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  1. Vadodara, May 7: FOLLOWING the proposed move to dump Bhopal Gas tragedy waste in Ankleshwar, an Ankleshwar-based activist Ziya Pathan filed an application in Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday. Meanwhile, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) member secretary Sanjeev Tyagi said that it was not confirmed yet whether the waste would land in Ankleshwar or not. “We are presently reviewing the situation, but we are in dark as to what is happening in Madhya Pradesh’’ said Tyagi. Ziya Pathan made an intervention in writ petition No. 2802 of 2004 (Alok Pratap Singh v/s Union of India and Another) in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, expressing fears about the Bhopal Gas tragedy waste coming to Ankleshwar for incineration. In his application to the court, he sought permission to make an intervention requesting it not to allow any further steps to be taken to shift the waste from Bhopal to Ankleshwar. He also stated that Ankleshwar already stands identified as a critical polluted zone by the Central Pollution Control Board and as a ‘toxic hotspot’ by Gujarat. He cited the observations of Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, which in their April 2004 report, had stated that groundwater of the area is so polluted that it is not fit to drink. It was following that report that an order was passed directing Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh Governments to supply fresh drinking water through tanks or pipes. Meanwhile, Tyagi said that the representation of environmental activists was being taken into consideration. Incidentally, the GPCB response following protest is tad surprising, for it is GPCB only which gave the No Objection Certificate for the proposed incineration in Ankleshwar earlier. A delegation comprising of activists from Vadodara, Ankleshwar and Suart, PUCL, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti and Narmada Pradushan Nivaran Samiti has also met GPCB officials voicing their concerns. On Monday, Vadodara and Ankleshwar-based activists met GPCB officials, filing a RTI application seeking, details about the correspondence regarding waste transfer from the Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) factory to Ankleshwar. Activist files RTI application VADODARA-BASED environment activist Rohit Prajapati on Monday filed a RTI Act application seeking details of all correspondence regarding transfer of waste from the Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) factory to Ankleshwar for incineration. Prajapati, in his application, sought copies of all documents and correspondence regarding this matter, including correspondence between and/or documents issued by GPCB, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Bharuch Enviro-Infrastructure Ltd, and the Government of India. Ankleshwar activist moves MP High Court against dumping of gas waste
  2. ganpat1956

    Court fines RTI applicant

    VADODARA: A self-proclaimed activist in Anand has created a ticklish situation by applying for information under Right to Information (RTI) Act on alleged bribe accepted by a judge to dismiss his complaint. The activist was slapped a fine of Rs 5,000, failing which he would face contempt of court proceedings. In response, the activist has moved a second appeal with state chief information commissioner (CIC) against the district judge's decision. It all started with Hitesh Patel moving a complaint against all board members of Vallabh Vidyanagar Commercial Co-operative Bank alleging that the members had misappropriated a huge amount from the bank. After hearing the case, chief judicial magistrate J P Gadhvi dismissed the complaint on January 22 stating that there was not enough evidence to prove such allegations. Patel submitted an application to court's public information officer (PIO) seeking information on 'tod pani' (bribe) taken to dismiss the case. The principal senior civil judge, who is the PIO, wrote back to Patel on January 29 that "there is no evidence to support such claims" and told him that he can move to appellate authority — the chief district judicial magistrate or additional district magistrate. Patel then moved his first appeal with the chief district magistrate on January 31 stating that PIO's response was "against public interest". After receiving the appeal, Anand district court's registrar on February 12 asked Patel to submit Rs 50 along with his appeal. Instead of submitting Rs 50, Patel wrote back to the court registrar that "there are no provisions under RTI to charge such fees along with appeal". When the court registrar received Patel's letter, it was produced before principal district judge (appellate authority of court) M J Parikh, who imposed the fine on him. Patel, however, has moved a second appeal with CIC as well as court's PIO seeking information on "which grounds under RTI" was he asked to deposit Rs 5,000 as fine. Court fines RTI applicant-Ahmedabad-Cities-NEWS-The Times of India
  3. ganpat1956

    CIC lands in court battle with BHU

    NEW DELHI: Central Information Commission's directive to Banaras Hindu University to admit a student in MPEd course and slapping it with a penalty of Rs 25,000 has landed the information watchdog in an unsavoury court battle, with questions being raised whether it had the powers of a judicial court beyond the ambit of RTI Act. BHU has flatly refused to obey the CIC's admission diktat while Allahabad High Court has stayed the penalty. And the case is mired in personal allegations going back and forth. Under a cloud is more than the legality of information commissioner O P Kejariwal's admission-and-penalty order, as it is alleged to be motivated by his 'bitter experience' with BHU before joining the elite commission. It is alleged that Kejariwal was denied a position in the university for which he had lobbied hard and the order was a result of his personal pique. While Kejariwal denied all "personal allegations," he admitted to TOI that the order may be an "error in semantics." The controversy, rooted in the CIC ordering BHU to admit a student, Dhananjay Tripathi, in MPEd, arises out of the death of his friend and fellow student Yogesh Rai, allegedly due to medical negligence. It led to protests from students asking for a copy of an internal inquiry into the charges of medical negligence. Tripathi filed a plea under RTI. During the hearing at CIC, Tripathi was denied admission in MPEd course for which he had applied. He charged BHU with victimisation for taking up Rai's case. Kejariwal dispatched an official to look into the charges and, based on his report, on November 9, 2006, passed the now-contested order, directing BHU to admit Tripathi immediately with complete attendance after having earlier slapped the penalty. Can the CIC order admission into a university? Kejariwal concedes, "It may be an error in semantics." He, however, justified the order, "Seeing the way BHU tried to scuttle the information process convinced us to direct them to admit the applicant." BHU challenged Kejariwal's order in the high court with personal allegations. As it emerged, the former CEO of Prasar Bharati was interested in being with BHU after quitting as director, Nehru Memorial Museum. He lobbied for it and prepared a case whereby he would donate collections of an Indologist, Fred Pinn, bequeathed to him, for a lifetime post. Well known space scientist U R Rao too put in a good word for him. CIC lands in court battle with BHU-India-NEWS-The Times of India
  4. ganpat1956

    RTI faces challenges in courts

    I reproduce below, an article that appeared in the Chennai Edition of New Indian Express(13.12.2006): "After a hectic first year when it was seen in its 'evolutionary' stages, the RTI Act is now entering a phase where it is increasingly coming into conflict with the public authorities in court. Several landmark orders passed by the CIC have been challenged via the writ petition route by authorities from whom the information was sought. And, in most of these cases, stay orders have been obtained. Among the first to have challenged the CIC's orders, ironically, was the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which had drafted the RTI Act itself. The DoPT challenged the CIC's decision to allow its members "in camera" access to the correspondence between former President K R Narayanan and the Government on the Gujarat riots. The DoPT obtained a stay from the Delhi High Court. Not Just this: * The CIC ruled that Delhi Electric Commission is a public authority. This was challenged in the Delhi High Court and a stay order was granted. * The CIC ruled that UPSC should disclose cut-offs in the civil service prelims. Stayed by Delhi HC. * Association of Indian Universities was declared a public authority by the CIC, but a stay order was granted by the Delhi HC. * CIC fined Benares Hindu University for delay in giving information to an applicant. Stay from Allahabad High Court. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah described the DoPT's intervention as "premature" and said the panel had approached former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee to defend its decision. "We had asked for the correspondence to be shown to us in confidence in sealed cover and were surprised that the DoPT found objection to this," Habibullah told Express. Asked about this trend, Habibullah said, " As we examine the inner reaches or the sanctum santorum of Government functioning, I anticipate there will be even larger number of decisions challenged in courts. Authorities who have argued against grant of information or against them being declared public authorities, may want to take the last recourse and take the writ petition route. We are gearing up for increased judicial review." So a senior legal consultant will soon join the CIC, which is also setting up a legal cell and reference section. There is a flip side, admits Habibullah, of this "judicialisation" of the RTI: Stage is set for a new branch of case law. " The implications of our decision carry heavy judicial ramifications as we are gearing up for increased judicial review".
  5. In the first decision of its kind from an international tribunal, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday that there is a fundamental human right to access government information. In the case of Claude Reyes and others vs. Chile, the Court found in favor of three environmental activists who in 1998 sought information from the Chilean government about a controversial logging project. By failing to provide access to the requested information, the Court held that Chile had violated Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of thought and expression. According to the Court, Article 13 contains an implied right of general access to government-held information, and States must adopt legal provisions to ensure the right is given full effect. The Court specifically ordered Chile to provide the requested information about the Rio Condor logging project or to issue a reasoned decision for withholding it, as well as to adopt adequate administrative procedures to protect the right in the future and to train public officials to uphold the public's right to information. International advocates of transparency in governance and the right-to-know applauded the precedent-setting court decision. "The Court has ruled that freedom of information is a fundamental personal, social, and civic right, and a critical component of a full transition to democracy," said Peter Kornbluh who directs the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. According to Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, the decision "will be invaluable for activists who need government information to defend other human rights, protect the environment, and fight corruption." Related Materials English summary of the case and decision http://www.freedominfo.org/documents/ICHR_Claude_court%20summary.pdf Access Info Europe press release http://www.freedominfo.org/documents/Access%20Info%20Europe%20Press%20Release.pdf'>http://www.freedominfo.org/documents/Access%20Info%20Europe%20Press%20Release.pdf Read the amicus brief filed in the case by Article 19 and the Open Society Institute Justice Initiative http://www.freedominfo.org/documents/Access%20Info%20Europe%20Press%20Release.pdf http://www.freedominfo.org/documents/osi_amicus_ichr.pdf [source: freedominfo.org: foi news - inter-american court finds fundamental right of access to information]
  6. Under the Right to Information Act, 2005, a public authority cannot withheld an information merely on the ground that the matter is sub-judice. Even in regard to the matter where the prosecution is still continuing, the CPIO can provide the information subject to provisions of Section 10(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 by applying the doctrine of severability.
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