United India Insurance Co. Ltd to suo-motu disclose of the policy for the selection and empanelment of doctors
By Atul Patankar
As reported at morungexpress.com on
…But ill-informed officers ‘embarrass’
Morung Express News: The full assessment report on the performance of states, in complying with the suo moto disclosures and provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, has Nagaland topping the charts over all the other states in the country. Nagaland beat even infamous administrative nightmares like New Delhi and Information Technology capital Karnataka hands down. And the Union Territories fared even ‘worse’ in performance, the report of the Bangalore-based Public Affairs Center showed.
The full report was obtained recently. The assessment covered twelve central government ministries or departments sixteen departments each of the 28 state governments and the six Union Territories, the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions of 27 state governments.
According to the report, Nagaland led the top five with 62% and Delhi (56%), Bihar (55%), Punjab (51%) and Andhra Pradesh (49%) following in the top list. Of the low-ranked states Jharkhand, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh were at the nadir with 0%, while Uttarakhand secured 3% and Kerala 6%. The surprising result was that of India’s IT state Karnataka, whose performance was “below average” at 30.2% – ranked 15th among 28 states.
According to the report, the “degree of compliance seems” to correlate with recent histories of administrative reforms – or Information Technology initiatives of the state governments in concern. The report cited the case of Nagaland – it was one of the first states to introduce administrative reforms with e-governance as the flagship drive.
In contrast, for Delhi, it is mandatory for every department to allocate 2% of its total IT allocation “initiatives” within the department in concern. Bihar was commended for its innovative call-center system (or “Jaankaari”) to providing information under the RTI Act.
The downside for Nagaland
Now the damper before any celebrations commence: many departmental officers or Public Information Officers in Nagaland entrusted with providing demanded information are too “casual” and ill-informed on RTI. In fact, many officers are so inept at handling RTI applications that a case in January this year saw the Nagaland Information Commission lamenting that the officers are only “embarrassing themselves and their departments.”
On January 28 in Kohima this year, the Information Commission rebuked senior officers of the department of Power for pleading ‘ignorance’ about the provisions of RTI. A citizen had sought information from the Power department but response was delayed over the claim of not being “conversant” with handling RTI applications and its provisions. This plea of the officer in concern – according to a copy of the commission’s proceeding obtained here – is neither reasonable nor acceptable, the commission stated.
“The commission has raised this issue a number of times in meetings with heads of administrative departments and heads of departments and also with chief secretary and senior officers for the last two years,” the commission’s record quoted the information commissioners. “…in many cases officers take these matters casually, and do not apply their mind, thereby embarrassing themselves and their departments when they receive and have to handle RTI applications,” the commission lamented.
Source: Current News | Latest News | Breaking News | Nagaland News - MorungExpress.com - Nagaland tops national RTI charts
By Atul Patankar
As reported by A Subramani at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 11 November 2009
CHENNAI: By going public with details of his assets, civil servant U Sahayam has joined an elite clique of individuals who have waged a relentless battle from within, and made the system more accountable and transparent.
Advocate and Right To Information (RTI) activist Subhash C Aggarwal set off a judicial snowball by submitting an innocuous query seeking to know whether judges of the Supreme Court were adhering to the May 7, 1997 Restatement of Values and declaring their assets regularly.
When the apex court was still in the denial mode, with the Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan himself countering the pro-declaration arguments, Justice Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court stepped out of the ranks and declared his assets on August 24. Justice K Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court did not take long thereafter to blog his asset details. The war from within had well and truly begun.
That the Supreme Court refused to part with any asset-related information, that the Central Information Commission ruled that the office of CJI too was under the ambit of the RTI Act, that in an unprecedented act the apex court filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court against the information panel's ruling and that the Delhi HC concluded that the CJI's office did come under the RTI umbrella, is history.
The logical conclusion was reached when, on September 28, the Supreme Court officially announced that its judges would voluntarily' declare their assets. The disclosure was actually made on November 2.
With the last word yet to be said in the appeal proceedings before the Delhi High Court, the journey has already proved to be long and eventful for Aggarwal. Sagayam's battle with babus seems to have just begun, given the fact that most of his colleagues in service are distinctly dismissive and reluctant to disclose. While the judiciary is done with its share of denials and protestations, the state bureaucrats have embarked on the journey only now.
Just compare the situations in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. The Tamil Nadu bureaucracy is not ready to join the transparency bandwagon, but the Madras High Court is all set to declare the assets and liability details of its judges on November 15. (In fact, Justice K Chandru submitted his details to Chief Justice HL Gokhale on Monday).
In Uttar Pradesh, a section of IAS officers serving in the state have already made public their asset details, whereas the 100-odd judges of the Allahabad High Court have adopted a resolution not to make public their asset details !
Source: From judges to babus, a fight from within for transparency - Chennai - City - The Times of India