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rajching

TNSIC - Pathetic Decisions - How to Change

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rajching

Dear RTI Activists,

For many years now I have known that most of the ICs of TNSIC never issue decisions as per the RTI Act. They always go easy on the PIO who did not even care to reply even after first appeal and up until the commission issues a notice. Though I have successfully penalized many of them but in more than 50% of the cases the ICs don't apply penalties even after multiple reminders...

The option of going to the High Court, as you all know, is expensive given that these matters are simple. Few years ago I tried to get a blanket direction from high court that the ICs must apply the act strictly and that all decisions must be a well reasoned one etc... It did not go as per my plan as the HC simply directed them dispose of the matters as per law... that is the problem with High Court in that they are not empathetic to the real issue.

While the matter stood thus, I recently got a decision from CIC of TNSIC that made me very upset. The RTI was about status of one of my representation to the DGP(Chennai) office. The DGP office never replied to my representation even after multiple reminders. So, I filed an RTI asking for status and some other info and referred to my representations with date of my representations. The PIO and first Appellate never responded up until two days before 2nd appeal hearing date!

I got the summon but I couldn't go as it is cost prohibitive to travel from Hyderabad to Chennai but wrote a letter promptly which is referred in the decision of the CIC of TNSIC.

The CIC of TNSIC dismissed my 2nd Appeal cum Complaint stating 3 things, namely:

(1) Appellant didn't have much interest in the case and thus is absented from the hearing!

(2) Appellant's has not given sufficient information to the PIO [Note: even though the PIO has correctly responded just few days before the inquiry:-) ]

(3) The PIO has taken pain to provide the information! [Note: he replied after 10 months!!]

I am appalled. How did this guy become a CIC? He was a Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu before. Does that qualify him to be "person of eminence in public life" to hold this position? The guy has not even made an effort to understand and appreciate the RTI act even after holding the position for 3 years!

 

As you can see, the decision is horrible. He didn't even note the fact that PIO/Appellate never responded in time and never asked for clarification ever. Further he did not decide my complaint u/s.18 either.

I wanted to do something and looking for like minded people to work together. Here is what I planned to do.

(1) File an RTI and find all relevant information appointing this CIC (Sripathi ). Done & waiting for info.

(2) Collect bad decisions by Sripathi & have a report done by a lawyer/retd. judge for the quality of his decisions.

(3) File a petition with the TN Govt asking them to withdraw his appointment.

(4) If no action by TN Govt, then file a Writ with High Court along with all of the above documents.

What am I looking for from this group?

(1) I need help with #2 above. Would love to work with like minded people.

(2) Are there other things we can do to direct the ICs so that the decisions are as per the letter and spirit of the RTI Act? More ideas are welcome.

(3) It will be good if few people can share the cost if and when we go to the High Court.

 

Please respond with your thoughts.

Thanks

Raj+91 90xxxxxxxxx [mobile numbers not permitted on this portal]

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rajching

FYI. I have gone thru both the Supreme Court judgments and the AP High Court judgments on this topic and I have a good understanding of what these judgments are and how we can or can't use etc...

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Prasad GLN

Please help all our members with your findings, as it may help us all. It is almost same in every IC, and atleast you are in a better position to find a way out with your knowledge and intelligence. There are several unfortunate appellants, that can not find any way out. Please do share your findings and as there are several experts in the FORUM, be sure that they will refine the entire findings and finetune.

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jps50
rajching

Dear G.L.N. Prasad,

Not sure what you were asking for... I am assuming that you are referring to my understanding of the SC/HC judgments. Here is the gist:

1. The guidelines issued by the SC is prospective in nature.

2. The SC has interpreted the restriction in S.15(6) to be post appointment

3. The ICs must selected in compliance of S.15(5) and no new requirement has been added by SC

4. The rest of the guidelines per the judgment in the review of SC is only to provide transparency and is prospective in nature... i.e not applicable to prior appointments

5. The ICs in AP Information Commission was set aside only due the fact that the ICs were in violation of S.15(6) post their appointment.

 

Given above, these judgments are not helpful in my case above where I am trying to find a way to set aside the appointment of Chief Information Commissioner who was appointed in 2010 (i.e much before these judgements).

 

Further, I was looking for this group to help me help us all so that we can sensitize TNSIC and other ICs. Let me know if there is anything else that I could help!

Thanks

Raj

 

Thanks jps50. I shall follow these as well....in addition my earlier plan... Raj

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Prasad GLN

Members are aware of the struggle Hon.Karira on such APIC appointments, and contents of SC. Namita Case. I wished to know any other remedy possible on such decisions through your findings.

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rajching
Members are aware of the struggle Hon.Karira on such APIC appointments, and contents of SC. Namita Case. I wished to know any other remedy possible on such stupid decisions of ICS without any application of mind, through your findings.

 

Well, that is what I am seeking in this thread... I have a plan that I have already posted in this thread.

 

The ideas I have are as follows:

(1) Find a way to ensure that only good and public spirited people are appointed by leveraging S.15(5) which clearly says the ICs have to be persons of eminence in public life. In addition, if there are people with good background and RTI knowledge then their candidature can be pushed unless the Committee (selection) makes a substantial arguments against such person and in support of these stupid people who are being appointed at this time. This is what I am trying to do against TNSIC and we can do this in every state.

 

(2) We do a social audit with good rigor and request a former judge to sign it in an affidavit or he/she signs the report (social audit) itself and then we use that to file a PIL to get S.15(5) more refined and include that only those who have demonstrated RTI knowledge and spirit should be appointed. This can be done by the court by merely interpreting the S.15(5) r/w the object and spirit of the act. This will force the committee to seek formal evaluation and report on the short listed candidates which shall filter all the bad ones...

 

Those are the only two ideas I had.... anything more friends?

Thanks

Raj

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Prasad GLN

Dear Member, Some things like political appointments are not in our hands, and every one has to evolve a strategy to satisfy their followers and in India, it is not possible to expect such a clean appointment and you know as to what is happening with sincere, hard working and honest bureaucrats now.

 

At this level, we have to find ways as to how we can restrict unfettered decisions without even remembering common law, forget about fear of God for such knowingly bad decisions.

 

A lot of brain storming is needed, as none of so enlightened citizens are happy with several decisions by ICS. Review of decision due to mistake of fact or law at IC level by an independent and much superior of IC or by a larger bench is one such suggestion. During initial days, I have read a CIC decision that ICs can review their decision. In Namita Sharma's case, Supreme Court said CIC are performing only administrative functions and not judicial functions.

So members have to bring the heads together and start some movement like post card movement and media coverage on stupid decisions and unless there is good backing and common leadership, we can never achieve anything of this sort.

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umapathi.s

regarding the above subject, one PIL is pending before the Karnataka High Court wherein I have prayed for quashing of information Commissioner appointment made in 2011. the matter is likely to be finalised soon. I have attached my petition copy to this post for reference.

 

ATTACH]9891[/ATTACH]index to PIL.doc

Main petition.doc

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rajching
regarding the above subject, one PIL is pending before the Karnataka High Court wherein I have prayed for quashing of information Commissioner appointment made in 2011. the matter is likely to be finalised soon. I have attached my petition copy to this post for reference.

 

ATTACH]9891[/ATTACH][ATTACH]9892[/ATTACH]

Thanks Mr. Umapathi. You say it is filed in 2011, why is it pending for so long? Can we not push given the seriousness of the issue? that these people who are qualified are making decisions on fundamental rights of Citizens? I hope this comes up soon and we get favorable order!!!

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umapathi.s

s I am trying my best. these Commissioners have hired leading senior Advocates at the Bar by paying lacs of rupees. In addition to Government Advocate, Mr. Verma is appearing on behalf of the Government. I need to hire leading and competent advocate of equal rank whose fees are more than rs. one lacs least. This is the problem I am having .

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rajching
s I am trying my best. these Commissioners have hired leading senior Advocates at the Bar by paying lacs of rupees. In addition to Government Advocate, Mr. Verma is appearing on behalf of the Government. I need to hire leading and competent advocate of equal rank whose fees are more than rs. one lacs least. This is the problem I am having .

 

I can totally understand as I am very familiar with the court dynamics:-)

... I wish we could create a decent corpus of funds to support such litigation. Also, can we not find some good lawyer with public spirit who is willing to do this? You do have good cause in this case since the terms of these ICs are limited and thus delayed favorable decision will be of no use... I would think that this is more than enough to merit fast tracking in this case...

 

I think we should put our effort to finding some great but not so expensive lawyers with public spirit...

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SANJOG MAHESHWARI

There are any number of such RTI cases in which the bureaucrat in the worthy CIC has chosen to completely annihilate the few Requester-friendly and enabling provisions in the RTI Act which entitle him to get the required information unconditionally. And that exactly is the spirit of this transparency Act which, more often than not, is mutilated with impunity, by the very same CICs who are supposed to be the guardian angels of the Information Laws. With ulterior motives and mala fide intentions to save the skin of some seasoned offenders- members of the bureaucratic fraternity- now appearing before them as P.I.Os/ FAAs of this or that Government Department, Ministry or Organisation, to which they also once belonged, these worthies don’t think twice to make a mince-meat of the Act, whose sanctity they are supposed to uphold. These worthies are fully equipped to kill even the most genuine and deserving RTI case of a Requester even when it is completely sanctified and covered by the provisions of the Act. In 99% cases, the PIOs, instead of providing the requested information, would make irrelevant comments totally out of context, and fill the reply with everything irrelevant and unasked for and nothing relevant or to the point. Have you noted how, in most of the cases, they happily find the I.Cs too much willing to play the ball their way- the most willing partner(s) to carry out the deception to the point of 'no return'. I venture to illustrate the point by citing just one out of so many of such examples. In this RTI case the requester requested for the supply of certain information and certified copies of certain documents from the PIO of a Public authority. Instead of complying with the perfectly genuine request, the willy PIO, with calculated impunity and callous indifference, announced that "the concerned records are not traceable"- the stock reply given in almost all RTI cases by the PIOs at the fag end of the prescribed period of one month. Goes without saying that he generously buttressed his false statement with sumptuous doses of lies and half-truths to which the learned CIC lent more than a willing ear. To cloak all this in a clover of feigned ignorance and innocence, the clever FAA, a senior colleague of the PIO,added:"........the department was willing to help the appellant provided he provides to the department the documents (What Documents?) in his control (how could any be in his control when the custodian is the department itself?) on the basis of which connected records could be traced and identified..." The custodian of the records himself is proposing a quid-pro-quo very cleverly suggesting that: (i) the requester is already in possession of the records, being under his 'control'- (ii) he is fooling around for no reason in particular; wasting not only his own time, money and energy, which he has got in plenty, but also that of others', (iii) the request is all frivolous, (iv) the Public Authority will be doing him "a huge favour". With such assertions, he makes out a case that it is the Requester himself who is responsible for supplying some "unspecified" records. The Requester should also meet with their such other atrocious demands which have absolutely no base at all, and not even remotely in conformity with the RTI Act. Thus everybody is compelled to believe that the Right to Information is not a fundamental right. Outlandish and atrocious conditions imposed by wily PIOs and FAAs apply. The Public Authority is vested with the authority to impose those conditions. And thus the PIO and FAA get away without providing the requested information particularly so because the CIC was more than willing to back their counter-demands made on the Requester himself. Though not at all sanctified by the Act, nothing prevents the wily PIOs and FAAs to make such counter-demands to highjack a simple case with impunity. The hapless info-seeker ends up confronting a blind alley even though for obvious possibilities of their being misused as an alibi for not providing the requested information, the wise authors of the Act did not make any such provision for a counter-demand in the Act!! Provision or no provision, as the things are, it does not, in any way, prevents a willy PIO to sidetrack the issues involved and highjack the Act itself. With calculated impunity, they make atrocious counter-demands for information and documents on the Requester, and thereby go scot-free trespassing the Act. Such travesty of justice happens with the active connivance of the CICs, the likes of of TNIC and Tiwaris of Central Information Commission, who prensently dominate the scene. They think of nothing making a mockery of the transparency laws by pronouncing stupid Orders to the immitigable detriment of the genuine interests of a gullible Requester, which the law, ironically, is supposed to protect and safeguard.

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Prasad GLN

I have been stating the problems in several posts and wish to advocate main issues.

a) No proper accommodation for those appellants that attend for CIC hearing and a corpos fund has to be created with donations from social workers and organisations. Even if Rs.100/- is contributed by each RTI applicant as admission fee from all over India, the assosciation can mobilise Rs.1 cr in one year. Those who contribute Rs.10,000/- can avail accommodation for 3 days in a year free of cost with maintainance of Rs.100/- extra. A nominal boarding fee may be fixed at Rs.1,000/- for 12 hours of stay. There may be a dormitory type of accommodation with a computer facility and a small RTI library.

b)some voluntary activists who are experts as representatives, should deal the matter with Delhi HC/CIC for reasonable fees. (The costs of boarding and travel expenses alone amount to Rs.5,000/-), so minimum Rs.5,000/- fees to Advocate per each hearing, Rs.500/- for total costs may be sufficient in initial stage

 

These are fundamentals, and there is no dearth of lawyers and it is only sincerity and commitment that is to be hunted by those living in Delhi.

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umapathi.s

There are few Advocates who are public spirited but are not competent enough to stand and argue against those Advocates. I need competent Advocates expert in constitutional law. I have shortlisted three advocates and in touch with them. If any one of them accept my file,I would move the petition for final hearing. The idea of creating corpus of funds to support litigation is good one. suggestion given by Shri. C L N Prasad can be considered by our members and try to implement.

regards

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SANJOG MAHESHWARI

We may also consider floating an N.G.O. for the purpose.

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jps50

In deserving cases, the appellant can request Registrar General of the Court to place his request before Judge for appointment of amicus curie at govt cost. My two RTI friends from Vadodara Gujarat are contesting writs filed by RBI in Delhi HC for not revealing audit report of a coop bank wherein RBI obtained stay order against CIC judgement. RBI has now prayed for transfer to SC since 6-7 similar cases are pending at various HCs. Matter is fixed on 4 Dec 2013. One of these friends was eligible for legal aid of HC legal aid committee and we could get an efficient lady advocate within short period after we mailed all papers to the committee. Other friend was not eligible for legal aid, but we could get amicus curie by just making one request, mainly because it involved larger public interest [depositors of coop banks]. The lady advocate who was handling first writ was appointed amicus curie for second writ also.

 

We could get services of few advocates in HC Ahmedabad for RTI writs by paying only out of pocket expenses. If proper attempt is made, we can get few advocates who will contest one or two writs in a year free of their fees in other courts also. We can take help of retired law officers of banks and other big companies to help in drafting etc. PILs can be filed without help of advocate on line in HC/SC.

 

As for corpus, I have been advocating it since 2007. We can get donations from businessmen and industrialists also as they will be benefited by corruption free good governance with the help of RTI. RTI Activists can initially contribute Rs.5000 or Rs.10000/- in one instalment or two. Corpus could be managed by a team of eminent RTI Activists. Decisions of legal help and which decisions to be challenged should be also decided by a team. An NGO [say Association of RTI Users of India]

 

Bank retired employees associations have been contesting dozens of writs all over India with levies [out of arrears got through legal battles], donations of members etc. We can also replicate it. Activists can request those who have been benefitted by RTI to give donations, since most of activists offer sercvices free to citizens.

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Prasad GLN

Excellent guidance. One hopes that Hon JPS dream project since 2007 becomes a reality atleast by 2013. If Forum rules permit, Hon JPS may inform the name and address of such lady advocate in the interest of large members of Activists as a special case. (This is not publicity, and only service)

The problem is who bells the cat as there is no dearth of contributions and credibility of leadership is only needed for end use.

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umapathi.s

The idea put forwarded by shri. JPS is excellent. This can be implemented on the lines suggested by shri. JPS. a team of experts may be formed to take further action in the matter. our Global Moderator shri. Kariaji may take the lead at the initial stage and suggest further steps in this direction.

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Prasad GLN

If any body can make this a reality it has to be one and only one Hon.Karira as most of the members how committed, dedicated and sincere is towards the cause. Right from joining I have been suggesting this kind of extension of further services to members and RTI India has to lead this by example. The name of Hon.Karira is enough to make the project a great success. Let us make a small beginning by hiring a guest house, or influencing YATRI BHAVAN or through liaison with private guest house initially, and if it is near to CIC or ND Rly station, and at initiat stages even if it is just a modern dormitory, it is sufficient to learn through experience for further plans either to extend or abandon later. The first step is identifying like minded advocates and asking willing members to contribute reasonable amount in the beginning that can be adjusted through accommodation later. Initially Rs.5,000/- for representing on behalf of appellant at CIC by RTI India may be sufficient, as with this amount travelling expenses, boarding and lodging for appellant at ND is not possible. The extra service is expert participation, and immediate solution through consultation which is free from RTI India.

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rajching

Thanks to JPS and Bhoon for posting good thoughts and decisions... I have gone thru the decisions by Sripathi posted by bhoon and found it to be more appalling than the one he issued in my appeal... I am going to find a way to get access to his decisions online... in the meantime I encourage everyone to post copies of his (TNSIC's CIC, Sripathi) decisions here if you have one... I will collate and make a compelling case against him... I am good with drafting..

 

Now, for the last 4 days or so since I received his decision, I have been looking for some compelling ways to contest his appointment.... My thought was to see if we can disqualify him u/s 15(5) as he will find it difficult to qualify to be "eminence in public life" requirement which is a must requirement per s.15(5). I have been searching for some good judgements on the topic of what is "eminence in public life" in law? I finally found a lead on this.. this morning I was searching and found an article by a good lawyer which has given some leads and thoughts in line with what I had.. see the same at :

Defining Eminence in Public Life

 

With this line of thinking, all appointments of retired or active IAS officers as Information Commissioners can be challenged. We just need to stick to this one requirement of s.15(5) and force the court to make a finding whether an IAS officer on duty or upon retirement can be eligible per this section. I think the answer must be negative...

 

Please read the above article and chime in with your thoughts...

 

I will be going thru more judgments and collect support this line of thought....

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karira
karira

The process of forming a group to intervene in RTI related court cases OR to assist deserving RTI litigants in court cases has started. Of course only those cases will be assisted which are important to RTI and not individual issues related to RTI.

 

This includes a creation of a corpus from donations by members of the group. No external funds will ever be accepted from anyone outside the group - lest it leads to a charge of cronyism.

 

Will share details later.

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