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RTI activism takes ugly turn

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RTI activism takes ugly turn : State info commissioner files FIR against activists

as reported by Ashutosh Shukla DNA


Activism took an ugly turn on Tuesday evening with 11 Right to Information (RTI) activists being arrested on charges of rioting and obstructing work of a public servant.


The activists were arrested for storming into the Mantralaya cabin of Dr Suresh Joshi, state chief information commissioner. Confirming the arrests, Sanjay Amrute, senior police inspector with Marine Drive police station said that the accused will be produced before a court on Wednesday. Several IPC sections dealing with rioting and forceful entry have been slapped on the activists.


Those arrested include Krishnaraj Rao, G R Vora, Mohammad Afzal, Sunil Ahya, Vijay Chauhan, Mukund Parekh, Sanjay Ghatalia, KN Singh, Pramod Kadam, Ravi Kiran Haldipur, and Dr Shrikant Prabhu.


The activists had come to observe the hearing of an appeal filed by Dr Prabhu. Observing a hearing is allowed. However, once the hearing was over, the activists sought an appointment with Joshi to discuss some other issue. "We had not taken an appointment with Joshi because he never gives us one. When we requested for a time, he first denied saying he had to visit a doctor but later agreed," activist GR Vora told DNA. "We wanted to point out that the information commission's office is falsifying records," he added.


Once the activists entered Joshi's office, one of them wanted to sing the National Anthem. As they began singing the anthem, Joshi objected and refused to stand up saying that the activists were insulting the National Anthem. "Joshi then lost his cool and called the police," claimed Krishnaraj Rao.


Contradicting the activists' statements, Joshi said that they started singing the National Anthem in the courtroom itself. "This is disrespectful to the National Anthem and they cannot hold the system for ransom," he said justifying his move to call in the police. "I was willing to hear them but they just refused to cooperate," he added.


Activists alleged that the police were not registering their counter complaint against Joshi. "We want to file an FIR against him but they are not even showing us the FIR they have registered against us. Instead they are asking us to sign on some surrender/ arrest document," said Rao.


DNA E-Paper - Daily News & Analysis -Mumbai,Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, India#

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Viju B, TNN at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 20 May 2009


MUMBAI: It was supposed to be a peaceful meeting with state chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi for addressing the grievances of RTI activists. But 11 prominent RTI activists ended up getting arrested by the Marine Drive police for rioting and forceful entry.


The RTI activists-Krishna Raj Rao, Gaurang Vora, Mohmmed Afzal, Sunil Ahya, Mukund Parekh, Vijay Chuahan, Sanjay Ghadalia, K N Singh, Ravi Haldipore, Dr Srikant Prabhu and Pramod Kadam met Joshi to apprise him of various issues that had been plaguing the RTI Act, on Tuesday evening.


Chauhan said he wanted to sing the National Anthem. "Joshi went out of the room after we sang the first line. This is punishable under the Constitution,'' he added.


They then found out that Joshi had lodged a police complaint. A State Information Commission official said that this was not the way to register a grievance.


Source: Eleven RTI activists held for rioting - Mumbai - Cities - The Times of India

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This is a wake up call to all honest citizens of India. How a bunch of corrupt officials are harassing honest RTI activists who are trying to insure that every Indian is entitled to get information through RTI but Information commissioners are now trying to harass them and protect corrupt PIOs.



as in RTI act, if PIO fails to provide information within stipulated period of 30 days, he should be fined for Rs. 250 per day or maximum Rs. 25000. But in reality this is not happening and this is the reason that there are thousands of second appeals pending before information commissioners. PIOs simply know that they are not going to be penalized so now they are daringly denying information to citizens.

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Atul Patankar

A plain reading of the news leaves a few questions unanswered. Why did the activists want to sing the national anthem? What was the occasion? Or did they want to just embrass the CIC by making a scene?


Quite possibly the CIC does not give sufficient time to activists, but then the protests by activists might also have have gotten out of hand.

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Viju B, TNN at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 21 May 2009


MUMBAI: Metropolitan magistrate S M Chintembakar on Wednesday remanded 11 arrested RTI activists in judicial custody after they failed to produce a surety of Rs 20,000. The magistrate rejected their plea to produce a bail for the same amount.


The activists-Krishna Raj Rao, Gaurang Vora, Mohammed Afzal, Sunil Ahya, Mukund Parekh, Vijay Chauhan, Sanjay Ghadalia, K N Singh, Ravi Haldipore, Dr Shrikant Prabhu and Pramod Kadam-were arrested by the Marine Drive police on Tuesday for creating a ruckus at the office of the state information commissioner (SIC), Suresh Joshi. The police were called in by Joshi after the activists protested against his alleged callous attitude to their grievances. The police had booked them for house trespass, rioting, unlawful assembly and assault on a government servant. "How can meeting someone in an office be termed as a house trespass? This is not applicable in this case,'' said Y P Singh, IPS officer turned lawyer.


A senior SIC official said the activists should have maintained decorum as as the SIC functions like a court. "We have been trying to accommodate their grievances and giving them time to address these issues,'' the official said.


Source: A night at Arthur Rd jail for RTI activists - Mumbai - Cities - The Times of India

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Ashutosh Shukla at www.dnaindia.com on 22 May 2009


Mumbai: After spending two days and a night in the Arthur Road Jail, 11 RTI activists were released on Thursday on personal bond.

Krishnaraj Rao, GR Vora, Mohammad Afzal, Sunil Ahya, Vijay Chauhan, Mukund Parekh, Sanjay Ghatalia, KN Singh, Pramod Kadam, Ravi Kiran Haldipur and Dr Shrikant Prabhu were arrested for "unlawful assembly and tresspassing" after a protest organised by them took an ugly turn on Tuesday at state chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi's office.



Their arrests have created a stir among other activists. Central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi termed the action excessive. "I do not know what happened, but from the reactions of Joshi, I don't think that the situation was riotous. I feel there was an excessive action by police.


"People keep protesting and look for innovative and creative ways to do that. But as long as the protests are peaceful and do not paralyse the working of the administration, they should be accepted as protest," he said.


Activists like Bhavesh Patel, who heads Bhrashtachar Viorodhi Jan Andolan run by Anna Hazare, said that the reason for such protests should be looked at more closely.


"RTI Act is not implemented properly and we are getting a lot of complains from all over Maharashtra," he said. "Anna Hazare will meet the chief minister this week. The arrests will be discussed during the meeting."

Terming the action "a bit harsh", activist Medha Patkar said, "Singing the national anthem can be considered a form of Satyagraha. Officials should understand that there is increasing frustration amongst people over the manner the the Act is being implemented. Officials are wasting time and not giving information." Activists said they want action against people who refuse to give information.


When asked if the actions were appropriate, Suresh Joshi said, "This was the third time that they behaved badly. But the last straw was when they sang the national anthem in an unruly manner. The court too has taken a very serious view of their behaviour


Source: DNA: Mumbai: RTI activists released on bail

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Time has come that citizens should carry camera and tape recorders whenever they want to meet a govt servant or else they may land in jail in a democratic country. We got British rulers replaced by Indian rulers in 1947. Mera Bharat mahan nahi ,ye mera dosh hai.

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Sunil Ahya

SIC's in Maharashtra are not functioning anywhere near the optimal.


Now for a long time, RTI activists Krishnaraj Rao, G. R. Vora, Mohd. Afzal and Sunil Ahya have been pursuing with Dr. Joshi (Dr. J) Chief State Information Commissioner for the following issues:


SICs to pass reasoned orders, ask PIOs to justify delay in providing the information, implement the provisions of sec. 20, implement the provisions of sec. 4 etc i.e. proper implementation of RTI Act.


Recently these RTI activists brought to the notice of Dr. J that not only PIOs do not adhere to the 30 day timeline as per the RTI Act, but also they completely defy and do not provide the requested information even after Commission passes written orders to provide information after the second appeal hearing.


Having brought to his notice, Dr. J remarked to these activists, that in cases where the Commission passes orders, directing a PIO to provide the requested information to the appellant within further 15/30 days (PIO 30 days + FAA 30/45 days + 6 months / 1 year SIC queue already waited), if PIOs still defy and do not provide the information then these are fit cases for levying penalties on PIOs, and if such cases are brought to his notice, he will penalize these PIOs.( DNA 21-03-2009 Titled: No Escaping Fine for PIOs 21-03-2009-DNA.jpg - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage)


30th of March, 2009: Based on Dr. J’s above mentioned promise, RTI activists then presented 15 such cases (pertaining to some social activists and appellants) to Dr. J where PIOs have not provided the information despite SIC's orders.


Dr. J accepted the list of cases presented to him and promised to issue show cause notices to these PIOs to give them an opportunity to defend themselves, before he penalizes them.


(23 days later) 23rd of April, 2009: RTI Activists followed up, and found out that Dr. J had still not issued show cause notices to those PIOs, leave alone penalizing them.


On approaching Dr. J, he requested the activists to give him some more time to issue show cause notices.


(35 days later) 5th of May, 2009: RTI Activists again followed up, and found out that show cause notices were still not issued.


On approaching Dr. J, he again requested two more days’ time to issue show cause notices.


(37 days later) 7th May, 2009: RTI Activists requested a couple of social activists / appellants on whose behalf they were following up with Dr. J; to personally visit the MSIC office and find out whether the show cause notices have been issued. The social activists / appellants returned with the feedback that Dr. J has still not issued the show cause notices.


(49 days later) 19th of May, 2009 – RTI activists submitted a letter to the inward department, the brief contents of that letter were, that everybody is equal before the law; ICs cannot implement the penal provisions of the law arbitrarily and if they do that, then sec. 217 & 218 of IPC were applicable on ICs.


Having submitted the letter, the group then peacefully witnessed an ongoing hearing of Dr. J.


After the hearing completed, they requested Dr. J five minutes of his time, which he reluctantly granted to them. With his consent, everybody then occupied the row of chairs across the table in front of Dr. J and settled down.


Just as the discussions were about to begin, a well known and respected social activist accompanying the RTI activists on the given day stood up and announced that he always begins these kind of meetings with a national anthem, to enthuse a patriotic spirit in the public servants. (he has already sung national anthem earlier, at Dr. Patangrao Kadam’s (Maharashtra housing minister) office)


He then unilaterally began singing the national anthem, the RTI activists, social activists and appellants accompanying them quickly got up and joined him in chorus. Dr. J remained seated for initial three to four lines, shrugged his head in dismay, got up and left the room from the back door which leads to an adjoining chamber.


A few minutes later, Dr. J left office for the day, as he had to keep a prior appointment. The group then waited in the lobby for a few minutes and enquired with the secretary to Dr. J, she informed the activists that police have been called in. The group then waited in the lobby, half an hour later, approximately 15/16 policemen arrived at Dr. J’s office, arrested the group and took them to Marine Drive police station in a police van and thereon to Aurthur Road Jail.


(79 days later) I met Dr.Shrikant S. Prabhu yesterday on 16th of June, 2009 he is yet to receive the information.


And what is the final status of RTI Act in Maharashtra in general and those 15 orders in particular ……………………………………………………… you know what, I would request you all to please file an RTI for that…..!!!!


People who graced the jail:


K. N. Singh – Age 75 years – A senior citizen of OUR country – (fighting since 1988 for justice), Dr Shrikant S Prabhu – Age 67 years – A senior citizen of OUR country – (fighting with MHADA still not got justice), M. K. Parikh, Krishnaraj Rao, G. R. Vora, Mohd. Afzal, Sunil Ahya, Vijay Chauhan, Sanjay Ghatalia, Mr Ravikiran Haldipur.


Warm Regards,


God Bless Our Country India,


Sunil Ahya

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Hello, I joined as a new member today.

I recently read about an intriguing news article about RTI. An RTI activist, who was imprisoned for some issue with the state RTI authority in made news. The heartening part of the story was, he continued using the RTI for the betterment of the prison conditions; but why was he imprisoned in the first place?

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You are referring to the following news item:




Please read the following to get an idea as to what really happened:




Merging the two threads

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Thanx for the reply.

There is thin line between keeping ones cool and loosing it.

The unannounced, uncalled for singing of the National Anthem,one wondeers what was the occasion?

This was the first time that it has happenned.

Two issues arise here.

1.The opportunity of hearing was given in the open court. Sanctity of judicial process should be honored by all parties concerned.Does one takes the same liberties with the other courts?

2.RTI Act, 2005, Sec 2.7 and 2.8 provides for the role apellate authority and its role. Likely a contempt provision will be pushed into this, lest this continues.

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I joined the forum today and this was the first thread which I read :)

While I completely understand the frustration which every Indian citizen faces while dealing with government officials but one has to draw a line somewhere fighting against corrupt/incompetent officials. While it is perfectly acceptable to protest against the government official turning down requests to give an appointment, singing national anthem without any occasion and as a mean to held someone ransom by the means of it is a highly immoral act. Constitution of India defines a certain code and conduct which needs to be followed while singing the national anthem and certainly one can not start singing national anthem at any time as and when they please(in the presence of others). I sympathize with the activists who got punished while fighting for the truth, but I believe several things such as the national anthem are over and above everything else.

I urge the activists to continue fighting but in a controlled manner.

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Please note that the said activists were not arrested for singing National Anthem. They were wrongfully slapped with charges of criminal tresspass, rioting, wrongful arrest, etc.


Today the visited the Police Station to lodge an FIR against the Police Officers who had wrongfully arrested them showing utter disregard to the CRPC. As expected the police did not take the complaint.


The fight will continue. I support them and wish them all the best!


To download the Citizens’ Police Complaint being made on 4th Feb 2010, click on: http://www.box.net/shared/mgfdyh9ftc

2) For other background details, Police guidelines for arrests etc, click on: http://www.box.net/shared/s44jjuytr6

3) Detailed account of how the ten activists were arrested on 19th May, 2009: http://www.box.net/shared/2td1qqf7sx

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As reported by Anil Singh of TNN in Times of India, Mumbai edition on 05 February 2010:

ePaper Lite - Times of India Publications


Activists throw rule book at cops


Mumbai: A 75-year-old small scale industrialist and a 67-year-old veterinary doctor were among a motley group of ten that went to Marine Drive police station on Thursday evening to register an unusual complaint. They wanted to file an FIR against Sanjay Amrute, the senior inspector who arrested them on May 19 last year for disrupting the court of Suresh Joshi, state chief information commissioner . Their contention is that Amrute, now an assistant commissioner posted at the headquarters , falsely implicated and illegally arrested them.


However, assistant commissioner Iqbal Shaikh and senior inspector Jhunjharrao Gharal refused to lodge an FIR against Amrute , saying they would only acknowledge their complaint.


All we did was to sing the national anthem in a meeting with Joshi, who had granted us a fiveminute audience, after his hearing was over, said Gaurang Vora, a pathologist and civic activist from Kings Circle. The group of ten had met Joshi to register their protest against his non-adherence to the Right to Information Act.


Joshi did not demand any justification from the public information officers (PIO) for delay or denial of information, he did not penalise any PIOs for it and neither did he mention the denial/delay in his order, said Vora.


The ten RTI activists were booked for trespassing, assault and rioting the same evening and sent to the lock-up at Azad Maidan police station from where they were dispatched to Arthur Road jail, where they spent a night before being granted bail. Our complaint against the cops is in keeping with Section 154(1) of CrPC, a landmark judgment of Bombay high court, recent pronouncements of Union home ministry and of Mumbai police commissioner D Sivanandhan , said Krishnaraj Rao, a 43-year-old publisher, who was one of the ten arrested.


The RTI activists initiative to file an FIR against the police is supported by Milind Kotak, founder of Forum for Effective Accountability & Transparency (FEAT), as part of the organisations campaign to hold public authorities accountable to the rule of law. He contended that Amrutes actions on May 19, 2009, were in breach of Supreme Court orders and police guidelines. The RTI activists hold that they were targeted at the instance of Joshi and substantiate it with the fact that although the police complaint made on his behalf did not speak of assault, rioting, trespass etc, the Marine Drive police station included such non-bailable offences in the FIR deliberately to justify arresting them under non-bailable sections.


By filing this FIR and carrying out these arrests, the policemen went far beyond the call of their duty, themselves committed many criminal offences under IPC sections 166, 167, 219, 220) and also contempt of the Supreme Court order in the case of Joginder Kumar Vs. State of UP. They also breached clear directions given by Maharashtras DGP in 1994, alleged Rao.


The others from the group of ten who assembled at Marine Drive police station on Thursday were veterinary surgeon Sriram Prabhu , businessman Sanjay Ghatalia, landlord Mohammed Afzal, teacher Ravi Kiran Haldipur, designer-printer and machinery manufacturer Sunil Ahya.




An arrest during the investigation of a cognisable case may be considered justified in one or other of the following circumstances :


The case involves a grave offence like murder, dacoity, robbery, rape etc., and it is necessary to arrest the accused and bring his movements under restraint to infuse confidence among the terror stricken victims

The accused is likely to abscond and evade the processes of law

The accused is given to violent behaviour and is likely to commit further offences unless his movements are brought under restraint

The accused is a habit ual offender and unless kept in custody he is likely to commit similar offences again

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As reported by Chetan R in mid-day.com on 10 May 2010:

Right to Info activists on warpath


Right to Info activists on warpath


Chargesheeted for singing National Anthem, ten activists plan nationwide protest


What began as a tiff between the state chief information commissioner and a group of 10 Right to Information (RTI) activists could now snowball into a nation-wide protest.


The 10 activists had sung the national anthem during a visit to the RTI commissioner's office in May 2008.


'Penalise officials'


This was to highlight their demand to implement the RTI Act which penalises officials failing to furnish information in time. The activists were subsequently chargesheeted.


The Other Side

Senior Secretary, State Information Commissioner, Kalpana Gawas stood by her complaint, which had served as the basis for the activists' chargesheeting.


"They had disturbed the proceedings by forcefully entering and singing the national anthem. This is wrong," Gawas said.



The activists have decided to start a nationwide Jana Gana Mana campaign in protest.


"We've been framed for the wrong reasons," said Krishna Raj Rao, one of the activists who has been chargesheeted. "We want to know if singing the national anthem is wrong?"


Chargesheet delay


"We got a copy of the chargesheet only on April 30, 2010," said Rao.


"Besides the other wrong charges, we have been charged for singing the national anthem!"


"We have RTI forums across the nation and this will be discussed and debated all over," said Rao. "It will also be argued in court."

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As reported by Swati Deshpande in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 30 August 2011:



Court orders inquiry against ex-info chief


MUMBAI: The Esplanade court directed the Marine Drive police to register a criminal complaint against former state information commissioner Suresh Joshi, senior IPS officer Vishwas Nangre-Patil and two others last week and investigate a complaint alleging the four had conspired to intentionally disobey official duty in order


to save a person from punishment.


The court ordered that the case be registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with actions of public servants and the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act.


The police have to submit a report by November 28.


The order was on a private complaint by activist Vijay Chauhan who had annexed an October 2009 recorded conversation between his wife, and Joshi regarding an FIR against 10 Right To Information (RTI) activists for protesting at the SIC's office in May 2009.


The allegations against Joshi, Nangre-Patil, who was DCP (Zone-I) at the time, senior inspector of the Marine Drive police station and personal assistant to Joshi, Kalpana Gavas, were that they had conspired to act against RTI activists by seeking to book them under false complaints if they agitated for better implementation of the law. Chauhan alleged that police officers did not register an FIR against ex-information chief Ramanand Tiwari in May 2009 "with the intention of saving him from punishment".


RTI activists have been fighting for effective implementation of the Act in the state.


Chauhan was among the 10 activists arrested in May 2009 for staging a protest for the Act's better compliance. They had sought a meeting with Joshi in his court room and began singing the national anthem. The activists said he "disrespected" the anthem by remaining seated and walking out midway.


The law punishes a person who prevents or disturbs the singing of the national anthem by maximum three years' jail or fine. Chauhan's complaint said the police helped Gavas draft the complaint against them after Joshi called them in. They were shocked to


learnt that they had been charged with rioting, trespass, wrongful restraint and other penal offences. The activists were released on bail only a night later.


To "bare the truth", Chauhan recorded a conversation between his wife and Joshi. "It revealed the conspiracy to book the activists," he alleged.


The additional CMM, 8th court, after hearing Chauhan at length, ordered, "The matter needs detailed investigation, the complaint be sent to the Marine Drive police for inquiry and report."


Joshi and Nangre-Patil were not available for comments.

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