If NIC is not into trading. Then, why NIC prefers monopolistic domination ?
Posted by egovindia on June 25, 2006
Inspite of the fact that unfair biased decisions were taken by the central information commissioners against the spirit of the Right to Information Act 2005 and to favour public authorities on my appeal, Information Commissioner Prof Ansari has made derogatory remarks about my request to NIC. This kind of leveling charges on the integrity of request by citizen would not only demoralize the citizens but also would weaken the democratic belief of citizens. I felt that I should clarify and comment on the issues involved and the decision taking process by the Information Commissioners, which lead to the decision on my request.
As the Central Information Commission has published only the decision taken on my request for information to NIC Karnataka State Unit without my request, I offer the following information with respect to first two items of my request (remaining items will be posted later on):
Request made to :
Shri B.V Sharma
State Informatics Officer and Public Information Officer
National Informatics Centre (Karnataka State Unit)
6th & 7th Floor, Mini Tower
Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore – 560 001
1. Files, Documents and Records related to development of Web site or Web based applications for various departments of Karnataka which include requests from the departments, further communications taken place between the departments and NIC, Receipts issued against receipt of payments by NIC to various departments, cost details for the development of web site (or pages) for the departments of Govt of Karnataka, Cost details for maintenance of Web sites or Web based applications of various departments of Govt of Karnataka.
2. Files, Documents and Records related to software (stand alone or client server or any other form of application or system software) developed to various departments of Karnataka which include request from the departments, further communications taken place between the departments and NIC, Requirement specifications, Features of the software developed, Receipts issued against receipt of payments by NIC to various departments, Letters written to various departments of Govt of Karnataka about the pending payments.
The above two requests can be summarized as requests for the following documents :
1. Requests from the departments
2. Communications taken place between the departments and NIC
3. Receipts issued against receipt of payments by NIC to various departments
4. Cost details for the development
5. Cost details of maintenance
6. Requirement specifications
7. Features of the software developed
8. Letters written to various departments of Govt of Karnataka about the pending payments.
In response to my requests for the above documents, the CPIO has intimated the following to me:
Under the section 8(d) of RTI Act, the development of website, web based applications are considered as software related work. This type of work is covered under Intellectual property rights and commercial confidence, which can not be disclosed (specially because you are a software developer yourself).
In my grounds of First appeal I stated the following three points:
1. I sincerely believe based on the Copyright Act that these documents can't carry any intellectual property rights as there can't be any patents granted for these documents for the simple reason that, these documents are in no way could be considered as invention.
2. The PIO has not substantiated his claim that the documents sought by me are covered under Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial confidence.
3. Thus, the statement of the PIO that these fall under intellectual property and can't be spared particularly to me only proves that, he is not against sharing the documents with any one else but he is against sharing the same with me with his malafide intention which is against the spirit of the Right to Information Act 2005 and against equal rights amongst equals.
The appellate authority has intimated the following :
I am to inform you that your case has been once again examined and the reply from Sh. B. V. Sarma, SIO, Karnataka State Unit as given by vide letter No. 7(147)/2005-KSU/SIO/1871 dt.31.12.2005 is found to be in order.
Further regarding other issues raised by you, I am to clarify that :
NIC being pure IT promotional outfit of Govt of India, hence no trading is involved by NIC in serving the state Government related matters.
Decision of the Central Information Commission.
According to them, the appellant himself is a vendor and all software development done in NIC and related information is IPR work of NIC and cannot be shared with any vendor who is its competitor.
They also produced a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding with Karnataka Government from which we find that NIC has undertaken to respect information propriety to various state Departments and to provide all mutually agreed safeguards.
Having heard the representative of the public authority and going through the material placed before us, we are convinced that the CPIO has correctly applied the provisions of section 8(1)(d) to decline to provide the information sought for by the appellant and accordingly dismiss the appeal.
Following are my observations on the intimations received from NIC:
1. While my request relates to certain documents maintained with respect to the business operations of NIC, the CPIO has given misleading intimation that my request is exempted under section 8(1)(d) without any substantial proof but by stating that the development of website, web based application are considered as software related work. The CPIO instead of taking decision on my request, he has willfully given decision on software development work and claimed that this type of work is covered under intellectual property rights and commercial confidence, which can not be disclosed. This proves that the CPIO has not considered my request at all. Now the question is how the first Appellate Authority and Central Information Commission has got convinced that the CPIO has correctly applied section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act 2005. If receipts, communications, demand notice etc are covered under copyright act and Intellectual property rights, then what else can be given to public and ho
w the Information Commission has come to a conclusion and convinced that documents like receipts are copyrighted information.
Further, the decision of the CPIO has been protected by a strong team from NIC and the decision on my appeal was not taken on the day of hearing but the decision was taken with a gap of two days. That is, the date of hearing was 2/6/2006 and the date of decision taken is on 5/6/2006. The other interesting point to be noted is that the comments offered by NIC was not given to me. The Central Information Commission has not even given me an opportunity to give my rejoinder on the comments offered by NIC and ignored the request of a citizen (my request) for comments offered by NIC and to postpone the hearing till I offer my rejoinder on the comments offered by NIC. The Central Information Commission has not informed me about the date of hearing (as per the provision of section 7(1) of The Central Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules 2005) for taking the decision on my appeal. The Central Information Commission has not honoured its own rules by not following the provis
ions of section 7(1) of "The Central Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules 2005". This sort of unprecedented decision making has taken place at CIC inspite of calling for my rejoinder but without supplying me a copy of document on which such rejoinder was sought and even after I specifically informing the CIC that I had not received the reply of NIC and to make arrangements for the same and not to proceed further till such time the document was made available to me and I submit the rejoinder. Further, I had expressed my desire to participate in the proceedings, which has not been considered.
2. The RTI Act 2005 while exempting certain type of documents, it has not exempted citizens in getting the documents of their own expertise. However my request has been dismissed on a biased contention that I am a competitive software vendor. Denial of information based on competition would only encourage corruption. After all citizens can participate in the administration only with their limited knowledge and in their area of expertise. Further, it also amounts to mean that the Information Commission encourages inequality amongst equals. That is, the CIC may take decision to give the same information to any other citizens who do not have any knowledge of the subject so that he can't expose anything.
3. As per the intimation sent by the Appellate Authority NIC is not into trading. Then, why NIC prefers monopolistic domination.
In my opinion, the Information Commission is misusing its powers which would encourage corrupt practices. The decisions taken by the Information Commissions are badly reflecting the uglier face of bureaucratic attitude.
If this trend is unchecked, the very purpose of the Right to Information Act 2005 will be defeated and hence I have decided to fight back. I request everyone of you to extend your support to rout out the evil powers.
With warm regards.
#39, 1st cross, 1st main,
Bangalore – 560010
Tel :080-23357167, 23386167