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  1. BENGALURU: Karnataka governor Vajubhai R Vala has landed in a controversy for making the state government spend Rs 2.4 crore on renovating the Raj Bhavan and chartering private aircraft for his official visits. Vala took charge on September 1, 2014. The public works department furnished this information in reply to an RTI query filed by a private TV channel. In its reply - a copy of it is available with TOI - the department said the renovation work was undertaken after the finance department gave a special sanction of Rs 3 crore through an order dated January 5, 2015. About Rs 2.3 crore of this amount was spent. Read at: Rs 2.4cr bill lands K'taka governor in controversy - The Times of India - - - Updated - - - [h=1]Govt spent Rs 4 crore for renovating Raj Bhavan[/h]The State government has spent Rs four crore on the renovation of Raj Bhavan, which houses Governor’s residence and office, during the financial year 2014-15, according to information provided by the Public Works Department (PWD) to an RTI query. The Governor’s secretary had written to the State government on June 17, 2014 on renovation of the buildings on the Raj Bhavan premises. On January 5, 2015 administrative approval was given to take up seven civil works at a cost of Rs three crore. Besides, electrical works worth Rs one crore have been taken up. The government has also given exemption from the tender process for these works under the Section 4 (G) of Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Rules. Read at: Govt spent Rs 4 crore for renovating Raj Bhavan
  2. NEW DELHI: Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has written to lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung asking him to exempt Sikh women from wearing helmets. To claim the exemption, they cited an RTI reply from Delhi Police as proof showing that no Sikh woman had died in a motorbike accident last year. Avtar Singh Sethi, president of Delhi Sikh Citizen's Council said that he had filed the RTI to the office of special commissioner (traffic), Taj Hassan. Traffic cops then asked them toapproach the district police who replied that no data of a Sikh woman being killed in a fatal accident was received by them. The groups also wrote to the LG asking him to exempt Sikh women from wearing helmets since it would be hurting their religious sentiments. Read more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Gurdwara-body-opposes-helmet-rule-for-women/articleshow/35965581.cms
  3. As reported in expressbuzz.com on 06 Dec 2011: HC: Appoint information commissioners soon | AP high court | | The New Indian Express HC: Appoint information commissioners soon HYDERABAD: In a landmark judgement by the AP High Court over a petition filed by RTI activist G Bhargavi, the state government has been ordered to appoint commissioners to the State Information Commission within four weeks. Talking on behalf of the petitioner, her counsel advocate DB Rao said the petition was filed on December 1 and the court understood the urgency to fill the posts which have been lying vacant since November 17, 2010. “The office of the Chief Information Commission is a multi-member body but for the past one year it has been operating with just one chief information commissioner. This has lead to an increased number of pending cases,” said Rao. Interestingly, the High Courts of Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Uttaranchal had already passed judgements in the past one year seeking immediate appointment of information commissioners in the respective states. But while this helped create a ripple effect with even Rajasthan filling the vacant posts, the AP government decided to sleep on the issue. “Bhargavi had earlier requested the chief minister, special chief secretary as well as the governor for the same but everyone had some excuse or other to avoid the appointment procedure,” added Rao. He also mentioned in wake of the noconfidence motion being passed in the Parliament, there was a provision for the existing governor to appoint the required information commissioners with recommendation from the chief secretary.
  4. Only Chief Minister needs to approve Governor's address: Achuthanandan Special Correspondent, The Hindu, Thiruvananthapuram: Sunday, Jun 06, 2010 A tacit admission that the Cabinet did not approve the address: Chandy Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, on Saturday, responded to Governor R.S. Gavai's communication seeking a clarification on the status of his address to the Assembly on February 24, maintaining that the full Cabinet need not approve it. In his reply to the Governor, the Chief Minister said it was enough for him to approve the address prepared by the Cabinet subcommittee. He said that in 2003 and 2006 also, the Governor's address was cleared only by the Chief Minister. The Governor had sought the clarification on April 16 on the basis of a petition submitted by the United Democratic Front saying that the State government had failed to comply with Article 176 of the Constitution in letter and spirit and in accordance with conventions and parliamentary practice related to the Cabinet approval for the Governor's address. The controversy broke out when the Kerala Congress(M) leader Joseph M. Puthussery got a reply from the government under the Right to Information Act, seeking details of the Cabinet meeting that was to have approved the address. Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, in his reaction to the Chief Minister's reply, said the Chief Minister's reply was a tacit admission that the Cabinet did not approve the address as mandated by constitutional provisions. He said the Chief Minister's contention that the Cabinet did not approve the Governor's address in 2006 was incorrect. He had handed over charge to the then Finance Minister, Vakkom Purushothaman, following the injury he sustained in Davos. Mr. Purushothaman had followed all the procedures in approving the Governor's address. Mr. Puthussery, in a statement here, pointed out that the Chief Minister had maintained that the Governor's address had been approved by the Cabinet at the time when the issue became a controversy. But he had changed his stand in his reply to the Governor's query. He questioned the Chief Minister's logic in quoting just two previous occasions to justify his stand and this itself showed that it was not a parliamentary practice. The Chief Minister was clinging on to a weak explanation. A constitutional lapse could be corrected only through constitutional means. He warned that the issue would become more complicated if the government stood by its unsubstantiated positions. The Hindu : Front Page : Only Chief Minister needs to approve Governor's address: Achuthanandan
  5. RTI activist seeks Governor's intervention in Tripura SIC functioning as reported in NewKerala.com (UNI) 02 June 2010 Agartala, Jun 02 : Former Member of Tripura Legislative Assembly and frontline Right to Information activist Tapas Dey has sought the Governor's intervention in the functioning of the State Information Commission (SIC). Addressing a letter to Tripura Governor Dr DY Patil, Mr Dey alleged that the SIC had been functioning with only one member, who was appointed as Chief Information Commissioner, which was gross violation of Provision 15(2) of Right to Information Act 2005. He said the state government had constituted a two-member SIC in 2006 but the state information commissioner had retired a few months ago and the commission had been functioning with a single member. ''As per RTI Act, State Information Commission shall consist of Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioner, for not more than ten years, and unless there is a Chief Information Commissioner and at least one State Information Commissioner any function whatsoever cannot be done as the State Information Commission. However, in case of Tripura one member of the SIC was passing judgment, which is against the spirit and practice of the Act,'' Mr Dey underlined. He also pointed out that all the orders as passed by the CIC in the name of the State Information Commission were without jurisdiction and null in the eye of law, in absence of any provision contrary thereto. RTI activist seeks Governor's intervention in Tripura SIC functionin .:. newkerala.com Online News - 119359
  6. Atul Patankar

    Delhi rule poser under RTI

    As reported at www.telegraphindia.com on 29 April 2009 Shillong, April 28: Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary, who was once the chief information commissioner of Assam, has come under the scrutiny of Right to Information Act for his recommendation to impose President’s rule in the state. An NGO, the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front, has sought information from the governor under the RTI Act on what ground he recommended President’s rule in the state. The NGO said the purpose was to know whether the governor had misused his power to favour anyone. The Youth Front’s president, G.H. Kharshanlor, told reporters this evening that they had submitted an application under the RTI Act 2005 at the governor’s secretariat today, seeking detailed information on the proclamation of President’s rule in the state. “The people of the state should know the facts behind the imposition of President’s rule,” Kharshanlor said, adding that it was for the sake of transparency that they had filed the application. The NGO wants copies of the governor’s correspondence to the Centre recommending imposition of President’s rule in the state and the documents sent by the Centre to Mooshahary in this regard. After the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance government won the trust vote on March 17 with the deciding vote of the Speaker, the Congress-led Opposition, Meghalaya United Alliance, met the governor and claimed that it was illegal. Soon after, the governor recommended the imposition of President’s rule in the state, saying there was a constitutional crisis. The Union cabinet approved President’s rule in the state on March 18 and it came into effect the next day with the President’s assent. In its application, the NGO has also sought copies of the correspondence made by the MPA and the MUA to the office of the governor and vice versa. “To our knowledge, after a Supreme Court ruling on March 11, 1994, regarding the dissolution of the Assembly, before the proclamation of President’s rule, this has to be substantiated and backed by necessary documents or material considerations and the recommendation should not be on subjective consideration,” the RTI application said. The Youth Front’s political secretary, S.K. Blah, said after the trust vote on March 17, the state was “experiencing a political crisis and not a constitutional crisis” as cited by the governor. “What we understand is that it is a crisis of numbers,” he added. The NGO, a non-partisan group, wants to know why the people of the state were deprived of a popular government and what was the logic behind the imposition of President’s rule. “We are living in a democracy and the imposition of President’s rule has come as a surprise to the people of the state. Many of us are in the dark on how and why it was imposed,” Blah said. Source: The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Northeast | Delhi rule poser under RTI
  7. RTI Case: HC stays Info Commissioner's order on Governor's report As Reported in New Kearala Panaji, Aug 6 : The debate whether Goa Governor S C Jamir's confidential report to the Centre on political developments in the state come under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act for public disclosure or not, has now reached the Bombay High Court in Panjim. Admitting an appeal against the State Information Commission's order, the court's single judge bench of Justice N Britto yesterday stayed the order, directing the joint secretary to the Governor of Goa to supply information related to the Governor's report to the Centre pertaining to political crisis between July 24 and August 14, 2007, to the Opposition leader Manohar Parrikar. The court also served notices to the respondents Mr Parrikar and the Goa Information Commissioner in this regard. The appeal against the order was filed by Dr N Radhakrishnan, Public Information Officer, who is also joint secretary to the Governor of Goa. Advocate General Subodh Kantak, pleading on behalf of the petitioner, told the court that the petition raised the issue whether the Governor's office was a public authority as defined under the RTI Act for disclosing reports of confidential nature between the Governor and the Centre. --- UNI http://www.newkerala.com/topstory-fullnews-7445.html
  8. As reported by Mathang Seshagiri of ENS in expressbuzz.com on 25 September 2008: Express Buzz - Karnataka bar doors open for women employees Probe into RGUHS marks scandal: Arora panel BANGALORE: Controversies and scams refuse to die down at the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS). A two-member committee, headed by retired additional chief secretary J K Arora, which probed the internal assessment (IA) marks scandal at RGUHS, has found that the university itself is guilty of tampering and alterations of internal assessment marks of 14 students of six medical colleges in September 2004. The committee, in its final report to the government — accessed by Express under the Right to Information Act — has stated that the tampering and alterations took place at the computer operators’ level in the computer section of the university. Since the illegal modification of marks amounts to criminal offence, the committee has recommended a thorough probe by Corps of Detectives (CoD) to take further action. The probe report states that four students belonging to MRMC Medical College, Gulbarga; JN Medical College, Belgaum and KIMS, Bangalore were issued admission tickets though they had secured less than 35 per cent marks in IA exams. “The university is responsible for not sending the list of ineligible students well in time. The university has also not taken any steps to ensure its instructions regarding issue of hall tickets are being followed strictly,” states the report. The committee has asked RGUHS to take action against the colleges and also write to the management of these colleges to take appropriate action against the staff involved. In all, the committee has traced 16 cases of alterations, 13 in internal assessment and three in university practical exams in different subjects. These students were issued hall tickets though they hadn’t secured the minimum prescribed marks in the IA exams in contravention of the Medical Council of India regulations. However, no irregularities were observed in the university theory exams. Following widespread allegations over tampering of internal assessment marks in the September 2004 exams, the then Chancellor T N Chaturvedi directed the Government to order an independent inquiry by experts under section 8 of the RGUHS Act 1994. Consequently a two-member committee comprising J K Arora and former RGUHS vice-chancellor S Chandrashekar Shetty was constituted, which submitted its findings and recommendations in two parts — one in December 2005 and the other in June 2006.
  9. 130 people look after Governor at Raj Bhavan as reported by VARINDER BHATIA, Sep 26, 2008 The staff does not include his Z+ security and Admn officials The days of royalty may have come to an end in an independent India, but the institution of state governors seems to carry on with the same regalia. One such glaring example is Punjab Governor S F Rodrigues (Retd), the Administrator of Union Territory of Chandigarh. Documents procured under the Right to Information Act shows that Rodrigues enjoys the services of six masalchis (masseurs), two bhishtis (watermen), eight khidmatgars (servants) and dozens of peons and sweepers. His dhobi (washerman) even boasts of an associate. Then there are others responsible for sundry jobs. In all, 130 employees are responsible for the welfare of the Governor and his family at the Raj Bhavan. And how much does it cost the state exchequer — Rs 175 lakh per year. This army of 130 personal staff, however, does not include the heavy security paraphernalia around him, including his Z+ security cover and the expenses involved. It also does not include scores of other officers assigned to him by the Punjab Government and the Chandigarh Administration and his own salary or other perks. The highest paid official in Rodrigues’s staff is his Secretary M P Singh, a Punjab cadre IAS officer. He draws a salary similar to a secretary-level IAS officer. The lowest paid are sweepers, masalchis, bhishtis, peons and the dhobi’s associate. They draw salaries between Rs 2,620 to Rs 4,140, in addition to Rs 120 as special allowance. Moreover, the entire staff at the Raj Bhavan is also paid monthly remunerations as per the rules and regulations of the Punjab government. The Governor’s personal staff also includes comptroller (Governor’s household), two private secretaries, a chief medical officer, two superintendents, two personal assistants, five senior assistants, six store keepers, 9 drivers, three garage clerks, four PBX operators, four heads of 18 peons, four house bearers, a head jamadar, a camp jamadar, four assistant camp jamadars, six sweepers, cook and carpenter. When asked, Secretary M P Singh justified the huge staff. “It’s a legacy, which is being continued. A similar practice is being followed in other Raj Bhavans as well, but with a few changes.” 130 people look after Governor at Raj Bhavan
  10. sidmis

    'RTI must show results'

    'RTI must show results' As Reported in Times of India 31 Jul 2008, 0448 hrs IST,TNN Bangalore: Governor Rameshwar Thakur said a good implementation system should be put in place to make the Right To Information effective and result-oriented. At the felicitation of Administrative Reforms Commission chairman Veerappa Moily and Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Rahman Khan on Wednesday, Thakur said the RTI has to deliver results if the full provisions of the Act have to be realized. "This is a crucial component of democracy that is connected to the people. It is best realized when there is a good implementation system." Thakur said RTI was also crucial for good governance, including communicating essential information in a transparent way to the people and making sure that RTI works. "RTI is vital to the functioning of democracy and it lifts the veil of secrecy," he said. The governor described RTI also as a fundamental human right which was part of the Constitution. "The judiciary plays a crucial role by interpreting rights and aspects around RTI. We should support a system responsive to the people." Moily described RTI as a revolution in Indian society that would play a key role in India's democracy and governance. "We should make sure that people receive the information they want and not information intended to be given for effective functioning of the RTI." Rahman Khan said RTI would prove useful only when people got the information they wanted and not what the government wanted to give. "It is an Act which is a milestone in the history of the Indian Parliament. It is important to empower citizens with details of all the Acts." 'RTI must show results' -Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
  11. Trapped in corruption, state bats for RTI Act As Reported by Tilak Rai, Indian Express, July 14, 2008 The newly appointed Governor, Ranjit Shekar Mooshahary, has one major worry: how to curtail corruption in the state. The Governor believes that the Right to Information (RTI) can act “as a tool to fight corruption”. This comes as no surprise as after retiring from the Indian Police Service, Mooshahary worked as the Chief Information Commissioner of Assam and led the RTI movement from the front there. Though the Raj Bhavan has its own limitations in waging a war against corruption, Mooshahary can surely influence and inspire people to effectively use the RTI as a weapon to uncover corruption and punish the guilty. Meghalaya has not really used the RTI widely. However, the state saw a flurry of accusations of corruption against most the sitting MLAs, based on RTI reports, just before the March 3 Assembly polls. Some of the legislators against whom accusation of misutilisation of MLA schemes was made, based on the RTI reports, did lose the election, but many others sailed through. Thus, it is debatable whether it was the RTI revelation or anti-incumbency factor that led to the defeat of the legislators. In fact, none of the NGOs, who usually make noises about corruption prevailing in the state, has filed an RTI to unearth corruption. The minimal use of RTI Act does not, however, suggest that corruption in Meghalaya is also minimal. In fact, the India Corruption Study 2007 says that corruption in Meghalaya is “alarming”. Mooshahary had described the Northeast, including Meghalaya, as “trapped in a whirlpool of corruption” after the report was released. In 2003, E K Mawlong-led coalition government collapsed when its alliance partner, the NCP, pulled out after NGOs — under the banner of People’s Rally Against Corruption — accused the state Government of selling out the Kolkata Meghalaya House deal to Asian Housing Construction Limited. This was the only agitation against corruption that led to the ouster of a government in the state. Also, take the case of six power projects that have been awarded to private companies by the previous Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government. Several NGOs, political parties such as the NCP, United Democratic Party and others, which now form the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) coalition government, had dubbed the agreement between the MDA government and the six private companies as a “total sell out” and demanded that the deal be scrapped. The onus of scrapping the deal falls on the parties that had demanded it, as these political parties are now in power. After all, the NCP and its allies had fought the election on the plank of corruption in governance. IndianExpress.com :: Trapped in corruption, state bats for RTI Act
  12. sidmis

    RTI guardians under scanner

    RTI guardians under scanner - Governor to quiz 2 info officers over hefty compensation As reported by SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA, The Telegraph, 29/06/08 Ranchi, June 28: Two state information commissioners are under the Jharkhand Governor’s scrutiny for awarding huge compensations to individuals denied information under the sunshine law. Syed Sibtey Razi’s office will soon question Shristidhar Mahto and Gangotri Kujur, both of whom had ordered compensation to the tune of Rs 60 lakh to be paid to RTI applicants in different cases. The Raj Bhavan believes the amount is too high to qualify under Section 19 (8) (b) of the Right to Information Act (see box) that limits individual compensation to the costs and expenses incurred to file an RTI application. In his order, Mahto directed the forest department to pay a compensation of Rs 56 lakh to one Sangram Singh Deo of Kera village in West Singhbhum. He also slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on divisional forest officer B.P. Sinha for “wilfully denying information” and “misleading the commission”. “A soft approach to the DFO’s action will give rise to indiscipline among the public servants and lead to anarchy in the state,” the commissioner concluded after noting that seven hearings were conducted from May 18, 2007, when the appeal was filed. The Governor’s office has also sounded out Kujur, asking her to explain under what circumstances she ordered Ranchi University to pay Rs 4 lakh compensation to two teachers — P.N. Pandey and Amitabh Hor — who invoked RTI to challenge the promotion of a colleague. Former advocate-general Anil Kumar Sinha pointed out the panel could order the public authority to compensate a petitioner to the extent of losses/costs incurred for getting information — like lawyer’s expenses, conveyance. “The commission cannot act as a compensation court, which awards compensation to a land loser.” A compensation court is presided over by a sub-judge and is specially constituted and empowered by the high court. Deo had sought details of compensation awarded to his late father, Devendra Narayan Singh, after 10,639.19 acres of his forest land in Kera was taken over by the state under the Bihar Zamindari Act. The DFO, who was the designated public information officer, first sought time on the ground that “very old records” had to be searched. Thereafter, he passed on the query to the Chaibasa deputy commissioner saying he would be the best person to provide the information. Sensing that the mood was that of dithering, Mahto ordered compensation to be paid (Rs 56 lakh) and also slapped a fine (Rs 25,000) on the DFO. “The Raj Bhavan will soon ask him (Mehta) under what circumstances he passed the order for such a huge compensation,” an official spokesman said. Significantly, Mahto passed orders under Section 20 (1) of the RTI act which provides for imposing a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000 for “malafidely denying the request for information”. The provision of compensation is provided under Section 19 (8-B) of the RTI act. The Governor, said the spokesman, was empowered to take action and even remove information commissioners under Section 17 of the RTI act. “The Governor could refer the charges against information commissioners to the Supreme Court. Based on its report, he could very well remove them. They could be put under suspension till the enquiry is pending,” the spokesman pointed out. The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | RTI guardians under scanner
  13. Maharashtra guv to pay for home trips MUMBAI: Stung by criticism of frequent trips to his home state Karnataka at the expense of the Maharashtra government, governor S M Krishna has said he will foot the bill for all future visits himself, including those which are official. Krishna made 31 trips to Bangalore between December 2004 and November 2006. Last November, a Pune-based teacher, Anagha Bagul, had sought information under the RTI Act about the governor's travels. It was revealed that Krishna had spent Rs 35 lakh on his trips to Karnataka in the last two years. The visits included those undertaken for weddings, funerals, dance performances, a tennis association meeting and a volleyball championship. Krishna was shown to have been out of Maharashtra for more than 200 days during this period. He was accompanied by wife Prema 26 times and most of the visits were to Bangalore and southern cities. In October, the governor was accused by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda of dabbling in Karnataka politics, a charge that Krishna has rejected. Following this, TOI had applied for information under the RTI Act and was replied to by the Raj Bhavan secretariat on December 8. In the reply Krishna said that henceforth all expenses pertaining to his and Prema's visits to Karnataka, including official ones, would be paid for by him. Raj Bhavan said the governor had taken the decision to "avoid unnecessary comments". Answering a specific query about a controversial visit to Bangalore from October 27 to 30, when he was alleged to have attended a Congress meet at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, the governor's secretariat said that as per the rules he had sought permission from the President on October 23 to leave for Bangalore. He denied that his Bangalore trip had to do with attending a political meet. And although it was to attend an official function, he had decided to treat it as personal and pay for all expenses. Maharashtra guv to pay for home trips-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  14. 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
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