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Atul Patankar

Bihar rights panel asks govt to suspend 54 information officials

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Madhulata at blog.taragana.com on October 30th, 2009

 

The State Human Rights Commission in Bihar has asked the state government to suspend 54 public information officials and start departmental proceedings against them for torturing applicants seeking information under the RTI Act, officials said today.

 

Officials said the Commission has also asked the government to apprise it of the action taken against the erring officials within six weeks failing which cases will be lodged against them in the Patna High Court.

 

The Commission has further asked the government to withdraw false cases registered against the complainants by the concerning officials.

 

“It is very serious that the officials and the police are torturing the complainants seeking information. This is complete violation of human rights”, a member of the State Human Rights Commission Justice Rajendra Prasad has said in his order.

 

Source: Bihar rights panel asks govt to suspend 54 information officials

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Pradip Shah

Congratulations to the Bihar state human rights commission

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evdnath

It is a great victory for the RTI activissts.

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karira

As reported by Santosh Singh in indianexpress.com on 06 November 2009:

42 ‘harassed’, many in jail for seeking information under RTI in Bihar

 

42 ‘harassed’, many in jail for seeking information under RTI in Bihar

 

 

Patna: lg.php?bannerid=334&campaignid=97&zoneid=22&loc=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.indianexpress.com%2Fnews%2F42-harassed-many-in-jail-for-seeking-information-under-rti-in-bihar%2F538009%2F0&cb=7e4270c064

avw.php?zoneid=22&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=ae458322

 

* On December 12, 2007, Chandradip Singh, a retired Armyman from Sarai, Maner, filed an RTI application with the Assistant SP, Danapur, to know the progress of investigation into the murders of his son and daughter eight years earlier. On March 16, 2008, the police allegedly implicated him falsely in a case of rape. Singh was in prison from April 9 to May 2, when an NGO helped him get bail. Singh says the police threatened him with dire consequences for following up with his RTI plea.

 

* In June 2007, Kishori Ram of Bhabhua wanted to know from the sub-divisional officer, Mohania, how two musclemen from his village had built a private house on government land. On July 21, the Ramgarh police allegedly evicted Ram from his home, and subsequently dismantled it, and charged Ram with obstructing a public servant from doing his duty.

 

* In September-October 2006, Shivprakash Rai, a farmer from Buxar, filed an RTI application seeking to know the amount of loans and subsidies given by 69 banks under the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana. In February 2008, he was called to the office of the District Magistrate, where he was allegedly asked to sign papers acknowledging the receipt of replies to his questions. Rai refused. On March 1, 2008, he was booked for obstructing a public servant and jailed for 29 days.

 

These are three examples from a list of 42 RTI applications filed in Bihar over the past few years, in which information officials have been accused of harassing applicants by filing false cases against them. The Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) has now recommended that all these officials be placed under suspension.

 

BHRC member Justice Rajendra Prasad wrote to the state government on October 29 directing it to “look into the complaints of harassment of RTI applicants by lodging false criminal cases against them by, or at the instance of, state public information officers”.

 

The allegations, Justice Prasad wrote, constituted “a serious violation of the human rights of the people of Bihar in general, and the existing and potential seekers of information under the RTI Act, 2005, in particular”.

 

All information officials “to whom such (RTI) applications were given” should be “immediately suspended” and “departmental proceedings (should) be initiated against... (them) within four weeks of receipt of a copy of this order”, Justice Prasad recommended.

 

“...All criminal cases filed against RTI applicants (should) be dropped wherever such cases have been initiated after the date on which such applicants or their family members gave applications under the RTI Act”.

 

The Commission has asked the government to send “a report of the actions taken... within six weeks from receipt of copy of this order”, failing which it would be “constrained to invoke provisions of Section 18 (b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993”.

 

Section 18 of the Act deals with “steps after inquiry”, and includes provisions such as approaching the high courts or the Supreme Court.

The officials under the BHRC scanner range from the District Magistrate, Muzaffarpur (who was in charge in 2006) to sub-divisional police officers, circle officers and block development officers, down to officers-in-charge of police stations. “False” cases were registered against RTI applicants in the districts of Saran, Madhubani, Bhojpur, Patna, Darbhanga, Aurangabad, Bhabhua, Gopalganj, Samastipur, Sitamarhi, Gaya, Buxar, Motihari and Khagaria. The maximum number of complaints — eight — has come from Patna.

 

The Commission acted on a complaint by Bihar Right to Information, a voluntary group devoted to taking RTI to the people since 2007. Group coordinator Parveen Amanullah told The Indian Express: “We wrote to the CM thrice, took up the matter during his janta darbars, but there were follow-ups in only two cases.”

 

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has won accolades from the central government and other agencies for setting up the country’s first RTI call centre — a pioneering concept that has been replicated subsequently.

Amanullah alleged requests forwarded by her group were pushed around government offices but no action was taken. “While there are successful stories under RTI, these 42 cases are a black spot on its functioning in the state. Government servants treat RTI as burden, not as a tool for bringing transparency,” she said.

 

The alleged victims — slapped with cases of rape, extortion, kidnapping, obstructing a public servant from doing his duty, disturbing the peace, etc. — feel bitter and hunted.

 

Virendra Kumar Sah of Maker, Chhapra, told The Indian Express: “On July 10, 2007, I sought information from the Block Development Officer on irregularities in the appointment of panchayat teachers. On August 19, 2008, I was falsely implicated in a case of murder and under the Arms Act. I continue to evade arrest.”

 

Chandradip Singh said, “My service record can be checked for my character. Is foisting a rape case the way to treat an ex-Armyman in this country?”

 

Chief Minister Kumar, recovering after surgery for a sinus problem, was not available for a comment. His deputy, Sushil Kumar Modi, said: “We have no comment to offer on the BHRC’s recommendation that officials should be suspended. But we will surely look into the charges against public information officers.”

 

Bihar Information and Public Relations Minister Ramnath Thakur said he was not aware of the BHRC order. “Let me first know and understand it”, he said.

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rkbheri

Really shocking. they are shaming the parliament. This showes the ways of some bureacrats , who are compelling the citezens to ask for repealing of the Act. If this continues ,many of us should apply for anticipatory bail and start living.

RK.Bheri

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Pradip Shah

:rolleyes::(

Really shocking. they are shaming the parliament. This showes the ways of some bureacrats , who are compelling the citezens to ask for repealing of the Act. If this continues ,many of us should apply for anticipatory bail and start living.

RK.Bheri

ultimate result"TRUTH PREVAILS"

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karira

As reported by Nalin Verma in telegraphindia.com on 08 November 2009:

The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | Rights panel focus on RTI chinks

Rights panel focus on RTI chinks

 

Patna, Nov. 7: The resident of Pir Maker village in Saran district, Birendra Kumar Sah, 40, can neither walk straight nor can he use his hands to fire a revolver.

 

But, the man was forced to go into hiding when police set out to arrest him for a case involving murder and arms loot. Birendra’s sin was that he sought information about a proposed appointment of 50 teachers from officials concerned under the Right to Information Act.

 

Birendra and several others like him today gathered at the people’s court, organised by the Hum Log Trust and Bihar Right to Information Forum, bodies fighting for the cause of information seekers under the RTI. The people’s court brought to the fore as many as 49 cases of harassment of citizens all across the state for seeking information under the RTI.

 

Most of the harassed information seekers reeled off tales of woes in presence of Parveen Amanullah, the joint convenor of Hum Log Trust and Bihar Right to Information Forum.

 

The congregation also included Magsaysay award winner and activist Arbind Kezriwal, lawyer and civil rights activist Prashant Bhushan and chairman of the state human rights commission S.N. Jha.

 

“I had submitted a formal application seeking information about the appointment of 50 teachers in my block on July 10, 2007. Instead of providing the information, the panchayat head lodged a murder case against me in August of 2008,” Birender said. The hapless man was then forced to flee the village and so into hiding. It was then on the intervention of Hum Log Trust, that the Saran district magistrate stayed the case on him.

 

Kanchan Sahani, a man belonging to extremely backward class and BPL card-holder, spent 26 days in prison after seeking information about the construction of a house for his family under the Indira Awas Yojna. Sahni, a resident of Panapur village in north Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, sought information about his house on November 6, 2006.

 

On August 6, 2007, he was arrested and put behind bars for “attempt to murder”. “I was released on bail later after 26 days for an offence I had not committed.”

 

Bihar was one of the first states to implement the Right to Information Act. But, of late the state has witnessed a plethora of cases of officials framing information seekers in false cases.

 

“Bihar earned the laurels for implementing the RTI ahead of others. It was a good thing to happen to the state. It is unfortunate that information seekers are being harassed in the state which became a pioneer in arming the people with the right to information”, said Arbind Kezriwal.

 

S.N. Jha, the chairman of the State Human Rights Commission, said that the commission had asked the chief secretary to take action against the erring officials and submit a report within four weeks. Prashant Bhushan pointed out that the dominance of the bureaucracy in the state information commission has played a negative role in the act implementation.

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rkbheri
As reported by Nalin Verma in telegraphindia.com on 08 November 2009:

The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | Rights panel focus on RTI chinks

 

S.N. Jha, the chairman of the State Human Rights Commission, said that the commission had asked the chief secretary to take action against the erring officials and submit a report within four weeks. Prashant Bhushan pointed out that the dominance of the bureaucracy in the state information commission has played a negative role in the act implementation.

 

 

Now it is time for the state and central governments to declare the real stand on implementation of RTI. Act. are they going toallow the bureaucrat to be bullish with the Information seekers

How many like sri S.N. Jha, the chairman of the State Human Rights Commission, Present in India to car\e for Public?

Will the chief secretary take action against erring officials . the evidences available Can easily get changed and the charges does not get sustained.

With this lesson the RTI actvists should be more careful and insist the govt , /state and central Panel to not to select any member of bureaucracy, (may be how efficient he may be) as ICs/CICs

First the personal of state information commission is to be changed. And make sure that no bureaucrat is appointed as an IC/CIC

A candle is better than a torch light without battery.

RK Bheri

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Pradip Shah

RTIA is life saving medicine for citizens, in particular for poor,provided educated & elite come to their rescue.

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karira

As reported by TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 10 November 2009:

Officials implicating info seekers to be punished - Patna - City - The Times of India

 

Officials implicating info seekers to be punished

 

PATNA: Taking serious note of the people being victimised by officials for seeking information under RTI Act, CM Nitish Kumar on Monday issued instruction to top officials to take strict and quick action against the erring officials.

 

At a high-level meeting, Nitish directed the senior officials to identify the government servants accused of implicating information seekers in false cases and ensure that they are also penalized. He said for the information seekers who have been implicated in false cases a helpline should be started.

 

To begin with, this helpline will be started from the Jankari call centres and later on a separate telephone number be made available to the victims and this facility be publicised for the common people.

 

Those present at the meeting included chief secretary Anup Mukherjee, DGP Anand Shankar, principal secretary, home, Amir Subhani, principal secretary, personnel, Dipak Kumar, ADG (HQs) U S Dutt and CM's principal secretary R C P Singh.

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rkbheri
As reported by TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 10 November 2009:

Officials implicating info seekers to be punished - Patna - City - The Times of India

 

 

Those present at the meeting included chief secretary Anup Mukherjee, DGP Anand Shankar, principal secretary, home, Amir Subhani, principal secretary, personnel, Dipak Kumar, ADG (HQs) U S Dutt and CM's principal secretary R C P Singh.

 

The chief / information commissioner s are missing from the meeting--

surprising and noteworthy

RK Bheri

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karira

As reported by Sanjeev Kumar Verma of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 13 November 2009:

State launches helpline to file RTI complaint - Patna - City - The Times of India

 

State launches helpline to file RTI complaint

 

PATNA: Yet another first in India from Bihar has come to make the Right to Information (RTI), Act, people friendly. This pertains to launching of a new helpline, by using which people can file complaints against the government officials who harass them for seeking information using the RTI tool.

 

CM Nitish Kumar dedicated the helpline (0612-2219435) for public use here on Thursday during a programme organised by state information commission (SIC), Bihar, to felicitate the performing public information officers (PIOs).

 

The CM himself made the first complaint using the helpline against Rajnagar block supply officer in Madhubani district.

 

"The CM secretariat has received complaint from one Dhirendra Mahto of Karaiya Panchayat in which the complainant claimed that an FIR was lodged against him with the Rajnagar police station in August this year after he tried to seek some information about public distribution system from the the block supply officer," Nitish informed the person attending the call on the newly launched helpline and asked the call attendant to inform his secretary about the action taken. He immediately got a complaint number (0001).

 

Incidentally, all such complaints received would be monitored directly by the state home secretary and DGP and emphasis would be to expedite the complaint redressal.

 

"Officials found guilty of harassing applicants would be dealt with sternly and, if needed, the government would not hesitate to dismiss such officials from the service," Nitish told the gathering which responded with thunderous applause.

 

Nitish also launched the Phase-II of Jaankari which would allow applicants to file RTI applications using e-mail. For this, one needs to open the website biharonline.gov.in/rti in which one would get an icon for filing RTI application through e-mail.

 

Incidentally, Bihar has the distinction of being the first state in India which set up a call centre, christened `Jaankari' using which applicants file RTI applications by making phone call to the number 155311. It became functional on January 29, 2007.

 

As many as nine PIOs were felicitated at Thursday's function where Bihar legislative Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi and chief information commissioner Ashok Kumar Choudhary among others were also present. Chanchal Kumar, secretary to the CM, too was given a special award for his active role in setting up Jaanakari helpline and the helpline launched for registering complaints against officials.

 

Appreciating the move, Nitish said it would introduce an element of balance as people know the SIC mainly for its pronouncements against the PIOs.

 

"Now it is upto the PIOs whether they want to be rewarded or punished. There is no third way for them," NitiSh said.

 

Winners of essay and painting competitions, organised by the SIC to spread awareness about RTI among school and college students, were also felicitated at the function.

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rkbheri
As reported by Sanjeev Kumar Verma of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 13 November 2009:

State launches helpline to file RTI complaint - Patna - City - The Times of India

State launches helpline to file RTI complaint

PATNA: Yet another first in India from Bihar has come to make the Right to Information (RTI), Act, people friendly. .......

CM Nitish Kumar dedicated the helpline (0612-2219435) for public use here on Thursday during a programme organised by state information commission (SIC), Bihar, to felicitate the performing public information officers (PIOs).

The CM himself made the first complaint using the helpline against Rajnagar block supply officer in Madhubani district.

"...........an FIR was lodged against him with the Rajnagar police station in August this year after he tried to seek some information about public distribution system from the the block supply officer," ..............

.............................

"Officials found guilty of harassing applicants would be dealt with sternly and, if needed, the government would not hesitate to dismiss such officials from the service," Nitish told the gathering which responded with thunderous applause.

Nitish also launched the Phase-II of Jaankari which would allow applicants to file RTI applications using e-mail. .................

.......... Chanchal Kumar, secretary to the CM, too was given a special award for his active role in setting up Jaanakari helpline and the helpline launched for registering complaints against officials.

Appreciating the move, Nitish said it would introduce an element of balance as people know the SIC mainly for its pronouncements against the PIOs....................................

Firstly I appreciate and All should appreciate , the timely and speed up action by The CM Nitish Kumar and his secretary Mr. Chanchal Kumar. really it is a revolutionary step in advancement of RTI movement only if the implementation is in full earnest.

What is the locus standi of a complaint on PIO legally.

. here the , the applicant has applied to a PIo of certain department and got booked on false charges by some other department and police department.

How the payment of application fees is being collected when the receipt of application is thru email.

an element of balance as people know the SIC mainly for its pronouncements against the PIOs

does this mean the SIC is giving pronouncements favoring the citizens and fining the PIOs as per act

or the citizens are not happy with the pronouncements which are more favoring the PIOs

Does the EFFECT of orders of Hon Justice Prasad are getting diluted.

Quote---All information officials “to whom such (RTI) applications were given” should be “immediately suspended” and “departmental proceedings (should) be initiated against... (them) within four weeks of receipt of a copy of this order”, Justice Prasad recommended. --- Quote ends

Any way time will reveal that this is not another Black hole.

RK Bheri

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