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sidmis

Now, become a certified RTI activist in five sessions

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sidmis

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

applications."

 

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

and Sundays.

 

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

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ganpat1956

Hopefully, soon they will start correspondence courses for outstation activists.

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drjeme

can any body give contact detail 4 this course?

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opsharma

Excellent idea , only hope it is free of cost i.e;cost borne by KC college or some NGO.Because when one pays for courses like Certified Finance Advisor,Certified Insurance advisor etc one tends to recover money as soon as possible as a professional. And now a Certified RTI Activist ,it does evokes fear of an earning/paid professional.

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karira
can any body give contact detail 4 this course?

 

I think you can directly contact K C Law college at Churchgate.

 

Excellent idea , only hope it is free of cost i.e;cost borne by KC college or some NGO.Because when one pays for courses like Certified Finance Advisor,Certified Insurance advisor etc one tends to recover money as soon as possible as a professional. And now a Certified RTI Activist ,it does evokes fear of an earning/paid professional.

 

That will make them RTI "middlemen".

 

Another good idea would be to train many "trainers" from different cities and then ask them to go back to their hometowns and conduct similar courses for citizens.

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colnrkurup

I still maintain that it is the PIO, AA and Commissions who need training. The distinquishing feature of the RTI Act 2005 is its PEOPLE-FRIENDLY approach. The PIOs AAs and Commissions are to be trained to understand that WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA does not want them to hide anything from them to the extend permissiible. They should be made to read the RTI Act, especially proviso to Section 8(1)(j) that "the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person " .If the PIOs, AAs and the Commissions maintain a people friendly attitude why should the cityzen undergo any training ? Training what ? All they have to do is to 'ask the information'. If one is hungry, does one need any training to ask for food ? A people-friendly bureaucracy can absorb the mistakes if any in asking the information and guide them to facilitate getting the information.. Will any section of the bureaucracy dare to put forth the type of denials as being done by them now when they receive 'starred question from the Parliament ? As I brought out earlier the bureaucracy should me made to think as to "WHY NOT " instead of "WHY " give the information.

 

The Law College can do better things for the RTI Act instead of wasting their efforts in the guise of imparting training. Of cource, if the intention is to make a quick buck, I have no comments.

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sidmis

The Law College can do better things for the RTI Act instead of wasting their efforts in the guise of imparting training. Of cource, if the intention is to make a quick buck, I have no comments.

 

Col Kurup is right.

 

There's absolutely no need for such programs.

 

All these training programs should be squarely aimed at the PIOs/FAAs/SICs/CICs who desperately need Training/ Help/guidance/orientation etc. on how to supply info.

 

A regular visit to RTIindia.org shall make a novice an expert within a month. IMHO:cool:

 

Sidharth

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karira

I think the push is needed.

 

Even amongst the so called educated and middle classes, there is lack of knowledge about RTI and its effectiveness...leave alone its usage.

 

Just a example of my own colony:

 

The roads are in terrible shape since last 16 months and inspite of 7 visits to the concerned PA, there was no response. Finally I filed a RTI application. What happened since then I will recount after the whole episode is over.

But in the colony of 80 residents, ONLY 3 had heard about RTI. No one knew how to draft/apply/submit/etc. Some retired bureaucrats even warned me that I was taking a "confrontationist" path and would face the "consequences" form the "powers that be" (I had to calm them down by promising them that I would get them to see their ACR's and DPC minutes, for academic interest...He He He He LOL...that did the trick !)

 

Please do not go by this forum....because it is devoted only to RTI.

Talk to your domestic help, your auto driver, your dhobi, your barber, your vegetable vendor, your office boy, etc...and you will realise that there is so much more to be done, even amongst the educated.

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sidmis
Talk to your domestic help, your auto driver, your dhobi, your barber, your vegetable vendor, your office boy, etc...and you will realise that there is so much more to be done, even amongst the educated.

 

Yes you have a point there.

 

But what you raised mainly concernes with awareness related issues.

 

People are ignorant about it because they have not been told so by their respective Govts.

 

Whole of Sec 26 of RTI act is there to take care of most of these issues. Basically it's the Govt's job to inform "We THE PEOPLE of INDIA" about the Act and it's usefullness and it's nitty-gritty .

 

An extensive and concerted campaign in line of "Pulse Polio" is what required for this.

 

If the Govt. is shirking away from it's responsibility the it's the duty of the informed citizenry to make the Govt. do it's duty first

 

Seeking information from PA's should be a simple affair. It should not involve such extensive exposure to legal jargons.

And no need to get Diplomas/PHDs to do that.

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colnrkurup

As usual, you are on the dot Mr.Sidharth. What WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA need is 'AWARENESS' and not "TRAINING". No one can train 110 crores cityzen on RTI to make them avail the fruit of RTI. Rather the benefit of RTI should not be deprived to them just for want of training. To-day even a 5 year old rustic child is aware that 'Murder" is a crime. No one train him on that. But somehow or other he is made aware that murder is a crime. Similarly the government should make its cityzen aware that their "Masters" or "Yes Ministers" or "Mai Baaps" are answerable to the information he desire to ask the same way the MPs and MLAs are not denied any information in the Parliament and Legislature.

 

Give the responsibility to all the Councillors , MLAs and MPs , the same way they were given special MLA/MP Funds.

The government waste crores of rupees in advertise through tele-cast the question/answer sessions of the parliaments and Assemblies. What stop them from doing so at least odd hearings of CIC and SICs. In fact certain SICs like SIC, Kerala conduct their hearings "IN CAMERA". I don't think that the government and the PRESS is not aware of it. Has any of our National Media brought this out ?

 

It appears that our government consider that enactment of RTI Act was an accidental mistake and wish to keep it concealed to the extend possible lest lesser number cityzen bother their "Yes Ministers"

 

What efforts on governments part one see tht the cityzen are made aware of the RTI Act ? How many documentaries they display in Cenema theatre or advertisements in media about RTI ? I think even our forum has posting conveying that hardly any effort is made by the government despite Section 26 of the Act ?

 

It is high time for us to ignore the window dressings and pressurise our elected representatives whenever we come across them.

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sajeev

Very true. Nobody 'higher up there' is interested in telling us what the truth is. Even when we go to a doctor, he/she is not interested in telling us frankly what the diagnosis is. They just want to dole out some medicines. Questions are unwelcome. Same with the officials at the govt. offices. When I went to submit an RTI application to the Regional Passport Office at Kolkata, the person at the Information Counter even threatened me, asking me what I knew about RTI, as if this was a big crime. This is why we need conscientisation, and education on how to use this big weapon. If some of us who take up this social responsibility of reaching this Act to the common people know well how to use it and what exactly can be done with it, then it will be a service to our neighbourhood. As Karira mentioned earlier, most people with whom I talked about RTI, all educated people, knew that there was an Act like that, but knew almost nothing about what it was and how it could be of use. I only wish I was a little more educated on this, and I am sure I will be able to help more.

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taurus

There is no harm in conducting such a course. No single measure can educate the entire nation. At least some target group will be benefitted.

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The Great

Sidharth is correct-that a regular visitor to this site become an expert. Personally, I am unable to bring my friends to this site, as my friends of my age group do not have the knowledge of Internet, though they are educated.

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sidmis

Prominent RTI Activist Sri Sailesh Gandhi has given clarifications on this issue in Hum Janenge discussion forum. His post is reproduced below.

 

There is small error in the reporting. What was announced was that a certificate course was being started for getting knowledge on RTI. There is a foundation course and an advancded course. This is an attempt by me with the help of KC college to spread RTI. The reporter called this "Become a Certified RTI activist."

 

Love

shailesh

 

---------------------------------

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sagginyou

A brilliant move...

as oscar wild said..u cant stop an idea whose time has come

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taurus

Mr Sailesh Gandhi's clarification just shows how our journalists distort info.

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DineshK

That is called the "communication gap".

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taurus

That is not really 'communication gap'. It is sensational journalism.

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murgie

The government waste crores of rupees in advertise through tele-cast the question/answer sessions of the parliaments and Assemblies. What stop them from doing so at least odd hearings of CIC and SICs. In fact certain SICs like SIC, Kerala conduct their hearings "IN CAMERA". I don't think that the government and the PRESS is not aware of it. Has any of our National Media brought this out ?

 

This is a SPLENDID suggestion. I realize that unlike in some countries the media is not allowed to record, let alone broadcast live, judicial proceedings in India. But given that RTO proceedings count only as "quasi-judicial" shouldn't some journalist push the envelope and seek to cover live at least the occasional RTI hearing, as the Colonel suggests? I think it will be very good for your ratings too!!!

 

"In camera" hearings MUST be a violation of law. Since PAs have brought in an arbitrary number of people into a hearing (RBI brought in 6, including 4 IT techies and 1 lawyer, besides the CPIO) I am sure an appellant is entitled to bring in his moral support as well. From that to having an independent journalist also be present seems only a small step. The Act does NOT prohibit anyone else from being present. Formally recording I suppose will require permission. If a PIO or FAA denies permission that would provide a good news story. Journalist-members reading this site should note that what goes on in a hearing (or fails to happen in a hearing), is far more informative about the state of play, and the true attitude of a PA, than the formal documents and responses. Also, while formal documents of necessity sometimes highlight only an appellant's own needs, questions of principle or of wider public significance will be more easy to see or appreciate by attending a hearing.

 

I'm sure members on this forum will have suggestions for what PAs in particular are likely to provide exciting fare. SEBI will easily top my list of suggestions for RTI hearings to cover. One can use that video then to educate folks about RTI, teach young MBAs about how our PAs behave, how there can be complete lack of correspondence between RTI questions asked and PIO responses.

 

It is high time for at least a few such experiments. We need some journalists who need to build a reputation, and are willing to do some work to earn it. Best,

 

Murgie

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colnrkurup

Such a positive step is possible only when the bureaucracy and their Masters want the RTI Act to survive. Here, the ruling clause does not wish to divulge anything. They will be too happy if the RTI Act is withdrawn. Unfortunately they have good hold on the media. The media does not want to annoy the Masters and jeopardise their own existance. Does the RTI Act get the news value of a Film Actor ? In a country where the Hon'ble CJI find nothing wrong in proclaiming that he is not a public servant and not under the RTI Act, what can we expect ?

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murgie
Regarding in-camera hearings or even video recording, please see posts after post#18 in the following thread:

 

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/4115-right-rebuke-reprimand.html

 

I think this settles the issue. Video-recording would have to be permitted, if someone asked. Now it's a matter of finding journalists who are willing to do a little more than armchair reporting on RTI cases. Best, -Murgie

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bahl_ajay
Hello to all friends,

I am writing here after a long break. In my view all these training and certification programmes should be aimed at educating the PIOs and AAs and other Public Authorities dealing with RTI cases in various Govt Departments.

 

The cost to this effect should be met from the penalty imposed on these officials itself or they be made to pay for on their own.

 

In an instant case I was denied some information regarding the delay in payments made by a Govt. Dept on a very strange pretext which I am quoting here "In terms of para 4 of guidelines for information seekers under RTI Act, 2005 clearly stipulates that - Public Authority under the RTI Act is not supposed to create information; or to interpret information; or to solve the problems raised by the applicants, or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions. Only such information can be had under the Act which already exists with the Public Authority. Information sought is not available in the records as such question is covered under these guidelines

May someone guide the PIO that these are just the guidelines for convenience only and not the RTI Act in itself. and it is up to us how do we interpret these guidelines.

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sidmis
In my view all these training and certification programmes should be aimed at educating the PIOs and AAs and other Public Authorities dealing with RTI cases in various Govt Departments.

 

There's some merit in your argument.

 

But the PIO you have mentioned here appears to be VERY well Trained and very much acquainted with the rules.

 

So He does not need any training per se. Some counselling may be imparted to make him more proactive.

 

Coming on to your Rejected RTI Application, kindly rephrase your application and apply again and this time insist upon File Inspection.

Only dogged perseverance will give you results. Keep on trying. Do not loose heart so easily.

 

Btw is it possible for you to Post/Upload/send your RTI application to the forum.

 

Forum members can point out changes if required.

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sidmis

Two RTI courses in Mumbai law college from this session

As Reported in Yahoo! News on Fri, Jun 13 02:06 AM

 

Mumbai's K C Law College, recognised by the Bar Council of India, will

be the first law institute in India to introduce two courses on Right

to Information.

 

The courses, which will begin this academic session beginning July,

are being offered at two levels - foundation and advanced.

College principal Neelima Chandiramani, who is the brainchild behind

these certificate courses says, the common man should be able to make

good use of RTI and sloppily drafted applications will never yield

information.

 

While the syllabus of the foundation course will comprise history of

the Act, its provisions and case studies, the advanced-level is

designed for citizens who know the basics but need to learn certain

'tricks' such as ways to ask for information when the government or a

department tries to hoodwink a person by giving excuses.

 

We want to train candidates in such a way that if they become

information commissioners, they understand the problem," said

Chandiramani, who took up this project together with RTI activist

Shailesh Gandhi. Gandhi and information commissioner V V Kovlikar will

be taking sessions during the weekend.

 

The classes will run into five sessions, each three hours long and priced at Rs 2,000 for basic and advanced levels.

 

Two RTI courses in Mumbai law college from this session - Yahoo! India News

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  • Similar Content

    • sidmis
      By sidmis
      No keeping away information now
      As Reported by RAGHAV OHRI in Express India
      Posted online: Wednesday, March 05, 2008
       
      Chandigarh, March 4 With implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and increasing awareness about one’s rights, not only litigations pertaining to denial of information under the act have increased in courts, but also the demand for advocates has increased considerably.
      Taking no chance of getting penalised or summoned by courts, in case they are unable to supply the demanded information, government and private institutions are hiring advocates to contest their cases in the courts.
       
      Majority of cases that come to courts are mainly related with information not supplied, incomplete information or information other than the demanded one.
       
      Why engage lawyers?
       
      “The RTI Act has not only been implemented effectively but those who fail to supply information are being severely penalised by The Information Commission and courts. Moreover, since the information demanded concerns particular officials, the latter would never take a chance to attract strictures or penalty from the court, especially when the strictures can affect promotion,” said advocate D K Singhal.
       
      “Courts slap heavy penalties on people who refuse to supply information and do not abide by the act. Since the penalty has to be paid most of the times by defaulters, they prefer advocates to contest cases on their behalf,” said advocate Swaraj Arora. Another crucial factor that makes lawyers’ engagement important is the time and energy that one wants to save by avoiding regular visit to courts.
       
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      The majority of cases that come to courts are those that concern the non-supply of information demanded by individuals. “More than 8 per cent of cases are related to information not supplied by concerned party. After approaching appellate authorities, when people fail to get the required information, they finally approach courts not only to obtain court directions to get the information but also strictures against other party for not supplying it,” said Anil Kamra.
       
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      Giving due importance to the RTI Act, for the first time, a division bench headed by Justice Uma Nath Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, to consider and dispose the pending appeal of an Amritsar resident within a period of four weeks.
       
      The order was passed on October 2 last year. The petitioner, Rajan Verma, had demanded information regarding an alleged embezzlement by Canara Bank officials under the act. However, the information was not supplied and the commissioner kept on delaying in deciding Verma’s appeal.
       
      A handy tool
       
      Besides fighting cases against erring officials who fail to supply information or deny information on one account or the other, the lawyers of the Punjab and Haryana High Court are using the act as an effective tool to get information against government departments and then use it in filing public interest litigations (PIL).
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      The misuse
       
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    • murgie
      By murgie
      Am committed to taking up 3-4 classes on RTI in a middle school civics class in Delhi.
       
      I am writing to seek suggestions. My tentative plan is to cover the following aspects:
       
      (a) a brief history of the Official Secrets Act and RTI; what is a public authority; where to find more information in the Act about rules, time limits, penalties, etc. Examples of questions that have been asked. Successes and failures.
       
      (b) how to draft an RTI request (brief mechanics, with one example)
       
      © common pitfalls arising from how "information" has been defined and interpreted (discussion of section 2(f)) -- with examples, exercises (specific suggestions for this part will be greatly appreciated; I am very limited by my own experience).
       
      (d) strategies public authorities have used (discussion of section 8, plus what we've learnt of PA strategies only slowly on this website)
       
      (e) how to search the CIC website to pick up ideas for a better draft of an RTI request; how to search for parliamentary questions (am sure kids will ask better questions!!). Exercises with mock question-answer sessions to help improve the draft of an RTI question (I want specific ideas for what would be good test RTI question-drafting exercises, to give pre-teens or early teens living in Delhi. My examples so far are not RTI questions but parliamentary questions which I'm sure even a bored teenager can easily improve upon.)
       
      (f) using volunteer websites dedicated to the RTI Act.
       
      From my experience on this website I am convinced that kids teaching adults about RTI is also going to be vitally necessary. They have some of the skills needed, that adults either never had, or have lost.
       
      If you have ideas, comments, suggestions, to help improve this short course on RTI for kids, please post or send me private email. Do note that the intended audience of these sessions will be school kids in a civics class in Delhi. Best,
       
      Murgie

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