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  1. Who will be India’s next Central Chief Information Commissioner under RTI ? After nearly six months of keeping the post of Central CIC’s post vacant and with 203 applicants responding to DoPT’s advertisement for this post, the screening committee is finally meeting on 16th January to decide a name So, who will be India’s next Central Chief Information Commissioner? The Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has invited the search committee members comprising cabinet secretary, Rashtrapati Bhavan (chairman); Additional Principal Secretary to PM; Secretary, DoPT; Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs; Secretary, Dept of Expenditure and Professor Ram Chand, National Centre for Agricultural Economics & Policy. They are scheduled to meet at the cabinet secretariat of Rahtrapati Bhavan on 16th January. On the same day, another meeting to draw a panel for information commissioners will also take place. The Agenda note for the meeting states that the 203 applications received for the CIC post have been divided into seven categories to facilitate shortlisting of candidate. The Agenda note procured by Moneylife states: “(the) Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has directed that for the sake of consistency and uniformity in approach, the procedure for selection of information commissioner, which includes amongst other things, advertising the post and short listing by a search committee may be adopted for appointment to the post of Chief Information Commissioner as well. Such short listed panel may then be placed before the selection committee for its consideration.” “Accordingly, a circular was posted on the website of DoPT inviting applications to the post of Chief Information Commissioner on 24.10.2014. The post was also advertised in three leading newspapers (two in English and one in Hindi) as was done for appointment to the posts of information commissioners. The last date of receipt of applications is 24.11.2014. A total number of 203 applications for the post of Chief Information Commissioner in CIC were received. Applications received after the cut-off date of 24.11.2014 are not being considered.” “As per Section 12 (5) of the RTI Act 2005, the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in `law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.” “Accordingly, all these 203 applications have been broadly categorized into seven categories of knowledge and experience as mentioned above. Few applications which do not fall within these seven categories have been mentioned as ‘other’ categories. However, for the sake of categorization, only the main field of knowledge and experience, if any, have not been indicated. Law: 37 Science & Technology: 21 Social Service: 09 Management: 28 Journalism: 03 Mass Media: 05 Administration and Governance: 89 Others: 11 Total: 203 Here is the list of these 203 candidates…(also attached) 252592665-Vinita-List-of-Candidates-for-CIC.pdf “It is pertinent to mention that in a Review Petition filed by Union of India against Hon’ble Supreme Court judgment dated 13.09.2012 in Namit Sharma case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court vie the judgment dated 03.09.2013, inter-alia, gave the following direction: 1. We direct that only persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in the fields mentioned…..be considered for appointment as information commissioner and Chief Information Commissioner.’’ The Search Committee would be seeking reports from Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of the shortlisted persons and would ask DoPT to obtain reports from Intelligence Bureau (IB). So, finally it seems the crucial vacancy that had earned ire from activists from across the country is well on its way to be filled up. However, India needs to thank Delhi-based RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd) who has been pursuing this issue through RTI applications. Batra says, “Though there is a huge delay in filling up the above posts, I am of the opinion that this time the process of shortlisting is going to be more transparent.’’ [TABLE=width: 700] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD][TABLE=width: 660, align: center] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Here is the chronology of his efforts as timeline by him:[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]07.09.2014 : Filed RTI in DoPT (No. 1-Attachment)[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]07.10.2014 : CPIO, DoPT sent response and intimated that both the Files are under submission i.e. (i) File No.4/4/2014-IR concerning processing the appointment of Information Commissioners in CIC and (ii) File No.4/7/2014-IR concerning processing of appointment of Chief Information Commissioner" in CIC.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]29.10.2014, I inspected File No.4/7/2014-IR : concerning appointment of Chief Information Commissioner after it was returned by PMO and collected certified copies of Notings Side from Page NOs 15 to 31 (last page). I also collected relevant 10 pages from Correspondence side.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]DoPT File No.4/7.2014 : Appointment of Chief Information Commissioner in CIC 2014[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]• PMO after holding the file for over two and half months (from 01.08.2014)..... returned the file to DoPT vide PMO ID dated 17 October 2014. In its note of 17 October 2014, PMO stated that : Quote : "Prime Minister has desired that for the sake of consistency and uniformity in approach, the procedure for selection of Information Commissioners which includes, among other things, advertising the post and short listing by a Search Committee, may be adopted for appointment to the post of Central Information Commissioner as well. Such short-listed panel may then be placed before the Selection Committee for its consideration."Unquote[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]12 June 2014 : DoPT sought clarification from Lok Sabha Secretariat : "xxx whether any leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha has been recognised. If the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha has not been recognised as such, it is requested to kindly intimate the name of the leader of the single largest group in opposition of Government in the Lok Sabha, for the purpose of selection of Information Commissioners as per the RTI Act."[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]19 June 2014 : Lok Sabha Secretariat responded to DoPT's above clarification and stated : Quote "As on date, there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. Indian National Congress with a strength of 44 members is, however, the single largest party in opposition to the Government in Lok Sabha. As per information received from the party, Mallikaarjun Kharge is the Leader of Indian National Congress in Lok Sabha" Unquote[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]08 July 2014: DoPT sought the advice of Department of Legal Affairs (DOLA) as to whether the Leader of single largest party in opposition can be considered as Leader of the single largest group in opposition, in Lok Sabha, for the sake of section 12(3) of RTI Act.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]15 July 2014: Pending Clarification from DOLA..... DoPT submitted file with brief to PMO for kind consideration of Hon'ble Prime Minister on 'Appointment of Chief Information Commissioner' in Central Information Commission for :- (i) Nomination of a Union Cabinet Minister for the Selection Committee u/s of the RTI act. (ii) A convenient date for holding of the meeting of the Selection Committee.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]21 July 2014: V. Sheshadri, Director, PMO in its note to Secretary, DoPT conveyed that the Prime Minister has nominated Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence, as the Member of the Selection Committee under of Section 12(3) of the RTI Act. The PMO note goes on to say "The undersigned is directed to convey that the matter shall be resubmitted for a decision on date of meeting of Selection Committee, after the issue raised in para 6 of the aforesaid note is decided."[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]17 July 2014: DOPT received clarification from DOLA. DOLA confirmed on DoPT query in affirmative with a rider that "We, however, clarify that this answer is only for the limited purpose of the RTI Act [explanation below section 12(3)] and not for any other purpose"[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]31 July 2014: File was again submitted to PMO. In this note name of Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of Indian National Congress in Lok Sabha was included as Member of the Selection Committee and Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence as Member of the Selection Committee.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]17 October 2014: PMO after holding the file for over two and half months (from 01.08.2014)..... returned the file to DoPT vide PMO ID dated 17 October 2014[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]24 October 2014 : DoPT uploaded a circular on the website of DoPT advertising post of Chief Information Commissioner and later also advertised in English and Hindi Newspapers[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD] [/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] [/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD][/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE]
  2. Revenue Officers top most-corrupt list Hyderabad: Revenue officials, particularly those dealing with land records, topped the ‘most corrupt list’ in the state going by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) cases in 2007. The government watchdog unearthed assets worth Rs 58.3 crore from government servants in 2007, which was Rs 12 crore more than the previous year. “Department wise, revenue officials are the one who were caught most in our traps while accepting bribe. Of 166 found guilty, 62 are from the revenue department,” directorgeneral (ACB) R R Girish Kumar told reporters here on Monday. Of the 62 officials, 51 dealt with land records like MROs and deputy tahsildars and the victims or the complainants were poor farmers who approached the officials for pahani or mutation records or registration or transfer records. “Going by this, there is an urgent need of taking up land reforms in the state,” he said. Apart from the trap cases, 10 officials of the revenue department were caught with alleged disproportionate assets. Next in the line of corrupt officials were the police. Twelve police officials were trapped while seven others were found in possession of disproportionate assets. Officials who were caught by the ACB range from SI to SP level. Of the SP-level official, Visakhapatnam rural SP J G Murali was caught, while in the city, a DSP-level official B Mahender Reddy (Asifnagar ACP) and Task Force inspector K Ramachandran were in the dock for accepting bribes. Girish Kumar said it is difficult to unearth disproportionate assets as the corrupt invest on ‘benami’ names in neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. “It is impossible to trap every corrupt official in the over 14 lakh state government officials. We can catch only one out of every 2,000 corrupt officials,” Girish Kumar said. The DG said 10-15 per cent officials were honest, while an equal per cent were corrupt to the core. “The remaining 60 to 70 per cent of the government employees react to their environment and turn corrupt,” he added. Even as the director-general ACB claimed there was an increase in trap cases, unearthing of disproportionate assets and number of convictions, the corruption ‘rate’ too had gone up in the past decade. In 1998, the average bribe amount in AP was Rs 1,984 while it touched Rs 4,902 in 2003 and presently it is Rs 15,000. With regard to disproportionate assets, the average in 1998 was Rs 14 lakh, in 2003 Rs 50 lakh and in 2007 it is at Rs 75 lakh. ACB proposes three-pronged strategy to fight corruption: The state government on Monday accepted the proposals submitted by the director general, Anti-Corruption Bureau, R R Girish Kumar to fight corruption in the state. In order to combat corruption, Girish Kumar had mooted a three-pronged strategy like simplifying the rules and procedures, ensuring transparency and effective implementation of the provisions of right to Information Act. TNN Welcome
  3. MUMBAI: State information commissioner Suresh Joshi has summoned Navi Mumbai police commissioner, Ramrao Wagh, for an explanation after learning that an officer in his department had dismissed 74 appeals under the Right to Information Act without hearing arguments in a single case. Joshi summoned Wagh following a complaint from a Vashi resident, who learnt from the public information officer in the Navi Mumbai police commissionerate that the department had not heard a single RTI appeal till date. An appeal is filed by RTI applicants when the original query is rejected by the PIO or if the applicant is not satisfied with the PIO's replies. The appeal is then heard by an appellate authority, a designated officer in the same department. "RTI appeals can be disposed of without hearing if the appellate authority is satisfied with the written argument. But in this case, looking at the volume of cases, there are real doubts that the appellate authority has disposed of appeals without even looking into the case details," information commissioner Suresh Joshi told TOI. 29 Oct 2007 Viju B,TNN
  4. New Delhi, Sept 29: The suggestions made by an RTI applicant on electoral reforms, while seeking information on poll expenses from the Election Commission, may be considered by the Law Ministry, the CIC has recommended. K N Joshi, a Delhi-resident, had filed a RTI application with the EC seeking details about the election expenditures. He also queried about the sources of money being spent by the political parties and audit of poll expenditure incurred by the government. The EC, while replying to specific queries of Joshi, observed that RTI Act did not confer on him the right to seek replies on his interpretations on different issues, following which the matter was placed before the Central Information Commission. Disposing of the application, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah in a recent order noted that the suggestions made by Joshi could be considered by Ministry of Law and Justice for considering issues of electoral reforms. "We find that there are number of suggestions on electoral reforms and considerable work has been done by appellant on calculating investment and returns in the present election process," Habibullah observed, while adding that a copy of the same could also be submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for his perusal. Joshi had filed, on August 17 last year, an application with EC in reply to which the latter had said that many of the questions asked were beyond its jurisdiction and hence such information be sought from the Law Ministry. The CIC found the EC at fault for not transferring his plea to the Law Ministry within five days, as stipulated under the provisions of the RTI Act. Zee News - Info plea on electoral reforms to be placed before top offices: CIC
  5. Kolkata, September 20 Top bureaucrats of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Government have been sent running for cover by a simple query put up in a right to information (RTI) application. How did the Government appoint three retired chief secretaries to posts not permitted by Article 319 of the Constitution? The chief minister, the leader of the Opposition and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly are members of the panel that cleared the appointments. On May 16, one Amitabha Chowdhury of a non-governmental organisation filed an RTI with this question: How did the Government appoint Rathin Sengupta, N Krishnamurthy and Sourin Roy to the Human Rights Commission after they had retired from the Public Service Commission (PSC)? Sengupta, Krishnamurthy and Roy were successive chief secretaries when Jyoti Basu was the chief minister. Each had been appointed chairman of the PSC after retirement, and then as salaried member of the Human Rights Commission. Amitabha Chowdhury has also asked for the file notings. The state public information officer (SPIO) of the Home (political) department has failed to come up with a reply in the mandatory 30 days. Top bureaucrats of Home and Law departments are also desperately looking for an answer. Article 319, “on prohibition as to the holding of offices by members of Commission on ceasing to be such members”, says that the chairman of a state PSC shall be eligible for appointment as chairman or member of the Union PSC, “but not for any other employment either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State”. When Ananda Ghosh, the SPIO and joint secretary of the Home (political) department under the chief minister received the application, he realised the implications and rushed to Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy, and suggested they get a legal opinion from the Law department. The law department sat on the matter.When the RTI petitioner did not get a reply, he complained to state Chief Information Commissioner (SCIO) Arun Bhattacharya in the first week of September. On the September 12, Arun Bhattacharya wrote to the SPIO seeking a reply within 15 days. On Thursday, Ananda Ghosh, by now promoted to deputy secretary and holding the post of appellate authority, met the home secretary again and impressed upon him the need for a speedy reply. SCIO Bhattacharya has told the petitioner that he will arrange for an open hearing if he does not get a reply within 15 days. The file notings are also important because appointments to the rights body are made by a panel whose members are the Chief Minister, the leader of the Opposition and the Speaker, among others. Ananda Ghosh is in a fix. “It is very difficult for me to get information on a matter handled by a panel whose members are such important people,” Ghosh told The Indian Express. “The question is complicated and the Government will have to think carefully before it replies,” Ghosh said. Ghosh admitted any further delay will be unlawful,” he said. The petitioner, Chowdhury, says he knows the Government has done something unconstitutional. “But I still want to see the file notings,” he said. “Whoever gave the order for their appointment will be implicated.” Krishnamurthy, when contacted in Mumbai, said: “The law has many interpretations. I cannot comment whether it was unconstitutional or not,” he said. “It is best to take legal advice.” Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim, one of the members of the appointing panel, told The Indian Express that he will not be able to comment off-hand. What Constitution? Govt puts retired bureaucrats in top posts
  6. The Speaker of the House of Commons has spent thousands of pounds of public money employing a law firm to defend him from criticism. Michael Martin, a working-class Glaswegian who earns £136,677 a year for presiding over parliamentary debates, recruited the services of libel lawyers Carter-Ruck after a series of negative stories about him in the press. One was the revelation that his wife Mary has been granted immunity from the stringent security checks that non-MPs have to go through before entering Parliament. And earlier this year, in the row over public access to the details of MPs' travel expenses, he was accused of trying to silence opposition to plans to exempt parliament from freedom of information rules. After requests under those same laws, it has now emerged that the Speaker, nicknamed Gorbals Mick, has spent nearly £3,000 of taxpayers' funds on "legal advice" from Carter-Ruck. Reporters trying to contact him have been referred to the legal firm, whose clients have included ex-world boxing champion Frank Bruno and former Big Brother contestant Jade Goody. His use of public funds came under scathing attack last night. Blair Gibbs, spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance, said it was ironic that the Speaker had been forced to disclose the cost of his legal representation under FOI laws. "Michael Martin has been against the public using the Freedom of Information Act to find out how politicians are spending our money. "He may not have broken the rules, but if the current system allows the Speaker to hire a posh media law firm to spin for him, all at taxpayers' expense, then it is yet another reason why the expensive system of parliamentary allowances has to be radically reformed. "We need much greater transparency and fewer allowances. We pay the Speaker a big enough salary already. If he wants to hire media lawyers he can do so at his own expense." Under-fire Speaker 'Gorbals Mick' hires top libel firm at public expense | News | This is London
  7. New Delhi: Last month, three senior bureaucrats in Chandigarh were rudely reminded that information is money. The three, all joint secretaries in the Union territory’s government, were asked by the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Union government body responsible for monitoring the Right To Information (RTI) Act, to together ante up Rs25,000. A joint secretary is the second highest level in India’s bureaucracy. Even the country’s apex investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, needs permission from the ministry concerned before it can launch an investigation against officers at this level. The crime in this case: the three officers had not provided the information sought by a citizen under the Act. The chain of events leading up to the fine began with Mehar Singh, a resident of Chandigarh, seeking information from the Union territory’s home department using the provisions of the RTI Act. When Singh did not receive the information within 30 days as mandated by the Act, he approached the CIC. The commission asked the concerned principal information officer—all government departments have information officers to which RTI applications are made; only when they are not answered do the applicants approach the CIC—Satya Thakur to pay a fine of Rs25,000 for the delay. Thakur responded with a detailed report on the movement of the applicant’s request through the department and said that although she had written to the senior officers concerned for the information several times, they had not responded in time. The CIC then asked the three senior officers from the home department and the finance department to share the fine of Rs25,000 between themselves. The CIC’s fine, levied on such senior officers, seems to have had the desired effect. “The (Mehar Singh) case is a reminder that all departments need to make their RTI systems more efficient,” says one of the officers who was fined and does not wish to be identified. Eventually, the three joint secretaries apologized to CIC and were spared the fine. Not everyone has been as lucky. The commission has thus far penalized around 40 information officers for not having provided information on time to RTI applicants. An information officer with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Capital’s urban development agency, says that imposing such fines on information officers was not fair. “There are so many applications under which people ask for all sorts of general information which requires coordination among all the wings of the DDA. After all, how much of manpower can we use to dig up old files?” asks the officer, who did not wish to be identified. The officer adds that each of the designated 50 information officers at DDA are handling between five and 10 RTI applications a day. “In fact, many advocates have started a business of filing RTI applications on behalf of citizens against the DDA and MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi),” says the officer. He suggests that the Rs10 fee to be paid with RTI applications needs to be raised to ensure that only serious applicants lined up. However, an RTI activist says the CIC has not penalized enough officers to ensure that they routinely send information on time. “There have been over 4,000 cases filed with the CIC and it has imposed fines in less than 40 cases,” says Arvind Kejriwal of non-governmental organization Parivartan. Kejriwal won the Ramon Magsaysay award in 2006 for his work in the RTI area. He adds that the CIC is not doing enough to ensure that bureaucrats treat RTI applications with respect. Fines cannot be imposed “left, right and centre,” says a senior official at the CIC who did not wish to be identified. He adds that the RTI Act itself is new and that the CIC needs to only “gradually start using all provisions of the Act” (such as fines) so that “the system also is able to accommodate the needs of a burgeoning number of applicants.” Info panel flexes muscles, fines top bureaucrats - livemint
  8. hi amit here I delivered a preentation on RTI for top class b school . The faculty was intrested in implementation of rti in various other countries as well pit fall in ir can any body let me know
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