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  1. [caption id=attachment_131" align="alignright" width="300] Right to Information Application form- can you ask why?[/caption] In Right to Information Application form, Information is being denied by Government under RTI Act because the applicant has asked reasons. Application asking why what is generally refused by Public authority. Therefore, it has been advised that an applicant refrain from drafting RTI Application having why and What under RTI. For example a query under RTI such has Why was the decision taken to cancel the tender? The above question shall be refused by the Public Authority resorting to provision of RTI Act that such information cannot be provided. Therefore, it has been advised by most of the activist and guides that the query be framed like this: Please provide me the documents on which the decision was taken to cancel the tender. However, it is very clear from the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, that information held by the Public Authority in material form has to be provided to the information seeker, unless such information is denied under one of the exemption provisions of the RTI Act. Section 2 of the RTI Act defines the form of the information that can be accessed by citizen of India. Simply because the Right to Information Application form has prefixed query with why and what does not debar him for receiving information if that is a part of the record held by the Public Authority. Therefore in the above example, if the reasons as to why the tender was cancelled has been recorded in the file or is held in any form by the Government, it shall be provided under the Right to Information Act 2005. This stand has been substantiated by CIC in one of the decision where the information was denied as the respondent nature of queries of RTI application were in the nature of queries prefixing why and what and was not replied to stating that since such queries do not come within the ambit of section 2(f) of the RTI Act, the information cannot be provided. Right to Information Application form- CIC stand on 'Why' and 'What'! The commission has stated in the above hearing that "Simply because the appellant has prefixed his query with why and what does not debar him for receiving information, which is admittedly a part of the record held by the respondent. The Commission therefore directs the CPIO to provide the action taken on appellant’s RTI application for issue of non-official photo pass as well as the reasons for rejection of application, as per record. " The decision can be downloaded from here!
  2. rtiindia

    Can RTI break the wife locker

    CIC refused attempt by husband to get hold of information about his wife's locker. Earlier the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) has denied the information citing section 8(1)(d), (e) and (j) of the RTI Act, as he is the third party. The appellant referred to his RTI application of 02.05.2012 and stated that he is seeking information regarding the operation of his wife's locker. The appellant stated that he has strained relations with his wife. The appellant stated that he wanted to know on what dates and how many times, the locker was operated by his wife during a certain period. The appellant stated that he also wants statement of savings bank account and details of fixed deposits till date. The approach of the respondent bank was in conformity with the RTI Act and CIC upheld the decision of FAA. Can RTI break the wife locker Earlier in the decision posted at our law segment titled "Husband wife and third party clause under RTI", the CIC has ruled that Husband and Wife are separate legal entity therefore Husband wife and third party clause under RTI are applicable. Kindly read the numerous discussions at out forum regarding Third Party Information under RTI (Vijai Sharma) Information Commissioner Decision No.CIC/VS/A/2012/001753/05738 Appeal No.CIC/VS/A/2012/001753 Dated: 31.12.2013 Appellant: Shri Sameer Bhandari Respondent: Public Information Officer, Syndicate Bank, Regional Office, SCO 76­77, Sector­ 17­B, Chandigarh ­160 017. Decision link: http://rti.cc/7l
  3. [caption id=attachment_122" align="alignright" width="300] RTI and Corruption in Government[/caption] The true intention of having Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act is to bring even the exempted intelligence and security organizations as specified in Second Schedule of the RTI Act within the scope and ambit of the RTI Act so far as allegations of corruption supported with cogent and reasonable legal evidence are concerned. Obtaining information under RTI for corruption issued from Exempt organisation may require a different approach. Right to Information Act 2005 Section 24. reads as "Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the Central Government or any information furnished by such organisations to that Government: Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section: Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission, and notwithstanding anything contained in section 7, such information shall be provided within forty-five days from the date of the receipt of request." RTI and Corruption From the above clause it is clear that information by RTI and Corruption and Human Rights issues can only be obtained if following conditions are met: cogent and reasonable legal evidence to prove the corruption and Human Rights have been affected. Presentation before the CIC directly CIC directing the CPIO to disclose such information. In most cases corruption cannot be established inside the Exempt organisations by an RTI Applicant. In such case following procedure is of relevance. According to the Black’s Law Dictionary (West 9th ed. 2009 on p.86), the word “Allegation” has been defined as “1. The act of declaring something to be true. 2.Something declared or asserted as a matter of fact, esp. in a legal pleading; a party's formal statement of a factual matter as being true or provable, without its having yet been proved.” Thus, an allegation is clearly different from “Conjecture” which has been defined (on p.343) as a guess, supposition or surmise. The true intention of having Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act is to bring even the exempted intelligence and security organizations as specified in Second Schedule of the RTI Act within the scope and ambit of the RTI Act so far as allegations of corruption supported with cogent and reasonable legal evidence are concerned. Even being an exempt organization under Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act, it is nevertheless the duty of the organisation as an intelligence and security organization, to inquire into the allegations made by the complainant . Not discharging its duty would tantamount to ‘Nonfeasance’, i.e. the omission of acts which a man was by law bound to do. The following excerpt from the Judgment of Division Bench of the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court in Union of India (UOI) and Ors. Vs. V. Shankaran and Anr. [2008 (4) GLT 885] is of relevance here: “25. [...]"Official misconduct" defines in Black's Law Dictionary (7th Edition) as a public officer's corrupt violation of assigned duties by malfeasance; misfeasance; or nonfeasance, which is also termed as misconduct in office; misbehaviour in office; malconduct in office; misdemeanour in office; corruption in office and official corruption.” Thus, if the organisation simply refuses to take cognizance of allegations which are clearly based on reasonably sound legal evidence and omits to probe into such allegations when it was lawfully bound to do so, then such nonfeasance clearly amounts to an act of Corruption. If the nonfeasance results in allowing some from being brought to justice, then it will amount to corrupt practice on part of organisation. Thus, in such case it squarely attract the Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act and the information sought by the Appellant clearly relates to such information which pertains to allegation of corruption. The above abstracts have been taken from the decision of the CIC in the appeal No.CIC/WB/A/2010/000341/SS What do you think about the above interpretation, does this helps in issue of RTI and corruption? Participate in the discussion at our forum here!
  4. [caption id=attachment_172" align="alignright" width="300] Political parties under RTI[/caption] Political parties have been claiming exemption under RTI Act. But the decision of CIC shall change everything now. Political Parties under RTI Act now. Political Parties affect the lives of citizens, directly or indirectly, in every conceivable way and are continuously engaged in performing public duty. It is, therefore, important that they became accountable to the public. Their uniqueness lies in the fact that inspite of being non-governmental, they come to wield or directly or indirectly influence exercise of governmental power. It would be odd to argue that transparency is good for all State organs but not so good for Political Parties, which, in reality, control all the vital organs of the State. How Political Parties under RTI The CIC ruled that "We may also add that the preamble to the Constitution of India aims at securing to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and, EQUALITY of status and of opportunity. Coincidentally, the preamble of RTI Act also aims to promote these principles in the form of transparency and accountability in the working of the every public authority. It also aims to create an ‘informed citizenry’ and to contain corruption and to hold government and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. Needless to say, Political Parties are important political institutions and can play a critical role in heralding transparency in public life." Political Parties continuously perform public functions which define parameters of governance and socio-economic development in the country.The criticality of the role being played by these Political Parties in our democratic set up and the nature of duties performed by them point towards their public character, bringing them in the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Political Parties performs public functions qualifies it to be Public Authority under section 2(h). Indian National Congress (INC), Bhartiya Janta party (BJP), CPI(M), CPIO, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central Government under section 2(h)(ii) of the RTI Act and therefore political parties are under RTI. Bringing the Political Parties in the ambit of RTI Act is likely to usher an era of transparency in their functioning. Besides it would result in strengthening of democracy and democratice institutions in the country. Political Parties have constitutional and legal rights and liabilities and, therefore, need to be held to be Public Authorities. The argument runs thus. Political Parties are required to be registered with the ECI under section 29A of the R.P. Act, 1951 – a Central Legislation. An association or body gets the status of a political party on its registration. ECI awards symbols to Political Parties under the Election Symbols(Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, only after registration. The ECI calls for details of expenses made by the Political Parties in the elections. Contributions of the value of Rs. 20,000/- and above received from any person or a Company by a Political Party are required to be intimated to ECI under section 29C of the R.P. Act. ECI is vested with the superintendence, direction and control of elections under Article 324 of the Constitution. ECI is also vested with the authority to suspend or withdraw recognition of a political party in certain contingencies. More importantly, Political Parties can recommend disqualification of Members of the House in certain contingencies under the Tenth Schedule. The contention is that the aforesaid constitutional/statutory powers of Political Parties under RTI section 2(h). The CIC has set aside the order of the Single Bench of this Commission in Complaint No. CIC/MISC/2009/0001 and CIC/MISC/2009/0002 and it was held that AICC/INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP are public authorities under section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The CIC further stated that "The gravamen of the above judgments is that for a private entity to qualify to be a public authority, substantial financing does not mean majority financing. What is important is that the funding by the appropriate Government is achieving a “felt need of a section of the public or to secure larger societal goals”. The ratio of the above judgments, particularly of Delhi High Court, applies to the present case. Large tracts of land in prime areas of Delhi have been placed at the disposal of the Political Parties in-question at exceptionally low rates. Besides, huge Government accommodations have been placed at the disposal of Political Parties at hugely cheap rates thereby bestowing financial benefits on them. The Income Tax exemptions granted and the free air time at AIR and Doordarshan at the time of elections also has substantially contributed to the financing of the Political Parties by the Central Government. We have, therefore, no hesitation in concluding that INC/AICC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central Government and, therefore, Political parties under RTI section 2(h) of the RTI Act." You can download the decision from our main site here! Also the Press release is available at this post. Political Parties under RTI
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