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  1. ashakantasharma

    RTI Success Stories - Vikaspedia.in

    This village has finally tasted the power of RTI: For about two years, Suvarana Bhagyawant made rounds of the panchayat office to get her grandfather's death certificate. Every time, the official there would tell her to come later or pay a bribe of Rs 500 to get the work done. Suvarana, a resident of the Ambhegaon village, needed the certificate so that her grandmother could apply for the widow pension scheme. Finally, Suvarana filed a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. She got the certificate within eight days. "This piece of paper is like a weapon for the powerless to fight against corrupt establishment,'' says Suvarana, pointing to an RTI application. For the villagers of Ambhegaon, the RTI Act has come as long-awaited rain in a drought-prone area. Today, we tell the officials that if they do not look at our problems, we will file an RTI query,'' says Archana Bhagyawant. She was forced to file an RTI query after the officer demanded a bribe of Rs 150 for the issuance of a new ration card. "I waited for a year and finally when I filed an RTI query, I got it within three weeks. The sarpanch personally delivered it at my home,'' said Archana. Suvarana and Archana are part of a unique initiative begun by the Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT)-in partnership with the Bahujan Hitay Trust-that aims to improve the quality of lives in villages in Kalyan by using RTI. Voices raised over the issue of overcrowding of jails through RTI: UP jails are overcrowded. Jails in the state lodge prisoners far more in number than they can accommodate comfortably. What makes it a case of human rights violation is that more than half of the prisoners in the different jails of the state are under trials. Out of 81,027 prisoners lodged in various jails of the state, 55,460 (more than 60%) are under trials. Many of them have been behind bars for much more number of years than what the punishment for their offence would have allowed. The response to an RTI query by national working committee member, NCPRI, Raja John Bunch, by IG (prisons) showed that the total number of prisoners lodged in state jails is more than the maximum population of prisoners that each of the jail can support. In March 2013, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a notice to the Centre and all states giving them five weeks' time to respond to a PIL which said that 64.7% of the total prison population of the country comprises of under trials. There are about 2.41 lakh under trials in Indian prisons. SC issued the notice to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) as well and 'urged it to intervene and direct government to frame a policy to grant bail to prisoners facing trial for offences in which punishment ranges between three and seven years.' “Sir, did you get a cut on my dam?” The agriculture department official told Banabai Kumre that nothing would come of her complaint of corruption, because he had already paid hush money to the district collector and the chief minister. So the septuagenarian did what she thought was best: she went to Mumbai and asked the Maharashtra’s chief minister if he had received a cut on the check dam on her land. Banabai hails from village Kharula in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. Banabai’s family of six barely managed to make ends meet. Though her extended family of more than 20 owned a farm as big as 10 hectares, only parts of it were cultivable where they grew jowar, pulses and paddy. But their routine was upset in early June this year when a check dam flooded after a spell of heavy rains. The rushing waters destroyed the seedlings on Banabai’s land. The dam was not very old. It was constructed barely a year ago. Banabai decided to report the matter to the agriculture department’s office at Yavatmal tehsil. After all Rs 3 lakh was spent under the prime minister’s relief package for constructing the dam. An inspection team of the department visited the site on June 16,2008. It confirmed Banabai’s allegations that inferior quality material was used to construct the dam. Fearing consequences, the supervisor with the agriculture department, who was involved with the construction of the dam, went to Banabai’s house and unleashed a volley of threats. He accused her of breaking the dam and told her that he had “fixed” all higher ups. Unfazed, Banabai filed a second complaint with the district collector, mentioning the supervisor's threats and demanded that the official be suspended. She alleged that only Rs 1 lakh had been spent on the dam, instead of the officially sanctioned Rs 3 lakh. She also alleged that instead of black soil, murum (a local variety of thick gravel) was used to construct the dam. But there was no action. So Banabai went back to the collector’s office on July 1, and asked him directly, “ Tumhi paise khalle ka (did you take a bribe)?” The collector was initially speechless. But within moments his team was in a hustle. An inspection team was dispatched immediately to the check dam site.The memory of that day is precious to Banabai. “The inspection team and I had to travel by the collector’s own lal divyachi gadi’ (official vehicle with a red lamp), because there was no other vehicle at the collectorate at that time,” she says with a smile. The team’s findings confirmed Banabai’s allegations. With media support, Yavatmal district’s panchayat Samiti resolution supporting Banabai’s demand and intervention of the Chief Minister, action was taken against the supervisor. Better Road for Bagepalli Bagepalli is a small town 100kms north of Bangalore with tree lined, tarmac roads. That was until one day, the government officials thought Bagepalli would be better off with double roads & street lights. Road works began in March 2005. Markings were done unprofessionally; dividers were built even before the roads were made making traffic movement haphazard, causing many accidents and deaths. Thankfully for Bagepalli in November, Sakshi Trust presented an RTI workshop that Toufeeq a staffer from ADATS (An NGO), had attended. Towfeeq then used RTI to find out the real story of Bagepalli’s roads. He says, “nearly Rs 1.32 crores were sanctioned for the road but no work was done. Of this 1.32 crores, 1.15 crores was shown as spent in response to my RTI application. WE finally went and confronted the JE with the information he had and he apologized and promised to fix the road. Thanks to RTI the road work is finally being completed.” Toufeeq is now a RTI trainer and conducts RTI training is vernacular languages like Kannada and Telugu. Official fined Rs 18,000 under Info Act In the second incident of penalising an erring officer under the Right to Information Act in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) T N Shrivastava fined Morena District Woman and Child Development Officer (DWCDO) Sajan Aluna for failing to provide information sought under the Act within the time limit and not abiding by the appellate officer's order. The CIC imposed the fine of Rs 18,000 after not being satisfied with the explanation given by Mrs Aluna, who was earlier given show cause notice on the second appeal by Mr Balwant Singh Haihayavanshi, who had sought certain information from the department on December 31,2005. The Act came into force on October 12,2005. The DWCDO rejected the application on the ground that the applicant had been suspended after preliminary inquiry. On an appeal, the Morena District Collector directed the DWCDO to provide copies of the document on payment as the applicant had not sought any confidential document. After dillydallying on one pretext or the other, the DWCDO allowed the applicant to deposit Rs 1200 to provide copies of the documents. The second appeal was made as the required documents were not supplied. The Chief Information Commissioner found Mrs Aluna's conduct as ''unfortunate'' and directed to provide the required documents within seven days. A fortnight ago, Tahsildar R S Chouhan of Gyaraspur in Vidisha district was fined Rs 25,000 for refusing to provide copies of land transfer deed to an applicant under the Right to Information Act. Rajasthan villagers use RTI to end woes Besides losing dealership, the ration shopkeeper was also forced to pay poor families in the village over Rs Four lakh, the cash equivalent of the grains he had sold illegally. Revat Ram and his friends used the Act to get all records of their ration shop in Himmatsar village and by exposing how grains meant for the poor were being black-marketed at a ration shop in Bikaner district. After the move the villagers got the dealer removed. ‘’Earlier we used to be afraid that if we speak against the Sarpanch, he will not give us jobs under drought relief. But now we feel bolder and think that through the new law we can put an end to his frauds,” said a local resident. And now it seems people across Rajasthan are keen to use their information rights. Bunglings have led to 15 sarpanches being removed and a dozen officials suspended. Karnataka villagers insist on Right to Food People in Rural Karnataka have combined the campaigns for the Right to Information and the Right to Food to fight hunger. Poor villagers have successfully participated in social audits and public hearings to demand that the rations due to them are allotted to them at the correct prices. "They were not giving us our monthly rations. We complained, and the officials invited us for a meeting. Now we get rice at Rs 3 wheat at Rs 2 a kg," says Chandramma, a member of the self help group in the Chennagiri Village. "There are nine programmes of food security, but people did not know about them. We staged street theatres and conducted public hearings to spread awareness," says K B Roopa Naik, Channagiri Taluka, Davangere. Positive fallout of the public hearing has been the marked improvement in the quality of food grains which is now being supplied in the villages."After a week of public hearing the people got ration cards and new ration shops were opened," says N M Muthappa, Right to Food Campaign, Karnataka."For the first time women were confident enough to ask why they were not being given rice and wheat at the correct price. This movement must spread to every village and every taluka," says Seetamma, President of the self-help group in Davangere. It can now be hoped that the new tools of empowerment will enable the people to ask tough questions and demand answers as well as action. http://vikaspedia.in/e-governance/about-rti-act-2005/rti-news-update http://cic.gov.in/
  2. What are some of the shocking, weirdest, silliest RTI requests made in India? As Abraham Lincoln said “Government is of the people, by the people, for the people” The government is our servant and we have no duty to explain why we seek information from them. The government holds all the information in our behalf, in trust. Like a banker can’t ask you why you want to see your bank account statement, similarly the government can’t deny if you ask them how they are governing our country. With the mechanism of RTI we can actually participate in the working of the government. 1. RTI for Indian nuclear launch code: A guy has asked in his Right To Information query undoubtedly is too much of funny. The Twitterati could not believe their eyes when Vivek Kumar, deputy secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and an Indian Foreign Services (IFS) officer, shared on the micro blogging site that a person has filed a RTI seeking the launch codes to India’s nuclear arsenal. Could you believe it? Does the person not know that nobody but the serving prime minister of India has access to the launch codes of nuclear weapons? Please do not take it as a joke, for statutory fee of Rs 10 had also been deposited in this regard. The application was obviously rejected. It had to be. It is a funny story of a RTI activist whose identity remained hidden. 2. RTI regarding Lord Venkateshwara: Yes you read that right. In 2014, Mr Narashimha Murthy, a social activist, allegedly filed a RTI to the TTD (Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam) trust questioning them whether Lord Venkateshwara's debt to Kubera had been cleared or how much was still left. His basis of filing the RTI was his allegation that the trust had hoodwinked the public by weaving a story about the Lord owing a debt. A funny RTI query has been made by a Bengalurean to Tirumala Tirupati Devastanam (TTD), asking for information about the money Lord Venkateshwara has borrowed from Kubera at the time of his marriage with Padmavathi and how much he has returned. TTD is yet to give a reply. The RTI applicant alleges that TTD is hoodwinking people by stating that the lord is still paying back interest for the principal amount he had borrowed from Kubera from the proceeds of the famous Tirupati 'Hundi'. Narasimha Murty, a Bangalore-based RTI activist, visited Tirupati and saw a board which spoke about the money borrowed from Kubera, the lord of wealth, by Lord Srinivasa and the need for the latter to pay interest on the loan among other things. "After I saw the board, I was taken aback at the way people are being fooled by this mythology. They all use god's name to make gains, which made me file this RTI query," Narasimha Murty said. Murty has addressed this RTI to the accounts officer and to the public information officer. "TTD says that the lord is still paying interest to Kubera and it is the money given by devotees that only can help in this mission. As a citizen of this country, I have all rights to know the accounts of the TTD. But even after much time, TTD has not given me any details about the accounts. So, I have gone before the Andhra Pradesh information commissioner. Even after repeating request letters, TTD is not answering the questions I have posed," Murty said. The story: According to mythology, Lord Venkateshwara who was believed to be an incarnation of Vishnu, was named as Srinivasa. There was a king called Akasha Raja who was ruling the state that time. Many a time, Srinivasa quarrelled with his divine consort Lakshmi and on one occasion came to Tirupati to do penance in an anthill. He was doing penance all day and no one knew about this. Every day, one cow used to come to that place and give milk to Srinivasa. Once the cow was back home, it stopped giving milk. Confused by this, shepherds who were looking after this cow followed it, and found it looking after Srinivasa who was inside the anthill. They went to hit the cow with a stick but to safeguard the animal, Srinivasa came out and took the blows on his head. While the attackers left the place, a bleeding Srinivasa was rescued by a woman called Okkala Devi who took him to her place and brought him up as her son. He started staying with her and one day he saw Padmavathi, the Princes of the region. Srinivasa fell in love with her which she also reciprocated. Okkala Devi then approached the king Akasha Raja requesting him to allow the two to marry. The king asked Okkala Devi about her status and about money she had to conduct the wedding. It is at this juncture that Srinivasa was forced to go to Kubera, the lord of wealth and riches, for a loan. After processing the loan, Srinivasa got to marry Padmavathi. Mythology says that from that day till date, Srinivasa is repaying Kubera his loan. "Based on this story, the Devastanam still says that Lord Balaji is paying the interest and it is pressuring devotees to give more and more money. Emotional devotees believe all this and part with crores of rupees. I have heard of rich people like the Amabanis, Vijay Mallya and several other politicians donating huge sums to Lord Balaji. Is there an account for all this," Murty questions and says he will fight till he gets answers for his questions. Narasimha Murty is an RTI activist who has been fighting regarding the property and the gold which came out after opening of the doors at Padmanabha Swamy temple in Kerala, as well as the death of an IAS officer who was looking after the temple. Post-this battle, Karnataka Golf Association was also declared a public authority based on his application. Well, the story in the News article has few discrepancies; nevertheless the gist is the same. This must have possibly been a creative petition to let the people think twice before donating at the temple. 3. RTI Query: “Whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before he came into politics, worked in any Ramlila Troop? If yes, what role he played?” The PMO replied: “Information sought is not part of record.” 4. RTI Query on of another applicant wanted to know “how many and which type of cylinder” were “used in (the PM’s) kitchen” in October 2014 and May 2015. The applicant also sought “copies of bills of cylinders” and “copies of bills and spices” bought in May 2015. The PMO replied: “The kitchen expense of the Prime Minister is personal in nature and not incurred on government account.” This exchange is just one example of the nature of queries relating to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that have been raised by applicants and responded to by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The below are some of the RTI Queries: Q: Records and documents which show that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is the Prime Servant of India and not the Prime Minister. A: “There is no proposal to change the official designation of PM.” Q: Has the Prime Minister read the Indian constitution? Is the Prime Minister supposed to read the Indian constitution? Is the Prime Minister assumed to have read Indian constitution? Has anyone in the PMO till date told the Prime Minister what his duties are towards India? A: “Information sought does not fall under the definition of information.” Q: Who helps the Prime Minister in sending tweets in regional and foreign languages? Names of individual (s) for each regional language. A: “Information sought is not maintained on record.” (Another reply says that the “Prime Minister himself is managing his personal social media accounts.”) Q: Number of sick or casual or health leave availed by the Prime Minister in the last 10 years. A: “No leave has been availed by the present Prime Minister since taking over the office.” (Replying to a related query on whether Prime Minister Modi was on leave during the Bihar election campaign last year, the PMO responded: “Tours on election campaign are not official.”) Q: Percentage of marks Modi secured while graduating in 1977 from Delhi University. A: “Does not form part of records.” Q: Can one get the mobile number of the PM under RTI? A: “The PMO has not given any mobile phone to Prime Minister.” Q: Legal status of announcements made by the Prime Minister. A: “Once the announcement is made, the ministries concerned are entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the announcements and monitoring their implementation.” Q: Does the PMO communicate; send letters, etc., in the official language Hindi? A: “Letters in Hindi received from Union Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, etc., are replied to in Hindi… Hindi letters from public are also replied in Hindi.” Q: Roza iftar parties Prime Minister Modi attended in 2014 and 2015. A: “None.” And finally this: Q: Has the Principal Secretary to the PM, Nripendra Misra, ever taken his colleagues in the PMO on a picnic? If yes, who all went, how much money was spent, were family members also invited on such excursion, and what was the food menu? Was the food ordered from an external caterer? Was the venue fixed by general consensus or was it decided solely by Misra? A: “No picnic/excursion was ever organised by Nripendra Misra.” 5. A RTI Application also asked Who officially declared Gandhi as Father of the Nation (since we always read it in our text books) The 10 year old girl had filed an RTI query seeking information on Gandhi Ji’s title of ‘father of nation’ In a written reply, the government said that Mahatma Gandhi cannot be accorded the 'Father of the Nation' title by government as the Constitution does not permit any titles except educational and military ones. While giving reference to the Article 18 (1) of the Constitution, the MHA had said that it does not permit any titles except education and military ones. The MHA had transferred her appeal to the National Archives of India. The Central Information Commissioner Basant Seth then had stated, "There is no order/document on record by which Gandhiji was given the title of "Rastrapita". Ans: No official declaration done till now. 6. Who declared Gandhi Jayanti, Republic day, Independence Day as national holidays? Ans: Such orders were never issued. Bangalore, Aug 14: The reply to an RTI query has come as a shock to all those Indians who believed that Aug 15, Jan 26 and Oct 2 are national holidays. Apparently, these three dates were never notified by the government. It was the persistent efforts of one Aishwarya Parashar that revealed this amazing fact. Earlier this year in April, the 10-year-old had asked the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for a copy of the particular government order (GO) that specified the national holidays. The PMO passed on her query to the Ministry of Home, which at first claimed that the matter does not pertain to it. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) should provide the answer, the Home Ministry averred. Finally, the latter clarified on May 17 that it could not find any GO that notified Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti as national holidays. Aishwarya was bemused by the reply because she has been taught in school that Jan 26, Aug 15 and Oct 2 are national holidays. When she filed an appeal to find out the truth, the appellate authority not only confirmed that the Home Ministry's statement was correct but also requested the National Archives to provide the 10-year-old a copy of the GO if any exists. A determined Aishwarya has since shot off letters to the President and the Prime Minister, demanding the GO. Now the onus is on both Pranab Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh to satisfy her curiosity. 7. A RTI Applicate asked what is the Speed of internet at the PMO? Ans: 34 Mbps. 8. Did you know that Hockey is not our National game? This was revealed in an RTI filed by a class VII student, Aishwarya Parashar who sought information on a government order pertaining to India’s national game. Quite surprisingly, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in its response stated that ministry has not declared any sport as its national game. Same as ENERGY, STUPIDITY can be neither created nor be destroyed, but it transforms from one form to another. All these does not ends here only as many have asked: • Can we have the election symbols with the rainbow filter? (On Voting Machines) • How religious in the governor ? • How much ‘paan’ do MCD officials really chew ? • A disgruntled applicant wanted to know if Arvind Kejriwal’s reads the comments on his social media channels. In his application, he asked that when Arvind Kejriwal posts asks “silly and stupid questions” on Facebook and twitter, does he check the comments he receives on such posts. This information being personal in nature, can’t be answered under RTI. Even then, it doesn’t stop people from trying their luck! • A Delhi University student, filed an RTI against the girl he fell in love with. After few months of dating, he found out that she was married! He wanted to know what he can do to complain against her and get her punished for the mental agony she had caused. • This is around the time our country directed a lot of anger towards Fawad Khan. We had questions coming in asking if Fawad Khan was allowed to legally work and stay in India for his movie “Ae dil hai mushkil”. • An emotional applicant had asked whether astrologists and priests are authorized to declare someone a “manglik”. If someone has “mangal dosh” and their spouse dies, is there any reason to believe that the “manglik” person is to be blamed? Quite a few RTI cases demand information from religious bodies. • Private companies do not fall under RTI, which is a problem for many people. We received a query demanding call recording of a TataSky customer support call. Unfortunately, private companies are not required to answer RTI questions. • RTI Registration number : MHOME/R/2016/50729: Applicant : Ajay Kumar Information sought: I am concerned about the readiness of our government in the event of an invasion by Aliens Zombies and Extradimensional beings. 1. What are our chances against them? 2. What means does the ministry of Home affair have at its disposal to defeat them? 3. Can we do it without Will Smith? The government promptly replied that information that is available can be shared under RTI . Since no info about hypothetical situations is available, it cannot be given. This has to be the most polite reply given under the RTI act! • The applicant, a resident of Ahmedabad, had sought information about Mahatma Gandhi, some of the former Presidents of India and other Ministers asking for their correct date and time of birth, their blood group and above all their IQ. • How many bullock cart tracks are in Delhi? How many trees in the capital are green and how many are dead? How many cups of tea are consumed by the police personnel? • A UP girl asked NHRC on why 'ladoos' sent by her to US President George W. Bush on 'Rakshabandhan' never reached him and requested the commission to take appropriate action. • In January 2010, a 47-year-old man from Kutch, Gujarat, requested the Tamil Nadu state information commission to provide him information on life partner for marriage from any govt department. • How much maggie was wasted during its ban? • Someone asked about how much tea is used in Indian Army on daily bases. • Haryana Police: Wives of Haryana Police officers filled a series of RTIs, asking for the information related to the salary of their husbands and what are there duty timings. • RTI revealed how the President Pratibha Patil tried to construct a retirement home out of govt. funds much in excess of her entitlement. It also revealed the hundreds of crores spent on her foreign travel which had little impact on the future of India. • Hindi, not a national language: Court Gujarat High Court has observed that though majority of people in India have accepted Hindi as a national language, there was nothing on record to suggest that any provision has been made or order issued declaring Hindi as a national language of the country. The observation was made by division bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and justice A.S. Dave recently while rejecting a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by one Suresh Kachhadia. Mr. Kachhadia had filed the PIL last year seeking direction to Central and State government to make it mandatory for manufacturers to print details of goods like price, ingredients and date of manufacture in Hindi. The court observed, “Normally, in India, majority of the people have accepted Hindi as a national language and many people speak Hindi and write in Devanagari script but there is nothing on record to suggest that any provision has been made or order issued declaring Hindi as a national language of the country.” “No mandamus can be issued on any manufacturer or others for giving details or particulars of package in Hindi in Devanagari script,” it further said. It was contended by Mr. Kachhadia’s lawyer that Hindi was the national language and was understood by a large number of persons in the country. The Counsel representing central government submitted that specific provision has been made under the Standard of Weight and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules of 1977 that particulars of declaration should be in Hindi in Devanagari script or in English. The court said that the Constituent Assembly while discussing the Language Formula noticed the recommendation of the Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights, which recommended the formula as per which, “Hindustani, written either in Devanagari or the Persian script at the option of the citizen, shall, as the national language, be the first official language of the Union. English shall be the second official language for such period as the Union may, by law, determine.” However, in the constitution, Hindi was declared as an official language and not a national language. The court in its order said Part XVII of the Constitution deals with Official Language. Under Article 343, official language of the Union has been prescribed, which includes Hindi in Devanagari script and English. • Highest number of Indian prisoners are in Saudi Arabia: As many as 6,569 Indian nationals are currently lodged in prisons of 67 foreign countries, including 254 in Pakistan reveals a RTI query. The Arab countries topped the list with Saudi Arabia (1691), Kuwait (1161) and UAE (1012), according to the information provided by the MEA on April 22 to lawyer and RTI activist DB Binu. Italy has 121 Indian prisoners. The list also showed that UK has 426, USA 155, China 157, Bangladesh 62, Afghanistan 28, Bahrain 18 and Nepal 377 Indian prisoners. • IIM reveals admission criteria: Despite an impressive percentile Vaishnavi Kasturi, a visually-impaired student, in 2007 was denied a seat in the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, one of the country’s premier management institutes. She then filed an RTI application to request the institution to disclose the admission process. Though Vaishnavi did not get admission in any of the IIMs, her doubts over admission procedure were clarified. In a response to the query, the Chairman said “CAT scores are just one-fifth of the criteria for admissions. Forty per cent weight age is given for class X, XII and bachelor's scores. Work experience is given weight age too but it’s mostly performance in the group discussion and interview that counts which is up to 35 per cent, plus 5 per cent weight age is there if you have done a chartered accountancy course.” • The national anthem of India does not contain the word - "Sindh" - since 1950. Prof. Shrikant Malushte, a retired professor, challenged the word "Sindh" in the national anthem of India on the following grounds: "When Rabrindranath Tagore's poem was adapted by the Constituent Assembly in 1950 as the national anthem, the word 'Sindh' was replaced by 'Sindhu' considering the fact that the region was part of Pakistan partitioned from India. The newly replaced word Sindhu denotes the river that originated in Pakistan but flows through the Indian valleys," said 75-year-old Shreekanth Malushte. However, despite the correction made by the Constituent Assembly, the government continued to prescribe the original poem written by Tagore, leading to a situation where the anthem was sung in two versions[1]. Prof. Shrikant then availed the RTI Act and obtained papers from the Ministry of Home Affarirs which confirmed that the correct version of the national anthem had the word 'Sindhu'[2]. He then moved the Bombay High Court that agreed with his observations and said that 'Sindh' in national anthem is probably a mistake and directed the center to provide its point of view. However, in 2005, the Supreme court had dismissed a similar case by mentioning that the authentic text contained "Sindh". Therefore, eventually the Bombay High court decided that 'Sindh will remain in the national anthem' • If the legal age of a Man to get sexually active is 18 years and the legal age for him to get married is 21... Then what are we actually suggesting he should do these 3 years? • Now if the legal age for a Man to get married is 21 years and the legal age for him to start drinking is 25 years... then how do you suggest he survives the first 4 years of marriage??? • The most awkward RTI demanded copies of all RTIs filed in the country and their replies. 1. https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-funny-question-asked-by-RTI-applicant 2. https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-weirdest-silliest-RTI-requests-made-in-India 3. https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-interesting-RTI-questions-asked 4. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/prime-minister-narendra-modi-right-to-information-act-rti-application-2922517/ 5. https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-weirdest-silliest-RTI-requests-made-in-India 6. http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/is-india-prepared-for-a-zombie-apocalypse-rti-asking-this-goes-viral-1464688 7. http://www.outlookindia.com/news/article/bizarre-rti-query-what-is-mahatma-gandhi-iq-level/708015 8. http://www.firstpost.com/living/many-trees-green-many-cups-tea-drink-bizarre-rti-queries-sent-delhi-police-2026359.html 9. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/consumer-legal/6-funniest-rti-applications-filed-in-india/slideshow/39658972.cms 10. http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/crime/He-seeks-answers-from-the-god-of-big-things/articleshow/45461478.cms 11. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Hindi-not-a-national-language-Court/article16839525.ece 12. https://www.oneindia.com/2012/08/14/august-15-not-a-national-holiday-home-ministry-1053692.html 13. https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-greatest-truths-that-RTI-Right-to-Information-Act-India-revealed 14. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-08/mumbai/30130317_1_national-anthem-sanjeev-bhatnagar-word
  3. ashakantasharma

    Attacks on RTI activists in India

    Many Right to Information Act (RTI) activists, including policemen, have been harassed and even murdered for seeking information to "promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority" in India. Many face assaults on a regular basis. People seeking information from their gram panchayat and the local administration also face social ostracism. A few activists who sought information under RTI related to MNREGA scams, were killed.[1][2][3] Many threats and attacks (including murder) go unreported by the media.[4][5] Media reports of more than 300 instances of attacks on or harassment of citizens and at least 51 murders and five suicides can be linked to information sought under The Right to Information Act. Maharashtra followed by Gujarat tops the list for states with the most attacks on RTI users.[6] RTI activists are vulnerable human rights defenders (HRDs) in India. Unlike other HRDs, a majority of the RTI activists are not part of an organisation; they often act alone, moved by anger at corruption and other illegal activities. RTI activists are vulnerable because they live in the same areas as public authorities and political leaders who do not want information about their activities to be disclosed. For the most part, human rights defenders receive media attention only when killed or seriously injured. When complaints are made by RTI activists, law enforcement personnel (who often work with corrupt officials) do not take appropriate action. The Right to Information Act, 2005 provides inadequate protection to whistleblowers. The Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions are not mandated to deal with such threats or attacks or to provide protection when needed.[7] Attacks on RTI users have not ceased despite directions from several information commissions and state governments to protect them from harm. While RTI activism became an industry, attacks on RTI activists followed. The number of such attacks now number hundreds and dozens have been killed. Lalit Mehta was exposing a NREGA scam and was killed in 2008. Satish Shetty was exposing land scams in Maharashtra and was stabbed to death in 2010. In the same year Amit Jethwa was shot in the Ahmedabad High Court complex. He was exposing a mining scam. There are many such stories which talk of the bravery of RTI activists. SO WHY THERE IS NO PROTECTION FROM THE GOVERNMENT ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attacks_on_RTI_activists_in_India
  4. Is RTI also applicable in states of Jammu & Kashmir ?
  5. Who was the first person in India to file a RTI Query ?
  6. ashakantasharma

    RTI Fillings in India - Detailed Explanation

    Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It is an initiative taken by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions to provide a–RTI Portal Gateway to the citizens for quick search of information on the details of first Appellate Authorities,PIOs etc. amongst others, besides access to RTI related information / disclosures published on the web by various Public Authorities under the government of India as well as the State Governments. Procedure of filing an RTI In India: The necessary requisites of an application filed under the RTI Act are: The aspirant must be the civilian of India. . The request must cover the details of facts and figures required. The proof of payment of application fee should be hemmed in. The address of the aspirant should be accessible for directing a reply. Private particulars excluding those essential for communicating an applicant are not required to be stated. How to file an RTI plea? The Act proposes a simple process to acquire information. Though some public authorities have their own formats, there is no obligation to stick to the prescribed set-up. Classify the constituent part you want information from as some matters fall under the purview of State governments or local authority such as the municipal administration/panchayat, while others are controlled by the Central government. Write the application by hand, or type it, in English, Hindi or the official language of the area. You can also take the assistance of public information officer to put the application in writing. The application must be addressed to the State/Central Public Information Officer. Provide the name of the concerned office from where you wish to seek information, and the complete, exact address. Mention your request in the specified form and state the period/year your application falls into. To obtain documents, the applicant has to make a payment of Rs. 2 per page. Payment of Rs 10 is required to plea the request either by cash, money order, bank draft or a court fee stamp. The application must bear the stamp. Applicants below the poverty line (BPL) are excluded from making any sort of payment provided they attach a copy of the BPL certificate along with the application. Your full name and address, contact details, email address should be mentioned and sign the application properly. Send your application either by post or hand it over in person to the concerned department. The law mandates that information be provided in 30 days. If this does not happen, you can file an appeal. The first appeal should be addressed to ‘The Appellate Authority’ with the name of the department and the address. The appellate authority is mandated to revert in 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. If the Appellate authority fails to reply, further appeals lie with the Information Commission, the Chief Information Commissioner, State/Central Information Commission. Pre-requisites: Your name, address, contact telephone number and your email id o Information about Public Information officer, name, address e.t.c. In case you have problems locating your PIO/APIO you can address your RTI application to the PIO, C/o Head of Department and send it to the concerned Public Authority with the requisite application fee. The Head of Department will have to forward your application to the concerned PIO. Do not address your RTI application to the PIO by his name, just in case he gets transferred or a new PIO is designated in his place. Generally, you can deposit your application fee via: • In person by paying cash [remember to take your receipt] • By Post through: • Demand Draft/Bankers Cheque • Indian Postal Order • Money orders (only in some states) • Affixing Court fee Stamp (only in some states) Some state governments have prescribed some head of account. You are required to deposit fee in that account. For that, you can either go to any branch of SBI and deposit cash in that account and attach deposit receipt with your RTI application. Or you can also send a postal order or a DD drawn in favour of that account along with your RTI application. Please see respective state rules for complete details Application Guidelines. While filing an RTI application, the framing of the questions is very important. A slight misunderstanding or vague questions gives the PIO a chance to reject your application. Follow these guidelines: • Use a white sheet of paper to write an application. There is no need to using Note-sheet, or the Court stamp paper. You can use your letter pad for asking for information. • The matter can be hand written, or typed. There is no compulsion of typing the content. • Make sure the application is legible and easy to read. • There is no restriction on number of pages for asking information. • There are also no restriction on number of questions that can be asked in one application. However, it is generally advisable to ask restrict one application with limited set of questions and generally related ones. • Be very specific & ask to the point questions. Don't ask vague questions. • Ask as many short questions as you like, but don't ask for voluminous information. • Ask information always by writing your name and signature, and not by your post, as only citizen have the right to information. • Do not ask a question containing 'WHY'! For example, questions like why you failed to pass the bill, is liable to be rejected for not covering under RTI Act. • You can ask for reasons behind a "administrative" or a "quasi-judicial" decision under Section 4(1)(d), especially if you are a "affected person" • If the information sought is voluminous, it is better to ask it in the form of CD to save on cost. • Remember that, you do not need to write the reason for asking the information. • Mention the payment details like BC/DD/IPO number, issuing bank/post office, date, cash receipt details , etc., towards the end of your application. Procedure to file RTI Online: At Online RTI, lawyers hired are specialists at handing out RTIs, so you don’t have to fear about it. Basically just click on your problem, submit your application, and consider your case at the top of the government’s row. How to submit an RTI application ? You will need a proof, that your RTI application has been received by the PIO. The tested methods to submit a RTI application are: • Personally, by hand: Please ensure that you get your copy of the application and proof of payment duly stamped, signed and dated, either by the PIO or by the inward department • Registered Post AD: The AD card will act as proof of submission, after it is returned to you by the postal department. In case the AD card does not come back with a proper stamp, signature and date of receipt, follow up with the dispatching post office to get the AD card completed • Speed Post (A postal department service): Once the application is sent by Speed Post, track it on http://www.indiapost.gov.in/Speednew/track.aspx and keep a print out of the delivery status carefully with you Do not use ordinary post, private courier companies, etc. since these will not provide you with a confirmed proof of delivery. What is the time limit under which information can be obtained under RTI act ? Various time limit has been prescribed under which the information can be obtained under Right to Information Act. These time limits are prescribed by the Act itself, and failing which an RTI Applicant can approach appropriate authorities for relief. Following are the various time limits specified in the RTI Act 2005 For matters involving "Life and Liberty", the time limit for the PIO to provide information is 48 Hours. For PIO to reply to application 30 days from date of receipt of application . For PIO to transfer to another PA under Sec 6(3) 5 days from date of receipt of application . For PIO to issue notice to 3rd Party 5 days from date of receipt of application & For 3rd Party to make a representation to PIO 10 days from receipt of notice from PIO. For PIO to reply to application if 3rd Party involved 40 days from date of receipt of application. For applicant to make First Appeal 30 days from date of receipt of PIO’s reply or from date when reply was to be received. For First Appellate Authority to pass an order 30 days from receipt of First Appeal OR Maximum 45 days, if reasons for delay are given in writing For applicant to make Second Appeal before CIC/SIC 90 days from receipt of First Appeal orders or from the date when orders were to be received For CIC/SIC to decide Second Appeal No time limit specified • 3rd Party can be anyone other than the citizen applying for information Certain Guidelines: Only fresh application can filed online. The aspirant is required to mention the necessary details, by clicking on “Submit Request”. Once the form is duly filled then next comes the making prescribed payment either through debit/credit cards of Master/Visa or using RuPay card. Once payment is made application can be submitted. On successfully submission of an application, a unique registration number would be issued, to the applicant for future references. For the first appeal to the first Appellate Authority, the applicant is required to click at “Submit First Appeal” and then fill up the page that will appear. For first appeal no payment to be made. The applicant should provide his/her mobile number in order to receive SMS alert. Applicants can view the status of their first appeal by clicking at “View Status”. This is the link for the same. https://rtionline.gov.in/ Conclusion: When it comes to RTI, there are ombudsmen on numerous points to safeguard the Act is tailed in letter and spirit. The Act has hired a ‘perform or perish’ approach, also setting up a instrument to give out information. Every government organization is needed to appoint one employee as a public information officer (PIO). Once a department gets an RTI request, it is the duty of the PIO to supply the information to the candidate within 30 days. Dying to do so means, a monetary fine can be imposed on the PIO. The longer a PIO makes an applicant wait, the more the fine imposed on him/her. There have been instances where PIOs have been asked to cough up amount in thousands of rupees as fine. Every state has an Information Commission, consist of a Chief Information Commissioner and a few information commissioners. Previous judges, IAS, IPS field marshal of perfect record are appointed to these positions by the government. Above them in the chain of command is the Central Information Commission and below them are first and second appellate authorities to see to it that an applicant does get the information he/she has requested. https://lawnn.com/right-to-information-act-all-you-need-know-about-rti-laws-india/ http://www.fuccha.in/things-you-should-know-about-rti-right-to-information
  7. ashakantasharma

    Imperative Facts of RTI

    Imperative Facts of RTI: In the case of, Pradeep S. Ahluwalia v. Delhi Tourism & Transportation Development Corporation[vi], learned council held the following:- If the Public Information Officers, First Appellate Authorities and the Commissions allow reiterated RTI applications, at that point, there will be no termination to the ‘information litigation’ and the public powers that will be at the in receipt of end for no liability of theirs. Public dogma concerns that: ‘it is in the importance of the Public that there should be a culmination to litigation’ and ‘no man should be overtaxed over for the same reason’ It is embedded from the order and the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 that every single citizen has a right to attain information from a concerned public power, but then, only once and not perpetually. Constant filing of RTI applications, by prolonged information-inquirers, has the influence of blockage the public offices by barricading the open flow of information to the eligible and honest RTI applicants, above and beyond precluding the officers of the concerned public authority from carrying out the responsibilities attached to their office.
  8. ashakantasharma

    RTI Fillings in India

    Procedure of filing an RTI In India: The necessary requisites of an application filed under the RTI Act are: The aspirant must be the civilian of India. . The request must cover the details of facts and figures required. The proof of payment of application fee should be hemmed in. The address of the aspirant should be accessible for directing a reply. Private particulars excluding those essential for communicating an applicant are not required to be stated. How to file an RTI plea? The Act proposes a simple process to acquire information. Though some public authorities have their own formats, there is no obligation to stick to the prescribed set-up. Classify the constituent part you want information from as some matters fall under the purview of State governments or local authority such as the municipal administration/panchayat, while others are controlled by the Central government. Write the application by hand, or type it, in English, Hindi or the official language of the area. You can also take the assistance of public information officer to put the application in writing. The application must be addressed to the State/Central Public Information Officer. Provide the name of the concerned office from where you wish to seek information, and the complete, exact address. Mention your request in the specified form and state the period/year your application falls into. To obtain documents, the applicant has to make a payment of Rs. 2 per page. Payment of Rs 10 is required to plea the request either by cash, money order, bank draft or a court fee stamp. The application must bear the stamp. Applicants below the poverty line (BPL) are excluded from making any sort of payment provided they attach a copy of the BPL certificate along with the application. Your full name and address, contact details, email address should be mentioned and sign the application properly. Send your application either by post or hand it over in person to the concerned department. The law mandates that information be provided in 30 days. If this does not happen, you can file an appeal. The first appeal should be addressed to ‘The Appellate Authority’ with the name of the department and the address. The appellate authority is mandated to revert in 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. If the Appellate authority fails to reply, further appeals lie with the Information Commission, the Chief Information Commissioner, State/Central Information Commission. Procedure to file RTI Online: At Online RTI, lawyers hired are specialists at handing out RTIs, so you don’t have to fear about it. Basically just click on your problem, submit your application, and consider your case at the top of the government’s row. Certain Guidelines: Only fresh application can filed online. The aspirant is required to mention the necessary details, by clicking on “Submit Request”. Once the form is duly filled then next comes the making prescribed payment either through debit/credit cards of Master/Visa or using RuPay card. Once payment is made application can be submitted. On successfully submission of an application, a unique registration number would be issued, to the applicant for future references. For the first appeal to the first Appellate Authority, the applicant is required to click at “Submit First Appeal” and then fill up the page that will appear. For first appeal no payment to be made. The applicant should provide his/her mobile number in order to receive SMS alert. Applicants can view the status of their first appeal by clicking at “View Status”. This is the link for the same. https://rtionline.gov.in/ Conclusion: When it comes to RTI, there are ombudsmen on numerous points to safeguard the Act is tailed in letter and spirit. The Act has hired a ‘perform or perish’ approach, also setting up a instrument to give out information. Every government organization is needed to appoint one employee as a public information officer (PIO). Once a department gets an RTI request, it is the duty of the PIO to supply the information to the candidate within 30 days. Dying to do so means, a monetary fine can be imposed on the PIO. The longer a PIO makes an applicant wait, the more the fine imposed on him/her. There have been instances where PIOs have been asked to cough up amount in thousands of rupees as fine. Every state has an Information Commission, consist of a Chief Information Commissioner and a few information commissioners. Previous judges, IAS, IPS field marshal of perfect record are appointed to these positions by the government. Above them in the chain of command is the Central Information Commission and below them are first and second appellate authorities to see to it that an applicant does get the information he/she has requested. https://lawnn.com/right-to-information-act-all-you-need-know-about-rti-laws-india/
  9. As I can see from the Act the principal aim of the act seems to motivate people and encouraging them to have information about the working of the system to see that it works efficiently. But it is said that poverty alleviation is also the aim of this act. I cannot forsee how that can be achieved? Any views?
  10. Madhu Chandra S

    Swachchh Bharat mission

    Please provide the link of sample RTI questions askesd regarding swachchh Bharat mission to panchayat (individual household toilets construction) Sent from my Panasonic P85 using RTI INDIA mobile app
  11. 3 yrs diploma is equivalent intermediate or not ? Sent from my M370i using RTI INDIA mobile app
  12. Severe water clogging problem in the area for a long time. No progress in work even after several intimations to the authorities concerned Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using RTI INDIA mobile app
  13. Can i get information under rti rule from hindalco? my sister made a maintenance case on husband because of ignorance so, how could get the detail of his working days and salary from hindalco lohardaga under rti rule?
  14. Dear Friends, Where can i download a common RTI form from the net? Could you please give me the link. I think many people are put off by using RTI because they do not know how to go about it for specific purposes. Like there is a form for the Municipal Dept another for asking a question to the Zilla Parishad, etc. Pls send me the link to download the common form for filing RTI which i can use. I want to file an RTI to the Education Dept of MCGM and one to Uddhav Thackeray. Please advice me on the common form for Filing RTI to different organizations. gita subramanian
  15. May I get a layout sketch for an unapproved plots for a particular survey number by applying in RTI? Say survey number 55, madavilagam village, Poonamallee taluk. Taluk office they provide only Fmb sketch, not layout is available there or they seems to not giving. Is there anything really called "Panchayat approved" layout? How can I apply RTI for getting layout for a survey number under Poonamallee taluk? Sent from my Redmi Note 3 using RTI INDIA mobile app
  16. I just want to know OC ke baad Fire NOC milti hai kya.. Sent from my A33f using RTI INDIA mobile app
  17. Request please advice if it is correct to approach the Lokayukta for no response and wrong acts of the MCGM and the Fire department. 1) installation of telecommunications towers by the builders Twin construction on a refuge area as annotated by the fire Department. Despite many complaints to the CFO no action taken. 2) The MCGM building proposals / ward officials though informed refrains from any response. 3) Ground floor of the said building Twin arcade. d wing had been leased to a cuddles care (hospital - new natal) and also a kindergarten school franchisee of Wonder kids. The said area of n the records of BMC capital assessment of property tax was shown as residence incomplete. This is been going on from 2010 as per the papers and few documentation obtained, but the BMC officials acted ignorant all times. Writing several mails and letters with no heed even by the Commissioner Mr. Ajoy Mehta. 4)The said hospital is not registered in the record of local BMC as per the reply of Health officer. 5) The said building despite its full CC in 2004 does not have a O.C. Till date. 6) Massive fire took place in October 2016, the fire officer incident report form J listed several discrepancies and awarded the contract to his own people with incomplete and no action follow up. The said visiting fire officer well aware of installation of telecommunication tower in refuge area did not high light the said discrepancies. . Please advise which authority to write when the responsible head of the organisation fails to or does not responds to any mails. Note the several deaths due to fire incidents specially in mumbai under the MCGM authority. Sent from my iPad using RTI INDIA mobile app
  18. Sir, I have send RTI application to p.i.o. through registered post with acknowledgement due. The post had delivered to p.i.o. I can able to know with the help of online tracking status of india post. I have been waiting from 10 days but I didn't get my postal acknowledgement back to me for proof of delivery of post. At this time I can use as a proof of delivery of online track status in place of registered post acknowledgement. Will it be valid or invalid. Thanking you ... Sent from my Redmi 5A using RTI INDIA mobile app
  19. By Zubin Dash in Epw.in on 10 Feb 2018 https://www.epw.in/engage/article/can-government-continue-unhindered-wiretapping-without-flouting-right-privacy [Note: Open the link in a new browser tab and change https to http] Communications surveillance constitutes an important component in maintaining the sovereignty, integrity, and security of the state, and in aiding in the prevention and investigation of crimes. However, there are reports of tools of mass surveillance being deployed by the government. This article argues for a mechanism which institutionally provides greater checks, and does not provide untrammelled access to the state in our private lives. Introduction The Justice Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017) judgment has set the ball rolling for evolving a new privacy paradigm, strengthening the case for individual privacy protection, and touching upon varied facets of the right, encompassing everything from the kitchen to the bedroom to the closet. One of the most common and well-known state-sanctioned intrusions into our privacy is the interception of our telephonic conversations. Telephonic interception is one of the oldest forms of surveillance employed by the state. It is no surprise thus, that the bulk of its regulations continue to stem from colonial laws. Now that doubts regarding the nature and existence of the right to privacy have been put to rest, it is time for the government, members of parliament, and various privacy law advocates to begin a comprehensive relook at the interception architecture in place. Privacy advocates indeed have a reason to celebrate. Apart from the recent historical nine-judge bench decision recognising the right to privacy as a fundamental right, it has also been two decades since another very historical decision, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v Union of India (1997), commonly known as the wiretap case. This judgment is significant because it was here that the Court found that powers of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to intercept telephonic communications, must be guided by duly established legal procedures, because interception involves an intrusion into an individual’s freedom to exercise rights conferred under articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution. The Court laid down guidelines for how requests for authorisation of interception are to be carried out, the period of interception, and so on. These guidelines were subsequently notified by the government. India's communications surveillance framework has several problems. First, there is divergence between the various statutes that govern the interception frameworks of different communications (such as posts, telephone, and the internet) in terms of the varying grounds that they provide to the state to intercept such communications (Kharbanda 2015). Second, the actual procedure governing the authorisation of the interception calls for closer examination. The efficacy of present systemic safeguards against abuse in this regard is doubtful. Third, there is a paucity of data in the public domain pertaining to various facets of the interception architecture. Little information exists in the public domain as to the extent of state surveillance over our communications. Tying in with this problem of information asymmetry between the state and its citizens is the fact that there are reports of tools of mass surveillance being deployed by the government (Prakash 2013). The legality of such interception measures is untested in courts of law, which may find that they fall foul of the overarching constitutional standards for derogation of fundamental rights. This article examines certain aspects of the second and the third problems stated above. Rules of the Game: Well Intentioned but not Practical While the power to intercept telephonic communications comes from Section 5 of the Telegraph Act, 1885 the procedure regulating how the competent LEAs are to carry out this interception is governed by the Telegraph Rules, 1951. Under rule 419A, the union home secretary in case of central LEAs, or the home secretary of the state governments in case of the state police grants authorisation to such agencies to intercept telephonic conversations. The rules also provide for delegation to an officer of the rank of joint secretary in unavoidable cases. In exigent circumstances, however, the concerned LEA may itself, with the permission of its head or the second highest ranking officer (not below the rank of inspector-general), carry out emergency interception, but must notify the home secretary within three days and also explain the circumstances. Failing subsequent ratification by the home secretary within seven days, this interception must cease immediately. The central agencies authorised to carry out telephonic interception include the Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Narcotics Control Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, Directorate of Signals Intelligence, and the Central Board of Direct Taxes. In addition, similar powers have also been provided to the state police forces (Singh 2014). The Rules also provide for a review mechanism. Under these rules, a review committee headed by the cabinet secretary in case of the centre and the chief secretary in case of the states has been established. This committee is to receive a copy of every authorisation of interception by the concerned home secretary within seven days of him/her doing so, and must meet at least once every two months to review the same. In case they find the reasons wanting, the interception must cease with immediate effect. Prima facie, these rules appear comprehensive enough and padded with sufficient safeguards. Yet, based on central government responses to right to information (RTI) requests, annually, the union home ministry approves close to 1 lakh requests for interception, while some estimates place the number between 7,500–9,000 requests per month (SFLC 2014). Even if we assume the lower number at 7,500 interception requests per month to be true, it would mean that the home secretary has to scrutinise about 250 requests for authorisation per day. It is pertinent to note that whilst considering requests for interception by LEAs, the secretary/joint secretary must mandatorily consider whether there are alternate means to acquire the information sought, and if not, then the reasons requiring interception should be recorded in the order authorising interception. The order must also specify which officer is authorised to carry out the interception, to whom such officer may disclose details revealed in the course of the interception, and so on. Clearly, the rules contemplate a near quasi-judicial application of mind, and not merely a clerical process of blindly approving or rejecting such requests. It may be noted that the mandate of the union home ministry includes matters relating to border management, internal security, Jammu and Kashmir affairs, census, official language, centre–state relations, union territories administration, human rights, police, prison management and freedom fighters' pensions (MHA 2015). The union home secretary, thus, is responsible for the overall functioning of all these matters. One can only imagine how he/she can do justice to every application that infringes upon citizens’ essential freedoms given the quantum of interception requests, and the wide variety of affairs the home secretary must see to on a daily basis. All of this does not even consider how many home secretaries in the past have had any legal training or technical competence to make such decisions. Home secretaries at both the central and state level are drawn from the Indian Administrative Service. Thus, a decision regarding a fit case for authorising interception is not made by judicial officers or individuals with experience in law enforcement and intelligence gathering, but by a generalist bureaucrat. This has serious ramifications, not just from the point of view of individuals’ right to privacy being violated, but also even from the point of view of the state. Imagine a bureaucrat, bereft of any legal, judicial or technical training, afraid of being pulled up for sanctioning too many authorisations for interception, who chooses to err on the side of caution and rejects the majority of such applications en masse. Considering the mandate of the concerned LEAs, such a decision of the home secretary authorising or rejecting requests for interception would have implications on national security, terrorism-related matters, smuggling of arms and fake Indian currency notes, and possibly also massive revenue losses for the exchequer. It is thus clear that the present model needs a major overhaul. Attempts have been made to bring about reforms. The aforementioned PUCL judgment was the starting point of such attempts. Recently, a bill touching upon this aspect was introduced in Parliament. It envisages a separate authority to deal specifically with such requests. It would be interesting to note the direction of the parliamentary debates over this bill in light of the recent Puttaswamy judgment. Given the fate of earlier bills of a similar nature in the parliament, there is not much cause for optimism. Another model which may be considered is that of the United States, which sees prior judicial intervention, wherein a judge authorises a wiretap, much like how a judge would issue a warrant to make searches and seizures, or to arrest accused persons (Solove 2007). This model, while certainly more attractive from a human rights perspective, may be debatable in the Indian context considering that the judiciary is already overburdened with high rates of pendency combined with huge vacancies (Gowda 2015). It is pertinent to ask whether it is wise to have multiple judges accessing sensitive details of ongoing investigations versus having a single home secretary. There is also a question on whether the subordinate judiciary (if made part of this architecture) is competent to make such determinations. It is clear that whichever model is ultimately chosen, be it an independent authority or a privacy commissioner as some suggest (Justice A P Shah (Retd) Committee 2012), this authority should draw its staff from the judiciary, LEAs, the intelligence community and the civil society. In the interim, while different models are considered, at the very least, the home secretary may be provided a dedicated team of joint secretaries, having prior experience in intelligence, investigations and security. Data for Robust Privacy Protection Regime Another concern in this respect is the lack of information that the government is willing to part with. On an RTI application to the union home ministry seeking information on the agency-wise and month-wise break up of the number of requests for authorisation of interception, the response stated that such information was not available, and even if it were, the information would be denied under Section 8 of the RTI Act. Interestingly, information had been provided to the applicant in a similar RTI request in 2014 (SFLC 2014). These RTI requests filed were carefully drafted so as to not seek information which would compromise India's security, or any ongoing investigations. The intention was to simply discern how many such requests there have been in the past, and what principles guide the home secretary’s decision-making process. Unfortunately, replies were not provided, and where they were, they were vague. Without adequate data about the nature and extent of interception, reform measures cannot adequately target current institutional flaws. Any proposed oversight mechanism would only find itself stifled, and reasoned public discussion on the same would not be possible. The Delhi High Court’s recent decision in CPIO, Intelligence Bureau v Sanjiv Chaturvedi (2017), is significant because it brought intelligence agencies such as the IB into the fold of the RTI Act when the information sought pertains to allegations of corruption or human rights violations. Considering that the Supreme Court recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right, and that this right figures in several international human rights instruments (such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), it could now be argued that data with respect to interception, so long as not compromising national security, intelligence gathering, and ongoing investigations, ought to be provided. The justification given by the union home ministry therefore may no longer hold good. Given the importance the judiciary has accorded to this right, data in this respect is not only useful for academic pursuits, but also for the realisation of the citizens’ fundamental human rights. Conclusions A note of caution—this article recognises that communications surveillance constitutes an important component in maintaining the sovereignty, integrity, and security of the state, and also in aiding in the prevention and investigation of crimes. It simply argues for a mechanism which institutionally provides greater checks, and does not provide untrammelled access to the state in our private lives. Such fears of abuse are not unfounded, as cases of illegal wiretaps have been reported in the press, discussed in Parliament, and even taken to court (Khetan et al 2010; Singh 2014). Similarly, access to information pertaining to our interception architecture is also understandably scarce. This paper does not argue for a regime of privacy where all data relating to interception is made publicly available. Rather, it argues for making data available in order to aid both policymakers and courts of law in understanding and limiting overbroad state intrusions into citizens’ private lives without compromising on the purpose behind legitimate interceptions. Some argue that those who have nothing to hide need not be afraid of surveillance. This argument is flawed since it does not consider how pervasive surveillance influences human behaviour, inducing what is termed as the “chilling effect,” making people alter their behaviour due to their expectation of constantly being watched (Solove 2007). This in turn affects the exercise of essential liberties such as the freedoms of speech, expression, and association. It can even be used as tool to curb legitimate activities and to stifle dissent (Solove 2012). Such concerns must never be allowed to persist in a country with a democratic ethos as strong as India’s. While the right to privacy has been termed by many as the “most cherished right” of individuals, yet its enjoyment suffers from what is termed as the privacy paradox (Blank et al 2014). This theory suggests that while an individual cares about her theoretical right to privacy, when it comes to the actual exercise of the right, the right-holders are willing to contractually alienate the right based on other considerations such as peer pressure and social norms. Despite this seemingly paradoxical situation, the widespread acceptance of the recent Supreme Court decision has shown that people do indeed value this right. Consensus largely exists that state-based intrusions into our private lives are not permissible, barring a few cases. It is apt thus, to make the most of this heightened public awareness of our constitutional liberties and freedoms. These energies must be channelled to reform the existing surveillance architecture as well. [Zubin Dash is a Lok Sabha Research Fellow]
  20. Guest

    Life and liberty case of RTI

    I want to file a application of rti to p.i.o. under life and liberty . After delivered of RTI application to p.i.o , does he think the matter which I have applied through rti not belongs under life and liberty section of rti. Will he reject an application, ( or) Will he provide the information u/s 6(1), (or) Will he provide the intimation to me, your application doesn't comes under life and liberty, so we can forwarded to u/6(1) rti application. Complete Grievance action taken report comes under life and liberty section of rti or normal application of rti u/s 6(1). Please guide me thanking you.... Sent from my Redmi 5A using RTI INDIA mobile app
  21. Please explain the difference between lok adalat and permanent lok adalat . What is the process to apply, At what day(Saturday or second Saturday) we can file the case into loka adalat or permanent lok adalat, What is the duration to complete the case in lok adalat or permanent lok adalat, Hon' ble chairman how deals with case, how passes an award to both the party related to any matter,(specially civil and revenue department of state govt. ) Directly we can file the case in loka adalat or permanent lok adalat, before going to concerned court. What are the precautions to take before filing case in loka adalat or permanent lok adalat, What is the letter format of loka adalat or permanent lok adalat to file the case, One of my friend needs this information, please guide me. Thanking you in anticipation of your help Sent from my Redmi 5A using RTI INDIA mobile app
  22. Can i get information under rti rule from hindalco? my sister made a maintenance case on husband because of ignorance so, how could get the detail of his working days and salary from hindalco lohardaga under rti rule
  23. Shrawan

    The Importance of Right to Information

    RTI makes our mind fertile and responsible citizen
  24. salmanshaikh786

    RTI Act Rule 8(1)J ..!!

    Respected Hon'ble Members.... Personnel information will not be disclosed if it is so it required large public interest... How we have to consider the large public interest..is there any fixed numeric or any value which describes the same... Plz help me Out..!! Sent from my iPhone using RTI INDIA mobile app
  25. If the CBSE exam marks are available online now, then there can be no claim of right to privacy for the previous students, the Delhi high court said on Thursday. The court’s observation came during the hearing of the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) plea challenging a Central Information Commission (CIC) direction allowing inspection of Union minister Smriti Irani’s Class 10th and Class 12th records to an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. “Are all the CBSE marks of students available in the public domain today? If it is possible today, then you cannot say there is a right of privacy qua results of earlier students,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru observed. Read more at: Right to privacy not an issue if marks of students are available online, HC says - Times of India
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