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Found 45 results

  1. Atul Patankar

    SIC gets on with the job well

    As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 30 May 2009 LUCKNOW: When it comes to disposal of cases State Information Commission (SIC) has done a better job than Central Information Commission (CIC). According to the information provided by SIC, CIC got 10,274 cases in 2007. Out of which it disposed off 6,979 cases. On the other hand, SIC got 14,565 cases in 2008 and it disposed off 10,285 cases in the year. The percentage of disposal at CIC was 68 whereas for SIC it was 70.61. The number of cases filed at State Information Commission is going up with each passing year. The cases coming to the commission are mostly complaints that are filed under section 18 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The reason behind the increase in number of complaints is two fold. There is an increase in awareness among people regarding the RTI Act. Secondly, the appeals filed with the appellate authorities of government departments are not getting due hearing and attention. As a result, complainants are approaching the commission. The commission has released the total number of cases filed up at the commission for three years separately. The commission was set up on March 22, 2006. Maximum number of cases per month, 2,669 have been filed in 2008. But maximum per cent (87%) of cases were disposed off in 2007 Source: SIC gets on with the job well - Lucknow - Cities - The Times of India
  2. Atul Patankar

    Misuse of RTI Act detected

    As reported by Reema Narendran at www.expressbuzz.com on 14 May 2009 THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Public Information Office (PIO) at the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), which has been making a mockery of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, is getting a taste of its own medicine. The PIO at KSCSTE has received letters stamped with Rs 10 court fee stamps, but with signatures that are forged and addresses that are incorrect. It was on May 4 that the office first received a series of questions on the Young Investigators Programme in Biotechnology (YIPB) of the Kerala Biotechnology Commission from one N. Jayakrishnan residing at `Vyshnavam,’ Vattavila in Thirumala. However, this Jayakrishnan, who is also the purchase officer at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, has denied any knowledge of this letter. ``I have not asked for any information nor do I know anything about the issues related to the YIPB programme,’’ Jayakrishnan told Expresso. ``The signature is almost like mine, but I never signed this document. My old signature is available at the Council. Somebody must have copied it,’’ he said. Copying somebody else’s signature, that too on a paper stamped with Rs 10 court fee stamp, amounts to fraud, the fraudster can thank the stars that the Right to Information Act is silent on this. ``In such cases, when the person denies having sent a letter, the request should be automatically terminated,’’ said State Chief Information Commissioner Palat Mohandas. Sources at the KSCSTE allege that the letter was sent just to harass a top official who had been attempting to set the records straight at the KSCSTE. The very specific nature of the questions in the letter also points to the possibility of the forged letter being an inside job. The address is almost the same as that of Jayakrishnan, but he denies having a residents’ association number. ``There is a slight change in the T.C. number and I don’t have a VPS number as shown in the letter,’’ said Jayakrishnan. The letter has a VPS number of 318-A and the T.C. Number as 19/304 (2). An office where genuine questions never get a genuine reply, the PIO had become notorious for kicking the public from one office to another when they ask for information. ``Ask them about the Science Congress, they would ask you to contact the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, an organisation the KSCSTE had deputed for the conduct of the Congress. Ask them about the CESS director’s qualifications, they would send you to CESS. When you contact the CESS for the same, they would say it is available only at the KSCSTE,’’ said sources. Even the appellate authority is an expert at the `Passing the parcel’ game, with the public never getting any satisfactory replies even after waiting for months together. The Kerala State Information Commissioners’ Office has also received a number of complaints as to the functioning of the KSCSTE PIO. Source: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Misuse+of+RTI+Act+detected&artid=QZlwc5tHeag=&SectionID=lMx/b5mt1kU=&MainSectionID=lMx/b5mt1kU=&SEO=KSCSTE,+Palat+Mohandas.&SectionName=tm2kh5uDhixGlQvAG42A/07OVZOOEmts
  3. As reported at www.hindu.com on 20 March 2009. Mumbai (PTI): With over 4.16 lakh applications received under the Right to Information (RTI), Maharashtra has become the first state to receive four lakh plus queries under RTI, more than the number in countries like Britain and Mexico. "Maharashtra received 4,16,090 applications under RTI last year, whereas in Britain 60,000 queries and in Mexico 94,000 queries were filed under the RTI," a report released by the State Information Commission said. The state implemented the Act from October 2005 before the Centre promulgated it. The Act became so popular that the state got 1,23,000 queries in 2006, and the number went to 3,16,000 in 2007, the report said. Elaborating on the applications received by various state Government departments, the report quoted the department of Urban Development has received the highest number of questions (1,04,766) followed by Revenue Department (70,419) Home Department (45,363) and the least applications in Forest Department (9,676). The Government replied to 3,97,662 applications last year. The Government has also collected Rs 76.67 lakh as the application fee. No fee is charged for applicants below poverty line, it said. Source: The Hindu News Update Service
  4. Atul Patankar

    It’s our right to information

    As reported at www.expressbuzz.com on 27 February, 2009 There is too little of sustained pressure from citizen groups on our rulers to explain what they are up to. We say this on the occasion of a victory for public accountability flowing from a petition by this newspaper to Karnataka’s appellate authority for enforcing the national Right to Information (RTI) Act. As we reported recently, the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC), the said body, has directed the state government to ensure that all Cabinet decisions are to be made public, and the records of such meetings are to be properly preserved. The state government had declined to give any details of such decisions, and the first level of appeal specified in the RTI, within the bureaucracy, had said such disclosure wasn’t possible. Reminders that the Union government puts out all such decisions by its Cabinet on a website were of no avail. What saved the day for common sense and accountability was that the KIC is an independent body and decided this stand of the state government was nonsense. And our query is how the government was able to get away, for all these decades and regardless of which party was elected to power, with such denial of basic accountability. The answer should be clear to all of us — there was no pressure from electors to do otherwise. Note, for instance, that Karnataka’s ruling party is governing the state on its own for the first time ever and still new in office; they’ve taken no time at all to pick up the habits of an oligarchic ruling class. And they are not unique at all; it is hard to find any of the 30-odd governments in India, past or present, Union or state, whether run by parties of the left, centre or right, pro-Dalit or otherwise, which exuded or exudes a different culture when in power. Since it is we, the citizens, who both elect them and also need this information, the responsibility for such a state of affairs should be pondered by each of us. Why would those in power explain what they are doing and why, if there is no imperative on them to do so? The culture of joining hands to exchange information on institutions and rules, and on what reforms these need, is still to take deep root in our country, despite all these decades of formal democracy. Why not begin, each of us, by applying under the RTI on local matters? Source: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=It%E2%80%99s+our+right+to+information&artid=SGnJ2Y0D/II=&SectionID=RRQemgLywPI=&MainSectionID=RRQemgLywPI=&SEO=KIC,+RTI&SectionName=XQcp6iFoWTvPHj2dDBzTNA==
  5. As reported by Rahul Mangaonkar of TNN on 19 March 2008: Welcome When will this man wake up and act? State govt’s dithering on GIC staff robbing RTI Act of teeth Ahmedabad: The Right to Information (RTI) Act has its origin in the need for survival of the people and their fundamental rights. But the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), whose job is to enforce the Act, finds its own survival in question with no staff being allocated by the state government six months after it was sanctioned and a backlog of a whopping 3,665 cases to dispose. This had prompted RTI activists, led by Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal of Parivartan and Nikhil Dey of Majdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, to take on the state government at a seminar on RTI here on Monday. They said they are ready to offer their services to run GIC at a token fee of Re 1. Activists are peeved at the way the state’s general administration department and the administrative reforms and training department (ARTD) under it, responsible for allotment of staff to GIC, have failed to act. TOI had earlier reported how in September last year, the chief minister’s office (CMO) sanctioned the appointment of 35 additional staff for GIC, which started in 2005. Against a total sanctioned strength of 46, the GIC is functioning with just 11, which includes peons and drivers. And, the man who could have given GIC the teeth, PK Gera, an IAS officer of 1985 batch, has not shown any willingness to ensure that his department allocates the people. Gera should know, having served at the Central Information Commission in Delhi. However, all that Gera has to say is that “it is GAD that is not allotting the staff.” Gera says these staff could be allotted once the two new commissioners are appointed, activists point out that these commissioners too are part of the same GIC. “The 35 additional staff sanctioned are for the new commissioners. Let them take charge and staff will follow,” Gera insists. “The staff crunch has only emboldened those officers who do not wish to comply with the RTI regime as they feel that the system has no teeth,” said Kejriwal. CAUGHT NAPPING: TOI photographer found administrative reforms and training division secretary P K Gera sleeping while citizens narrated their RTI experiences at a seminar in Ahmedabad on Monday
  6. As reported by Mahak Jain on ndtv.com on 22 March 2008: NDTV.com: Pune fast tracks pending RTI petitions Pune fast tracks pending RTI petitions There are 3700 cases pertaining to Right to Information Act pending with Maharashtra's Pune Division alone. Delays that threaten to derail the democratic process, but Pune is attempting to fast track this right. Minajuddin Qazi taught in an Urdu school in Solapur for ten years when his job was terminated for no apparent reason. Qazi filed an RTI application in June 2006, but didn't help bringing justice soon. But now to justice has been fast-track where there's a public forum in Pune where members of the public get to meet the information officers at a two-month-long Special Appeals Disposable Program. Vijay Kuwalekar, Information Commissioner said, ''We organised this programme because 3000 appeals were pending. The backlog sets a bad precedent.'' So in true letter and spirit of the RTI Act, 300 appeals were disposed of in just two days. Something will cut down on justice disposal time for each appeal from a year to just four months. The program a little idealistic but if successful will not set an example for other information commissioners and save the true meaning of RTI Act itself.
  7. bhushan


    Title - SIC, Maharashtra Hello, I'm an activist from mumbai. I need some info to argue in SIC, Mah.
  8. Tekuru

    Appeal to SIC/CIC

    A citizen filed an application with central public authority and failed to get satisfactory reply from CPIO in a state can appeal to SIC in a state or to CIC directly.Please clarify
  9. Info commissioner ticks off RTI activists as reported by Ashutosh Shukla, October 25, 2008 DNA He did not allow them to scrutinise commission’s files The State Information Commission (SIC) is the authority that is expected to ensure that the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, is followed in letter and spirit. However, on Friday, in the first-ever inspection of its own files by a bunch of RTI activists, SIC came up a cropper. As per the RTI Act, any citizen can demand for a personal scrutiny of files under Sec 4 of the Act, and no public authority — not even the SIC — can deny inspection. State information commissioner S Joshi told the activists that his office was busy and hence could not allow the inspection to take place. When activists requested for inspection of a fraction of what they actually wanted to inspect, Joshi said that they would be entertained only after Diwali. The activists, including Krishnaraj Rao, Gaurang Vohra, IK Chhugani, Mohammed Afzal and Sundeep Jalan, were prompted to conduct an inspection of the SIC files, after hearing the travails of Nagendra Pandey, a slumdweller from Shivajinagar, Malad (E). Pandey sought information of the last time his slum society conducted elections, its present members and a list of people living in his slum, which was to undergo redevelopment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme. Pandey filed an RTI in November 2006 with the deputy registrar and later with the appellate authority, but did not get any reply to either. “After a year, I got a date with the information commissioner in July 2008. He gave an extension of 30 days to public information officer (PIO) and now almost three months later, I still have no information. The PIO too was not fined,” he said. Pressed with an urge to check if the authority was indeed doing its job and appeals showed any positive results, the activists decided to check on the disposal of the RTI appeals and orders passed on them from January to September 2008 on Friday. In the meeting, Joshi, on Pandey’s issue, said, “If the person was not satisfied, he can move court.” “Any PIO who does not provide information should cite reasons or be fined. They are given undue and unlawful leniency. Timeliness and penalty are the teeth of the Act,” he said. Rao countered, “The commission cannot pass the buck of safeguarding RTI to the court. By this attitude, the SIC is also devaluing the sanctity of the Act.” DNA - Mumbai - Info commissioner ticks off RTI activists - Daily News & Analysis
  10. As reported by Viju B of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 22 August 2008: Filing an RTI query? Be prepared to wait -Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India Filing an RTI query? Be prepared to wait MUMBAI: The UPA government last week proposed an initiative to convert a phone call into an RTI application in order to spread the movement across the country. Ironically, the state where the RTI movement has been a runaway success may soon be rendered ineffective as the number of pending appeals has reached an all-time high. The six information commissions across Maharashtra have a whopping 16,866 appeals pending till June this year. While the information commissions had received a total 26,870 appeals, the commissions had disposed of 9,914 appeals till June this year. An applicant is often forced to file a second appeal with the State Information Commission (SIC) after both the RTI query and the first appeal fail to provide the exact information the applicant had sought. Last year, over 3 lakh RTI queries were filed across the state, but the number of appeals mounted as months progressed. Mumbai alone has 4,818 appeals pending till June this year. RTI activists said all six information commissioners should dispose of appeals at a faster pace if the Act has to survive in the long run. "Appeals that have been filed one-and-a-half-years ago are still pending with the commission. At this rate, by the end of 2009, the pendency will be over three years old,'' said RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi. In 2007, the commissioners had disposed of 3,600 appeals and complaints and, on an average, disposed of about 900 appeals per commissioner per year. "The pendency can be reduced effectively by reducing the inflow of second appeals and complaints, and secondly by increasing the rate disposals,'' Gandhi said. A comparison with the disposal of cases with the Bombay high court judges and the information commissioners show that while each high court judge disposed of on an average 2,530 cases annually, the information commissioner on an average disposed of 899 appeals last year. Activists said the commissions could reduce the number of appeals considerably if they were more severe on penalties. "The public information office (PIO) and appellate authority today do not care to provide information as they know that they will not be pulled up,'' said Bhaskar Prabhu of Mahaadikar . Meanwhile, officials at the SIC said they are heavily understaffed and till date, their pleas to appoint a law officer and registrar have not been considered. "Many appeals could have been cleared at the level of the appellate authority, but they refuse to provide information on frivolous grounds,'' the SIC official said. On Friday, a group of RTI activists are planning to submit a memorandum to the SIC and request the commission to reduce the pendency of cases to 90 days.
  11. Recently, I have been reading all the decisions taken by a SIC. From the orders/decisions posted on the internet it is very clear that: 1. Virtually no one has been penalised under RTI Act 2. The orders which ask respondents to comply and supply information do not carry any final date for doing so...they only say "at the earliest" 3. Decisions are very "lame" as compared to similar decisions taken by CIC or other SIC's. Can I file a RTI application with the PIO of the SIC (if the PIO exists) and ask for the following information: 1. How many appeals filed with the SIC on a monthly basis since 1st April 2005 ? 2. How many of these appeals, on a monthly basis, were disposed off because they were incomplete or were not following the proper procedure as laid down in the act ? 3. In how many instances was penalty levied against a PIO for delay in furnishing information ? 4. In how many instances was penalty levied on PIO for providing incorrect, incomplete and misleading information ? 5. Whether the SIC has recommended any departmental action or disciplinary action against a PIO or any other officer of the State for not complying with provisions of the RTI Act ? Any suggestions ?
  12. What to do when the PIO does not obey the orders of the SIC ? There are orders of CIC spelling out that such an act amount to " offence under various Sections of IPC" and in such cases the Commission recommend for appropriate action to the PA. But the act is silent on the cource of action of appellants when the PIO does not obey the orders issued by the Commission or continue to give malafide or incorrect information. However the practice hitherto been was to Complain before the SIC. Often, on enquiry from the Commission based on the Second Complaint, the PIO invariably furnish the information and report to SIC that the information sought for has already been furnished. Knowingly or unknowingly the commission does not probe the date of furnishing the information leaving the PIO scot free for disobedience of its orders and make the appellant face the brunt. Following is an extract of a typical case decided by Kerala SIC vide his order CP No.492/2007/SIC dated 31-3-2008 x x x x 2. The Commission pursued action on the complaint and report was obtained from the PIO. The PIO reported that information as requested by the petitioner had already been given. 3. The Commission while considering the case found that the matter leading to this complaint had already ben consdiered in AP. No.116/2006 and orders thereto issued on 9-7-2006. The Commission is constrained to observe that the Commission cannnot nor is expected to consider a case, on unlimited times to satisfy a complainant/appellant. Once an appeal is considered and orders issued thereto, that is final. The appellant, may, however, on exceptional grounds approach the Comnmission, to review with a Review Petition. The Commission may consider it on merit and dispose it off as per the procedure adopted for the disposal Review Petitions by the Courts. 4. The complaint is disposed off accordingly. x x x x The above order imply that theSIC does not appreciate an appellant complaining second time after it issued orders irrespectibve of its disobedience by the PIO. The delay involved in this case is more than 16 months and the SIC is not at all bothered. What is the solution ?
  13. sidmis

    Ill-Equipped SICs

    RTI Act plea shows SICs ill-equipped As reported in The Pioneer on New Delhi on 21/03/2008 When Rajya Sabha MP MV Mysura Reddy set out to seek information under RTI Act from the implementing agencies - State Information Commissions - little did he realise that law enforcers could become law breakers. Out of the 26 commissions he sought information from, 17 did not even acknowledge his applications. This is not all. Even the nine commissions that responded either complained of lack of funds and staff or did not furnish the complete information in the required format. Dr Reddy started his quest for information in January. He sought information on several aspects including how many cases were pending, complaints received, action taken against errant officials. Two months down the line, only a handful of States have responded. Even these replies have revealed what the common man has to go through to exercise his right to information. Sample this: Himachal Pradesh asked Dr Reddy to deposit Rs 65 (including Rs 25 registered post charges) if he needed the information. This is when there were no photocopies of documents sought. According to RTI rules, the States can charge money to provide photocopies of files or documents sought. Himachal Pradesh is the only State that asked for this sum. Maharashtra, which had notified its Act in October 2005, has given a meticulous and proper reply. Apart from Maharashtra, no other State was willing. Goa and Kerala openly admitted to facing a "shortage of staff" problem. Despite the rule that the applicant can seek information on a plain sheet of paper, Orissa returned the application asking Dr Reddy to apply in a particular format on Form A, which was attached. While Tamil Nadu made a half-hearted attempt at providing information, it made no bones about the fact that the reply was not in the format asked for. The reply clearly said: "We have to concentrate on providing information expeditiously and dispose the cases as quickly as possible and we have stuck to this procedure right from the beginning." However, the SIC did not provide any data at all and vague replies have been given. Similarly, Punjab SIC has simply stated: "Please refer to our website" in several questions. Dr Reddy said: "The Information Commissions seem to have become a rehabilitation centre for retiring officers. As a Rajya Sabha MP I have the privilege of writing a letter and seeking information and the officers must reply to me. But here most commissions have not even bothered to acknowledge." Dr Reddy has already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue and is now planning to move a Private Members Amendment Bill in Parliament to make RTI Act more stringent.
  14. As reported by UNI in newkerala.com on 19 March 2008: Andhra Pradesh Information Commission adopts new schemes under RTI @ NewKerala.Com News, India Andhra Pradesh Information Commission adopts new schemes under RTI Hyderabad, Mar 19: The Andhra Pradesh Information Commission has adopted an 'innovative' file tracking system by click of the mouse and Mobile SMS schemes to know the status of the applications filed by people under the Right To Information (RTI) Act in the State, State Chief Information Commissioner CD Arha said today Addressing the media here after presenting the annual report of the State Information Commission on the implementation of the RTI Act in 2007 to Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy at the Secretariat, he said the new schemes would help in the speedy disposal of the applications. Admitting that there was still some lacunae in the implementation of the RTI Act, Mr Arha said the disposal of applications at the grassroots level was 87 per cent. The second appeals and complaints had increased two-fold as compared to 2006. Similarly, the applications received from the rural areas have increased three times. The 2007 report would be placed before the Assembly during the ongoing budget session, the official said, adding that the State was the first in the country to submit its report to the State Government.
  15. karira

    West Bengal SIC - Won't Tell

    As reported in telegraphindia.com on 10 March 2008: The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | won’t tell WON’T TELL The State in West Bengal is yet to shed its habits of secrecy. None less than the secretary of the state information commission has admitted publicly that three years into the passing of the Right to Information Act in India, the government and most public bodies in Bengal are loath to provide information unless pressed, and even then they would do so with deliberate vagueness. He has also confessed that his two-year-old commission has not yet managed to play a significant role in transforming governance and citizenship in Bengal, putting this to a century-old history of public servants being sworn to secrecy. About a year ago, the governor had sought a report from the commission on how the RTI Act was helping ordinary people. This was prompted by a flurry of complaints from citizens that the commission was failing to do its job. The commission’s response — which was, paradoxically, confidential — reportedly made the same confessions, failing even to give the names of information officers in the various departments and in the districts. A few months after this, the president of the RTI Manch wanted to know the number of applications filed in the state under the act and how many of those were disposed of. He was told by the commission that it was unable to provide him with this information because it was still inadequately computerized. Trying to meet his demand was therefore “disproportionately diverting resources of the office, hampering all other works”. The failure to provide information is considerably more culpable and sinister than disorganization or inefficiency. The unwillingness to be accountable and transparent comes from having many things to hide. The running of all public bodies, from the government, to the civic authorities, to boards of higher education, to institutions in charge of public health, all using public funds and rendering essential services, is likely to be revolutionized by the RTI Act, if it is properly used. In this, it is equally the responsibility of the citizen to want to know, as it is of the State to inform. And this is where the question of awareness becomes crucial: teaching people, many of whom are the most disempowered in the country, the nature of the weapon that has been placed in their hands. To remain unaware of, or be prevented from using, this prerogative would be a sad and dangerous thing for a modern democracy.
  16. The State Information Commission has come to the rescue of a paralysed man Rakesh Kumar Talwar, who had sought information under the Right To Information (RTI) Act on why the district administration sent letters regarding his compensation on his old address. SIC held that the delay in giving information to Talwar, and the unpleasantness in the Public Information Office (PIO), caused him harassment and mental tension. The Commission has held that “not only had there been delay but also great harassment and mental tension caused to the applicant (Talwar) due to the unpleasantness in the Public Information Office.” Talwar had gone to PIO to get information, following written instructions received by him to do so. Talwar, who was paralysed after falling into an uncovered manhole, had approached the Commission for its intervention in his case. The victim had asked the Commission to probe why the official letters sent to him were delivered on his old address. In July 1998, when Talwar was driving a scooter through a flooded street in Dhobi Ghat near new DMC, he was unable to anticipate an open manhole and had fallen into it. “I have not received the letters forwarded to me in my compensation case by the SDM’s office. I have approached the Commission, urging it to direct the administration to show me the letters which were claimed to be sent on my old address,” said Talwar in his complaint. Talwar had stated that when he went to PIO, a clerk misbehaved with him. Meanwhile, the SDM has submitted the explanation in the Commission that “the complaint is not admissible on the grounds that the requisite fee was not paid by the complainant as per requirement of the RTI Act.” The SDM also claimed that no one misbehaved with Talwar, and this was just an allegation. But the Commission observed that this explanation was not satisfactory. “To state today that the complaint is not admissible on the ground that the requisite fee was not paid, is rubbing salt into the wounds of the complainant,” the Commission observed in it’s order. Though Talwar did not wish to pursue the complaint against the person who misbehaved him, the Commission closed the case with a strong warning to the PIO office of SDM Ludhiana. The Commission also warned the clerk Sham Shunder, who allegedly misbehaved with Talwar, not to repeat such behaviour. SIC comes to rescue of paralysed man
  17. Another state information commissioner (SIC) is in the line of fire. After PK Verma, it is time for the complaint against another SIC Surinder Singh to reach governor house here. It is alleged that Singh, in reply to a query under the RTI Act, chooses to hand over fresh demand drafts instead of the information demanded by the complainant. There is a case of RK Singla versus PIO chief engineer irrigation works at Shahpur Kandi, where Singh, along with Lt Gen PK Grover, in their judgment did this. TOI has reported the earlier petition pending before the governor against Verma, alleging he gave favours to a fellow IAS officer Priyank Bharti, and reviewed his own judgment in back date. In the present case, a complaint was made to Punjab governor SF Rodrigues, who is appointing authority of these information commissioners to consider the application and refer to the chief justice of Supreme Court for removal of Surinder Singh in particular. Singh, incidentally, is a retired chief engineer from the irrigation department, and according to the complainant, is a close friend of the respondent. "It was a favour given to the respondent, and SIC lied under oath," Singla said. He tried his best to hush up the matter and defend the corrupt officers in irrigation department, Singla said. He cited Section 2 of RTI Act defining "information" as any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models and data material held in electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force. "It was not the information which I demanded," said Singla, who is posted as JE with the irrigation works department. Moreover, he said, Surinder overstepped his powers, as he is not a judge but an information commissioner, and fresh demand drafts are no information. "I was asking for details of the drafts issued to me in the last 20 years, and the department has done fraud with few drafts issued to me. I was aiming to expose them," he said. After this, Singh allegedly became party to the fraud committed in the irrigation department. Talking to TOI, Singh said demand draft is also information, and was handed over to the complainant as he had put forth many queries. "He wanted to know about the status of the drafts issued to him; the respondents gave new drafts instead," said Singh. But his comment is not bought by many. Hatinder Jain of Resurgence India, a leading RTI activist in north India, said, "Information is what we demand, not what you give. Moreover, demand draft cannot be termed as information; he had to give details of the documents," said Jain. Meanwhile, chief information commissioner Rajan Kashyap told TOI the information commissioners have to work under the purview of Right to Information Act 2005 and there is no scope of venturing outside it. "I cannot comment on the situation before doing an analysis," he said. SIC on line of fire in Chandigarh-Chandigarh-Cities-The Times of India
  18. Chandigarh, October 16 The State Information Commission has directed the Punjab government to implement all the provisions of the Right to Information Act within two months. A few days back, Rajan Kashyap, Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab, and Information Commissioner Lt Gen PK Grover (retd), acting on a complaint of Hitender Jain of Resurgence India, observed, “Taking a holistic view, we observe that the public authorities and the public information officers have not, as yet, taken action mandated under the Act for providing complete information to the public. We observe that suo motu disclosure, as required under Section 4(1)(b), should have been completed by October 12, 2005. That it has not been done even two years after the stipulated date is a matter of concern.” “The 12,000-odd panchayats in the state and other public authorities concerned merely need to place in the panchayat ghars simple information such as the names of PIOs and their addresses. This would not require more than a couple of hours. What is clearly lacking within the state government and other public authorities is the seriousness in implementation of the provisions of the Act. If all this information is available on the government’s website, in addition to the hard copies with the public authorities concerned, it will help the public. It will also simplify the task of the PIOs of all these authorities when the information is demanded,” the directions said. “We suggest that the Chief Secretary, Punjab, should personally direct all the administrative departments in the state to complete the tasks in a time-bound manner,” the directions added. “The Chief Secretary should ensure basic compliance through directions to all administrative secretaries, who themselves are responsible for implementation of the Act by the various public authorities. We would like the state government, through the Chief Secretary, to submit a time-bound plan of action for the removal of deficiencies. A period of two months is granted to the Chief Secretary for submitting a compliance report,” said the directions. The next date of hearing has been fixed for December 12. They stated, “After considering all aspects of the matter, especially the deficiencies in respect of action taken by the public authorities regarding the mandate of RTI Act, 2005, we observe that there has indeed been a failure on the part of hundreds of authorities in complying with the provisions of the Act.” According to the complainant, 60 categories of public authorities have not met their obligations to maintain the records systematically and in computerised form and publish complete information about their organisation. Fifty categories of public authorities have not provided details of information related to addresses and telephone numbers of PIO and 31 public authorities have not appointed appellate authorities, said the directions. Harpreet Bajwa SIC asks state govt to implement provisions in 2 months
  19. ganpat1956

    SIC seeks proactive disclosure

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Information Commission (SIC) has urged the government to instruct public authorities, as defined under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, to go in for proactive disclosure of information relating to them. In its annual report to the government, the commission points out that even though proactive disclosure is mandatory under the Act, many public authorities are not doing so. Such disclosure, the commission feels, would reduce the number of requests for information. Keeping in view the cost and time elements involved in publishing and updating information through the print media, it is advisable to immediately publish the information on the official web sites of the government and the organisations concerned. Organisations can be encouraged to develop their own web sites and provide information through them. Funds available under e-governance may be profitably utilised for the purpose, the report says. Call to publish lists The commission also recommends publication of lists of public authorities under each administrative department in order to remove any ambiguity in the matter. Under the RTI Act, public authorities include institutions and non-governmental organisations which are controlled or are substantially financed by the government. However, some institutions such as cooperative banks, aided schools and colleges, management of religious institutions and places of worship, libraries, etc., which are either controlled or are substantially financed by the government, are under the impression that the provisions of the RTI Act are not applicable to them, the commission says. It reminds the government that though many public authorities have designated assistant public information officers, public information officers and appellate authorities, some are yet to do so. This is especially so in the case of non-governmental organisations substantially financed by the government such as private aided colleges and schools and cooperatives. The commission recommends designation of more than one public information officer in major offices such as corporations and municipalities, Directorate of Health Services, Directorate of Education, Directorate of Public Instruction, Police Department, etc. to receive and dispose of requests under the RTI Act. The commission also asks the Government to strengthen the General Administration Department. The Hindu : Front Page : SIC seeks proactive disclosure
  20. State Information Commission (SIC) has ordered the MS University authorities reply to all the queries that one Ramesh Kadam had asked under the Right to Information Act (RTI) for the Faculty of Performing Arts in November 2006, within 15 days. As per Kadam, he had applied for detail of electricity connections used for Play Box and open-air-theatre at performing arts faculty. Kadam sought information about why as per the cinema rules, the annual inspection has not been carried out for the two electricity connections between 1999 and 2006. And, what steps MSU took against errant employee and what steps the faculty authorities took when faults were detected in previous inspections carried out in earlier years. Kadam had also asked for copies of power load checking approved plan by assistant electricity inspector. (Source: Express News Service-Ahmedabad News 09Aug 2007)
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