, Patiala, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Advocate H C Arora’s demand for ‘free of cost information’ was made after the University allegedly failed to provide him information within the stipulated period of 30 days. “I was supplied the information after 45 days, which is not within the stipulated period laid down under the RTI Act,” said Arora.

As per rules laid down under the RTI Act, the person who has sought information is entitled to information free of cost, if the agency or institution fails to furnish the same within 30 days. Challenging the amount of Rs 25,000 charged by the University, Arora first filed an appeal with the First Appellate Authority of the University, seeking the entire information and 12,500-page document free of cost, as per provisions of Section 7 of the RTI Act, 2005.

Receiving little response, he has filed a second appeal in the State Information Commission seeking not only the information free of cost, but also demanding an imposition of penalty on the Station Public Information Officer (SPIO) for deliberately holding back information.

Arora had sought information in relation to hundreds of appointments made by the University during the tenure of the previous V-C.


Delhi government biggest violater of RTI Act: CIC

Delhi government biggest violater of RTI Act: CIC

Saturday, September 27, 2008 21:33 [IST]

New Delhi: The government of the national capital has earned the "dubious distinction" of being the biggest violator of the Right to Information Act, with the maximum number of employees fined for the offence in the country coming from its ranks.

The highest number of complaints and appeals received by the Central Information Commission are against the Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) under the Delhi Government, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah said today.

"Maximum number of showcause notices have been served to the Principal Information Officers (PIOs) of the RCS office," Habibullah said at the annual convention of the United Residents Joint Action (URJA), the apex body of Resident Welfare Associations here.

The RTI Act has provisions to impose fines on information officers of different government departments in case they fail to provide the sought information on time.

Following the increase in the number of RTI applications, the Information Commission plans to set up a special bench to clear backlog of complaints against the RCS office, Habibullah said.

He also informed that three additional information commissioners have been appointed at the CIC by the Centre to help clear the backlog created by over 1,500 appeals received every month from across the country.

In order to reduce the number of RTI queries, the CIC suggested that government information, especially data, should be put on the public domain except in the case of strategic areas like defence.

This, he said, will make a large number of RTI queries redundant.

Source : PTI


A few clauses of RTI Act need change

'A few clauses of Right to Information Act need change'

Sunday, September 28, 2008 01:43 PM GMT+06:00

Our Correspondent, Barisal

Speakers at a discussion in Barisal yesterday said a few flawed clauses are to be changed if Right to Information (RTI) Act is to ensure people's right to know and good governance.

Welcoming the council of advisers' approval to the much-awaited ordinance, they said there are several loopholes in the proposed ordinance, which need to be closed in order to ensure maximum disclosure of information.

Conscious Citizens Committee (CCC) of Barisal and Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) jointly organised the programme titled 'Know Information, Get Right' (Tattho Janbo, Odhikar Anbo) at Barisal BDS auditorium.

Economic development, establishment of rule of law, fighting corruption, institutionalising democracy and establishing good governance in the country cannot be achieved unless transparency and accountability is ensured in all spheres by ensuring free flow of information, speakers said.

There are many loopholes in the proposed ordinance, they said, adding that the ordinance covers up to upazila level, not up to union parishad level.

“Although the laws do not bar disclosure of information, most of the officials are using the Official Secrets Act as an excuse for not providing anyone, journalists in particular, with information,” they said.

Barisal City Corporation Mayor Shawkat Hossain Hiron, citizens and human rights activists Saifur Rahman Miron, Dr Mizanur Rahman, Dr Habibur Rahman, and Prof Syed Aminul Huq, freedom fighter Enayet Hossain Chowdhury, district Jatiya Party President Mohsinul Islam, NGO activist Anwar Zahid, trade union leader AK Azad, cultural activist Nazrul Islam Chunnu, women leader and educationist Rabeya Khatun, writer Asma Chowdhury, TIB member Kazi Selina participated in the discussion.

Barisal CCC convener Manabendra Batabayal presided over the programme.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pvt medical, engg colleges comes under RTI Act

Pvt medical, engg colleges under purview of RTI Act

27 Sep 2008, 0555 hrs IST

Vaibhav Ganjapure & Ranjit Deshmukh,TNN

NAGPUR: Private medical and engineering non-aided colleges can no longer choose to hide information sought under the right to information act, 2005.

In a landmark order, information commissioner for Nagpur and Amravati Vilas Patil has made it compulsory for all private engineering and medical colleges to reveal information under RTI to every applicant. These colleges had earlier refused to provide information on the pretext that they were beyond the purview of the Act.

The order was delivered in response to an appeal filed by Rajkumar Bhoyar against first appellate officer, principal of Yashwantrao Chavan College of engineering (YCCE), Wanadongri and YCCE public information officer.

Earlier, private engineering and medical institutions refused to divulge information under RTI to applicants as they "were not governed by the government nor they received any government grant and hence the RTI was not applicable to them, Patil told TOI and said he took help of two Supreme Court judgments for passing the order.

"As per verdict of apex court, all private engineering and medical institutions were governed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Medical Council of India (MCI)," Patil said.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Penalties under RTI Act failing to yield fine

Penalties under RTI Act failing to yield fine

Shyam Ranganathan

CHENNAI: While the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission is quick to penalise institutions for failure to comply with the stipulations of the Right to Information Act, the process of collecting fine is proving to be arduous.

The University of Madras was imposed the maximum leviable penalty by the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (SIC) for not complying with the stipulations of the RTI Act. But, over a year and a half after the imposition of the penalty, it is yet to be realised.

An RTI petition was filed with the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the university in 2006 about the original circular prescribing an age limit of 50 years for teaching positions. But when the information was not forthcoming, the Commission directed the university to pay the maximum penalty of Rs. 25,000.

It also noted in its judgment on 4.1.2007 that the “oldest institution of higher learning in this country does not seem to take [the RTI Act] seriously and is least interested in providing information which it is bound to give under the law of the land.”

When contacted, the PIO said the penalty had not yet been paid as “no order imposing any penalty [had] been received from the State Information Commission.”

State Chief Information Commissioner S. Ramakrishnan, however, said that all judgment copies and orders passed by the Commission were immediately despatched to the parties concerned.

The maximum penalty is levied only in extreme cases where the PIOs have disregarded the Commission’s directives. According to an analysis, only 24 penalties had been imposed until May 2008, whereas the SIC received an estimated one lakh petitions in the same period. But activists say that many of the penalties have not yet been recovered.

In one case, the SIC asked the Director of Medical Education in March this year to pay Rs. 25,000 after the PIO ignored the directives of the commission four times. However, an RTI petition filed with the PIO of the DME shows that the penalty has not been collected yet.

In another case, the PIO at the office of the Commissioner of Police, Chennai, said penalty had not yet been paid as they had gone on appeal to the Commission. The CMDA too has gone on appeal on a penalty imposed on it. When the penalty was imposed because the PIO had caused delays in providing information, the appeal would only ensure even further delays, argue activists. The appeal itself is placed at the end of the queue of petitions, which the Commissioner says is growing at 400 each day at the SIC, resulting in inordinate delays, they say.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bihar Govt. asked Rs.78 lakh for furnishing information

Man asked to pay Rs 78 lakh for information under RTI Act

Patna (PTI): An applicant in Bihar has been asked to pay over Rs 70 lakh for securing the information he sought under the Right to Information Act.

Gupteshwar Singh, a social worker from Agiyaw in Bihar's Bhojpur district, had on June five filed an application seeking date-wise information about the distribution of foodgrains and kerosene through the public distribution system (PDS) in Udvantnagar, Agiyaw, Tarai, Garhani, Sandesh and Saha panchayats of the district between 2000 and 2008.

Talking to PTI, Singh said that Bhojpur District Supply Officer Jawahar Prasad informed him that the desired information would be made available only when he would deposit Rs 78,21,252, estimated to be spent on photocopying of the documents.

"I have also been asked to deposit money in the Bhojpur collectorate by July 25," Singh said. "Otherwise it would be understood that you are no more interested for the information," he said quoting the letter of the official.

Under the RTI act, the applicants are required to pay Rs two for each document being photocopied.

Charging the district supply officer with being vindictive, Singh said he had never sought the photocopies of all the PDS documents for the last eight years. "I just sought information," he said.

Meanwhile, Bhojpur District Supply Officer Jawahar Prasad was not available for comment.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An obstacle to RTI Act by TN Govt.: Dinamani Article

RLYp RÓl×f NhPm?

September 23, 2008 | Last Updated 21:34 IST

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ùTôjRm ùTôÕYôLj RLYp RWd LôWQm Gu] Guß ®Nô¬dÏmúTôÕ, R]dÏ Øu× AlTR®«p CÚkRYo Tô§dLlTÓm ¨ûXûV R®olTÕ ApXÕ AkR ØkûRV AÛYXo Guû] Uôh¥®hÓ®Pô¾oLs Guß úLhÓdùLôsYÕmRôu Guß ùR¬VYkRÕ.

""Cuß Sôm AYûW Uôh¥®hPôp, Sôû[ SUdÏm AÕRôu L§'' Gu\ ׬kÕQo®p úUúXôhPUôL ùTôÕYô] RLYp A°dLlThPôÛm, RtúTôÕ Uô¨X ùTôÕjRLYp AÛYX¬Pm úUpØû\ÂÓ ùNnúYôo Gi¦dûL A§L¬jÕ YÚYRôp, AWÑ AÛYXoLs úYß Y¯«pûX- EiûU T§ûXd ùLôÓjúR BL úYiÓm Gu\ LhPôVjÕdÏj Rs[lThÓs[ôoLs.

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CjRûLV BRWYô] ãZûX Y[ojùRÓdL úYi¥V ùTôßl× Uô¨X AWÑdÏ Es[Õ. AlT¥f ùNnRôpRôu AWÑ ¨oYôLjûR KW[Yô¡Ûm ùY°lTûPjRuûUÙPu ùNVpTÓjR ERÜm. B]ôp, CkR NhPj§u úSôdLjûR ÏûXlTÕ úTôu\ SPY¥dûL«p Uô¨X AWúN C\eÏYÕ Gu] ¨VôVm? AWúN JÚ Õû\dÏ BRWYôLf ùNVpThÓ EjRWÜLû[ A°dÏm Gu\ôp, TôÕLôl× YZeÏm Gu\ôp, CkRf NhPj§u E«oSô¥ûV AßlTRtÏf NUm BÏm.


Also read the related stories

Dinamalar ePaper

Also read the TN Govt Press Release on this Issue:

Press Release No. 786 (On Right to Information Act)

Monday, September 8, 2008

SICs a hurdle in implementing RTI: survey

State information commissions a hurdle in implementing RTI: survey

September 8th, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS): The main bottleneck in the implementation of the RTI Act in the country are the State Information Commissions (SIC), which are meant to facilitate the dissemination of the information sought, according to a study by an NGO released here Monday.The study was conducted by the Society of Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) across 10 states in early 2008. A total of 420 citizens who have used Right to Information Act were interviewed.

It highlights that even though three years have passed since enactment of the RTI Act, citizens continue to face innumerable difficulties in accessing information.

“The Information Commissions in Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala have poor disposal rates of appeals and complaints and citizens have to wait for several months in these states before their appeal is heard,” said Vikas Jha, who works with PRIA, which coordinated the survey work.

“The waiting period varies from eight months to two years in the Maharashtra Information Commission and Central Information Commission,” Jha added.

“There are widespread complaints against the information commissions of Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh of poor decisions (one line orders without explaining facts of the appeal) and the reluctance to impose penalties on Public Information Officers,” he said.

“Another shocking finding is that after dealing with several thousand appeals and complaints, the information commissions in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have penalised very few PIOs,” he added.

Jha said the entire blame of the RTI’s poor implementation couldn’t be laid on the state information commissions as they face tremendous budgetary and infrastructure constraints. But there is no doubt that lethargic Information Commissions are slowing down implementation of the RTI in India.

According to the study, another major problem encountered by citizens while filing RTI applications is tracing the public information officers (PIO).

People face difficulty in filing RTI applications at block and district levels.

“Ninety percent of the respondents in the 10 selected districts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh said that since the directories were not available; they found it difficult to file applications at the appropriate offices,” Jha said.

“The survey revealed that once the RTI application is filed, citizens have to make two to five visits to the offices to get information. Forty percent of the respondents said that the information is mostly provided after 30 days,” he added.

“Cases of threats and harassment by PIOs are abundant, which is substantiated by 43 percent of the respondents who found PIOs uncooperative,” he further said.

Another revelation is that majority of the respondents who did not get the information under RTI did not file first and second appeals as they felt it would be a waste of their resources and time, he added.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Govt employees entitled to seek info about their annual entries

Govt employees entitled to seek info about their annual entries

4 Sep 2008, 0424 hrs IST,TNN

LUCKNOW: Government employees can seek information regarding the annual entries assigned to them, and the departments can not deny information to them under section 8(1)(J) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act as it is not 'personal' information. 'Personal' information, as defined in the Act, is the one which is about a third party and not the person who is seeking it.

The observation has been made by state information commission (SIC) in a case concerning one Om Prakash Verma who had sought information about the annual entry about him when he was the chief revenue officer of Bahraich between July 24, 2004 and March 19, 2005. He had submitted his application to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Personnel department, UP, on April 8, 2008.

However, Verma was refused information by the personnel department, under section (8) of the RTI Act. Their reply to his application, sent on April 23 also referred to the Sep 25, 2006 order of Central Information Commission (CIC), and stated that "since Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) themselves according to us are barred from disclosure, we hold that by inference, DPC proceedings would be similarly barred."

After being refused the information, Verma had filed a complaint with the State Information Commission (SIC) which conducted a hearing into the matter on August 25. The PIO of the said department had also mentioned that since the information sought by Verma 'is about a person' and serves no public interest, the public authority is not bound to provide the information, under section 8 A(J).

Contrary to the view of personnel department, the applicant had referred to May 12, 2008 order of the Supreme Court which observed that "every entry (and not merely a poor or adverse entry) relating to an employee under the state or the instrumentality of the state, whether in civil, judicial, police or other service (except the military) must be communicated to him, within a reasonable period and it makes no difference whether there is a bench mark or not." If an employee is not informed about the entries assigned to him, it is the violation of Article 14 of the constitution.

However, the commission, observed that the information sought by Verma is not personal information, as mentioned in the Act.

Secondly, the applicant is also not needed to mention the public interest that the information sought by him would serve. It has thus ordered the department of personnel that the applicant should be provided with the information within 15 days.


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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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