eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

Archive for the ‘RTI’ Category

Right to Information,
Why RTI,

Umashankar’s suspension smacks of victimisation:: JAYA

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2010

“Umashankar’s suspension smacks of victimisation”
Special Correspondent News » States » Tamil Nadu
CHENNAI, August 5, 2010
AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa has alleged that suspension of IAS officer C. Umashankar smacked of victimisation by the DMK government.
In a statement here on Wednesday, Ms. Jayalalithaa questioned the powers of the State government to place an IAS officer under suspension on the pretext that he had entered the Civil Services using a bogus community certificate.
“All civil service appointments in the country are done by the Union Public Service Commission. It is the responsibility of the UPSC to vet the antecedents of every recruit and verify their certificates,” she said.
She said the DMK government’s claim that Mr. Umashankar, belonging to Dalit community, had entered the service using a forged community certificate had given room for speculation on the reasons behind this.
Ms. Jayalalithaa recalled the government’s decision to launch Arasu Cable Corporation and the appointment of Mr. Umashankar as its Managing Director, and said the real motive behind it was to pose a challenge to the Maran brothers’ Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV).
Ms. Jayalalithaa said after an agreement was suddenly reached between the warring cousins of Mr. Karunanidhi’s family, the IAS officer was made the scapegoat and shunted out.
She alleged that though Mr. Umashankar was appointed as the MD of Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), he was removed from the post because he questioned the disappearance of ETL Infrastructure Ltd., a subsidiary of ELCOT, along with Rs. 700 crore assets.
Explanation sought
Demanding an explanation from Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on what happened to ETL and the fate of the Rs. 400 crore invested in Arasu Cable Corporation, she wanted to know why was a Dalit officer in government service being victimised.
Keywords: C. Umashankar, AIADMK, DMK


Posted in Andhra Pradesh eGovernance, Corruption in egovernance, COURTS in INDIA, DIT - MIT -, eGovINDIA Group, NANO Tech, NIC, NISG, NKC, RTI, Tamilnadu eGovernance, UNDP -NISG - NASSCOM, Whistleblowers, Worldbank | Leave a Comment »


Posted by egovindia on April 22, 2008

Request to all Citizens of INDIA to ACT on this  ” SMS CAMPAIGN – RULE 14 ” and SAVE RTI Act in INDIA.

Let us show the all BUREAUCRATS that Citizens of INDIA means Business.

IT’S OUR RIGHT. An inalienable right has been conferred on citizens.

`Right to Information Act will empower common people’

The legislative intent is clear; we are entitled to know how our money is spent. The onus is on us to make the Act work.

In effect, therefore, the right conferred on the citizen is an exhaustive one. It allows him to assess and examine every government decision, to study the reasons recorded by the government for taking a particular step, and to utilise information so gathered to ensure that government acts in a transparent and just manner.

Indeed, the preamble to the Act puts it well when it says, “democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information” and adds these “are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed”.

SMS message to send is:

SIC KKM sir,
“Your Malafides proved in amending RTI rules — We demand your resignation to ensure Supremacy of Democracy”

______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________

Karnataka State Information Commissioner for Right to Information Act is   Mr. K. K. Mishra.

The mobile numbers for KKM are:

1.   9448291111 ,
2.    9844491100

Please SMS the above message to SIC KKM.

Please tell your friends to do the same. Send this to as many as possible. So that we can put presurre on SIC  KKM.

______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ __________


Please go through the following Statements:

A. On March 15th 2008, In Raichur, SIC K K Mishra as per Hindu article,

RTI Act is fine, says Misra .
Raichur: The former Chief Secretary and State Chief Information Commissioner K.K. Misra has said that there was no need to bring any amendment to the Right to Information Act (2005).
Mr. Misra was here on Friday to attend to some pending cases related to the Act.
He said the Act had been formulated with an intention to streamline the administration and protect the interest of the public.


______________________________ ______________________________ ___

B. On April 19th 2008 meeting with RTI Activists SIC K K Mishra told them that he did not know anything about the Ammended Rule 14 of the RTI Rules , which Empowers an PIO to limit replying to RTI Request for only one first Question , if the RTI Request is covering two are more Subjects and is worder beyond 150 Words .

______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______

C. As per Hindu article dated APRIL 20, 2008, says RTI: new rule restricts quantum of information.

It looks like SIC K K Mishra was responsible to bring about chnages to RTI Act 2005 in Karnataka State. Please read the article below. URL is provided. Thanks to RTI Activist Mr. Y. G. Muralidhran from CREAT to explain these things clearly to Hindu paper, other press people and to general Public.
BANGALORE: It has come to light that the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) recommended that the State Government amend the Karnataka Right to Information (RTI) Rules 2005 to restrict the quantum of information sought in a single application.
This was discovered by Y.G. Muralidharan, consumer rights activist and founder of Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT), who evoked the RTI Act only to receive this startling piece of information.
“Having grown in a culture of secrecy, the tendency to find reasons for denying information to the citizens is not surprising. But one never expected that the KIC would advise the Government to take the drastic step of amending the rules, which cuts the roots of citizens’ right to information,” Mr. Muralidharan told The Hindu.
______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ _______

” KKM Malafidely has given misleading statement that RTI does not need any Ammendement and KKM became instrumental in Ammending the RTI rules to curtail citizens right, as such KKM has become tainted, hence KKM need to resign honorably to ensure supremacy of democracy ”

______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ___________

There are other reasons also why SIC KKM need to RESIGN. Please go through the following.

D. on May 3, 2005 the Karnataka State High Court directed that a complaint of perjury be filed against Misra for “knowingly withholding important facts and documents from the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka and making false statements in the affidavits filed in this Court.”

______________________________ ______________________________ _________________

The above events shows the CHARACTER and INTEGRITY of K K Mishra.
Also KKM’s appointment as SIC is allready in question since 2005.
With all these things how can KKM continue as SIC of GoK ???
How did GoK appointed K K MIshra as the SIC of GoK with all the baggage.
______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ _______________________________
Now it is very clear that Shri.K. K. Mishra is:
ž       Not a person having Eminence In Public Life, hence not qualified to the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner.
ž       Prima facie held to be involved in an offence involving moral turpitude, by Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, which as good as conviction.
ž       Has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner.
______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ _______
Please read this SC ruling:
Any officer whose integrity is doubtful should not be promoted to a sensitive post.
Supreme court Orders Transfer Of UP Chief Secretary within 7 days
Just recently Supreme Court of INDIA has given a ruling that a tainted person should not be occupying a SENSITIVE and RESPONSIBLE POST in the State of UP.
SCIC is such a Sensitive and Responsible post.
SC tells UP govt to shift Neera Yadav /showtopstory.asp?id=17905 &frmsrch=1&txtsrch=Chief +Secretary+of+UP < /showtopstory.asp?id=17905 &frmsrch=1&txtsrch=Chief +Secretary+of+UP>
NDTV Correspondent
Thursday, October 6, 2005 (New Delhi):
The Supreme Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift controversial official Neera Yadav from the post of Chief Secretary within seven days.
______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ _______________
KK Mishra’s has lost his Integrity as per High Court Order of Karnataka State //

KK Mishra is a TAINTED PERSON // TAINTED PERSON can’t be occupying Sensitive and Responsible post. //
KK Mishra was sworn on Saturday 30/7/2005, BEFORE the retirement date of 31/07/2005. This as per records available from GoK. //
This looks like BOGUS APPOINTMENT of KK Mishra to the post of SIC of Karnataka State.
This was done by then CM Dharm Singh, Opposition Leader Yeddiyurappa and then Information Minister Shivaram.
All these THREE people need to be questioned now.

______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ _________________

Please read this article.
First RTI appointment runs into trouble
Wednesday September 21 2005 00:00 IST
Sep 21, 2005
NEW DELHI: Even before the Right to Information Act has come into force, the very first and so far the only appointment made under it has provoked a controversy.
Karnataka is the first state to have appointed its chief information commissioner as part of the independent appellate machinery that is required to be in place by October 12 in the states as well as the Centre.
But questions are already being raised on the appointment of the commissioner by the Dharam Singh Government: K K Misra was appointed on July 30 immediately after his retirement as chief secretary of Karnataka.
A local NGO, Ella Kannada Vedike International (E-KAVI), called upon the state Governor to suspend Misra immediately and initiate the process of his removal from office.
Reason: Barely four months ago, the Karnataka High Court passed strictures on Misra in the PIL related to the Rs 2,250 crore Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project.
The irony is, in its judgment delivered on May 3, the High Court directed that a complaint of perjury be filed against Misra for “knowingly withholding important facts and documents from the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka and making false statements in the affidavits filed in this Court.”
______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ _____________________

All of this shows that SIC K K Mishra is a person without CHARACTER and INTEGRITY.
HENCE, EKAVI had written to Governor of Karnataka State in 2005.

______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ ___________________

Demand For Removal of Shri.KK Misra, Karnataka State Chief Information Commissioner under Section 17 (3) (b) & 17 (3) (e) of the Right To Information Act-2005.

Demand For Removal of Shri.KK Misra, Karnataka State Chief Information Commissioner under Section 17 (3) (b) & 17 (3) (e) of the Right To Information Act-2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005
The Hon’ble Governor,
Sub: Demand For Removal of Shri.KK Misra, Karnataka State Chief Information Commissioner under Section 17 (3) (b) & 17 (3) (e) of the Right To Information Act-2005
We wish to bring following acts of omissions during implementation of the Right To Information Act-2005 by Government Of Karnataka:
1. Section 15 of the Right To Information Act-2005 stipulates a minimum qualification for a candidate who shall be appointed as State Chief Information Commissioner, which are as under:
” The State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners shall be Persons Of Eminence In Public Life with wide knowledge and experience in Law, Science And Technology, Social Service, Management, Journalism, Mass Media Or Administration And Governance.”
2. We understand that that Mr.KK Misra who has been appointed as State Chief Information Commissioner vide notification number DPAR 77 RTI 2005 Bangalore Dated 30th July 2005, does not have the required qualifications for appointment as State Chief Information Commissioner.
3. The basic qualification required is of “Eminence In Public Life”. Government of Karnataka has been directed by Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka to File criminal cases against Shri.KK Misra and prosecute him as under:
ž Under Sec. 340 of Cr.PC for “Knowingly Withholding Important Facts And Documents from the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka and Making False Statements In The Affidavits Filed In This Court” in the Rs 2,250 Crores Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project Case.
ž On charges of ” Perjury And Withholding “ documents in the Rs 2,250 Crores Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project Case. Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka also directed the Registrar General to file a complaint in this regard under section 388 Cr.PC.
4. A person who Lies And Cheats to Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka as above cannot be called as a Person Of Eminence In Public Life.
5. Shri.KK Misra’s appointment seems to have been made fraudulently violating the stipulated norms as laid down under section 15 of the Right To Information Act-2005, which are as follows:
ž There is no documentary proof in public knowledge that, a meeting of the committee formed for the appointment of State Chief Information Commissioner was held. Hence it seems only minutes were drawn
ž In view of the circumstantial evidence in above Para it can be deduced that List of eligible candidates for appointment as State Chief Information Commissioner was never prepared.
ž Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and Chairman of the Karnataka Legislative Council were never consulted while appointing Shri.KK Misra as State Chief Information Commissioner, which is the normal practice in any appointments made by government to important positions.
6. It appears that Shri.KK Misra has appointed himself as State Chief Information Commissioner by abusing his position of Chief Secretary to Government of Karnataka. It is very brazen attempt to misuse his official capacity as he retired on 31st July 2005 and Appointed as State Chief Information Commissioner on the same day i.e. 31st July 2005
7. A bureaucrat who presided over the state govt administration till recently cannot be considered independent enough to be the final apex appellate authority under the Right To Information Act. There would be disputes regarding requisitioning of information elicited from government functionaries when he was the chief secretary. He cannot legally/morally decide these disputes now as the information commissioner.
8. This principle is followed scrupulously by the judiciary. Judges do not hear cases where any person who was their client while their practicing law figures in, or if there is anyone closely related, closely connected etc involved. The matter is passed on to other judges.
9. Here we have only one chief information commissioner. Even if we presume that such matters will be passed on to the information commissioners, it must be noted that they are subordinate to the chief info commissioner who continues to be the boss and final arbitrator of the decision being dished out by the commission. So we cannot have such a person as State Chief Information Commissioner.
10. His continuation in the post will seriously jeopardize / violate people’s fundamental right to information which has been upheld as an integral part of article 13 (1) of the constitution of India.
11. From all above submissions it becomes clear that Shri.KK Misra is prima facie held to be involved in an offence involving moral turpitude, that too by Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka. This as good as conviction, for an institution as important as State Chief Information Commissioner, whose duty is to set up practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
12. From all above submissions it also becomes clear that Shri.KK Misra has developed Other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner.
13. Now it is very clear that Shri.KK Misra is:
ž Not a person having Eminence In Public Life, hence not qualified to the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner.
ž Prima facie held to be involved in an offence involving moral turpitude, by Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, which as good as conviction.
ž Has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner.
14. Hence we request you utilise the powers vested in your office and your discretion to act under following Sections of the Right To Information Act-2005 and REMOVE KK MISRA FROM THE POSITION OF STATE CHIEF INFORMATION COMMISSIONER IMEADIATLY To Save Sanctity Of New Born Right To Information Act-2005 for charges summarized in Para number 13:
Section 17 (3): Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the Governor may by order remove from office the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner if a State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner, as the case may be,—
Section 17 (3) (b): Has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the Governor, involves moral turpitude; or
Section 17 (3) (e): Has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner.15. The whole nation is anxiously awaiting your action in this regard. The success or failure of the Right To Information Act-2005 depends upon your quick and rightful action.
Yours Truly,
Copy to:
1. The Hon’ble President of India.
2. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
3. The Hon’ble Chief Minister Of Karnataka.
4. The Hon’ble Dy Chief Minister Of Karnataka.
5. Smt.Sonia Gandhi ji, The Chairperson United Progressive Alliance, The Chairperson National Advisory Council, and President, Indian National Congress, New Delhi.
6. Shri.H.D.Devegowda, Former Prime Minister, National President Janata Dal (Secular) & Member of Parliament.
7. Shri.Prakash Karat, General Secretary, CPI (M).
8. Shri.A.B.Bardhan, General Secretary, CPI (I).
9. Shri.L.K.Advani, Leader of Opposition, Loka Sabha.
10. Shri.Jaswant Singh, Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha.
11. The Central Vigilance Commissioner, New Delhi.
12. The Loka Ayukta, Karnataka.

______________________________ ___________________________

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

RTI Act to be enforced in State from Oct 12

Posted by egovindia on November 4, 2007

RTI Act to be enforced in State from Oct 12
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, October 05: The Right to Information Act, 2005 will come into force from October 12 in Manipur, disclosed a reliable source.

Accordingly State Chief Secretary Jarnail Singh has issued instructions to all the Heads of Departments in the State to make necessary arrangements to appoint one Public Information Officer (PIO) each, the source informed.

As per the Gazette Notification issued by the Government of India on June 15 this year, the Act is to be implemented within 120 days of publication of the notification in all the States with exception to Jammu and Kashmir.

The stipulated date expires on October 13.Along with the implementation of the Act, the State Government would be setting up a State Information Commission (SIC) very soon, the source said, adding that the State Cabinet is likely to discuss appointment of Commission members after the Chief Minister returns from Chandigarh.

Although the provision of the Act clearly states that the maximum numbers of members in SIC should not be more than 10, in Manipur only three members might of appointed in view of the physical condition of the State, according to the source.

It may be noted here the RTI Act has already been implemented in other Indian States.

According to the provisions of the Act, any citizen could get access to information required by them from the concerned Government Department by forwarding an application through the PIO and paying the necessary fee.

If the PIO failed to provide the information being sought in time or gave misleading/wrong information, a complaint could be lodged to SIC which is empowered to take up action against the concerned PIO or other officials if they were found guilty.

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

Govt misleading people on RTI Act: Arvind Kejriwal

Posted by egovindia on August 6, 2006

Govt misleading people on RTI Act: Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: Government is misleading the people by claiming that the proposed amendments to the Right to Information law would strengthen it, says Magasaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal.

The RTI Act, in its original form, gave access to file notings on all issues except those of national security and the recent Cabinet decision to keep file notings away from the purview of the legislation was a retrograde step, he said.

“The government move will kill the law which has emerged as a powerful tool in curbing corruption,” he told PTI in an interview. Kejriwal, the founder of people’s movement ‘Parivartan’, said he himself had accessed and acquired several official documents, including file notings from various government departments.

The Prime Minister’s Office had last week said the Cabinet decision had for the first time made disclosure of file notings possible.

It had said that the amendments would allow access to “file notings of all plans, schemes and programmes of the government that relate to development and social issues”.

“The government is misleading the people by saying it is making available access to file notings for the first time,” he said showing photocopies of a bulk of such documents acquired from the Planning Commission earlier.

Several retired bureaucrats have written to President A P J Abdul Kalam saying that access to file notings under the RTI Act will strengthen the hands of the bureaucracy as it will help pin-point the person who had caused delay in taking a particular decision.

On winning this year’s Magasaysay Award, Kejriwal said “the honour was an international recognition of his work, but the Indian government was ignoring the RTI movement in the country by going ahead with the amendments to the RTI Act.” Noted social activist Anna Hazare had met the President to protest the move to block access to file notings and even threatened to return the Padma Bhushan awarded to him.

Kejriwal, who quit his Indian Revenue Service job in February this year to work for the RTI movement, said the Centre should wait for at least two to three years before bringing in any amendment to the RTI Act.

“The RTI Act was introduced about eight months back. The Centre should wait for at least two to three years to test the efficacy of the legislation before bringing in any amendments,” he said.

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

Changes in RTI Act has made it soulless: Hazare

Posted by egovindia on August 6, 2006

Changes in RTI Act has made it soulless: Hazare

Ahmednagar: Noted social worker Anna Hazare today said the changes to the Right to Information Act has rendered it “soulless” and announced that he will launch an agitation across Maharashtra from August 9.

“The recent changes have rendered the Act soulless with an intention to protect vested interests,” Hazare told PTI at Ralegan Siddhi in the district.

Hazare, who yesterday announced that he will begin a fast-unto-death unless the changes are taken back, said demonstrations have been planned infront of all the district collectorates in Maharashtra.

A decision on the venue of the hunger strike (whether Mumbai or New Delhi) would be taken after consulting workers, Hazare added.

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

DISCOMS have much to hide on privatisation: RWAs

Posted by egovindia on August 6, 2006

DISCOMS have much to hide on privatisation: RWAs

New Delhi, Aug 4: Questioning the non-inclusion of DISCOMS in the Right to Information Act, Resident Welfare Associations of the capital today criticised the NCT government for “trying to shield” the DVB privatisation deal from public scrutiny.

“If the Chief Minister is really so concerned about the empowerment of consumers, why is there silence on the fact that discoms are fighting tooth and nail to be kept out of the ambit of RTI,” said Atul Goyal, an RWA representative.

Residents and RWAs see the RTI as a weapon to force DISCOMS to scrutiny various contentious issues but the attitude of the Delhi Government is not supporting transparency in the issue, he said.

“By seeking to keep itself outside the ambit of RTI, a clear signal has been sent that all is not above board in the privatisation deal and that there is much to hide,” said S P Gupta, general secretary of an RWA.

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

State RTI in a Fog

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

State RTI in a Fog

Posted: 2006-08-03

An instrument of governance that can qualify to be the most potent weapon against the scourge of official corruption that the Indian constitution has adopted in all its history, the Right to Information Act, RTI, is still in a fog in Manipur. It is inconceivable why the government is allowing this. The spirit of the RTI is to make governance as transparent as possible so that no public policy or the processes of making them can be hidden from public view. It would oblige the government departments by law to furnish any information on its public policies and programmes sought by any individual citizen. The exceptions understandably would be of information that have bearings on the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, infringes copyrights or breaches the privileges of the privileged institutions of democracy such as the courts, Parliament, Assembly etc. There is of course a controversial move by the Central government recently to amend the RTI Act and include another clause to the list of undisclosable information, and these are the “side notings” bureaucrats make as a file moves from government department to department, reshaping policy blueprints all along, for it is deemed this would victimise individual bureaucrats. But that is another matter, the moot point is, for the RTI to be effective there will have to be a monitoring, autonomous institution, and this is precisely what the RTI Act requires the Central and State governments to constitute. This is where the Manipur government has chosen to keep the matter nebulous.

Till date, not many in the state, including the media, know the state has formed such a State Information Commission under the RTI. Yet, the Government of India RTI website states clearly that Manipur is among the 21 states which have already formed such a commission naming S Sunderlal Singh, secretary (DP&AR) as the State Chief Information Commissioner, a constitutional office enjoying the salary and allowances of an Election Commissioner. The commission is also to have Information Commissioners (not more than 10) enjoying the salary and allowances of chief secretary. In the case of the Central Chief Information Commissioner, he is to draw the salary and allowances of the Chief Election Commissioner, and have not more than 10 Information Commissioners of equivalent rank as Election Commissioners, assisting him.

If the information on the Central Government website is correct, could the Manipur government please clarify as to how a serving secretary of the government can act as the Chief Election Commissioner, when it is certain he would be called upon to give direction on how officers of the government, often his seniors, are to conduct themselves as per the provisions of the RTI Act, and even to recommend penalties for not following orders. Although by protocol, he would be the rank of an Election Commissioner, in reality would he be able to dictate terms to officers senior to him in the profession? What about the State Information Commissioners? If they too have been selected from amongst government officers, obviously they would all be from officers below the rank of secretary. The trouble is, as per the RTI Act, they would be by protocol equivalent to the chief secretary. Most other states have chosen a retired chief secretary as Chief Information Commissioner, and retired government officers of repute and integrity as well as very eminent and knowledgeable citizens as Information Commissioners. Why has the Manipur government chosen to be different by undermining the State Information Commission so terribly? Is this ambitious autonomous body being reduced to just another government department? If so, how is a government department going to bring accountability and check corruption in other government departments? Is the RTI going to be a non-starter just as the government has effectively reduced the Manipur Human Rights Commission to a white elephant? In any case, the RTI also makes it obligatory on the government to campaign and conduct public programmes to familiarise the ordinary citizens on how to use the RTI to get justice. Why is the Manipur government not doing this if it has formed the commission already? One cannot but help being envious of committed civil servants like Arvind Kejriwal (Indian Revenue Service), who took a two-year extraordinary leave from service to start a citizen’s movement called Parivartan (transformation), which uses the RTI to expose corruption and to bring justice to underprivileged citizens, first in East Delhi, but now its influence is spreading all over India. From the enlightened sections of the civil society in Manipur, we need people who can take up such causes and push them to their logical ends. Kejriwal, trained as a mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur before joining the Indian Civil Services, is the most recent Indian selected for the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize, and would be receiving the award on August 31 in Manila. He without doubt deserves it most richly.

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

Babu Ego or Real Fear

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

Babu Ego or Real Fear

Posted: 2006-08-04

The Right to Information Act, RTI, is applicable in all of India except Jammu and Kashmir. The reason for the exception to the rule is not explained, but it is obvious. Although not agreeing, it is understandable that the Union government would be considering the state too sensitive to throw open all information, especially with many vested interests from across the border inimical to India’s interest, snooping. Whether this is a legitimate fear or a mindless paranoia is debatable, but we tend to think it is in the nature of an overdone apprehension generated by an excessively bureaucratized intelligence establishment that depends more on dusty records available in dog-eared files rather than a continually updated assessment of the ever evolving and transforming reality. How can for instance, making public the records of fund allocations for developmental work, or making the assessment processes of examinations for government job recruitment transparent, or letting below poverty line, BPL, public know how much subsidized essential ration and kerosene oil they are entitled to receive through the public distribution system, be a threat to national security, be it in Kashmir or New Delhi. It cannot be by any coincidence that almost all of the RTI cases that have come up so far, relate to these matters. Search the internet for what organizations like Arvind Kejriwal’s Parivartan have been doing to confirm this personally. Even then, to be fair, it may be that the Manipur government’s reticence about the RTI is for similar apprehensions as Kashmir. If it is so, does not the government owe an explanation?

It is also interesting that in the controversial move by the Union government to have the RTI amended, one of the considerations stems from a proposal by the Union Public Service Commission, UPSC, to have their examination evaluation processes excluded from the purview of the RTI. Expectedly, this has been met with vehement oppositions from the Indian civil society, who have already raised suspicions of the UPSC trying to hide filth within. If a recent Union Cabinet decision is any indication, the UPSC’s plea would be dropped, but the one that seeks to make bureaucratic “file notings” as classified information would probably stay, if the government has its way and an amended RTI becomes reality.

The point that we are making is, the RTI does give allowance for making certain category of information as not suitable for public consumption. Sensitive security and economic information, copyright protected information and information that infringes on the privileges of institutions that enjoy special privileges under democratic norms such as the courts, Parliament and Assembly etc. But even these exceptions are with a qualification for it also says that if the public interest of the information outweighs the security concerns, the information shall have to be revealed. So when the Manipur government, in its gazette notification of the formation of its half-baked Information Commission, lists administrative units such as the vigilance department as exempt from the purview of the RTI, it should keep in mind the qualification that the original text of the RTI makes on such matters. Furthermore, some questions still remains even if the Manipur government is apprehensive of a functional RTI in the state becoming the tool for vested interests hostile to the establishment to sap sensitive information. The first and foremost of these is, how legitimate is such a fear. One the one hand we see no reason to fear a siphoning of sensitive information as the RTI has enough safeguards and valves to prevent such a consequence. On the other hand, we do foresee plenty of lobbies coming alive to have their men or women in the panel of Information Commissioners (who incidentally would enjoy the salary and allowances of chief secretary, and understandably too for they would have to be dealing with senior officers of the government) even if the State Chief Information Commissioner is out of bound of one and all. As has happened in so many similar autonomous bodies before, we do foresee a lot of less than qualified, less than informative, less than eminent individuals being forced into the panel by these lobbies. This, in our opinion is a legitimate concern, not so much out of fear, but more out of utter distaste. But then again, the Manipur government’s reluctance to have the RTI implemented in its letter and spirit may have bureaucratic ego as its background. For indeed, who amongst the bureaucrats can tolerate seeing a non-bureaucrat catapulted to the protocol of the most senior bureaucrat overnight, even if an Act of the Parliament says this must be so.

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

Information Warriors – Right to Information Act activists are fighting to protect right to see file notings

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

Information Warriors

Rate This Article Comments ents

Arvind Kejriwal, an IITian and former income tax officer, is spearheading the national RTI movement

Ajit Ranade

One of the great achievements of the present government was the enactment of the Right to Information Act, which was passed by Parliament in June 2005 and became operative in October. The RTI movement partnered with NDTV and launched a fortnight-long campaign educating the public about how easy it was for ordinary people to use RTI.

The theme of the campaign which ran successfully last month was “don’t pay bribes, use RTI”. The way it works is as follows. File your application using the normal routine for either a ration card, passport, birth or death certificate. If after a reasonable time your application is still not processed, and you suspect it is because you did not pay a bribe, then simply fill out an RTI application form and ask for the status of your application. The government is obliged to respond, thanks to RTI. And from there it is easy to nail any lackadaisical officer, since you would know where exactly your ration card or passport is held up.

Of course all this is not as easy as calling “197” and asking for directory information from MTNL. But it’s a huge leap in the empowerment of ordinary citizens. The RTI law actually puts each citizen of India on par with a member of Parliament as far as access to government information is concerned.

The private sector is not covered yet, but any private body receiving a government grant is covered. So just like an MP can haul up a bureaucrat in the middle of the night and ask for a particular file, so can you. Well, not exactly in the same manner, and certainly not at night — but you get the drift.

Often the colourful story of government policy making lies in those files (bound by the notorious red tape). All the deliberations that lead to a decision are captured in “file notings”. And the sequence of notings, as well as who said what and when, is valuable information about how the government works. It is precisely the exposure of these notings that has caused the bureaucracy to go up in arms against RTI.

So believe it or not, within less than eight months of enacting a great law, it is being amended to exclude all file notings from being disclosed. The rationale of exempting file notings from RTI is that exposure of notings will prevent bureaucrats from being free and frank in their deliberations. They will hesitate before committing their views on paper. But the fact is that honest bureaucrats have nothing to fear, and everything to gain from exposing the notings, since their decisions will be based on their conviction, which they can defend in public. Honest babus actually welcome this transparency as it strengthens their lot.

A former such “babu” who is spearheading the national RTI movement and also the force behind NDTV’s campaign, is Arvind Kejriwal, an IITian and former income tax officer, who has been awarded this year’s Magsaysay Award — sort of like the Asian Nobel Prize. His award is a timely boost for the RTI movement.

Early in his career when he tried to introduce transparency in his income tax office, Arvind found that one of the hurdles to transparency was the ubiquitous peon outside his office. We all have had our frustrating encounter with this proverbial gatekeeper — who decides who can see the boss, and at what price! So Arvind moved his table right into the corridor, directly into the “sunlight”. This indeed is the spirit of RTI — all public decision making needs to be in the sunshine of the public gaze.

Arvind and his fellow info-warriors stand for the principle that in a true democracy with a transparent and accountable government, information needs to be “let loose” among the people, and there can be no such thing as too much transparency.

Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »

`People yet to understand importance of information Act’

Posted by egovindia on August 3, 2006

`People yet to understand importance of information Act’

Staff Correspondent

Two-day workshop on `Right to Information Act’ concludes

  • Two-day workshop on `Right to Information Act’ concludes
  • Call to spread awareness on provisions of the Act

    Belgaum: The Department of Information is striving to bring in qualitative changes in the field of information and knowledge dissemination system and also help the media improve quality of reporting, said K.V.R. Tagore, Commissioner of the department.

    He was talking to presspersons at the end of the two-day workshop on “Right to Information Act” organised for Information Department officials of all 27 districts in the State here on Wednesday. Department Director N.R. Vishukumar and Joint Director Mallikarjun Kelagede were present.

    Mr. Tagore said the department looked forward to improving relationship with the scribes through direct and active interaction with the Karnataka Media Academy, and journalists in print and electronic media. It also chalked out workshops, seminars, discussions and re-orientation programmes to open new vistas of information communication system in a meaningful way.

    Widening knowledge base

    The immediate objective behind such programmes, which were planned to be held in every district headquarters in the State in near future, is to widen the knowledge base and skills of collecting and passing on information to the public. The RTI Act could play a significant role in achieving these objectives, even though many people were yet to grasp the importance of the Act. There was a necessity to spread awareness on the provisions of the Act at different levels, including government officials.

    The two-day workshop deliberated on these issues and also held interactions with the invitees, which included administrators, journalists, members of judiciary and social activists.

  • Posted in RTI | Leave a Comment »