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karira

Maharashtra quietly amends its RTI Rules

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karira

On 16 Jan 2012 and 30 Jan 2012, Maharashtra quietly amended the RTI Rules.

 

1. RTI application only 150 words

2. RTI application on one single subject matter

3. During "inspection", applicant only allowed to carry pencil

 

The Gazette notifications are attached to this post.

Notified Maharashtra RTI Rules Amendment Jan 2012.pdf

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Atul Patankar

Copied from email received from Krishnaraj Rao, a leading activist from Mumbai

 

30 March 2012, Mumbai: There has been a startling breach of trust and public confidence by Govt of Maharashtra. Without any public debate, the government has quietly notified an amendment to Maharashtra RTI Rules on 16th January 2012. See Notified Maharashtra RTI Rules Amendment Jan 2012.pdf - File Shared from Box - Free Online File Storage

 

Shockingly, we did not even learn this from any government source such as a public notice in the dailies. Nor was it told to any RTI activist – many of whom are in regular touch with Mantralaya. We were informed by our RTI Union member Advocate Vinod Sampat, who saw this notification in the March edition of a publication he purchased outside City Civil Court. After reading it, we are left no doubt as to the authenticity of the notification and the amendment.

 

THE AMENDMENT SAYS:

 

(i) Request for information must nor ordinarily exceed 150 words

 

(ii) Request for information must relate to one subject matter only. If necessary, separate applications must be made if it relates to more than one.

 

(iii) Public Information Officer (PIO) must allow the person inspecting the documents to take a pencil only. All other writing instruments must be deposited with the PIO.

Notified Maharashtra RTI Rules Amendment Jan 2012.pdf

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dssampath

This is a very bad one. This will spread over to other states. Before that we have to take some steps to stay the said notification.

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namitabh

MAHARASHTRA KILLS RTI ACT - sum and substance of the amendment and final result...

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aslamkhan

Maharashtra is the only state in India. where citizen are paying taxes much higher then any other state of the country. & tax collection is also higher but look at this what citizen gets in return back stabbing by the government of Maharashtra.

 

can we ask U/S 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act 2005 to the Governor of Maharashtra about this decision?

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natarajan.k

Members,

Going to meet leader of opposition and present the point of amendment in RTI act on behalf of all the RTI activists and request him to have a debate in the ongoing assembly in maharashtra. If any members want to join me for the meeting, send me a private message.

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digal
Members,

Going to meet leader of opposition and present the point of amendment in RTI act on behalf of all the RTI activists and request him to have a debate in the ongoing assembly in maharashtra. If any members want to join me for the meeting, send me a private message.

Great!, Pl. do it.

Today they set for 150 words, tomorrow may amend to 150 characters....These demagogues suffocate the very cause of RTI. They amend even without a discussion! What is happening to the elected representatives?

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karira

can we ask U/S 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act 2005 to the Governor of Maharashtra about this decision?

 

 

Governor has nothing to do with this. It is the GAD - the nodal department for RTI in Maharashtra.

You can file a RTI application (under Sec 6(1)) and ask for a inspection of the entire file.

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dr.s.malhotra

Is the Govt / Framing Department not required to put the public on notice that they intend to make so and so amendments and to seek objections and suggestions from the affected public ?

The Notification can be challenged in the High Court if the Govt refuses to take back the notification .

This is deplorable .

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karira

As reported by Ashutosh Shukla in dnaindia.com on 31 March 2012:

Activists see red over Maharashtra govt move to amend RTI rules - Mumbai - DNA

 

Activists see red over Maharashtra govt move to amend RTI rules

 

 

As more and more scams come tumbling out of the closet by the day, courtesy the Right to Information (RTI), the Maharashtra government has made a move to amend RTI rules.

As per a notification, dated January 16, which is floating around on emails, an applicant can ask questions only on a single subject matter and his application cannot exceed 150 words. Besides, during inspection, a person can carry only a pencil along with him.

Say, for instance, you have filed an RTI application with the building proposal department. If a part of the reply involves the building construction department as well, chances are that the authorities may ask you to file a separate RTI application.

RTI activists in the city have dubbed this move an “absolute breach of trust”. The clause of the ‘single subject matter’, in particular, has left them worried. “It was done only to scuttle the RTI Act. They did not even bother to tell us,” , alleged RTI activist Krishnaraj Rao. “Instead of appointing commissioners, the government is more interested in destroying the Act,” said GR Vora, who has started a signature campaign against the move.

 

“Many scams have come out of the closet of the government. This is being done only to hide them,” alleged Bhaskar Prabhu, another RTI activist. VK Sampat, an advocate, also slammed the move.

Nandukmar Jantre, former under-secretary, general administration department, confimed having prepared the notification. “It was cleared by the CM in January,” said Jantre.

Each state is allowed to make rules to ensure the smooth functioning of the RTI Act, 2005.

 

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skmishra1970

It is very sad, any RTI Rule made by AG or PA should not be over and above of main RTI Act 2005 - as ruled by Central Information Commission. One can move to CIC with a complaint in this regard ?

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skmishra1970

One side such amendments may generate more funds for PA in Govt. A/c but another side the people who have tested RTI will file numerious application which will be additional burden on PIO, anyhow first such amendments is not in the interest of general public and secondly for PIO, both should oppose this amendments. Is it possible ?

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karira
It is very sad, any RTI Rule made by AG or PA should not be over and above of main RTI Act 2005 - as ruled by Central Information Commission. One can move to CIC with a complaint in this regard ?

 

These rules have been amended as per powers vested with the State Government under Sec 27 of the RTI Act 2005.

Central information Commission (CIC) has no role to play in this matter.

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Yogi M. P. Singh

Hon'ble members. Why Government of Maharashtra befooling its public that for smooth functioning of act, state government can enact rules. Here this question arises that whether such enactmentment causing generalization of the act or cutting its wings. With this enactment, more powers of PIO to reject the R.T.I. communique is as follows. 1-RTI communique has more than prescribed words. 2-RTI communique has more than one subjects. Whether state government is wreaking vengeance with RTI Act 2005 as its one of the chief ministers of state was exposed through transparency act. Here opposition is playing silent role and indirectly supporting the antipeople stand of state government.

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J.C.Mishra

Ridiculous indeed.

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skmishra1970
These rules have been amended as per powers vested with the State Government under Sec 27 of the RTI Act 2005.

Central information Commission (CIC) has no role to play in this matter.

 

Central Information Commission, New Delhi in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/003545/11147, Appeal No.CIC/SG/A/2010/003545 ruled on 27-01-2011 that :-

 

"Therefore, further exemptions can neither be claimed under the RTI Act nor be provided for in subordinate legislations. In other words, the rules framed by a competent authority cannot go beyond the exemptions provided for in Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. The Supreme Court of India as well as various High Courts have categorically held that that subordinate legislations or rules cannot go beyond the letter of the delegating legislation. The Supreme Court of India in Additional District Magistrate (Rev.), Delhi Administration v. Shri Siri Ram AIR 2000 SC 2143 held as follows:

“It is well recognised principle of interpretation of a statute that conferment of rule making power by an Act does not enable the rule making authority to make rule which travels beyond the scope of the enabling Act or which is inconsistent therewith or repugnant thereto.”

In other words, the Supreme Court of India has held that a rule which is inconsistent or goes beyond the scope of the enabling statute would not be valid. The Supreme Court of India has further observed in Hukam Chand v Union of India AIR 1972 SC 2427 that:

The underlying principle is that unlike Sovereign Legislature which has power to enact laws with retrospective operation, authority vested with the power of making subordinate legislation has to act within the limits of its power and cannot transgress the same. The initial difference between subordinate legislation and the statute laws lies in the fact that a subordinate law making body is bound by the terms of its delegated or derived authority…” In the instant case, the information sought by the Appellant was denied on the basis of Rule 7(vi) of the District Court Rules. Rule 7(vi) provides that the PIO will not give information which relates to a judicial proceeding, or judicial functions or the matters incidental or ancillary thereto. On review of the said Rule, the Commission observed that Rule 7(vi) provides for a much wider exemption than that stipulated under Section 8 of the RTI Act. If Rule 7(vi) is to be implemented, it would defeat the purpose of the RTI Act and reading it as valid would be tantamount to adding exemptions to the RTI Act, which were notenvisaged by the Parliament. Therefore, the exemption contained in Rule 7(vi) of the District Court Rules cannot be invoked to deny information under the RTI Act as it goes beyond the scope of the exemptions provided under Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. Therefore, the Commission holds that the denial of information by the PIO by relying on the exemption contained in Rule 7(vi) of the District Court Rules is devoid of any merit and he is required to furnish the complete information as sought in the RTI application.

It must be noted that no public body is permitted under the RTI Act to take upon itself the role of the legislature and import new exemptions hitherto not provided. The District Court Rules made by the competent authority under the RTI Act appears to bring in exemptions not provided for in the RTI Act and transgress the exemptions envisaged by the Parliament under Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. Since the right to information is a fundamental right of the citizens, any move which constricts it should be avoided. Even Parliament is very wary of the restrictions it can place on the fundamental right of the citizen and hence competent authorities would be well advised to ensure that they do not create any exemptions which the lawmakers did not provide.

 

CIC is disagree with the rules made by CA, it may be disagree with the rules made by AG which are beyond the scope of RTI. We should try.

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digal

Dear skmishra,

Central Information Commission, New Delhi in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/003545/11147, Appeal No.CIC/SG/A/2010/003545 ruled on 27-01-2011 that :-

"Therefore, further exemptions can neither be claimed under the RTI Act nor be provided for in subordinate legislations. In other words, the rules framed by a competent authority cannot go beyond the exemptions provided for in Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. The Supreme Court of India as well as various High Courts have categorically held that that subordinate legislations or rules cannot go beyond the letter of the delegating legislation. ...................it may be disagree with the rules made by AG which are beyond the scope of RTI. We should try.

 

IC SG's view is definitely in the spirit of RTI.

But, he was deciding an appeal against PIO of Office of the District Judge-III,Tis Hazari Court, the PA which comes under jurisdiction of CIC. He was deciding whether the rule framed by the PA is in the spirit of RTI ACT or not.

While seeking information from central Govt./central PSUs one has to go through rules framed by central Govt, the "appropriate Government"

For state Govt./PSUs, one has to go through rule framed by "appropriate Government", the state Govts.

CIC has no role to change or amend the rule.

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skmishra1970

You mean, if the matter relates to State, than CIC can not do anythin but State Commission can do which they will not do actually because they are appointed by that govt.

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mahekovoor

it is really shocking to hear this,at a time when people are expecting further relaxation in rti procedures .

 

hope some of you might have seen a message being circulated among internet fraternities regarding lokpal bill.

 

an anticipated news headline in 2060.....Munna Hazare,grand grand son of Anna Hazare fasting at Jundhar Mandhir for early implementation of lokpal bill.....

 

from the author...if things move like this...people may have to fight again at 2060 for reintroduction of rti act,as one by one various states and central govt may scrap this beautiful act in due course.....

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digal
You mean, if the matter relates to State, than CIC can not do anythin but State Commission can do which they will not do actually because they are appointed by that govt.

Of course not.

Even, in the instant case, SIC can not change the Rule under Maharastra Right to Information circulated by GAD.

PIOs would follow the rules framed as mentioned above & SICs , while deciding Appeals/Complaints, would decide whether the ACT (so rule) has been complied with or not.

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jskeshriya

These people want to discourage RTI activist by amending the law, without any kind of debate or any notice, they just want to kill the RTI act, so that no new scam will come out, as everyday there is new scam coming out in public with the help of RTI law & our great RTI activist who are fearless and are ready to fight till the end.

I salute to all the fearless RTI activist, and if they need our support we are ready to fight with them.

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mehtakishor

Sir/s,

 

In the matter of the recent and unannounced amendments to the RTI act 2006. What is to be done? can these alterations be challenged with a PIL? Are we really helpless against these autocratic leaders? Are we destined to feel frustrated? Have we lost our spines? Well, somebody do something.

 

Kishor Mehta

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natarajan.k

Bureaucrat vies for top post in RTI body after ‘strangling’ act

[h=3]As Indian Administrative Service officer Nandkumar Jantre eyes state info chief’s chair, wary activists say he should not be appointed for blunting rules by restricting words per RTI query[/h][h=4]Yogesh.Naik @timesgroup.com[/h] Asenior bureaucrat, who was accused of trying to throttle rules pertaining to the right to information, is now in the race for the top post in the state information body. And social activists are not too happy about this development.

 

The Indian Administrative Service officer, Nandkumar Jantre, had incurred activists’ wrath by limiting word count of queries to 150 words.

 

The Right to Information act is a potent tool in citizens' hands to acquire information of goings-on in government departments. Such information can stand as evidence in a court of law. The state government, which was the first in the country to introduce this act, clandestinely amended the rules in January this year.

This amendment mandates that an applicant limit questions seeking information to 150 words.

The notification dated January 16 was signed by Jantre who, at that time, held the post of secretary in the state’s general administration department. He said he was not sure whether the file pertaining to amendment of the rule, was sent to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan who heads the general

administration department, or to the state’s top bureaucrat, chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad. While the chief minister did not comment, Gaikwad said he was unaware of any circular issued by Jantre.

 

Jantre, who retired in January, confirmed he has applied for the state information commissioner’s post.

Activists say that putting a cap on word count for an application is a tacit way of armtwisting information seekers. Lawyer Vinod Sampat, an information activist, said the plan to elect Jantre to the top post in the state is aimed at “curtailing the RTI movement”. Sampat said activists were planning to protest the decision. “Jantre’s act [of restricting word count] is against the movement and he should not be appointed to the post.”

 

Another activist, Anil Galgali, echoed the view. “It seems the state is further trying to strangulate the act,” said Galgali, adding that it was this act which had exposed irregularities in the Adarsh housing society scam and alleged corruption by senior Congress politician Kripashankar Singh.

 

“The cost of procuring information will rise with a limit to words per application. It will mean that one will have to file at least four to five applications to seek information which could otherwise have been procured by just one application,” said Galgali.

 

Jantre, however, justified his decision, saying applicants often write never-ending applications, which are

peppered with their comment and criticism. “Officials are not interested in this Ramayan or Mahabharata in applications,” Jantre said. “Queries need to be short. The act is meant to seek information, and officials’ time should not be wasted.”

 

Amid the clamour that he is not a fit candidate for the state nformation commissioner’s post, Jantre said that his application for the top post had nothing to do with what he had done as secretary in the general

administration department. “There is no reason to link the two,” Jantre said, while parrying questions on the flak drawn from activists.

 

 

 

Pc0050500.jpg

 

KEEP IT SHORT: A PLOY TO STONE-WALL?

» Indian Administrative Service officer Nandkumar Jantre (pictured), in his former capacity in the state’s general administration section, issued a notification restricting word count of each Right to Information query to a maximum of 150 words per application. It drew flak from activists who saw it as a move to ‘strangle’ the act. » Now, retired Jantre has applied for the info chief’s post for the

state. This move has irked activists.

 

Source: e-paper Sign-in

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karira

As reported by Amarpita Banerjee in indianexpress.com on 02 April 2012:

‘150 words too few, changes could hurt entire process’ - Indian Express

 

150 words too few, changes could hurt entire process’

 

Those applying for information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act in the state will henceforth have to limit their queries to 150 words, as per an amendment in the Act by the state government in January.Also, as per the amendment, the questions can pertain to only one subject per application. Activists across the city, who were unaware of the change till a few days ago, expressed their unhappiness at the government taking the decision without any discussion with the stakeholders.

This notification has been brought out by the state government’s general administration department. However, the activists allege the decision was taken in an undemocratic way, without inviting suggestions from citizens.As per the notification by secretary to the government, Nandkumar Jantre, “A request in writing for information under Section 6 of the Act shall relate to one subject matter and it shall not ordinarily exceed 150 words. If an applicant wishes to seek information on more than one subject matter, he shall make separate applications.”

Activist Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch said, “Fixing a word limit for RTI applications will hamper the entire process. The step was taken probably because there were complaints about applications reading like essays. However, 150 words is too less. Also, the government took the decision without consulting the public.”

Shivaji Raut, a Satara-based activist, said making such changes would defeat the purpose of the Act. “An amendment like this from a government which calls itself progressive is surprising. None of us knew about these changes. There is a need for the government to take into consideration the views and suggestions of citizens. If they had to limit the words, they could have kept it at a more agreeable number, such as 500. We plan to protest against this amendment.”

While most say the word limit will hamper applicants from adequately expressing their queries, some feel the bigger issue is the way the amendment was brought about. “The amendment in itself is not a big deal. However, the government took this step without any consultation with the stakeholders. Tomorrow, they might show the same attitude towards bigger issues. This is typical bureaucratic behavior and rather than concentrating on issues such as this, the government should make sure that the aim of the Act, that of bringing about transparency in governance, is met,” said Maj Gen (Retd) SCN Jatar.

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samss

The Funniest part of it is that no one in the General Administration Department seems to know about it, or they are just pretending to be oblivious about it. i made around 10 phone calls in that dept and they just kept passing me around (their usual business). The current under secretary's office also pretends ignorance.

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