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Found 24 results

  1. akhilesh yadav

    Sri Lanka: Committee will draft the RTI Act

    A committee has been appointed to draft the Right To Information (RTI) Act, Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka said today. The Minister said this while speaking to reporters after visiting Kandy to worship and meet the chief prelates in the sacred city. He said that once the draft document is complete it will be presented to Parliament and approved as promised in the 100 day program of President Maithripala Sirisena. Read at: Committee will draft the RTI Act | Tamil.com
  2. PTI, 20.3.2015. New Delhi: The crucial bill that provides legal framework for auction of coal blocks was passed by Parliament today, replacing an ordinance that was to expire on April 5. The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015 was approved by Rajya Sabha after several amendments moved by the Congress and Left were defeated, on the last day of the first half of Budget session. The bill was passed with 107 members voting in favour and 62 against in the Upper 245-member House where the ruling BJP-led coalition is in a minority, indicating that some non-NDA parties back the government. Lok Sabha had already passed the bill on March 4. However, the government was on tenterhooks till the Rajya Sabha cleared it as today was the last day of the first leg of Budget session and the ordinance was set to expire on April five.
  3. Reported by Aman Sharma in Economictimes.indiatimes.com on 17 Mar, 2015 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/intelligence-agencies-demand-blanket-exemption-from-right-to-privacy-bill/articleshow/46590122.cms Intelligence agencies have demanded a "blanket exemption" from the ambit of the Right to Privacy Bill, 2014, the legislation under the anvil after the Niira Radia episode. The proposed law will impose heavy costs and punishment for intrusion into a citizen's privacy or leakage of personal details. The draft bill exempts security and intelligence agencies from the bill's ambit if the agencies can prove that their actions of compromising a citizen's privacy were in national interest. However, ET has learnt that the Home Ministry has informed the Department of Personnel and Training piloting the bill that Intelligence agencies are not satisfied with the rider. "The Home Ministry has said that establishing in each case, that an action of the agencies was in the interest of integrity, security and sovereignty of the country is not only practically difficult but will lead to litigation. The Home Ministry hence wants blanket exemption for the agencies from the bill," a senior DoPT official told ET. Section 65 of the Draft Right to Privacy Bill exempts action of intelligence and law enforcement agencies from investigative and adjudicative powers of a proposed Data Protection Authority but subjects such action to scrutiny of a court. Section 64 provides for initiating civil proceedings against any person, including an intelligence agency. The DoPT official said the Home Ministry says these provisions could mean intelligence agencies would be saddled with responsibility of defending themselves against all sorts of litigation and investigation. "The Home Ministry has said this will expose the methods, capabilities and sources of intelligence agencies and will have a detrimental effect on the agency's functioning," the DoPT official said. Further, the Home Ministry also has an issue with Section 56 of the draft act which imposes a penalty for obtaining personal data on a false pretext - it wants intelligence agencies and all law enforcement agencies to be exempt from this as well, the DoPT official added. It has also been mentioned by the Home Ministry that the provisions of the bill should apply only to Indian citizens and not all residents of India, implying that foreigners staying here temporarily can be put under surveillance freely for the purpose of national security. The Right to Privacy Bill is being drafted after leading industrialist Ratan Tata approached the Supreme Court after leakage of the Niira Radia tapes, saying his privacy had been compromised by the leaks.
  4. [h=1]Rs 2.29 cr bill for flower decorations at Vigyan Bhawan[/h] New Delhi, March 15: Flower decorations at Vigyan Bhawan in the last two years cost Rs 2.29 crore, with various ministries hosting functions at the government's premier convention centre footing the bill, an RTI reply has found. The convention centre is maintained by Central Public Works Department (CPWD). "The total expenditure for flower decoration/potted plants in Vigyan Bhawan for the year 2012-13 is Rs 1,18,41,480 and for the year 2013-14 for Rs 1,1149,550," the Convention centre office replied in a RTI. The daily average expense on flowers comes close to Rs 32,440 and Rs 30,540 for 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively. In a reply to the RTI filed by a Gurgaon resident, Vigyan Bhavan office has stated that the money was spent on providing floral arrangements for official dinners, events, and bouquets for visiting dignitaries. In its reply, CPWD mentioned that m/s Neelam florist, M/s Sanjay Florist, have done the floral department work at Vigyan Bhawan. The concerned ministry and department provides expenditure sanctions and administrative approval to CPWD and concerned Asstt. Director (horticulture) and section office (horticulture) to execute the work. "Flower decoration is based on need and is done as per requirement of the client department. It is further added that policy making and framing of guidelines do not come under the preview/jurisdiction of this division. "The different ministries/departments send their requirement letter for flowers. This office sends the estimate for it. The client department deposits the cheque as per the estimates," according to the RTI reply. "Vigyan Bhawan is used by various government ministries and department. As per their demands, we make arrangements of flowers. The money is paid to us by the department which has booked the venue and we further pay to the contractor," a senior CPWD official said. Built in 1956, Vigyan Bhawan only holds national-level functions and conferences, and functions where the President, Vice President or the Prime Minister of India are present. It has been the venue of conferences of national and international stature including various award ceremonies, including the annual National Film Awards. Read More: Rs 2.29 cr bill for flower decorations at Vigyan Bhawan | Siasat
  5. sagargore

    old bill

    Hello, how to get old bill
  6. The mayor and the deputy mayor have come under scanner of the Congress party for 'excessive' expenses on their official cars. Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre has received a reply through Right To Information (RTI) which states that bills of the first citizens' car usage cross Rs36 lakh annually. Read at: Mayor, his deputy's car usage bill: Rs36 lakh | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis
  7. MUMBAI: The erstwhile UPA-II Government had spent `380 crore in March alone for its advertisements in electronics and print media, according to information sourced through an RTI qurey. The government’s overall expenditure on advertisements during March 2011 and March 2014 was a whopping `2,048 crore. On an average, the UPA-II Government spent `55.35 crore per month on its publicity in its last three years in the office. Read at: UPA Publicity Bill Scaled Rs 2,048 Crore in 3 Years - The New Indian Express
  8. The cabinet has cleared the bill to protect whistleblowers and punish those exposing identity of people disclosing information. The proposed legislation, Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making The Disclosure Bill, 2010 provides the Central Vigilance Commission powers of a civil court to hand down harsh penalty to people revealing identity of whistleblowers. The CVC will be empowered to take action against those who reveal the identity of whistle-blowers or those who threaten the whistleblowers while those who make frivolous complaints will also be liable to punishment. As media reports, that the killing of whistleblowers Manjunath Shanmugam and Sayyendra Dubey and many Right to Information activists by anti-social and vested interests has promoted the government to draft the Bill. Read the news here: http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/content/203-saving-rti-activist-cabinet-clears-whistleblower-protection-bill.html http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/57545-govt-introduce-bill-protect-whistleblowers.html How will this bill when it becomes the law protect RTI Activists? Will this Law really fuel Activism and bring down corruption? Are there chances of misuse of this Law under 'Frivolous complaint'? What are your opinion?
  9. Chandigarh Nod to draft Right to Privacy Bill By Daily Post DP Correspondent Chandigarh, Feb. 22 can be seen here : dailypost: Nod to draft Right to Privacy Bill Stringent check on misuse of interception of communications and protection of personal information of Chandigarhians is on the cards. The UT Administration has agreed to follow the draft Right to Privacy Bill, 2011. The Administration has accorded consent to the Centre’s proposed legislation, which is tough on the leaks. Framed in the wake of the Radia tapes leak, the new Act, once passed by the Union government, which seems to be firm on the issue, proposes to make such leaks punishable by law. Running into 15 chapters, the Bill is the first-of-its-kind to streamline the powers given to government agencies to intercept communications. “We have gone through the provisions of the Bill, which we found in larger public interest,” disclosed a senior UT official here on Tuesday. The local Home Department has conveyed the Administration’s decision to the Union Home Ministry, which had sought objections and suggestions on the draft Bill before placing it before the Parliament for formal nod. For the first time, defining right to privacy, the bill provides “confidentiality of communication, family life, bank and health records, protection of honour and good name and protection from use of photographs, fingerprints, DNA samples and other samples taken at police stations and other places”. Mooting the establishment of a “data protection authority of India”, that will investigate complaints about alleged violations of data protection, the Bill contains provisions for prosecution and penalties for government officials, employees of service providers and other persons who indulge in illegal disclosure of intercepted communication, other than in the execution of his duties, as defined in the Bill. Providing punishment with a maximum of five years’ imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1 lakh, or both, for each such interception for “unauthorised interception”, the proposed legislation also provides that disclosure of legally intercepted communication will be punishable with imprisonment up to three years. The bill, which says the interception of communication by government agencies can only be “authorised by an officer not below the rank of home secretary at the central level and home secretaries in state governments”, moots that both security agencies and service providers will designate nodal officers to handle requisitions for interception. “The service providers shall be responsible for actions of all its nodal officers or their employees or any other person’s action on their behalf, arising or connected with the interception of communication,” provides the draft, while asking service providers to put internal checks to ensure than unauthorised interception does not take place. The proposed legislation mandates service providers to destroy records pertaining to directions for interception within two months of discontinuance of the interception of such messages with secrecy.
  10. New bill to seek uniform penalties for erring babus as reported by Rajeev Deshpande, TNN, NEW DELHI: Jun 8, 2010 In a move expected to make the bureaucracy more resistant to political pressure and stem corruption, the government is planning to bring forward a bill that will give statutory form to service rules and provide for penal clauses to punish wrongdoers. Currently labelled the civil services performance and accountability bill, the proposed law will give parliamentary sanction to Civil Services (Conduct) Rules under Article 309 of the Constitution. The power of central and state governments to frame rules for government servants flows from the article first enunciated in 1964. The bill will codify existing rules and also provide for clearer and more uniform penalties for misconduct in the light of experience that the process is dogged by delays and uneven application of service regulations. Differing penalties are imposed for similar lapses by disciplinary authorities in ministries and states. Speaking to TOI, cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar said the bill is expected to be ready soon for the Cabinet's consideration. "The bill will be piloted by the department of personnel. It will contain penalties for poor performance and an Act of Parliament will give service rules added weight. It should work to make the civil service more accountable," he said. There are various penalties, broadly categorised as major and minor, that can be imposed on errant bureaucrats. It has been felt that some of these lack teeth and a recent report of a committee set up by government pointed out that even compulsory retirement was not a significant deterrent as the official still retained full pension benefits. The report underlined the need for defining certain yardsticks for awarding penalties to avoid different types of punishment for the same misconduct or offence. Stoppage of increments is prescribed for charges like insubordination, lack of devotion to duty or failure to maintain integrity. Major penalties include demotion and dismissal from service. Speaking to TOI, cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar said progressive implementation of Right to Information (RTI) made government more accountable as a whole and the clarification that file notings were also open to scrutiny was a step in the right direction. "It will make officers think carefully before arriving at decisions. I don't think it will encourage keeping matters off-record. This cannot be done beyond a point," he said. Asked about a recent decision to set up a committee to vet complaints against senior officials, the cabinet secretary said this was intended to weed out frivolous cases. A representative of the CVC was part of the committee and there was no bar on the commission referring any case it wanted to for investigation. While the government is looking to tighten the rules for a bureaucracy that is seen to be increasingly prone to corruptive influences, the controversial "single directive" is not going to be reviewed. The process of investigative authorities having to approach the administrative ministry for clearance to probe an official from the rank of joint secretary and above will remain. As part of making the bureaucracy more responsive, a system of outside assessment is now in place. New bill to seek uniform penalties for erring babus - India - The Times of India
  11. s_saad53

    old bill

    dear sir i want the old electric bill of 1995 from reliance how do i get it as they refuse to give it
  12. My energy meter is not working for how long i dunno.. I have been out of town for couple of months (3 months) and i received minimum bill which is reasonable but for past two months i'm home and i'm receiving minimum bill eventhough i use 4 computers and heaters. So meter not working. I' afraid that they will charge me a hefty amount. I want to lodge a complaint. I stay in bangalore. I need to know how much they are liable to charge and where to file a complaint. ma average bill before was around 600.
  13. Hi, Can I pay the delhi Jal board's Water bill online. If yes, may you please tell me the websites name. Thanks.
  14. The FOIA bill would create a FOIA ombudsman, strengthen reporting requirements and make it easier for successful requestors to gain attorneys fees. Dec. 19, 2007 · Awaiting only the stroke of President Bush's pen, the Freedom of Information Act is primed to receive what is arguably its most significant revision in more than 30 years. Known as the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act – or "OPEN Government Act of 2007" – the bill cleared the House by voice vote on Tuesday after surviving a myriad of changes to the original, most recent FOIA reform effort that started in 2004. The Senate passed the bill unanimously last week, and President Bush now has 10 days, excluding Sundays and holidays, to sign the bill into law. Among its more potent revisions, the bill makes it more difficult for a federal agency to avoid paying a FOIA requestor's attorney fees when the requestor successfully challenges a final agency rejection in court. The bill also creates a FOIA ombudsman to mediate disputes between requestors and agency officials, while also reviewing agency FOIA procedures, among other duties. The attorney fees provision was once a formidable obstacle as the legislation moved forward this fall, as the Senate version of the bill didn't at first address House "pay-as-you-go" rules, which necessitate that bills requiring new funding include explicit sources for that funding. The version of the bill passed by the House Tuesday satisfied so-called "pay-go" rules by requiring that attorney fee awards be extracted from annually appropriated agency funds. The ombudsman provision, meanwhile, has the potential to have the most universal effect on the FOIA process, according to Thomas M. Susman, a former congressional counsel who has since specialized in FOIA litigation and other access issues. Along with providing a standard mechanism for virtually all parties involved in a FOIA dispute – including private citizens, businesses, journalists and FOIA officers – by which to communicate through a common mediator, the ombudsman's office will be authorized to audit agency FOIA departments and suggest changes. "It will provide a continuing voice for improvement of the process that hasn't been there unless Congress has occasionally decided that it wants to put together a little oversight or some amendments," said Susman, who also noted that the FOIA ombudsman model has worked well in certain states and other countries for years. Bloggers and freelancers particularly benefit from the bill, which widens the definition of a journalist to potentially allow them to qualify for fee waivers. Another key aspect of the bill calls for strengthening reporting requirements by clarifying more precisely when the 20-day time limit clock begins after a request, and by prohibiting FOIA agencies from charging search and duplication fees to non-commercial requestors when an agency has missed the 20-day deadline. The FOIA reforms will force private contractors that have been hired by the federal government to maintain public records to disclose those records. A new tracking system for FOIA requests will also be created. Open government advocates generally applauded the bill's passage Tuesday, but also lamented some concessions that were made to get the bill through both chambers. For instance, earlier variations of the bill would have mandated that new statutes intending to exempt certain records from disclosure would have had to have explicitly mentioned FOIA within the statute, thereby alerting open government advocates to the proposed exemption before passage, said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative. But that provision ultimately fell by the wayside, and Blum said open government advocates will simply have to keep their eyes open for such legislation in the future. "All that means is that media groups and others will have to watch bills closely, very closely, and have a seat at the table during any new efforts to hide information," he said. Even with strong support from both houses of Congress, Blum said there has been no indication from the White House as to whether the president plans to sign the bill. NMU (12/19/2007): FOIA bill passes Congress, awaits president's signature
  15. sidmis

    Governor Returns Rti Bill

    Srinagar, Oct 17: Without giving his assent, Governor S K Sinha has returned the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2007 to the State assembly, sources said. The senior officials of the State Government though confirm that the bill is pending with Governor for his assent but they decline to comment whether he has returned it without assent. Law Secretary Akhtar Kochak has this to say: “The bill is pending with the Governor and we are waiting for it.” Following severe criticism by activists, the Government on August 31 introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2007 in the Legislative Assembly stating that the proposed amendment would bring it at par with Right to Information Act, 2005. The objective of the Bill was to bring the state RTI Act passed by the legislature in 2003 at par with the Right to Information Act (RTI Act), 2005 passed by the Parliament. The state government pressed for the passage of the Bill and the J&K Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council gave its approval to the amendments. The Bill was later presented to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir for his assent. The activists in India described the Right to Information Act 2003 as shame and asked that it should be brought at par with the Central Act. Wajahat Habibullah many a times urged the State government to bring it at par with the Central Act. And when the State Government brought amendment to the Act in 2007, the activists had described the amendments as inadequate saying they fail to secure effectively the fundamental right to access information for citizens in Jammu and Kashmir. If the Amendment Bill becomes law, citizens will have inferior rights in matters relating to seeking and obtaining information from the Government as compared to that enjoyed by citizens in other States. Though lacking teeth, the Governor didn’t assent to the Bill. The Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act was passed by the state Legislature on 18th December 2003 and notified in the Government Gazette on 7th January 2004. The Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Rules were notified on 30th June 2005. NASEER A GANAI GOVERNOR RETURNS RTI BILL (GreaterKashmir.com) 10/18/2007
  16. ganpat1956

    Dillydallying with information bill

    Accra, Sept. 27, GNA - As the world commemorates the 'International Right to Know Day' on Friday September 28, 2007 the 'Coalition on the Right to Information' in Ghana finds it strategic to once again bring the issue of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill to the fore as part of the wider agenda to promote transparency, accountability and good governance in Ghana. In Ghana, the Bill on the Right to information went to the mill in 2002 but the millers have not found it necessary to put it into the grinding machine. One, therefore, has the right to speculate whether the dillydallying has been occasioned by the cobwebs in the closets of some politicians and public officers. The Coalition is convinced that the passage of the RTI is a necessary pillar in the evolution of democratic governance and must be looked at as a matter of priority by the Government. The Coalition on the Right to Information in Ghana has been formed with wide membership of public and private bodies that have come together to advocate the protection of the Right to Information through the passage of RTI legislation and also to serve as a monitoring tool that would promote its effective implementation. Since its establishment in 2003, the Coalition has undertaken several projects to raise awareness on the right to information and campaign for greater transparency. The objective of its activities is to bring together a diverse network of civil society actors, policy makers, and government workers in an effort to firmly place RTI on the national agenda, and to sensitise the public, as the primary beneficiaries of the law, on the importance of the successful passage of the RTI law in Ghana. The Coalition recognises that its effort at lobbying the Government needs the input of civil society as a whole. It, therefore, welcomes all interested stakeholders to join the Coalition in this mission to make the right to information a living reality for the people of Ghana. Journalists in their quest to secure information for the public good encounter State officials, who refuse to cooperate with media practitioners. It is completely unjustifiable that public officials do not provide the public with access to the huge amounts of valuable information that they produce as part of the routine discharge of theirs duties. Such officials need to be told in clear language that they do not own the information that they create and collect. Information belongs to the public - it is created with public money by public servants, paid by the public treasury. It is a national resource. The world body has declared September 28 as the Right to Know Day, ironically the day remains in the history books of the academia. The day has not received the needed attention and publicity for broad based participation. The Right to Know Day commemorates the fact that people have a right to access information about the activities and decisions that affect their lives. Governments need to be open to their citizens. Yet, throughout the world, only 60 countries have enacted access to information legislations, which would open government records to public scrutiny. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Africa Office in Accra, said the day provided a good opportunity to reflect on the importance of the simple but empowering, right to information. She said at the most basic levels, people should be able to participate actively in decision-making but this would be hindered if they cannot effectively access key information. Without access to government policies and information, media practitioners; government functionaries; opposition politicians and the public would have to depend on unorthodox means of information gathering, packaging and dissemination. In such situation, how can the citizens be sure that their interest is being sincerely protected? How can people be sure that money is being spent on the activities that the government says it is spending them on if they cannot see the relevant documents for themselves? The fact that politicians and bureaucrats are aware that their actions and decisions cannot be scrutinised also means that public officials can much more easily engage in corrupt practices that cost the country money and resources. Nana Oye Lithur said democracy thrives on transparency; therefore, open governance must be supported and extended at a practical level as an absolute priority. Recognising the right to information and implementing an effective access to information regime is a simple, but extremely useful, first step towards attainment of good governance. This year's celebration of the Right to Information Day should be used to stimulate governments to remove legislative and bureaucratic practices that seek to hinder the implementation of the right to information laws. The day offers governments the opportunity to openly commit themselves to the tenets of good governance, democracy and people-centred development. For a relatively small cost and investment of time at the outset, entrenchment of an effective access to information regime would immediately show returns- it would empower people to more meaningfully engage in the democratic process, increase government transparency and reduce corruption. It would be good for the economy - open governance, with its associated anti-corruption focus, makes countries more attractive to outside investors. Open government and information sharing also contributes to national stability. Serious implementation of the right to information would also immediately set new standard for bureaucratic and parliamentary accountability. Public officials would be forced to recognise that they worked for the people's interest and that the people havd the right to scrutinise their activities. According to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative the day offers the opportunity to question the rationale for the apparent delay by the Ghanaian government in passing the freedom of information legislation. "We request that Cabinet considers the draft Bill and submits it to Parliament for adoption as soon as possible. "We urge that the draft Bill needs to be developed in partnership with the public and civil society," the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative states. Other media practitioners that GNA spoke to on the freedom of information Bill suggested that the law should be based on the principles of maximum disclosure. All people should be given the legal right to access government documents. In this era of privatisation and outsourcing of public services to private companies, even documents held by private bodies should be captured under the law since it is now common knowledge that some Western companies operating in Africa have perfected the practice of influencing decision-makers. Some media practitioners suggested that release of documents should only be refused if disclosure would be against the public interest. Public interest should be narrowly defined to mean the protection of national security or personal privacy...it should not be used to protect government from being embarrassed or to hide corruption. Information is power and in the spirit of democracy and equality, it needs to be shared freely with all people. Entrenchment of the right to information is a practical first step. Feature Article of Thursday, 27 September 2007
  17. The parliamentary committee on environment, media and technology has finalised the draft of the Right to Information bill following discussions held at the parliamentary secretariat on Friday. The bill proposes a three-member high commission on media to oversee the media environment in the country and work for expansion and promotion of the media sector. The bill has made it mandatory to the public authorities to furnish any information demanded by agencies or individual citizens within 15 days. Refusal or denial to this mandatory responsibility would invite Rs 1,000-25,000 fines on the responsible official. The provision is mandatory to NGOs as well. Similarly, the government offices should appoint a spokesperson to coordinate with media and provide information to the seekers. The bill is expected to be endorsed by the parliament during this monsoon session. Nepalnews.com Mercantile Communications Pvt. Ltd.
  18. Ghana: Not This Kind of Right to Information Bill- We Are Better Off Without It OPINION 14 June 2007 Posted to the web 14 June 2007 Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa I HAVE been curious to look out for the much talked about Right To information Bill which its supporters chastise government for unduly delaying. Having found the draft bill, which is to be sent to Parliament for enactment, I am rather happy at the delay and will further contend that this bill in its present state should not be enacted. First of all, it is important to recognize the crucial importance of a Right to Information Bill in a democratic form of government. The right of the citizenry in any state to have access to information in knowing what her leaders are up to and even to know the kind of representatives they should choose and what policies their leaders formulate lies at the heart of democracy. This is what informed the first session of the United Nation's General Assembly in 1946 in passing Resolution 59 (1), which stated in part, "Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and ... the touch-stone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated." It is further useful to recall the entrenchment of this principle in the 1948 United Nations Declaration for Human Rights whose Article 19 states "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." To also point out the importance of this bill in eliminating corruption and increasing transparency and accountability by public officers is to merely state the obvious. It is for this reason that we all agree in principle that a Right to Information Bill is long overdue if we have been serious about our democratic commitment and if we wholly agree with the international conventions we ratify. In this vein also, we cannot draft anything and call it a Right to Information Bill because that would only be an exercise in self deceit. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), any Right to Information Bill must meet minimum international standards among these include the principle of maximum disclosure, limited exceptions for withholding information and the establishment of effective and efficient appeals mechanisms. Sad to note, the draft bill, which is to be laid before Parliament, falls short of these standards. A careful study of the draft bill rather reveals minimum disclosure, maximum exceptions for withholding information and a suspicious appeal mechanism, which can best be described as a conflict of interest process. Even a further comparison of our draft bill with other jurisdictions that have a Right to Information Bill confirms this. In our draft bill, one gets the impression right from the introduction that the government wants to hide a lot from the people. In our bill, the denial by an information officer to citizen who wants information on the basis that that information is going to be published any way is not acceptable especially when it gives so much room to the executive to abuse this clause. The establishment of effective and efficient appeals mechanisms: To enforce this principle, what other jurisdictions have done is to establish an Information Commission, which looks into cases of non-disclosure brought by aggrieved parties. However in Ghana's bill, the Minister of State for the Ministry whose information officer has refused to make a disclosure must chair or delegate an internal appeal process. This raises issues of conflict of interest and makes a mockery of the very principles of a Right to Information Bill. Though the bill sees that this might not work and gives remedy that an unsatisfied party can proceed to the high court, the question is why the mockery and why should the ordinary Ghanaian be subjected to all these. Fees: I have also been shocked the bill requires people seeking information from the information officer must pay a fee to be determined by the Ministry, which would have oversight responsibility of this bill when it becomes an act. That this bill gives such a blank cheque to the executive in fixing the fee for requests is a recipe for disaster as the executive at any time can increase the fees to the detriment of the people and to the erosion of any democratic gains. Let us not for a minute think that our democratic process will always elect angels into office. Legislations that connote such thinking must be avoided. Another worrying issue here is that an appeal also attracts a fee to be determined again by the executive. To me, this does not show commitment on the part of the executive and it begins to appear that we are better of without the enactment of this bill. Final comments: In my opinion, the creation of Information Officers as the bill puts it is unnecessary and a further drain on the tax payers money. There are already public relation officers in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies who can be used. Some of the expenses for these information officers should rather be used to create an Information Commission which will play an impartial role (kind of an ombudsman) in times of appeals rather than the mockery of internal appeals created by the draft bill. On the issue of fees, it is instructive to note that the Right to Information Bill, which India passed in 2004, allows for people who are below the poverty line to access information for free. Ghana may learn from this as a better sign of commitment if we cannot even make it free for all. Finally, it is important that we tell our Government that a Right to Information Bill has not collapsed any government in history. Sweden passed its Freedom of the Press Act in 1776 and no Swedish Government has ever collapsed because of this legislation. On the contrary, a sincere and proper legislation would rather help restore confidence in public officials, create an environment of trust and even help Government to let the people know their programmes and projects. There is nothing the Ghanaian Government should fear and therefore prepare a better bill for enactment. allAfrica.com: Ghana: Not This Kind of Right to Information Bill- We Are Better Off Without It (Page 1 of 1)
  19. New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) A parliamentary panel Thursday failed to finalise its recommendations on a bill to set up an institutional mechanism to probe corruption charges against judges of the higher judiciary. It will meet again June 26. After a day-long meeting, E.M.S. Natchiappan, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice ministry, told IANS: 'We were unable to finalise our recommendations today. We will meet again on June 26.' The bill, known as the Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006, seeks to establish a National Judicial Council to probe allegations like corruption and inefficiency against judges of the higher judiciary. The bill was referred to the panel after the law ministry introduced it in the Lok Sabha on Dec 19, 2006. 'We are striving for a consensus recommendation to the government on the issue. We are examining the bill very closely as it's a very sensitive issue,' said Natchiappan. He hoped the panel report will be submitted to parliament during its monsoon session. Asked about the reservations among various panel members over provisions of the bill, Natchiappan said: 'It's a very delicate issue. The committee is trying to sort out all differences.' The bill has been facing severe opposition in the panel on several counts, including a provision - Section 30 - which allows an impeached judge of the Supreme Court or a high court to challenge in the apex court the president's order dismissing him. Owing to this provision, the members have termed the bill as 'unconstitutional', saying that it cannot be passed without amending the constitution. Several members, including eminent lawyer and former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, have repeatedly questioned Section 30. Jethmalani had earlier told IANS, 'Section 30 is the most foolish provision of the bill.' The bill is also facing resistance over a provision - Section 33 - that seeks to make an inquiry against a judge by the National Judicial Council confidential and keep the probe out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI). Panel members questioned the rationale of making the enquiry process against a judge confidential, saying even the process of appointment of judges fell within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Consensus eludes parliamentary panel on judges bill - India
  20. With the Disability and Domestic Violence Bills passed into law, civil society advocacy groups have now turned their attention on the Freedom of Information Bill. The Freedom of Information Coalition, Ghana, a civil society group has therefore urged the government to accelerate the passage of the Right to Information Bill and honour its promise to Ghanaians and the international community. The Coalition said it believed strongly that some challenges, though apparently insurmountable, could be overcome overtime but could not be a pre-condition for the passage of a fundamental right, which is the very essence of good governance and adherence to the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity, responsiveness, effective participation, the rule of law and human rights. The Coalition argues that various government officials had made comments expressing concern about calls for accelerating the passage of the Bill which are generating uncertainties, suggesting that the Government was making a U- turn on the matter. "It has become apparent that government now believes that the building of a national information management system and the promotion of a proper record keeping culture is a pre-condition to fulfilling its mandate under Article 21(f) of the 1992 Constitution. "It guarantees that all persons shall have the right to information, subject to such qualifications and laws as necessary for a democratic society." The Coalition said these provisions were deep rooted in the African Union Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, which expressly called for the right to information to be protected by laws. "In addition to these obligations, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which Ghana partly states that 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.'" This included freedom to hold information without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers, it said. The Coalition said information generated by the Government of Ghana in the name of the people of Ghana belongs to the people of Ghana. "Therefore public information, which is, any information generated by a public officer or private person in the cause of discharging a public duty should first and foremost be free unless it is lawfully exempted as are necessary in a democratic society." But in practice freedom of information is far from being achieved due to the fact that public officials under various legislations are under oaths of secrecy not to disclose information unless they were authorized to do so. "This culture of silence that exists in all facets of public life impedes and undermines citizens' ability to discharge their constitutional duty to hold government to account. "In that respect, legislation is required as a first step to promote a new regime of disclosure and reorient public officers to give access to information unless lawfully exempted." The Coalition said without "a clear legal burden placed on the public officer to disclose information" he/she would continue to deny the citizen's access to information even with the best information management system in place. When passed, the Free­dom of Information Act will give journalists and their media house and to a large extent members of the public the right to obtain information bothering on issues of governance. The most essential ingredient to journalists is information, but what will journalists write with­out credible information'? In its absence, society will be fed with stories based on half truths or speculation. One of the strongest ben­efits of freedom of information (FoI) is that it will help journal­ists to replace propaganda and polemic with empirical evi­dence. Citizens would now have more factual and detailed till understanding of problems facing schools, hospitals, district assemblies, the po­lice and the criminal justice system, the NHIS and, of course, central govern­ment. We know, despite constant official rhetoric that this and that are on course, if journalists could have unfettered informa­tion to what happens in the board rooms, the public will be in the position to know that things aren't what officials say they are. In many democracies, unfettered access to information is right and not a privilege. Besley et al 'Mass Media and Political Accountability' ( In the Right to Tell 2002) argue that how the government treats the media industry affects the development of news media and the quantity of news generated. In their view, sig­nificant costs could in the long run be associated with underdeveloped media. Moreover, the underdevel­opment of the media is of­ten the result of government's decision to insulate themselves from scrutiny and criticism. In Ghana currently, there may not be a deliberate govern­ment policy to put barriers in the way of the media, but the problem with accessing information still largely rests with an unchanging public service structure that bars the disclosure of infor­mation by a subordinate without the prior approval of a superior. How far has Ghana gone with the civil service reform programme ­ which started some years back to change the attitude of public servants to the growing needs of society. It seems the enthusi­asm to reform the service to make it proactive to chang­ing needs of a fast develop­ing economy and informa­tion hungry society has been abandoned. As Philip Elliot ar­gues in his article 'Intellec­tuals, the Transforming So­ciety and the Disappear­ance of the Public Spheres, that what we are seeing now and what we face now is a continuation of the shift away from involving people as political citizens towards the consumption units of the corporate world. He argues further that since the media pur­ports to represent the people, the consequences of public officials denying journalists information is the eroding of the public sphere as espoused by German media sociologist, Jurgen Habermas. For the country to move forward socially, politically and economically, we need to develop a political and eco­nomic system based on knowl­edge information than we are enjoying now. The fear is that if care is not taken, we might be caught in an era when gov­ernment and corporations that have a primary aim of protect­ing their interests will keep sensitive information away from the public. Elsewhere in the west pressure groups are putting pressure on the sources of pub­lic information, (of which gov­ernments and corporations are the main ones) to open up. For us in Ghana, the negative atti­tudes of public officials towards people who request information from them points to the fact that public informa­tion; which is supposed to be free as a public right will in future be available at a price. When that happens , specula­tion will take the better of journalism. allAfrica.com: Ghana: Right to Information Bill Takes Centre Stage (Page 1 of 1) (28 May 2007)
  21. ganpat1956

    NUJ Warns FG on FOI Bill

    Members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists yesterday joined their counterparts across the world in celebrating the World Press Freedom Day, with a call on President Olusegun Obasanjo to sign the Freedom of Information Bill into law. The Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly, had been sent to the President on March 23, but Obasanjo was recently quoted to have said he had serious problems with the title, as well as some provisions in the Bill. But speaking at the commemoration of the World Press Freedom day in Abuja yesterday, National President of NUJ, Mr Ndagene Akwu, expressed deep concern about non-passage of the Bill that had practically been struggling for passage right through Obasanjo’s two terms. “Democracy depends absolutely on informed citizens, and in order to play their part in a democracy, citizens must have unhindered access to free, diverse and independent news media. It is our belief that the impediments working against the practice of journalism will be drastically reduced with the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill. We expect the president to sign the Bill into law, even if it’s on the 28th of May. No government can afford to toy with the Freedom of Information.” Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Mrs Kehinde Ajoni, described the theme “Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity,” as apt, considering the hostile environment journalists practice their profession globally. She said it was only recently that the media started focusing on human rights, “though they too suffer human rights abuses. “We shall continue to promote free press, because it is only when media freedom is protected that it can fight for human rights.” In support of the World Press Freedom Day, the U.S. government said it views freedom of the press as a key component of democracy. The U.S., in a press statement made available to THISDAY in Abuja, yesterday affirmed that “free exchange of ideas fosters accountable government, and allows the view points of many, including the marginalised in a society to be heard.” THISDAY ONLINE
  22. ganpat1956

    Babus send citizen Rs 16.2 lakh bill

    Who are the landowners who have been exempted from the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act’s (ULCRA) land acquisition clauses that they build houses for ‘the weaker sections’ of society? What are the housing schemes that have come up as a result? Member of non-governmental organisation National Alliance for Peoples Movements Simpreet Singh (27) has asked the government to give him these details about the controversial ULCRA law’s implementation under the Right to Information Act. Under pressure from the Centre and the World Bank, the state government is set to repeal ULCRA in the upcoming legislative session. The three-decade-old socialist land acquisition and housing measure was brought in during the Emergency by Indira Gandhi’s government, placing a ceiling on owning land beyond 500 sq metre, and acquiring the ‘excess’ for public purposes, most notably low and middle-income housing. But if the officers are to be believed, the government doesn’t have ready answers to the above questions. Responding to Singh, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Urban Development, V Jadhav dashed off a rejection, claiming “the information is too voluminous to give.” The PIO at the Collectorate, S Dhaigude, went a step further and sent Simpreet a bill for Rs 16.27 lakh if he wanted the information. Dhaigude told HT: "We have over 20,000 files. Each file contains upto six pages. Certified copies cost Rs 26 per page. Hence Rs 16.2 lakh. If the citizen has a problem, he can go and appeal." Singh has now filed a complaint with the State Information Commision, where over 5,000 information appeals against the government are pending. He believes the government is demanding the astronomical sum because it does not want to reveal the information since it will show up the non-implementation of the Act. “I neither asked for entire files, not certified copies. I only want the list of landowner exemptions, and the names of the housing schemes where the land, which should otherwise have come to the government, has been used.” Singh pointed out that the government had informed the Bombay High Court that 1,800 acres - or 45 Nariman Points - of excess land in Mumbai had been exempted under ULCRA. “How can they not know how this land was used if they have decided to repeal it?” Section 4 of the RTI Act also states that state departments should keep all their records catalogued and indexed to help citizens access information. But 15 months after the Act came into force, the Urban Development department, headed by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, is yet to do it. Jadhav said, “We do not have the time to do all this organising.” UD secretary Ramanand Tiwari said that charge was justified. “RTI prescribes a fee, and in this case the information has to be culled out,” he added. But state Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi, who is yet to hear Singh’s complaint, said the state wasn’t implementing the sunshine law adequately. “I met the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary two weeks ago about the need for all departments to implement the suo moto disclosure clause and organise their records. Over a year has passed and we have a more refined sense now of what citizens want to know, so it should be done, especially with regard to policy matters.” He added the state had promised to convene a meeting of all secretaries to ensure their departments fall in line, and he would pursue the matter with the government. The Hindustan Times - Indian Newspapers in English Language from three editions
  23. News from Srilanka Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee Prof. Tissa Vitharana said on Tuesday that the Executive Presidency should be abolished with the end of the incumbent President’s term of office and advocated a return to the Parliamentary Executive system, in which the President would act on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. Addressing a Seminar organized by the Sri Lanka Anti-Corruption Program and the Sri Lanka Press Institute on “Freedom of Information: From Proposal to Law”, Prof. Vitharana acknowledged that a large number of the country’s problems stem from the Executive Presidential system and the prevailing electoral system in Sri Lanka, he said, will recede into deeper turmoil if both systems are not changed. Speaking further on the draft of the “Freedom of Information” bill, Prof. Vitharana said, “It is meaningless to have freedom of speech without freedom of information. We must have the bill passed for that reason, as soon as possible.” The Minister, supporting the establishment of a Freedom of Information Commission, as envisaged in the draft Act, said it was an excellent proposal, since areas in which information cannot be divulged, can still be accessed through this Commission. Referring to some shortcomings of the proposals, he said that no mention was made of a legal personality being included in the Commission. “There should be at least one person who comes from a legal background included in it,” he insisted. The Minister also expressed reservations over the use of the term “public corporation” in the draft proposals as it excludes the institutions incorporated under the Companies Act. He pointed out that in companies like SriLankan Airlines the majority of shares are government-controlled and suggested that the restriction be removed so that the disparity between citizens and government can be narrowed. “The extent to which the gap is narrowed is the extent to which corruption will be curbed,” Prof. Vitharana asserted. Drawing attention to the importance of ICT in the fight against corruption, he said that every insitution shuold have a website providing details of their work. It should also be made mandatory to publish any in the newspapers new project that is being undertaken to keep people informed, and to enable them to intervene effectively to safeguard their collective interests, he said. Making the keynote address, Mrinal Pande, Editor of Hindustan said the Right to Information Act, which came into force in October 2005, made India the 55th country in the world to have this Act. She explained that the RTI is all about empowering citizens with clear and usuable information. “The Act gave a billion people the rights so far enjoyed only by 800 legislators. As it stands today, it is a part of the Fundamental Rights granted to all Indian citizens under Article 19 (1) of the Consitution, that grants the freedom of speech and expression to all, regardless of caste, creed or gender. Notably, the Act confers upon citizens the Right to Information and not just records or documents,” she said. Mrs. Pande stated that the biggest boost in promoting good governance comes from IT and pointed out that all information must be computerised as part of the RTI. “Those ministries which have the least to hide have been fully computerised whereas those who have something to hide are dragging their feet,” she said. The Hindustan Editor also noted that the real challenge faced by India today, was to ensure that the Act is implemented effectively. Rohan Edrisinha, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, outlinined some recommendations to improve the set of proposals. He noted that the exemptions clause should be narrowed so that more institutions will be made accountable; proactive powers should be incoporated in order to compell ministries to be more transparent; and a clause to protect whistleblowers must be included. Edrisinha further observed that it is essential to change the attitude of bureaucrats, as they could feel threatened by the proposed Act. He expressed skepticism about the chances of pushing the proposals through Parliament, because the convenience of the executive will emerge as a stumbling block. M. D. A. Harold, Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, said the draft Freedom of Information bill was currently with the Ministry of Justice, and no one knows how long it will remain there. “We should not allow it to sleep there,” he affirmed. Manik de Silva, Editor of the Sunday Island, chaired the panel discussion. :: Daily Mirror - News ::
  24. Following the passage of the freedom of Information bill, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has warned broadcasters to operate within the context of its codes. NBC Acting Director-General Bayo Atoyebi gave the warning in Abuja. The bill, passed in November, 2006 by the Senate stipulates that every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has a legally enforceable right to, and shall on application be given access to any record under the control of a government or public institution. Atoyebi, however, emphasised that the development was not a license for broadcasters to violate NBC codes, stressing that "freedom is not absolute" as certain information remained classified. He said the bill would enhance journalism practice in the country, and also place responsibility on broadcasters and information managers. allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Information Bill - NBC Warns Broadcasters (Page 1 of 1)
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