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If RTI is a common man tool, there are always Risk of RTI too. Information which was clearly in the nature of personal information relating to the Passport of a lady got disclosed to a third party. The lady rightly got aggrieved because of this decision of the CPIO which resulted in Loss of Privacy due to RTI. Her husband was living in Canada since 7 September 2011 while his brother lived here in India. She alleged that the brother living in India had applied for information by faking the signature of her husband and the passport office had issued a notice to her under section 11 of the RTI Act before disclosing the information. She had objected to the disclosure but, in spite of that, the CPIO went ahead and disclosed not only the fact that her passport had been impounded but also some other personal details, like the copy of her schools certificate. The CIC also got concerned with this Risk of RTI. After hearing CIC recorded that "we find the decision of the CPIO highly problematic. Very rightly, he had issued a notice under section 11 when he received the application seeking details about the Appellant's passport. After he received the objection from the Appellant, he did not take it into account before finally deciding to disclose the information. As a result, some information which is clearly in the nature of personal information relating to the Appellant got disclosed to a third party. The Appellant is rightly aggrieved because of this decision of the CPIO." Risk of RTI "We think that the CPIO must show cause why we should not impose penalty on him for this indiscreet act in terms of the provisions of subsection 1 of section 20 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Therefore, we direct the CPIO concerned to appear before us in the next date of hearing on 26 August 2013 at 11.30 a.m. and show cause for his decision resulting in the disclosure of third party information. We will decide on the penalty only after hearing his explanation." In our earlier article: RTI and Privacy- Are they two sides of the same coin? CPIO’s must deal with numerous issues: Should officers names and other details be considered private? Is information in public registers and muster rolls available for any use? Are court and criminal records public? Personal life—Information relating solely to a public employee’s personal life rather than to his or her public actions is one such place of RTI and Privacy come in conflict. There is also significant agreement that information about elected or high-rank public officials is less restricted, even when it relates to their personal lives. Governments and private organizations that collect information related to government services and obligations (including Income tax,medical details, criminal records (NCRB), and citizenship records (UIDIA, National Population Register) and identification technologies (including identity card systems,fingerprints, IRIS Scan, Video survullence) have quickly evolved and expanded. New communications technologies create and collect substantial records about individuals in the process of providing communications. Services run by governments and private operators collect information about individuals, including emails, records of persons communicated with, lists of Web sites visited,and mobile locations. And, of course, people share information through social networking sites. Here are the participating discussions at our forums: Click Here!
As reported at zeenews.india.com on January 20, 2012 Chennai: Citing mounting pendency of cases involving RTI appeals and disputes due to manpower shortage, the Central Information Commission has requested the Centre to appoint more Information Commissioners, a top official said on Friday. "We have requested the Government of India to appoint more Information Commissioners. We are also trying to evolve methods by which we can increase the number of disposals," Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra told reporters here on the sidelines of a workshop on RTI Act. Five posts of Information Commissioners were still vacant and "we need much more manpower", he said. The CIC was having only 160 employees, and it was "not a adequate, sufficient number," he said, adding due to this cases were taking eight to 10 months to come up, against ideal time of three months. "If it is more than three months, in our opinion, it is pointless." He said every month CIC was receiving over 2,300 cases, while it was clearing only 1,800, resulting in backlog. Mishra said over 23,000 cases were pending with the CIC alone besides those before various state information commissions. He also said the CIC had started posting details about the number of pending cases at the end of every month on its website. "We have already started. Other Commissioners will also be doing so." Clearing concerns that the RTI Act was being misused, he said, "My personal experience in the last three years in the Central Information Commission is that the instances of misuse of RTI act is absolutely infinitely small.. There were overwhelmingly large number of cases with genuine reasons."
karira posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported by PTI in news.msn.in.com on 14 June 2011: http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5208690 Par panel findings cannot be withheld indefinitely: CIC New Delhi, Jun 14 (PTI) Recommendations of Parliamentary committees cannot be kept out of citizens'' reach "indefinitely" even if they have not been tabled in the House, the Central Information Commission has held. Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra gave the order while directing the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to disclose the recommendations, on the implementation of the Right to Information Act, of the Parliamentary Standing Committee which have not been tabled in the House even after three years. The case relates to an RTI application by Pune-based activist Vihar Dhurve who sought to know from the Secretariat the recommendations and findings of the Committee but the information was denied to him. The Secretariat said since the recommendations of the Committee have not been placed before the Parliament, its disclosure under the transparency law would be breach of Parliamentary privileges. During the hearing before CIC Venkatesh Nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, who was present from Dhurve''s side, it was argued that if the authorities chose not to place the Committee''s recommendations before the House even after three years,�the information could not be denied indefinitely. Agreeing with the view, Mishra said, "The Parliament of India is the highest law-making body. It has to be a model in implementing the laws it makes... Just because the competent authority has not decided to place it before Parliament even after lapse of about three years, it cannot indefinitely hold it back from citizens." Mishra further said in his orders, "It cannot be anybody''s argument that just because authorities decide not to act on the findings of the committee, it could be held back from the citizens by invoking one or the other provisions of the RTI Act for an indefinite period."
Atul Patankar posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported at news.in.msn.com on 13 June 2011 New Delhi, Jun 13 (PTI) The Central Information Commission has sought in a "sealed envelope" the records related to alleged spy of American intelligence agency CIA in the 1971 cabinet and death of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent in 1966. In two separate RTI applications, author of "CIA''s eye on South Asia" Anuj Dhar had sought to know from the government the details about alleged CIA mole in the Indira Gandhi cabinet of 1971 who, according to some reports, passed on crucial information about India-Pakistan war to the USA. Most of the information was denied to him citing section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act that exempts disclosure of information which would "prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence." During the hearing, Dhar submitted that the US government had already declassified information which had references to some sources in India leaking information about the briefings given to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the ongoing India-Pakistan war to the American snooping agency. Taking cognisance of the fact that the information sought was 30-40 years old, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra directed Prime Minister''s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat to produce records before him in sealed cover. "Keeping in view that the information relates to a period now nearly three to four decades old, we would like to see the contents to satisfy ourselves that, indeed, the information is sensitive enough for India''s security and foreign relations concerns. It is only after that it should be possible to decide, if the information should be disclosed," Mishra said in the order.
As reported at deccanherald.com on June 7, 2011 In a landmark decision that may make India’s parliamentarians more accountable and help expose unsavoury links between high-stakes business and power politics, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that pecuniary interests of MPs in various companies must be made public. The obvious rationale behind the CIC’s decision of June 3 is to help people keep “a better watch” on parliamentarians with stakes in big business and industrial establishments. The other reason, though not explicitly reasoned out in the CIC’s order, could also prevent lobbying by big business who, as in the Nira Radia case, often times influence MPs’ positions and other policy decisions. The CIC decision came in the wake of RTI application filed by New Delhi-based Association for Democratic Reforms National Coordinator Anil Bairwal whose plea that he be furnished with copies of statements of all current Rajya Sabha members having pecuniary interests in business houses was initially rejected by the Rajya Sabha information officer and the Upper House’s appellate authority. The plea taken by the Rajya Sabha was that information related to House members with “remunerative directorship, regular remunerative activity, shareholding of controlling nature, paid consultancy and professional engagement” in any company “might not be provided to the public since the information was available to the secretariat in a fiduciary relationship”. The Upper House also held that Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee (members) were not obligated to “provide such information as it was covered under the exempt category under Section 8(1)(e) of the Right to Information Act, 2005”. Yet another inexplicable reason given by the Rajya Sabha to deny information to Bairwal was that “it was personal in nature, the disclosure of which had no relationship to any public activity or interest”. Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra’s order overturned the Rajya Sabha’s stand, saying that the CIC was “firmly of the view that the disclosure of desired information would serve a larger public interest”. According to the commission, “It is the standard practice that people in positions where they can make decisions or influence policies affecting the financial and other interests of companies should ordinarily recuse themselves from such a process, if they themselves have an interest in those specific companies or the class of enterprises, to avoid conflict of interest”. Speaking to Deccan Herald over phone from Delhi, Bairwal said the position taken by the Rajya Sabha, which had rejected his application (first submitted two years ago) twice earlier was “against the spirit” of the RTI Act. “What is ominous is that the Upper House’s Ethic Committee did not want to disclose information that members submit for registration in the Register of Members’ Interest under Rule 293 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States”. Bairwal said that Mishra’s order could go a long way in preventing lobbying by firms in which some MPs might hold stakes or have other pecuniary interests. The CIC’s order would then be in line with the ethics rules of the United States Congress which clearly states that “House Members...should never accept “benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance” of (their) official duties. Besides, the House of Representatives’ Ethic Committee “found that this standard was violated, for example, when a Member persuaded the organisers of a privately held bank to sell him stock while he was using his congressional position to promote authorisation for the establishment of the bank.”
Atul Patankar posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported by Ch. narendra at mynews.in on 12 January 2010 Raaj Mangal Prasad, a Delhi-based child rights activist of Pratidhi, an NGO, found through a series of Right to Information applications that the PMO appointed in 2007 two clearly unqualified people as members, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a statutory body. Appointed a member of NCPCR as an expert in disability, Sandhya Bajaj, had no desired qualification except being a lawyer and a Congress worker from Haryana. Deepa Dixit, the other member, who was supposedly an expert in child-related laws, was actually a corporate lawyer with expertise in mergers and acquisitions. Another RTI application by Prasad found that acting on the recommendation of the Union ministry of women and child development, PMO hastily approved the appointment of four more persons as members of NCPCR before the elections for 15th Lok Sabha. The four appointments were sought to be pushed in a non-transparent manner, without any clarity on how the candidates were selected. The decision eventually ran up against the election code of conduct and has since remained unimplemented. However, another appointment was carried through in spite of the election code of conduct -- Omita Paul’s dubious appointment as Central Information Commissioner. It is clearly documented how her lightning-fast selection and appointment happened side-by-side with the elections. Documents dug out from DOPT (Ministry of Personnel & Grievances) by Mumbai activist Girish Mittal show various instances of abuse of trust and unconstitutional behaviour. A N Tiwari and Satyananda Mishra -- both DoPT Secretaries – were asked by PMO to forward a panel of names to the PM’s selecting committee for CentralInformation Commissioners. So, acting in pure self-interest, they put their own names on a tiny short list, ruthlessly disregarding the applications of many other qualified contenders. These acts were then concealed by PMO and DoPT officials who hid these papers from RTI applicants. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah defended such concealment of documents with strange reasoning and self-contradictory statements. The contradictions are now out in the open. Thanks to Girish Mittal, there is a wealth of documentary evidence. The selecting committee consisting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Leader of Opposition L K Advani and former Home Minister Shivraj Patil, smiled upon these malpractices. Mr Tiwari and Mr Mishra were made Information Commissioners. According to government sources, DoPT Secretary Shantanu Consul, who turns 60 on 5th October 2010, will be the next to perform this great deed – this act of treason, of placing self-interest above national interest. MrConsul is thought likely to become the Chief Information Commissioner this month. If he does not, then he is almost certain to become an Information Commissioner in October after superannuation. Are such arbitrary and unlawful selections to Information Commissions and other national commissions happening because of absence of norms? Until now, large numbers of us activists believed that this was the case. But no, these things are done in spite of clear norms and procedures for search and selection of candidates. Read these two well-known DoPT circulars: 1. Search Committees guidelines 1994: http://www.box. net/shared/ jtbzsfhji3 2. Search Committee guidelines ‘07: http://www.box. net/shared/ v46ppyhhn9 DoPT has laid out these guidelines for other Central Government departments. So, Nav Nirman questioned that why can’t it practice what it preaches? Stating that DoPT is virtually an extension of PMO, it asked what use is such closeness to the power-seat of India if you can’t bend and break the rules to suit your own sweet will? Source:Shantanu Consul to be next Chief Information Commissioner through breach of explicit guidelines