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  1. Many reputed international service organizations like Lions Club International & Rotary International have their presence in almost all countries of world. In India, also, these organizations are having their affiliated branch clubs/ associations in every nook and corner using the name of main organization added with tag of local City name like “Rotary Club Delhi”, “Lions Club Chennai” etc. Rather various areas have some time many a different branch clubs like “Jaycee Club of Delhi South” etc. These organizations have a special designed hierarchical structure in which Indian Territory is divided in various Districts. Each such district is containing a vast area and the boundaries are covering more than two or three or more states. Every District is further divided in to Regions and every Region in to Zones and every zone have various branch clubs under its administrative control. Indian Citizens can become the members of such branch clubs by paying a fixed Entrance fee ones and annual subscription regularly. Out of this money, a major part goes to the International Headquarter and a portion also to District. Every District is governed by an officer in charge mostly called “The Governor” who is local representative of the organization. These branch clubs, Zones, Regions and Districts are running various service projects and those projects are being funded by donations from public, government monetary aids, Government grants, Government free supplies etc from time to time, subsidized government leased lands and they collect various other donations and earnings like raffle draws, fates, entertainment parks, hospitals, education institutes, training institutes and other profit making ventures. There is other aspect of working of these clubs that a lot of money is also being spent on eating, drinking and self enjoyment and entertainment of the club members. While these clubs are supposed to maintain separate account for Self Entertainment and separate for Projects and the money received on account of service projects are not to be utilized by the entertainment, the discipline might not be kept strictly as statuary. I am of the opinion that these units come under the preview of RTI as these are utilizing public funds and as well as government aid too like availability of government Land on token lease and open financial help from time to time. Let us make a debate that if these clubs are “Public Authority” in context to RTI Act Section 2 (h) (d) (i & ii) and can designated “The District Governor” and others can be asked for some information:eek:
  2. PA prepares and publishes information under section 4(1)(b) on just asking for it,a quick and easy way to force the PAs to publish the information.the Directorate of Technical Education,Goa was asked to provide the information published under section 4(1)(b)in query No.11 of the application for information as in the attached file.RTI manual Directorate of Technical Education Goa Section4.b.pdf apologies for the big file size!
  3. As reported at zeenews.com on November 10, 2010 New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said it is mulling over amendments in the Right to Information Act to safeguard the sensitivity of the Chief Justice of India's office. "The Government proposes to strengthen the RTI regime by suitably amending the law...the proposal includes safeguarding the sensitivity of the office of the Chief Justice of India," Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Prithviraj Chavan told Lok Sabha in a written reply. The other changes proposed include provision for constitution of benches in the Information Commissions, enlarging the scope of suo-moto disclosures, empowering Information Commissions to make regulations and discouraging vexatious and frivolous applications, he said. Chavan, however, did not give any time frame for the amendment.
  4. As reported by Himanshi Dhawan in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 14 August 2010: Put projects info online, says CIC - India - The Times of India Put projects info online, says CIC NEW DELHI: With a spate of reports indicating corruption in Commonwealth Games projects and contracts, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked Delhi government and NDMC to put online information related to tenders, work awarded, consultants appointed and deadlines. Taking cognizance of "disturbing" reports about corruption in Games projects, information commissionerShailesh Gandhi wrote to the Delhi chief secretary and NDMC chairperson to put up on the website information relating to tenders, nature of work and details of appointment of consultants/NGOs with regard to implementation of Commonwealth Games projects. While Delhi government has been asked to comply by September 15, NDMC has been given a deadline of August 30. The commission asked the state government to comply under Section 4 of the RTI Act that provides for voluntary disclosure of information by a public authority. Gandhi said, "The government has paid very little attention to the requirements of Section 4 and its implementation. If details of the money being spent on CWG projects, their deadlines, the terms and conditions of contracts had been put on the website and continuously updated, the brazen purchase of things at ten or twenty times their worth may not have been possible." He added that people would have had the chance to sound an alarm or questioned authorities if anything brazen was being done. In his letter to Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta, Gandhi said, "It has come to the commission's notice that a lot of information relating to tenders issued for the Commonwealth Games and other developmental work in Delhi in the last five years is not available in the public domain and disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI Act have not been made in this regard." He pointed out that agencies like PWD, rural development, urban development, Delhi Jal Board, DSIDC and MCD had not made certain disclosures that they should have. CWG contracts and tenders have come under the scanner with CAG and CVC closely looking at the tenders awarded by agencies like PWD, NDMC and CPWD.
  5. As reported by Alifiya Khan at mid-day.com on 11 June 2010 Mandatory details on info commission website missing in violation of RTI Act, finds activist Citizens who passionately care about their right to information are beginning to tighten the screws on Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi. Two days after MiD DAY reported Joshi had not replied to RTI queries about him for two years and that applicants said he held hearings without his hearing aid, a city-based activist sent a complaint to his office stating Joshi was violating the Right to Information Act. Outdated The complaint letter sent by activist Vijay Kumbhar says the website of the State Information Commission has become outdated and provides incomplete information. Section 4 of the RTI Act makes it mandatory for the information commissioner to update his website within 120 days of joining office and to post details on it about the functioning and salaries of employees. "Basic information, such as contact details of the commissioner, his address, email and numbers, has not been updated. If someone wants to complain or write to him, how should they contact him?" said Kumbhar. "He also hasn't put up details of salary like what he gets paid, how many staffers he has, and their salaries. According to Section 4 of RTI Act, he should have put up this information." Other problems A visit to the website, Home | State Information Commission, confirms Kumbhar's claims. There were several other problems also with the site, such as no registration form to create a username if one wants to use the 'log in' option on the site. "All information commissioners and the chief must voluntarily give details of their office," said Kumbhar. "But only details of the Pune bench are uploaded. The other six information commissioners, including Joshi, haven't bothered with disclosing their details."
  6. Atul Patankar

    NGOs asked to declare assets under RTI

    As reported at expressindia.com on Sep 21, 2009 Ahmedabad In A move aimed at bringing accountability and transparency in the functioning of NGOs in Gujarat, Janpath – a network of 217 NGOs in the state – has decided to ask the trustees of all member NGOs to declare their assets, which will be put on a website. This was declared by Harinesh Pandya, the secretary of Janpath, at their Annual General Meeting at Gujarat Vidyapith on Sunday. He told Newsline: “Today, we passed the resolution at our meeting asking the trustees and managing trustees of all member NGOs to make their assets public. We will design a detailed form to declare the assets, which will be sent to all member NGOs across Gujarat. We expect the concerned trustees to send back the form filled with the details of their assets so that it can be put on the website.” He added: “We are inclined to bring in accountability in NGOs. Let us see how the NGO office bearers respond to the resolution.” Pankti Jog, another Janpath office bearer said: “All NGOs use the RTI (Right to Information) Act with a motive to bring transparency in the system. We felt that the same transparency, which we desire from the government system, is not available in the functioning of NGOs. Therefore, we have resolved to ask member NGO trustees to declare their assets as Pro Active Disclosures under the provisions of the RTI Act.” State Information Commissioner R N Das was one of the guests on the occasion. In his speech, he asked all NGOs to reply to any RTI application demanding their details, as NGOs getting funds — either directly or indirectly from the government— fall within the purview of the RTI Act. Source: NGOs asked to declare assets under RTI - Express India
  7. As reported by S. Rajendran at hinduonnet.com on 07 September 2009 An attempt at ensuring transparency and accountability Rules being drafted under the RTI Act for the transparency scheme Disclosures will be published in newspapers, municipality websites BANGALORE: Municipalities in the State, including the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, will periodically disclose the services being rendered by them from the next two months. This is to ensure transparency and accountability. The Department of Urban Development has drafted rules under the provisions of the RTI Act to implement the novel transparency scheme, Public Disclosure Rules. These rules are now being vetted by the Law Department and the authorities have commenced a debate on the same with 218 municipalities in the State. If need be, the rules will be modified before they are notified in two months. The voluntary disclosure will also ensure that the funds allocated under various schemes are appropriately utilised and there is transparency in public spending and accountability on the part of the officials concerned. There is also a penal clause under the new rules wherein an official found violating the rules will have to face disciplinary action under the Karnataka Civil Service and Conduct Rules. Sources in the Secretariat told The Hindu that disclosures would be published in newspapers, municipality websites and on the notice boards of the municipal offices concerned periodically. The Union Government and the Union Ministry of Urban Development, in particular, directed Karnataka some time ago to enact a Public Disclosure Law since the State is one of the important beneficiaries of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). It is mandated under JNNURM that the municipalities should voluntarily disclose what they are doing for the benefit of the people which would ensure that they are people-friendly and funds released under various schemes are appropriately utilised. Source: The Hindu : Front Page : Civic bodies to voluntarily disclose services offered by them
  8. Front Page storey by SANKARSHAN THAKUR at telegraphindia.com on June 12 , 2009 New Delhi, June 11: Transparency mandarins in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) have won a protracted argument with home and defence ministry officials over throwing open non-strategic data for public use. The department of science and technology, which functions under the PMO, is putting final touches on an open data policy that will unlock a whole ocean of information hitherto withheld. One of the 100-day promises made in the President’s address to Parliament, the open data policy will be placed for cabinet approval soon, sources said. In terms of a transparency effort, the open data policy marks a quantum improvement on the RTI because it will institutionalise voluntary disclosure of information by the government. “With RTI, you need to apply, wait and in many cases even pay for information you receive,” said a top official, explaining the difference. “Once the open data policy becomes operational, anyone will automatically be able to access information through the Net, or other means like hard copy and CDs.” Manmohan Singh’s PMO has been pushing the open data policy for several years now but was being resisted by the home and defence ministries which have traditionally been zealous about keeping things under wraps. They’ve apparently been convinced that nothing they consider of strategic value or critical to national security will come under the purview of the new transparency regime. “There is tonnes and tonnes of information which is non-strategic that the government still keeps away from public access,” the official said, “there is no virtue in such secrecy, in fact there is virtue in making it available, free information is critical to our development requirements, especially now that so many non-government and civil society groups have become partners in pushing us ahead.” Some of the non-strategic areas in which government still withholds information are geology, mapping, health and education, water resources, and industrial profiling. “There is a whole lot of human development index data too that we uselessly keep away from public access and waste, in the right hands, all of this and more could be hugely beneficial to society,” the official said. The Prime Minister himself underlined the need for greater transparency and accountability in an interaction with his team of officials this afternoon. It was like a general body meeting of the PMO with all officials above director rank present; national security adviser M.K. Narayanan also participated. The exact contours and architecture of the open data policy are unclear at the moment even to those who are involved with giving it shape. “These things tend to slowly evolve in government,” said the official, “the critical thing is that once a decisive push has been given, they develop their own dynamic, the nuts and bolts fall into place.” A major task of the department of science and technology, overseen by Prithviraj Chavan, a minister of state in the PMO and himself an engineering graduate from Berkeley, will be to provide the roadmap for translating such a huge undertaking into reality. “The information overload and backlog with government is monumental, the simple task of putting all of that on-line, for instance, is a daunting one,” the official said. An open data policy, on the lines of executive measures taken by the Barack Obama administration in the United States, has been a growing demand of transparency lobbyists in India. One of them, Venkatesh Hariharan, who calls himself an “open-source evangelist”, says: “While the BJP did not win the elections, one of the proposals that I really liked within their IT Vision was that of replacing the Right to Information Act with a Duty to Inform Act that puts the onus on the government to share information with its citizens. In the long run, I think this is the way to go and with the technology at our disposal, we no longer have excuses to keep public data out of the reach of Indian citizens.” The open data policy, implemented in its spirit, might come close to meeting such aspirations. “At the moment, even things like maps are difficult to access besides being expensive,” Hariharan says, “Maps in combination with other data can help tremendously. For example, there is currently a fear that the swine flu might start spreading. If data on this threat is available, it can be overlaid onto maps and this can help us understand how the disease is spreading.” Ravi Gupta, editor of e-Gov magazine and another transparency campaigner, argues that the government itself will be the biggest beneficiary of an open data policy. “The way things are organised today, government departments themselves cannot access information from each other, the first and biggest gainers from a more organised and open system of putting information in the public domain will be the government itself. Our issue is not even an open data policy at the moment, our real issue is organising the data in systematic fashion, that itself will be a huge favour the government will be doing itself.” Gupta also reasons that India should follow the US-model of making data accessible to the public at the cost of dissemination rather than the cost of collection. “Our entrepreneurs or researchers or social sector organisations are not really spoilt for resources,” he says, “to have to pay heavy prices for information may nullify the whole idea. I know of an instance in Bihar where an RTI applicant had to pay Rs 5 lakh for information sought on account of photocopying charges. That’s legitimate on the government’s part, but it also drives away information seekers. A voluntary data policy might correct that.” Source: The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | Policy to let information flow without asking
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