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jps50

PIL FILED IN GUJARAT HIGH COURT FOR APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF IC AND ICs

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jps50

As per news published in Gujarati papers Senior Citizen Service Trust has filed a writ petition in High Court of Gujarat for immediate appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and 6 additional information commissioners at Gujarat Information Commission. Hon'ble Court has issued notices to Govt of Gujarat and its Chief Secretary and case is fixed in Oct 2011

 

Nearly 7700 appeals and complaints are pending at GIC as of end-May 2011. At present two information commissioners are working without Chief IC who retired on 05-07-2011. Of late all Govts. are listening to only higher judiciary that too with acute reluctance and unexplained bureaucratic delays. Common men has now to resort to judiciary even for administrative decisions. This is a dangerous trend in a democracy.

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mamindla.mahesh

Could you pls mention in which newspaper was it published?

 

Pls include page number as I don't know Gujarati but can translate through someone.

 

Regards.....

 

Mahesh

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jps50

Mostly the case order is as under:

 

 

Print

WPPIL/118/2011 1/1 ORDER

 

 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD

 

WRIT PETITION (PIL) No. 118 of 2011

 

 

=========================================================

SENIOR CITIZEN'S SERVICE TRUST - PETITIONER

Versus

CHIEF SECRETARY - RESPONDENT

=========================================================

Appearance :

PARTY-IN-PERSON for PETITIONER : 1,

GOVERNMENT PLEADER for RESPONDENT : 1,

=========================================================

CORAM :

HONOURABLE THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE MR. A.L.DAVE

and

HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE J.B.PARDIWALA

 

 

Date : 21/09/2011

 

ORAL ORDER

(Per : HONOURABLE THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE MR. A.L.DAVE)

 

Notice returnable on 20.10.2011.

 

 

[A.L.Dave,Actg.CJ.]

 

[ J.B.Pardiwala,J.]

 

 

-patel

 

Top

 

http://gujarathc-casestatus.nic.in/gujarathc/courtdetail.jsp?casedtid=WPPIL/118/2011&qrytypr=LITIGANT-WISE

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dr.s.malhotra

the decision would be keenly awaited .

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Dr Kuntal

@JPS sir thank you so much.

I called today MAGP helpline today,who told me there is only one information comissioner working in GIC right now.But you may be right.

I visited GIC site but its pathetic,not updated at all.

Sir i do have one question,will citizens have to file PIL everytime when there is less staff in GIC?

Cant it be binding to govt that govt should fullfill the vacancy as soon as someone retires.

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jetley

Good to know that in a state of 6 crore citizens, some people finally woke up to act. Since several months, GIC seems to have stopped its practice of uploading decisions on its website. Any news and views on that?

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karira

As reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 13 Oct 2011:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/10334796.cms

 

6 years on, vacancies making RTI ineffective in Gujarat

 

AHMEDABAD: When implemented on October 13, 2005, Right To Information (RTI) Act was envisaged to become an effective tool to make government accountable and transparent and curb corruption. However in Gujarat, several vacancies in the state information commission and slow disposal rate of applications are casting a shadow.

 

Even after six years of implementation of RTI, say activists, the information commission does not have adequate infrastructure and staff. Organizations working for RTI awareness like Anandi, Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), Nagarik Adhikar Kendra, Paryavaran Mitra, have decided to launch a signature and postcard campaign to press the government to fill the vacancies.

 

"There are more than 8,000 cases pending with the commission. Today, if one complaint or appeal is filed, the applicant has to wait for at least two years for first hearing because of the vacant posts," said Pankti Jog of MAGP.

 

There are 10 vacant posts, including those of chief information commissioner and information commissioner. RTI activists said that as per the provisions, powers to constitute the commission and appointment of the information commissioner has been given to committee consisting of chief minster, state leader of opposition and a cabinet minister.

 

UP has 11 chief information commisioners, Karnataka and Jharkhand have seven, but Gujarat has just two. Due to inefficiency of this committee, the number of pending cases in the state information commission has piled up.

 

In Gujarat, RTI applicants are mostly from rural and semi-urban areas, seeking information on issues like MNREGA payments and housing.

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Dr Kuntal

@jetly

They also removed files of RTI act,its ammendment,notifications from GIC site.There are names of officials who already retired.

I think its all intentional by political masters.

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jetley

There needs to be some system for rating the performance of SIC's. Can some kind of rating (say, quarterly) be initiated on this portal? The parameters can be discussed and finalized. If a state figures low on the rating list, or starts slipping, it will give early indication to the citizens of malfunctioning. Moreover, a rating system can mount pressure on low performing SIC's to brush up their system, and provide an incentive to SIC's to compete with each other which can benefit the applicants seeking information. Views of all members invited

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karira
There needs to be some system for rating the performance of SIC's. Can some kind of rating (say, quarterly) be initiated on this portal?

 

Although the portal does not involve itself in any such activity, but members are free to do so.

 

I had tried this in 2010 and you can see the results and the difficulties we faced here:

(Careful....it is a long thread of 11 Pages !)

 

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/46635-need-volunteers-annual-productivity-analysis-sics-cic.html

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dr.s.malhotra
There needs to be some system for rating the performance of SIC's.

dear Jetley Sahib ,

I agree with you . But from where will you get the data ? What about the numerous Information Commissions which have been avoiding putting their decisions [ hence working ] on their websites or do not maintain the website even !!

The idea is good without doubt and you have my vote . For Commissions not up-loading their decisions , you make a special category " Out of bounds to Public " .

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karira

As reported in indianexpress.com on 13 Oct 2011:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/6-yrs-on-gujarats-rti-record-in-poor-shape/859291/0

 

6 yrs on, Gujarat’s RTI record in poor shape

 

As the Right to Information Act turned six years old on Wednesday, Gujarat remains without a Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).

The state has only one Information Commissioner (IC), a staff strength far less than states with smaller populations and more than 8,000 pending cases.

 

A cohort of voluntary organisations such as Anandi, MAGP, Nagarik Adhikar Kendra, CHRI, Paryavaran Mitra and Swati have declared they “will undertake signature and postcard campaigns on a large scale until the government strengthens the commission by giving adequate staff and appointing more commissioners.”

 

“As that of appointment of State Human Rights Commission, Women’s Rights Commission, Child Rights Commission and Lokayukta, the Gujarat government is not keen in appointment of CIC and more ICs in the State Information Commission,” the organisations declared.

 

After former CIC R N Das retired in June, the post has remained vacant. The then three-member team of commissioners has now been reduced to one, with Netra Shenoy having retired last month. Arvind Shukla is currently holding fort alone.

 

This shortage puts Gujarat, with 6.2 crore people, almost at the bottom of the list when ratios of ICs and populations are compared; a state with smaller population like Arunachal Pradesh (10 lakh) has 5 ICs, Karnataka (5.2 crore) and Jharkhand (2.6 crore) have seven ICs each, Punjab (2.4 crore) has 6 ICs.

 

ICs are appointed by a committee comprising Chief Minister Narendra Modi, revenue minister Anandiben Patel and Opposition leader Shaktisinh Gohil. In their meeting on March 11, 2010, the names of eight candidates were considered - Arvind J Shukla, G C Raiger (a retired IPS officer questioned by SIT in connection with the 2002 riots case), M D Meena (also a retired IPS officer), Netra Shinoy, B H Ghodasara, Gurucharan Singh (a retired IAS officer), CJ K Jose and former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar.

 

Of these, Shukla and Shinoy were appointed by consensus among the committee members.

 

In staff strength, 10 out of 44 sanctioned posts remain vacant, and most are appointed through contracts and using outside agencies.

 

As for pendency of cases, 20,220 appeals and complaints have been received by the ICs since the RTI came into being in 2005. While 12,146 cases were disposed of, 8,074 cases remain unresolved - roughly 40 per cent pendency of cases.

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Dr Kuntal

@KARIRA sir,

Isnt there any rule which says that vacant posts of ICs in state information comission should be filled up in certain time limit?I know in gujarat,both time citizens had to file PIL for filling of vacant posts in GIC.

Is it possible to collect all data of vacant posts of information comissions of diff states,nd file a PIL in supreme court to get binding orders on every state govt to fullfill the vacant post as soon as someone from state information comission retires.

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karira
Good to know that in a state of 6 crore citizens, some people finally woke up to act. Since several months, GIC seems to have stopped its practice of uploading decisions on its website. Any news and views on that?

 

I had a discussion on this with Mr A. Shukla and he said that it is not that decisions have not been uploaded but the orders being passed now pertain to a period long ago - hence viewers feel that decisions have not been uploaded.

Can someone from Gujarat please recheck and confirm ?

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karira

Is it possible to collect all data of vacant posts of information comissions of diff states,nd file a PIL in supreme court to get binding orders on every state govt to fullfill the vacant post as soon as someone from state information comission retires.

 

It is certainly possible as long as we make a pucca PIL with all data.

But no good lawyer will work free for this cause.

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Dr Kuntal

@ KARIRA sir. When you talked with MR shukla?

I have called MAGP helpline number 3 days back,thy told me that there is only one information comissioner in GIC.10 posts vacant.Gujrat is pathetic in implementation of RTI act.

In 2010 guj govt was forced to appoint ICs after highcourt orders on PIL filed by late amit jethwa.

This time they will appoint ICs after highcourt orders only i guess,PIL is filed nd hearing is on 20th october i guess.

But JPS sir says there are right now 2-3 ICS in gujarat information commision.

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karira
@ KARIRA sir. When you talked with MR Shukla?

 

I spoke to him on 14 and 15 October 2011, during the 6th Annual CIC Convention in New Delhi

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karira

As reported by Mahesh Trivedi in khaleejtimes.com on 15 Oct 2011:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/international/2011/October/international_October580.xml&section=international&col=

 

Demanding info still a herculean task

 

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supremo L K Advani has been beating his gums over corruption in India during his ongoing ‘yatra’ and, not to be left behind, his rabble-rouser protégé Narendra Modi keeps taking a swipe at the Centre for its ‘greedy leaders’.

But on the sixth anniversary of the Right to Information (RTI) Act on October 13, the excellent legislation meant to be an effective tool to make the government accountable and transparent and curb corruption, remains a blunt and impotent weapon in the BJP-ruled state.

 

The Gujarat Information Commission is headless in the absence of the chief information commissioner and is boasting of having just one information commissioner — a quasi-judicial authority with powers to fine officials for not following the RTI Act. With some 8,000 applicants waiting in the wings for satisfactory replies for the past two years and at least 50 appeals and complaints being filed every day, the ill-staffed commission urgently needs more hands. The commission has received 20,220 appeals and complaints since the RTI Act came into being in 2005 but while 12,146 cases were disposed of, as many as 8,074 — about 40 per cent — cases are still unresolved.

 

Says Pankti Jog, secretary of the Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP—Right to Information Gujarat Inititaive): “Today, if one complaint or appeal is filed, the applicant has to wait for at least two years for first hearing because of the vacant posts”. No wonder, selfless whistleblowers of voluntary organisations working for RTI awareness like MAGP, Anandi, Nagarik Adhikar Kendra, CHRI, Paryavaran Mitra and Swati are all set to launch signature and postcard campaigns on a large scale until the government strengthens the commission by giving adequate staff and appointing more commissioners.

 

The Central Information Commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi, himself recently said that the RTI was under threat due to the increasing number of appeals pending before information commissioners in the country, describing the backlog as ‘slow poison’. According to him, the rising pending second appeals would pose a serious threat to RTI within 10 years and increasing the number of information commissioners to dispose of RTI appeals is one solution as information commissioners can dispose of up to 6,000 appeals in a year.

 

But slow disposal of queries is not the only worry of anti-graft campaigners like Bharatsinh Jhala and Vinod Pandya who have been honoured with awards by the national RTI committee. These information-seekers out to expose officials and politicians with greasy palms also have to constantly live with fear of being threatened, beaten and even killed in Gujarat.

 

Earlier this week, Vadodara-based social activist Rohit Prajapati complained of “harassment and intimidation” by the police for making RTI queries regarding the state government’s environment policies. The police have gate-crashed into his home at least six times in the past two years for ‘routine investigations’.

 

Prajapati had recently filed an RTI application seeking details of the expenditure for Modi’s recent three-day flamboyant fast in Ahmedabad.

 

While Amit Jethwa who ran a green brigade around the Gir lion sanctuary to stop illegal mining was shot dead last year, Bhagu Dewani, a 70-year-old advocate, was brutally beaten up in June last for seeking information on unauthorised constructions in Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.

 

In February, Jabbardan Gadhvi, a 45-year-old social reformer of Kutch, had set himself ablaze in the compound of the revenue officer’s office in Rapar town in kutch after receiving constant threats from government officials and local policemen for seeking information through the RTI Act on irregularities in cattle grazing in the district.

 

Luckily, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has just passed a resolution to ensure the protection of RTI activists, following a slew of attacks on them and murder of RTI activists in recent times. If an attack is reported, the CIC will now examine the pending applications of the victim and order the concerned department(s) to publish the requested information suo moto on their websites as per the provisions of law. The CIC has also provided a format for registering complaints about attacks on RTI activists.

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SNEHAL SHAH

Sir, there is only one IC now.

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Dr Kuntal

We need to gather information of all state information commissioners' appointments since 2005 nd after how much time of some1's retirement particular govt appointed new comissioner.

And how much can be lawyer's cost in such PIL,sorry its irrelavant but i know nothing about lawyers nd their fees.

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mamindla.mahesh

I would like to be informed about the case status as due date 20/10/2011 was over. Is there any progress made upon?

 

Thank you,

 

Regards....

 

Mahesh

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SNEHAL SHAH

I checked today, there is no new information/order available on Guj. High Court website pertaining to this PIL.

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akhilesh yadav

HC orders ad hoc appointment of information officers

Reported by timesofindia.indiatimes.com on August 15,2012

HC orders ad hoc appointment of information officers - The Times of India

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Tuesday directed the state government to fill two vacant posts of information commissioner in the state in two months, on an ad-hoc basis, till the backlog of appeals before the commission is cleared.

 

Acting on a PIL filed by a senior citizen Prafull Desai, a bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala has ordered to appoint the commissioners , so the State Information Commission can deal with the large volume of appeals filed under theRight to Information Act, 2005.

 

The petitioner, Desai, had filed the PIL seeking the high court's direction to the state government to fill up all posts of information commissioners to make quick disposal of appeals possible, and so the information law can be implemented in its true spirit.

 

Desai moved the court after the information commission held a Lok Adalat in Vadodara earlier this year, though there is no provision for such a settlement in information laws.

 

Citing a news report, Desai told the court that information officers pressurized applicants to sign settlement documents. To this, the judges inquired if there is a provision for settlements in the Act. When the reply was in the negative, the court sought an explanation from the government on conducting Lok Adalats to settle appeals under RTI laws.

 

The court ordered for ad hoc appointments at this stage, after the government pleader Prakash Jani submitted that appointment of information commissioner requires constitution of a committee headed by the chief minister. This committee selects and finalizes names and then recommends them to the governor for her confirmation .

 

At present, the commission has three information commissioners including the chief information commissioner , and two posts are vacant.

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lissing perme

It would be better for all members if PIL Petition Copy attached here.

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mamindla.mahesh

We even got the favourable decision in our Andhra Pradesh state. Govt. of AP has responded by selecting 8 people for the posts of Information Commissioner where 4 were rejected by His Excellency Governor of AP. Now, (1+4) is APIC.

 

AP State is better when compared to other information commissioners in India.

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