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  1. As reported by Pranava K Chaudhary, TNN at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 08 April 2009 PATNA: The Bihar government is not aware about the expenditure incurred during CM Nitish Kumar's much publicised month long `Vikas Yatra' in different districts during February. Bihar's cabinet secretariat in a RTI query by TOI said that it would not be possible for the department to furnish expenditure details of the Yatra as it was coordinated efforts of various departments. The RTI took more than two months to furnish this `incomplete' information. TOI submitted its application seeking expenditure details to the CM secretariat during the Yatra on February 4. On February 25, public information officer (PIO), CM secretariat, Nripat Mandal sent a letter to TOI stating that this specific question does not come under the purview of CM secretariat. This application has been forwarded to the department concerned, he said. On April 6, TOI received a reply from the department of cabinet coordination almost after 62 days. As is evident from the RTI reply given by PIO, cabinet coordination department, Phuleshwar Paswan, the information hardly gives any insight into the expenditure incurred on the Yatra. Incidentally, giving incomplete, misleading or vague information is tantamount to denial of information to the applicant attracting penalty under RTI Act 2005 Section 20 (1). TOI, however, is going by the rules and has filed an application with the appellate authority of the cabinet coordination department expecting a reply which would really throw some light on the expenditure front of the much publicised Yatra. According to information given by Paswan, the services of department of disaster management, Central Jail, Buxar and tents and shamiana available in police stations were utilised for accommodation during the Yatra. The resources available in the department of forest and environment were used for the fencing of the entire premises during the stay in the remote areas. Similarly, the services of the Bihar State Electricity Board for power supply and public health and engineering department for cleanliness were availed during the Yatra. The food during the Yatra was arranged by the canteen of Bihar secretariat at a subsidised rate. The Yatra was organized at the minimum cost and with the available resources in various departments. The RTI reply to the TOI query said it would contact officials concerned posted in districts to know the expenditure details. Interestingly, the matter related to the expenditure details of the Yatra had come up in the recently concluded budget session of the Bihar Legislative Council. The government could not give details of expenditure while replying to a question Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Patna/Govt-gives-incomplete-info-on-Vikas-Yatra-sought-under-RTI/articleshow/4371746.cms
  2. Two officials fined for RTI Act violation as reported in Times of India, 19 Sep 2008, TNN PATNA: The State Information Commission on Thursday slapped hefty fines on two government officials for violation of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Those fined are the child development project officer (CDPO) of Alauli block in Khagaria district and additional collector of Lakhisarai district. Both the officials will have to cough up fines to the tune of Rs 25,000 each. The commission in its order has directed that the fine be realised from the salary of the said officials. The CDPO failed to provide information to one Navin Kumar Bharati, and the Lakhisarai official failed to respond to the application of one Shyam Kishore Singh who had sought certain information under RTI. Two officials fined for RTI Act violation-Patna-Cities-The Times of India
  3. As reported by Dipak Mishra, TNN at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 16 March 2009 PATNA: The money spent from police modernisation plan fund sanctioned in 2001-02 has left the Bihar police with a blind horse. Each of the 19 horses, including the blind one, were purchased at a cost of Rs 1.14 lakh each in 2008. Repeated letters by the police headquarters asking the supplier, Jai Govind Stud & Agriculture Farm, Jaipur, to replace the visually impaired horse did not have the desired result. "The entire process of purchasing horses for Mounted Military Police (MMP) of the state leaves much to be desired," remarked a senior police officer of the police headquarters. An IG rank official, A K Seth, who was initially a member of the purchase committee, but was removed later, said that he had written a letter to the police headquarters registering his objections to the manner the horses were purchased. "I do not know what happened after that," he remarked. However, the documents procured under RTI points to the inordinate delay and red tapism in purchase of horses. Over Rs 57 lakh was sanctioned for the purchase of 73 horses for the MMP, Ara, and tender were invited in 2006. Till last year, only 19 horses could be procured by the state, including the one that is blind. When the amount was sanctioned, the price quoted for a horse was just Rs 80,000. But the horses, which were purchased, were priced at over Rs 1.14 lakh each. The Jaipur supplier was given the order to supply 50 horses for the Bihar MMP. It could supply just 19 as members of the purchase committee found other horses unfit to serve the police force. Strangely, an IG rank police officer pointed out that one of the purchased horse was visually impaired and could not be treated in Patna and the vets had suggested that it should be sent to Chennai for treatment. Later, another report of the vets of Patna Veterinary College declared that the same horse could be treated, but it would takes months. The purchase committee was incidentally headed by the then ADG (vigilance) Safi Alam. Alam, in a written letter to the then DGP, Ashsih Ranjan Sinha, complained about Seth and dubbed his role in the purchase as `negative and negligible'. Seth was replaced by A C Verma. However, the controversy created over the purchase is yet to die down. There have been reports of the purchased horses being `over-aged' and principal secretary, home, Afzal Amanullah sought a report on it. However, the controversy appears to have put a stop to the move of purchasing more horses. Incidentally, the MMP comes handy during election period for patrolling in inaccessible riverine areas Source: Controversy over purchase of horses for MMP yet to cease-Patna-Cities-The Times of India
  4. Atul Patankar

    RTI Reveals State Govt's hollow promises

    As reported by Anoop Mishra at jaibihar.com on 13 March 2009 PATNA — Despite the announcement by the State government and even after lapse of three years, the health department could not form a single “Rogi Kalyan Samiti” in any government hospital. The fact came to light when an activist of Right to Information Manch sought information about it. Manch convener Praveen Amanullah said that the government had resolved in March 2006 that the committee will be formed at each health centre, referral hospitals and medical colleges for taking care of patients, their line of treatment, cleanliness and maintain functioning of the hospitals. It had also been decided that at least five citizens will also be nominated to each committee and each committee would be registered. When the petitioner sought information from the IG (registration) regarding the registered committees, she was informed that no such committee had ever been registered for any medical college hospital or health care centre. It clearly indicated that no steps has so far been taken to form the Rogi Kalyan Samiti and to nominate citizens to that committee. Source: RTI reveals state govt’s hollow promises | Bihar News | Jai Bihar
  5. ganpat1956

    No right to information

    Article by Amitabh Srivastava in "India Today" Bihar has always inspired many a Bollywood script-writers penning a few blockbusters. Even today, for someone looking for a contemporary script with a hard-nosed babu playing the pugnacious protagonist who preys on gullible information seekers, the state may still serve as a storehouse of real-life takeoff ideas. Sample this: In February, social activist Shiv Prakash Rai, 43, had to spend 29 days in judicial custody when Buxar District Magistrate Vishnudev Prasad got an FIR lodged against him, claiming that "Rai demanded Rs 25,000 as monthly extortion money" from him. According to Rai, a frail character who looks nowhere close to the mighty status he needs to extort from a district magistrate in Bihar, he was summoned by Prasad in relation to his applications seeking information on welfare schemes under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. "The officer got angry when I refused to give it in writing that I had received the information I had asked for," Rai told India Today. Rai, who was sent to jail on February 1, was released only after the police discovered "there was no evidence of an extortion demand". While Prasad has since then been transferred from Buxar, the state Information Commission has ordered a probe. "We have issued a notice to all concerned parties. We will do whatever is required to ensure smooth flow of information," says P.N. Narayanan, state information commissioner. Rai's, however, is not a solitary story in Bihar, which has earned the sobriquet of being a frontline state in implementation of the RTI Act. "Perception is not always akin to the ground reality," says Parveen Amanullah, coordinator of NGO Bihar Right to Information Manch (BRIM). In June 2007, when she sought the distribution details of medicines from the Patna Medical College and Hospital under the RTI Act, Amanullah was asked to cough up Rs 5 lakh as charges for photocopying 2.5 lakh pages of documents. Only on the commission's intervention was she allowed to see the hospital's medicine distribution system at work. Asking uncomfortable questions indeed has been tumultuous for a few others too. Take the case of 30-year-old Virendra Kumar Shah, a handicapped youth of Pir Maker village of Saran district, who had to face murder charges when he sought information under the Act about the November 2006 appointment of Panchayat teachers. "I was an unsuccessful applicant, so I sought details of the appointments," he says. Incidentally, the state Information Commission has received almost 7,500 complaints against erring officials and agencies. "Despite substantial resistance betrayed by sundry bureaucrats, Bihar is still one of the best states in terms of RTI implementation. But, we report to the Government whenever we come across any aberration, besides, acting on our own," says Narayanan. So far, the Commission has slapped fines against erring officials in more than 165 cases. Some officials, however, cite procedural troubles. "Record keeping has been manual in the state, because of which information older than a decade is just not available," says Vipin Kumar Sinha, general secretary of Bihar Administrative Service Association. Nevertheless, Bihar Chief Secretary R.J.M. Pillai says, "The implementation of RTI Act in Bihar has been satisfactory." Deputy IG of police, Muzaffarpur, Arvind Pandey admits to having seen a local CPI(M) leader Vidhyasagar falsely implicated in several police cases after he sought details about implementation of certain government schemes. Worse still, Vidhyasagar's applications have failed to yield desired results, so far. Indeed, the Commission has its task cut out. India Today - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.
  6. As reported by Sanjeev Kumar Verma, TNN at the Times of India, Patna on 19 February, 2009 PATNA: It is official now. The Bihar government has violated Rule 9(7) of IAS (Pay) Rules in promoting six IAS officer to chief secretary (CS) rank in addition to the existing five in the same rank. The Centre has termed this act a clear-cut violation of the said rules. Its stand on this controversial matter became clear when a Patna resident, C M Kumar, filed an application with the department of personnel and training under Right to Information (RTI) Act, seeking information whether the relevant rules were adhered to while promoting so many officers to the senior most rank. The promotions were effected on December 20 last year and at that time the state could have only six (three cadre and three ex-cadre) officers in the CS rank. Subsequently, the cadre post was increased to four by the Centre with effect from December 30, 2008. But even this increase may not be enough to justify the presence of 11 officers in CS rank, as the state can now have just eight officers (four cadre and four ex-cadre) in the CS rank. In its reply, the Centre said that its prior approval was not taken by the Bihar government before promoting more officers to the CS rank. This, despite the fact, that IAS (Pay) Rules specifically says that the Centre's prior approval is a must if the upper limit of number of officers in the payscale of Rs 80,000 given to CS rank officers, is crossed. Incidentally, Kumar had also filed a similar application with the public information officer (PIO) of Bihar government's department of personnel and administrative reforms, but failed to get the required information within the stipulated time. "Instead of waiting for the state government's reply, I have decided to seek legal opinion on the basis of information provided by the Centre before taking the next step," Kumar told TOI on Wednesday. The Centre's stand notwithstanding, the state government appears confident that its decision would be upheld. "Many junior officers of the same batch at the Centre were promoted to Rs 80,000 payscale whereas the senior ones from Bihar already empanelled as secretary, Government of India, were not given the same scale. "With no option left, we too promoted these officials as they come from All India services and the scale, which they are entitled to, cannot be withheld only on the ground that they are serving in a particular state," said a senior official of the department of personnel and administrative reforms. The official said, this and other relevant points would be put up by the state government before the authorities concerned at an appropriate time. Source: Promotion of IAS officers: Centre says state govt violated rules-Patna-Cities-The Times of India
  7. ganpat1956

    Simply dial up for RTI

    NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 22: Using your right to information could not get easier than this. Soon, Bihar will be the first and only state in the country where, instead of writing and submitting your RTI application on paper, you can ask your queries orally via phone as well as receive the information the same way. This facility assumes significance given the low literacy levels in the state helping the citizen bypass the need of drafting questions, filling oput the form and submitting it to the department. Once implemented, anybody seeking information under the RTI Act in Bihar can call on a specific phone number — which will be a routed to a call centre — from anywhere in the country and orally ask for the information she wants. The call will be answered by an executive trained in the use of RTI, who will draft and type the questions and send it to the department and public information officer (PIO) concerned. The information, once ready, will be sent by the PIO directly to the caller. In addition, it can also be delivered to the caller via phone. “We are working on the technical details. I have assigned some officers for the project. Once the details are worked out we will be able to tell when the facility will be ready,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told The Indian Express. Nitish, the prime mover of the project, is said to have been impressed with the idea when it was first proposed to him last month and immediately gave directions for its implementation. Language will not be a barrier in this new system. “The call center will be equipped to take calls in English, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Maithili and all other dialects spoken in Bihar,” Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister Chanchal Kumar said. “The project will be an extension of the telephonic public redressal system that is already in place. It will involve the department of Personnel, National Informatics Centre and the telecom department who are jointly working on it,” he added. To implement this system the state government will require to make a few amendments to the RTI Rules. While the call center will have to be declared an assistant public information officer (APIO), acceptance of fee on phone will have to be included in the rules as an accepted mode of fee payment. The government will take assistance from Delhi-based NGO Parivartan. “This facility will take RTI to the illiterate masses in rural areas. Besides, RTI applications can be filed in a few minutes as against a few days it takes today,” said Parivartan founder Arvind Kejriwal. “One of the main problems that people are facing at present is not knowing which department to approach for which kind of issue. That problem will now be taken care of,” said Kejriwal. RTI on the phone • A dedicated phone number called the RTI Application Number routed to a call centre in Patna. • You may call this number for a fee of Rs 10 (the application fee) plus call charges for the duration of the call. • Give your name, address and the information you want • Phone conversation will be recorded and details typed into the computer which then is your application. • Call centre forwards the application to the relevant authority, sends a copy to you. (Source: The Indian Express, Dec.23,2006)
  8. Atul Patankar

    Chakia : Official fined under RTI Act

    As reported by Ajit Kumar at jaibihar.com on January 4, 2009. Motihari (East Champaran) : The State information commissioner PN Narayanan has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 against circle officer of Chakia for not providing information to an applicant, Rameshwar Sah, seeking information under the provision of Right to Information Act. The fine has been imposed against the official with effect from August 26, 2008 to December 11, 2008. The commissioner imposed the fine acting on the complaint (No. 9720/08-09) filed by Rameshwar Sah against the public information officer. The matter will come up for the hearing again on March 20, 2009. According to sources, more than 200 government officials have been fined in the last one year by the BSIC for their failure to take a serious note of applications filed by the people and provide information to them. The commission, entrusted with the task to streamline the Right to Information (RTI) Act, has imposed a fine of about Rs 9 lakh on such officials. Bihar is a shining example to other states as it became the first state to introduce a helpline service for RTI applicants. Source : Chakia : Official fined under RTI Act | Jai Bihar
  9. BPSC asked to give break-up of marks as reported in The Hindu, Friday, Oct 31, 2008 Patna: In an order which could be handy for the students to assess themselves, the Patna High Court has upheld the order of the State Information Commission (SIC) directing the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) to disclose question-wise break-up of marks obtained by them. A single bench of Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi has dismissed the petition filed by BPSC challenging the order of SIC directing it to provide the detailed marks to the examinees. Dismissing the petition, Justice Tripathi on Thursday said that information and knowledge are critical for realising human aspiration. Only a knowledgeable society can assert its fundamental rights and demand quality life. The court said that the Right to Information Act was meant to facilitate transparency in every sphere of life. The Act has been put into effect with the objective of open and a participative government which shall fulfil the needs of the people as envisaged under the Constitution of India, Justice Tripathi observed in the recent judgement. The court did not find any fault in SIC’s direction to the BPSC to provide question-wise marks to the examinees of 46th Combined Competitive Examination. The court has some difficulty in accepting the stand of the petitioner (BPSC) that they are not duty bound to furnish the information demanded by respondent no. 3 (the examinee), he stated. The bench observed that the State Information Commission has not transgressed its power in directing the petitioner (BPSC) to furnish the information to the examinee. –PTI The Hindu : National : BPSC asked to give break-up of marks
  10. 262 officials booked under RTI Act in Bihar as reported by Amarnath Tewary | Patna Daily Pioneer When the Bihar Government set up State Information Commission to provide information to seekers under RTI Act through Jankari on telephone a year ago, it was first of its kind in the country, prompting other States to emulate it. Again, another achievement: 262 Government officials were punished in a year for not supplying information, willingly or unwillingly, to RTI applicants. In recent times several reports have come up when Government officials had demanded huge sums of money up to Rs 74 lakh in the name of miscellaneous charges from RTI applicants. The State Information Commission took notice of such cases and others before cracking the whip against the erring officials. While addressing a seminar on Sunday, Secretary of State Information Commission SK Mishra said in the last one year altogether 262 officials have been charged under RTI Act. “Besides, during the last three years, altogether 12,000 cases were brought to the notice of the commission and around 1.35 lakh people sought various kinds of information from different departments,” he said. “The RTI Act has become a potent tool in the hands of the common people and more and more are using it for their purpose,” said Mishra. The given information even surprised a team of young researchers from the US and China who had visited the State recently. The visiting team wondered why so many Government officials from top to bottom were punished for not providing the required information within stipulated time. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had launched the Jankari scheme, through which one can get information by making a phone call. “This system has worked wonders and the Government has been taking action against those officials who were found guilty of not providing the required information on one pretext or other,” said Nitish Kumar. “There should be transparency in the functioning of the Government and everyone has the right to know what he wants to know,” he said. The Pioneer > Online Edition
  11. sidmis

    JN Bhatt is new Bihar CIC

    JN Bhatt is new Bihar CIC Patna: Retired Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, JN Bhatt, has been appointed as the new State Chief Information Commissioner of Bihar. He will replace Shashank Kumar Singh. A committee, constituted as per section 15 (3) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, consisting of the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy CM Shushil Modi and Leader of opposition in Legislative Assembly Rabri Devi has approved the decision. At present, the State Information Commission has two State Information Commissioners-Shakil Ahmed and PN Narayan, both are retired Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers. Many RTI activists believe that the appointment of retired bureaucrats or judges to the post of Chief or Information Commissioners go against the spirit of the RTI Act itself. This legislation was conceived in view of the growing tendencies of secrecy and confidentiality of the establishment. This legislation was aimed at coming down heavily on the public authorities by making a provision in the Act about proactive disclosures. In fact, Section 4 of the RTI Act has made it mandatory on the part of all the public authorities to disclose within 120 days after the notification of the legislation, all relevant information through proactive disclosure. Bihar Today: J N Bhatt is new Bihar CIC
  12. Executive engineer, director fined Rs 25K each 23 Sep 2008, 0354 hrs IST,TNN An executive engineer of Bhagalpur will have to cough up a fine of Rs 25,000 for violation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The fine amount would be deducted from his salary in four equal instalments. Issuing an order to this effect on Monday, the State Information Commission (SIC) found the engineer guilty of not responding to the application of one Dr Amit Kumar who had sought certain information under RTI. SIC fixed December 15 as the next date of hearing and directed the erring official to be present with an explanation. In yet another order, SIC slapped a fine of the same amount on an assistant director of Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa. In this case, the applicant was one Ranju Kumari. While the case would again be taken up for hearing on December 15, the fine would be deducted from the university official’s salary in four equal instalments. Executive engineer, director fined Rs 25K each-Patna-Cities-The Times of India
  13. Two youths carry out last rites of 'corruption' as reported in Calcutta News.Net Saturday 20th September, 2008 (IANS) Two young men have carried out the last rites for the dead in Bihar, not for their ancestors but for corruption, hoping to bury the practice once and for all. The activity was aimed at sending a message of no corruption. Shiv Shankar, aged 20, offered pindadan, the last rite according to Hindu religious rituals, seeking salvation for the dead from the cycle of rebirth. 'We have decided to send messages to corrupt people by offering pindadan. We were supported by all the activists of Jawab,' he said Friday after the ritual. He is associated with Gaya-based NGO Jawab, working to create awareness about the use of Right to Information for fighting corruption. The activists of Jawab and several local people raised slogans against corruption and distributed pamphlets among pilgrims to encourage them to take on corruption. The activity was witnessed by dozens of local people as well as hundreds of pilgrims. Two youths carry out last rites of 'corruption'
  14. Bihar's Jankari service sets a precedent as reported in news.indiainfo.com Sunday, September 14, 2008 17:02 [iST]Patna:Bihar has shown the way in sharing information with people on the functioning of the government under the Right to Information Act at the press of a phone button. The Jankari (information) service, launched by the Bihar Information Commission last year, has not only set a precedent among states some of which have been in touch with the Bihar government for starting a similar service, but also earned accolades by the World Bank. The service, inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on January 29,2007,is aimed at providing information to a person on government functioning except for those having security implications. Till the end of July, this year information had been provided to 13,726 people under the service. Recently a World Bank team of Dr Youngmei Zhou, attached with Institutional Development - South Asia, and Vivek Hansraj Maru, associated with the Counsel Justice Reform Practice Group held a detailed discussion with Chief Information Commissioner Justice (Retd) Shashank Kumar Singh, and P N Narayanan, Information Commissioner on the running of the service. The team praised the Commission for its endeavour. Source : PTI Bihar's Jankari service sets a precedent
  15. As reported in The Times of India 5 Bihar officials fined under RTI PATNA: As many as five officers of the Bihar government have been fined by the State Information Commission for their failure to provide information to petitioners under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Those fined by the Commission are the Civil Surgeon of Kaimur, Public Information Officer of Human Resources department and Block Development Officers (BDOs) of Baunsi in Banka district, Manihari in Katihar district and of Naubatpur in rural Patna. A commission press release issued on Friday night said that Kaimur Civil Surgeon Uchit Narain Mandal has been asked by the Commission to pay a fine of Rs 250 per day with upper limit of fine being Rs 25,000. The commission has found Mandal guilty of denying information to one Laxmi Singh under the RTI act and directed Mandal to provide relevant information to the petitioner latest by February 20 and appear in person before the commission on February 26. The fine amount fixed by the commission in case of HRD PIO was Rs 18,500 and he had been directed to furnish the information to the petitioner Nasir Haidi latest by February 15 and had been asked to appear in Person on February 18, the next date hearing of case fixed by the commission. The three BDOs have been slapped a fine of Rs 9,750 (Manihari), Rs 6,750 (Baunsi) and Rs 6,000 of Naubatpur block. 5 Bihar officials fined under RTI-Patna-Cities-The Times of India
  16. karira

    Unrest in Besu, too

    As reported by Staff Reporter in telegraphindia.com on 24 July 2008: The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Metro | Unrest in Besu, too Unrest in Besu, too Teachers of Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu) have refused to hand over mid-semester answer scripts to anyone other than the governor and demanded that the new academic session, delayed by over a fortnight, be started immediately. The Besu Teachers’ Association, which organised a protest on Wednesday for the delay in announcing end-semester results and starting classes, said the dispute over mid-semester answer scripts was created by the authorities. “Not once in the 150 years that this institute has been in existence have mid-semester answer scripts been submitted to the vice-chancellor. These are internal assessments. The vice-chancellor is asking for these only to victimise the students,” said Manas Hira, the secretary of the association. He said the faculty had given the university office all the end-semester answer scripts and that the results should have been declared by now. The new academic session was supposed to start on July 7. Mid-semester examinations were held when students were protesting against alleged atrocities by police and activists of the Students’ Federation of India. Most examinees submitted blank answer scripts in protest against those incidents. Many wrote about the turmoil on the campus and said they were unable to take the test in the right frame of mind. Registrar Biman Bandopadhyay blamed the faculty for the delay in announcing the results. “All answer scripts should be with the controller of exams in accordance with the Right to Information Act. Who is going to be the custodian of the answer papers if not the university administration?” The teachers said they were ready to hand over the scripts to Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who is the chancellor. The teachers’ association has already sought an appointment with the governor. “If need be, we will submit the answer scripts to the chancellor on the understanding that they will be used for academic purposes and for upholding the law of the land.” Bandopadhyay said the teachers would be answerable if final-year students recruited by companies lost their jobs. “Not only is the academic schedule slipping, many of the final-year students who have been recruited are unable to join work because they need to submit their marksheets. Their future is in jeopardy.” The vice-chancellor was unavailable for comment.
  17. karira

    No right to information

    As reported by Amitabh Srivastava on indiatoday.digitaltoday.in on 24 July 2008: India Today - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia No right to information Bihar has always inspired many a Bollywood script-writers penning a few blockbusters. Even today, for someone looking for a contemporary script with a hard-nosed babu playing the pugnacious protagonist who preys on gullible information seekers, the state may still serve as a storehouse of real-life takeoff ideas. Sample this: In February, social activist Shiv Prakash Rai, 43, had to spend 29 days in judicial custody when Buxar District Magistrate Vishnudev Prasad got an FIR lodged against him, claiming that "Rai demanded Rs 25,000 as monthly extortion money" from him. According to Rai, a frail character who looks nowhere close to the mighty status he needs to extort from a district magistrate in Bihar, he was summoned by Prasad in relation to his applications seeking information on welfare schemes under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. "The officer got angry when I refused to give it in writing that I had received the information I had asked for," Rai told India Today. Rai, who was sent to jail on February 1, was released only after the police discovered "there was no evidence of an extortion demand". While Prasad has since then been transferred from Buxar, the state Information Commission has ordered a probe. "We have issued a notice to all concerned parties. We will do whatever is required to ensure smooth flow of information," says P.N. Narayanan, state information commissioner. People filing for information in Patna Rai's, however, is not a solitary story in Bihar, which has earned the sobriquet of being a frontline state in implementation of the RTI Act. "Perception is not always akin to the ground reality," says Parveen Amanullah, coordinator of NGO Bihar Right to Information Manch (BRIM). In June 2007, when she sought the distribution details of medicines from the Patna Medical College and Hospital under the RTI Act, Amanullah was asked to cough up Rs 5 lakh as charges for photocopying 2.5 lakh pages of documents. Only on the commission's intervention was she allowed to see the hospital's medicine distribution system at work. Asking uncomfortable questions indeed has been tumultuous for a few others too. Take the case of 30-year-old Virendra Kumar Shah, a handicapped youth of Pir Maker village of Saran district, who had to face murder charges when he sought information under the Act about the November 2006 appointment of Panchayat teachers. "I was an unsuccessful applicant, so I sought details of the appointments," he says. Incidentally, the state Information Commission has received almost 7,500 complaints against erring officials and agencies. Parveen Amanullah "Despite substantial resistance betrayed by sundry bureaucrats, Bihar is still one of the best states in terms of RTI implementation. But, we report to the Government whenever we come across any aberration, besides, acting on our own," says Narayanan. So far, the Commission has slapped fines against erring officials in more than 165 cases. Some officials, however, cite procedural troubles. "Record keeping has been manual in the state, because of which information older than a decade is just not available," says Vipin Kumar Sinha, general secretary of Bihar Administrative Service Association. Nevertheless, Bihar Chief Secretary R.J.M. Pillai says, "The implementation of RTI Act in Bihar has been satisfactory." Deputy IG of police, Muzaffarpur, Arvind Pandey admits to having seen a local CPI(M) leader Vidhyasagar falsely implicated in several police cases after he sought details about implementation of certain government schemes. Worse still, Vidhyasagar's applications have failed to yield desired results, so far. Indeed, the Commission has its task cut out.
  18. 2 officials fined under RTI Act AS Reported in Times of India, 21 Jun 2008, 0435 hrs IST,TNN PATNA: The State Information Commission on Friday slapped a fine of Rs 250 per day effective from January 25 this year with the upper limit being Rs 25,000 on the block development officer (BDO) of Marona block in Supaul district. This would be in addition to the fine of Rs 6,000 slapped earlier on the erring BDO, the commission observed. The BDO had failed to respond to the application of one Kartik Kamat, who had sought certain information from the official under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The commission fixed July 15 as the next date of hearing and directed the erring official to be present before it that day. In a separate case of a similar nature, the commission slapped Rs 25,000 on the panchayat secretary of Basopatti panchayat of Madhubani district. One Ramuddar Paswan was the applicant in this case. The case would be taken up for hearing on July 15. 2 officials fined under RTI Act-Patna-Cities-The Times of India
  19. Govt official fined under RTI Act AS reported in Times of India 20 Jun 2008, 0416 hrs IST,TNN PATNA: State Information Commission on Thursday slapped fine on a government official for his non-adherence to provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act. The district superintendent of education of Saran district would have to cough up a fine of Rs 25,000 for not providing information to one Ram Kishore Tiwari. The commission directed the erring official to provide relevant information to the applicant by July 25 and fixed August 7 as the next date of hearing of the case. In another case, the commission directed the managing director of the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) to send public information officials of the authority for a special training on RTI Act. The commission also observed that it was necessary so that the PIO did not face any problem while giving information to applicants under RTI Act. Govt official fined under RTI Act-Patna-Cities-The Times of India
  20. sidmis

    The UPA'S Ten Commandments

    The UPA'S Ten Commandments by Rup Narayan Das in Rediff The UPA'S Ten Commandments
  21. Officer penalised for not furnishing information under RTI Act AS Reported in the Times of India on 12 Apr 2008 PATNA: A public information officer of Bihar's Munger district has been penalised for not furnishing certain details to a former Bihar minister under the RTI Act. Chief Information Commissioner Justice S K Singh (retd) imposed a fine of Rs 20,750 on executive-cum-arms magistrate for not providing information to Bihar's former labour minister and RJD leader Upendra Verma, Commission sources said. Verma had, on January 21, 2007, sought from the officer information regarding rules to keep arms. After hearing the petition on Friday, the justice found the officer guilty of "willfully" denying information to the petitioner despite the commission's order. Justice Singh has fixed June 26 as the next date of hearing and directed the Munger district magistrate, sub-divisional officer and the arms magistrate to appear in person at the commission office during the hearing of the case, the sources said. When contacted, Verma said that he was satisfied with the commission's action. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Patna_officer_fined_for_defying_RTI/articleshow/2947528.cms
  22. Bihar is one of the first states to accept right to information applications on phone. The objective was to ensure transparency and to expand its reach to villages, where the literacy rate is low. But the real picture is different. BIHAR GOVERNMENT established the ’Jankari’ call centre on 29 January 2007 under the guidance of Ramon Magsaysay Award winning social activist, Arvind Kejriwal. Though it was not working in all the districts, but it was working well in the state capital. Vibhav of Parivartan, a social organisation, was monitoring the functioning of the call centre. Soon after he left, the call centre adopted a laidback attitude. It is a user friendly ICT (Information and Communications Technology) based facilitation centre to help citizens of Bihar in getting governance related information from public information officers (PIOs) under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) within stipulated time frame. But people are facing hurdles in framing applications with this service. Activists complain that the phone lines are often jammed, giving mental tension to the caller. According to some activists, the person framing the questions of the applicant is himself not much aware about the RTI Act. Therefore, the applications are often weak and thereby fail to trap the corrupt bureaucrats. It is also seen in some cases that the questions are not framed according to the desire of the applicant. This results in wrong interpretation of the information furnished by the applicant. Use of ICT tools have been widely appreciated by the media and the people because of its user friendly format. It would be very useful for the rural people, who can get information without having to visit the office. But people are not able to use this facility, as it is not working in the villages as well as in the cities. The sources say that Bihar has received nearly 1,700 telephonic applications on its number 155311 from the time it was established. Each call costs Rs 10 as fee and a copy of the application is sent to the applicant through courier. "Nobody is picking up the phone, I wonder if the call centre still exists," says Sarfaraz, a Patna based social activist working on RTI. He further added that he tried to contact the call centre a number of times in the first week of October, but nobody picked up the phone even once. Recently, activists of different districts tried the number of the call centre, but the call was dropped each time. This shows technical errors, which are yet to be fixed. However, any organisation can replicate the project of ‘Jankari’. Any private group can adopt this concept and it does not require any intervening government department. But the private organisation will have to enter into an agreement with the Government so that the necessary fees for filing of application under RTI Act could be deposited with the government treasury. 24 October 2007 Faroghe Azzam Technology fails to provide information under RTI in Bihar
  23. Bangalore: Karnataka would do well to follow the Bihar example and make it possible for citizens to file Right to Information (RTI) applications over the telephone, said Aravind Kejriwal, Magsaysay Award-winner and founder of the Delhi-based NGO Parivartan. Delivering the keynote address at a public awareness programme on the RTI conducted by the Karnataka State Chartered Accountants Association, Bangalore University and Doordarshan, the well-known activist said the next step forward for the effective implementation of the RTI Act was simplifying the process of application. Bihar had evolved a system of accepting applications over the phone. Karnataka, being the hub of information technology, could do it easily, he said. It could be done in 10 days and would cost as little as Rs. 1.5 lakh a month, he said. Penalty clause Mr. Kejriwal also emphasised the need to strengthen the functioning of the Information Commission and ensure that it was strict on bureaucrats who refuse to follow the RTI guidelines. The crucial clause of the Act, he pointed out, was the one which said that a penalty would be deducted from the salary of erring officers. Even honest officers tended to evade the responsibility because they are “culturally not oriented to give information to the public”, Mr. Kejriwal said. Citing several examples to illustrate how the RTI had helped a range of people, from a daily wage earner to a software engineer, he called it a radical piece of legislation that ensured that an ordinary citizen no longer felt “helpless” before the system. “It is an opportunity to make a difference in governance,” said Mr. Kejriwal, and urged people to file applications on ongoing schemes in their localities to ensure that the government machinery was accountable and responsible. He also emphasised the role of the Lokayukta in ensuring that action was taken on the information obtained. Recalling the genesis of the legislation, he said it had its roots in the struggle launched by a labourers association with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan started by Aruna Roy in Rajasthan. The labourers had demanded that they be shown the muster rolls because they were getting Rs. 12 instead of the Rs. 24 they were promised. The struggle was carried forward by pioneers such as Anna Hazare in Maharashtra. “The right to information is fundamental to the very existence of democracy,” said Mr. Kejriwal. The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : RTI Act: State urged to follow Bihar example
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