Now, become a certified RTI activist in five sessions
Reported by Yogita Rao in D N A Friday, May 30, 2008 02:18 IST
KC Law College will start two courses on how to file precise RTI
applications from July
You no longer need to be bogged down by the tricky loopholes in the
Right to Information (RTI) Act or be taken for a ride by officials. A
law college in South Mumbai has started a course that will help
citizens become certified RTI activists who know the nuances of filing
an RTI application the right way.
KC Law College, Churchgate, is starting two courses on RTI — a
foundation course and an advanced course, which would be the first of
their kind in the country. The idea is to teach people the
fundamentals of filing RTI applications.
"People need to learn how to ask for information. It is a wonderful
weapon available to us and we should make full use of it," said
Neelima Chandiramani, the college's principal. "People do not even
know how to ask to-the-point questions and end up writing long-winded
The idea of starting the course was a result of brainstorming between
Chandiramani and activist Shailesh Gandhi, who will be conducting the
sessions. The course will begin from July and will run into five
sessions of three hours each. The classes will be held on Saturdays
Most of the course will be based on practical assignments, with
candidates filing applications on topics given by the college. While
both the courses will be open for all, the college expects people who
have already filed applications to enroll for the advanced course.
Gandhi said, "Information officers sometimes fool people if the
questions are not direct. Though there is no perfect solution to avoid
such discrepancies, the course will help people fine tune their skills
as RTI activists." Gandhi said 95% of the applications he filed never
exceeded 150 words.
Mahesh Vaswani, the chairman of legal aid committee of GJ Advani Law
College, said, "Filing applications should be made as easy as clicking
the mouse on a computer." The committee had conducted RTI workshops
for slum dwellers in 20 suburbs in the western region.
DNA - Mumbai - Now, become a certified RTI activist in five sessions - Daily News & Analysis
KC College students provide legal help to villagers, undertrials
as reported by Menaka Rao in the DNA, June 7, 2010
Mumbai: “Sampli sampli, bekari sampli (unemployment is over),” crooned students of KC Law College recently while educating villagers in Mulgaon near Ambarnath about the benefits of the national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREGS).
They are members of the KC legal aid committee, which has partnered with the State Legal Aid Services Authority of the Bombay high court to provide legal aid and support to the needy.
Formed in 2006, the committee has been helping undertrials, besides visiting villages and nearby towns to make people aware of their legal rights. It has five core members who gather other students when a programme is organised by the high court.
“Visiting prison was an eye-opener, as my idea of one was very Bollywood,” said Ruju Thakker, 22, a committee member, who wants pursue criminal law after graduating.
The group visits Arthur Road jail and Byculla jail every alternate week. Students are given forms related to plea bargaining and appointment of a lawyer.
Undertrials can use their help to fill these forms, which are then submitted in the court. “We encourage plea bargaining (when the accused pleads guilty to get a lighter sentence). A lot of prisoners accused of petty crimes like theft opt for it,” said Vikas Thakkar, 23, another member of the committee.
“Most undertrials complain about their appointed lawyers not turning up. When this happens, we inform the legal aid cell, which provides new lawyers,” said another student, Akshata Kamath.
Thakkar was particularly moved by one girl’s plight. “A college-going girl, approximately my age, came to us and said she had been tricked by a friend who had asked her to deposit a cheque in a bank using a false name, which led to her arrest. She asked us to contact her parents and said she could not survive in jail much longer,” said Thakkar.
Thakkar has also met undertrials like Maria Susairaj, an alleged accused in the 2008 Neeraj Grover murder case. “I was amused when I saw that she was using a Garnier shampoo, and had a box of chocolates by her side. Interestingly, she, too, complained about the terrible jail environment,” said Thakkar.
Another student, Varun Saraf, 23, who often plays the role of an undertrial in the skits by the group, said, “We understand the psychology of the prisoners. Earlier, we would be taken in by whatever they said. But now we can figure out if they are fibbing or being honest.”
Thakkar recalled her visit to Mulgaon village with justice KS Radhakrishnan. “We prepared a skit with Marathi songs. Since it was a Sunday, a lot of women and children also turned up. It was good fun,” she said. The group spoke about the problems villagers face — lack of electricity, roads etc. “We told them that they can use the Right to Information Act to seek answers from the establishment,” said Thakkar. The students also made charts that explained the process of filing an RTI application.
The group also went to Dombivli recently, where a lot of redevelopment is taking place. “Some parts of Dombivli are governed by the gram panchayat, others by the municipality. The laws for the two are different. We told them about their rights in case they opt for redevelopment of their properties,” said Thakkar.
In the next academic year, the group plans to work on juvenile justice law and the Maternity Relief Act that prescribes paid maternity leave for women.
Source : KC College students provide legal help to villagers, undertrials - dnaindia.com
Plz also See : http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/4401-now-become-certified-right-information-activist-five-sessions.html#post15168