Vinita Vishwas Deshmukh | 1 May 03:12 2009
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Vinita Deshmukh's editorial on voter apathy




Dear Friends, Even Mumbai terror hasn't shaken us to go in large numbers and vote. Out criminal habit of wanting ``others to do something'' while we sit comfortably at homes and perform the role of arm-chair activists was once again displayed when even Mumbai voted below 50 per cent and so did Bangalore and Pune. Do we have the right to crib about politicians? Following is my editorial which has appeared in the Intelligent Pune issue of May 1.
cheers and warm rgds
vinita
Ve Only Talk Endlessly

Forty-year-old Sunil Haribhau Ware is a rickshaw driver in Pune, since the last seven years. I asked him whether he cast his vote. He said ‘yes.’ Which was his polling booth? He replied, "Shingapur in Purandar taluka which comes under Baramati constituency (50 odd kms from Pune).’’ So, did he sacrifice his bread winning day to go and vote? "Yes,’’ he replied. "I took a ST bus early morning and was back in Pune by 3 pm. At least 30 people from my village travelled from various parts of Maharashtra to come and cast their vote. Our village registered 62 per cent voting.’’

Ware may be illiterate but he is educated enough to understand the significance and the spirit of participating in this crucial democratic process of electing the government. He didn’t mind spending Rs.50 for the ST fare and forfeiting nearly a day which would have earned him at least Rs.200.

Pitch this against the great cultural, educational and prosperous city of Pune where the voting was a pathetic 40 per cent – a seven per cent slide since the last Lok Sabha elections of the year 2004. Coming as these elections did against the backdrop of the 26/11 Mumbai terror which had made Puneites eloquent than never before about criminal, callous and useless politicians, the logical sequel was to be a large turnout of voters. Also, the fact that six lakh new voters were registered in Pune since the last elections and these mostly comprised the youth which is generally alert and alive to the quality of life it wants, the voting numbers were expected to go high. Also, the vociferous campaigns by NGOs and the print and electronic media were geared towards stripping off lethargy of the educated class, when it comes to choosing a well deserving political candidate.

To further woo the voters, the Pune district collector used a special clause to declare a holiday for all government and private organisations and stated action against any employer who came in the way of the employee’s voting.

For the first time perhaps, Puneites had an `educated’ choice in candidates like the veteran Suresh Kalmadi, a former Air Force officer; Anil Shirole, a law graduate; Arun Bhatia, a former IAS officer and a second time runner; Vikram Bokey, a former IPS officer; Ranjit Shirole, a double graduate and D S Kulkarni who may not have academic qualifications but has a respectful image. Okay, let’s say none of these candidates appealed to many - still they could have shown their participation by visiting the polling booth getting their finger marked with the ink and then just turning away. Instead, 10-lakh-odd Puneites preferred to turn their backs and lost a vital chance to elect the government they want. Now, they have no right to crib about the quality of politicians and governance in the country.

This indifference towards voting in Pune, so also in Bangalore- the two civic conscious cities- is rude and shocking. One wonders whether the educated want it this way- breed in the corrupt system for one’s selfish motives and conveniences but put up a façade of moralistic values. The educated find it so cool to be arm chair activists - just cry hoarse within the four walls of one’s home or parties saying "something should be done about it (meaning somebody else should do it). Or now in the Internet age, be content by participating in e-discussion groups and surfing through relevant websites and posting e-comments. Even the deadly 26/11 terror and unprecedented recession did not shake them up, just like politicians who are thick-skinned to such calamities. They know public memory is very short, which has proved right once again!

Okay, there has been a lot of hue and cry about people who went to the polling booth and either spent hours to search their names and the polling booth or found that their names were missing. Barring a minute percentage where the administration goofed up, most of the cases pertained again to our illiteracy and apathy towards the voting process.

Since October 2008, the district collectorate has been appealing time and again through the media, to get their names verified. More so, because of the delimitation process - this means carving out assembly constituencies in a way that all of them are balanced, population wise. Which also means, that your traditional polling booths have changed and perhaps your constituency too. Pune’s assembly constituencies increased from five to 11, so the voter’s list was re-adjusted accordingly. For example, I was earlier in the Parvati constituency and my polling booth was a school in Maharshinagar but when I checked my name I found that I have been shifted to the Cantonment constituency and my polling booth is now a school in Salisbury Park. If I had not checked and gone by my traditional polling booth, obviously I would have wasted hours finding my booth as the presiding officer on the voting day would be equipped with only the list of that particular polling booth. Nevertheless, the administration needs to answer the question of why the supplementary list comprising 65,000 new voters never made it to the voter’s list, thus depriving first time voters of their right to vote.

Another glaring reason was the complete disinterest amongst political parties themselves. The collector had 10 meetings since October 2008, apprising them of the drastic change of polling booths and in constituencies of the voters; however none of the political parties bothered to make their voters aware. Also, the chits issued by political parties door-to-door with your names and numbers before the polling day, were far and few between. So, voters depending on this traditional pampering too suffered at the polling booth or did not go at all.

How bad is it not to vote? As bad as not standing for the National Anthem! Let’s not cry over spilt milk - let’s gear up for the assembly elections this September!

Vinita Deshmukh

(Editor)

(vinita.intelligent1 <at> gmail.com)



--
Vinita Deshmukh
Editor
Intelligent Pune
Prabhat Newspaper Group
304 Narayan Peth
98230 36663
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    Nutan Thakur | 1 May 07:48 2009
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    All Questions- Same answer




    Friends,

    The RTI Act was formulated with much fanfare and with great hopes that it will bring some kind of transparency and a related sense of responsibility in the government servants who would be feeling the heat of the people's power because of their power to seek information at will. It would be too ungrateful to say that the promulgation of the Act has not helped the common people. On the contrary this Act is certainly among the most powerful and potent tools in the hands of the people of this country and can easily be regarded as one of the most memorable and laudable gifts of the UPA government. Yet, there are departments and people in these establishments who are still not over with their colonial hangover. The result is that these people are not only making an open fun of the provisions of this Act but are also defeating completely the very purpose of the Act.
    I shall present before you one such department where a few examples would suffice to let you understand how such people are treating this Act. The department is the Home department in the Uttar Pradesh which is generally held to be responsible for keeping the law and order in the State as also to see to it that there is a the proper implementation of various laws and people don't go breaking laws, rules and regulations. Yet, the department itself seems to notoriously believe in the dictum- "rules are there to be broken." This holds true particularly with regards to the RTI Act.
    Information was sought from the Department as regards the details of the IPS and State Police Service (PPS) officers placed under suspension during a given period. The information dealt with issues like the date of suspension, the date of reinstatement, the grounds for suspension, the time required in conducting the enquiry and the result of the enquiry etc. One section of the Home Department which deals with the PPS officers provided the details, though a bit delayed. But another section, dealing with the IPS officers refused to give the information saying that that this information cannot be given without the prior written permission of the concerned IPS officers because it comes under section 8(j) of the RTI Act. Section 8(j), as we all know, deals with information of personal nature wh ich have a tendency of infringing the privacy of a person. Can anyone explain that the information sought can be termed private in nature? or one that is infringing upon someone's privacy?
    The second example is that of asking some details from two departments of the UP Government as regards the Study leave of the IAS and IPS officers. While the Appointments department dealing with the IAS officers gave the requisite information, the same section of the Home department again said this information cannot be given without the prior written permission of the concerned IPS officers under section 8(j) of the RTI Act as being of personal nature and having a tendency of infringing the privacy of a person. Isn't it a deliberate and blatant flouting of the provisions of the Act?
    In two other cases where the information as regards the selection criteria for promotion to the rank of DIG by the UP government for some given period and information as regards the decision by the government in the departmental cases in the month of May 2007 were sought, the sane section again came up with Section 8(j).
    Now it seems that the Home department of UP government has got the section 8(j) under its name and any information sought from it would be abjectly rejected taking the plea of this section alone.
    I would request the friends here to help me proceed with this matter by suggesting me the future course of action, other than making a request to the First Appellate authority in each of these cases.

    Dr Nutan Thakur
    IRDS,
    Lucknow

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      Vikram Simha | 1 May 08:46 2009
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      Re: Interesting Item





      N vikramsimha , KRIA Katte , #12 Sumeru Sir M N Krishna Rao Road , Basvangudi < Bangalore 560004.

      --- On Fri, 1/5/09, vikramsimha <vikramsimha54 <at> yahoo.co.in> wrote:

      > From: vikramsimha <vikramsimha54 <at> yahoo.co.in>
      > Subject: Interesting Item
      > To: vikramsimha54 <at> yahoo.co.in
      > Date: Friday, 1 May, 2009, 12:09 PM
      > Hi!
      > This e-mail was sent to you by request from vikramsimha
      > Please click on the following link to read the item:
      >
      > http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VE9JQkcvMjAwOS8wNS8wMSNBcjAwNDAz&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom
      > Comment: FYI -- Work done by Journalism Students
      >
      > For AOL users: <a href="http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VE9JQkcvMjAwOS8wNS8wMSNBcjAwNDAz&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom">http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VE9JQkcvMjAwOS8wNS8wMSNBcjAwNDAz&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom</a>
      >

      Get an email ID as yourname <at> ymail.com or yourname <at> rocketmail.com. Click here http://in.promos.yahoo.com/address

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        Kris Dev | 2 May 05:59 2009
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        Smart voter-IDs needed - Business Standard May 02, 2009



        Business Standard
        Saturday May 02, 2009

        Smart voter-IDs needed
        Geetanjali Krishna / New Delhi May 02, 2009

        The other day, I caught up with some old friends, all of whom happened to belong to (or lived in) some of Uttar Pradesh's (UP) smaller mofussil towns. Inevitably, the conversation veered to the general elections and the general lawlessness that usually prevailed in UP during past elections. Each tale told was taller than the other, and most revolved around the fact that voter ID cards were so easily fudged. "I know many people with multiple voter identities," one friend said boastfully. "That's nothing," said the other, "I have known of people who've voted at least five times in one election after erasing the `indelible' ink from their fingernails before it dries!" Others spoke of the time when they went to vote, only to find that someone had already voted against their name.

        The tales were tall, but could well be true. For when we were in Bhadoi (an eastern UP district) during the 1998 general elections, we'd seen all this and more. I still remember a story that the then Superintendent of Police of Bhadoi told us. A burkha-clad woman came to cast her vote, but the presiding officer suspected she'd already done so earlier. He couldn't get her to raise her veil without incurring her community's ire. But when he began quizzing her, she turned tail and ran. The veil slipped and everyone realised that the `lady' was a bearded man! Although he was arrested, he became a hero. For he wasn't alone: Tales of one-person-many-votes flew fast and furious around us during that time.

        Anyway, the evening ended, and I was left wondering how we as a nation can actually ensure, that if not this one, then at least our next general election is free and fair. The only answer that kept coming back to me was to ensure a better system of identification of voters, so as to avoid irregularities in the voting process. That's when I remembered Chennai-based Kris Dev and his biometric I-cards. Identification that is based on fingerprint and iris recognition (the two most-commonly used unique biometric criteria), is almost completely foolproof. And accurate identification would certainly mean an end to some of the election-day madness we'd been swapping stories about.

        "I believe that biometric voter cards (which use either fingerprints or any other form of unique physical identification) will ensure total accuracy in identification of registered voters," said Kris. What a biometric voter card would mean is this — when a voter goes to cast his vote, a computer will tally his/her fingerprints with those recorded on the voter card. If they tally, s/he may vote. If they don't, s/he can't vote. "There's no scope for bogus voting in this," said Kris, "even Bangladesh adopted this technology in its 2008 elections." He is happy that this time at least one political party has promised (in its manifesto) to implement biometric voter cards if it comes to power. "But most parties are against such cards, as they rely on rigging elections to win seats," he said.

        In fact, Kris is promoting a single multi-use smart card like the one used in Singapore: "The card may be used as a passport, voter ID and driving licence, as well as to record details of electricity, water and other connections," he said.

        With 16 or 32 GB memory, this card could act as a voter I-card, driving licence, bank passbook, passport etc — and would be almost impossible to duplicate or falsify. Only then, said Kris, would the election results truly reflect the will of the nation, adding, "and we'll see a transformed India."

        http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/geetanjali-krishna-smart-voter-ids-needed/356822/

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          Nutan Thakur | 2 May 08:24 2009
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          CBI- Closed Bureau of Investigation



          Friends,

          Two of the recent actions of the CBI have helped it reach the lowest level of its credibility. The first of these is the Sikh rioting case of 1984 and the second the most recent one is the equally infamous Bofors. So much so that they have added much credence to the words of voluble Amar Singh when he calls the CBI as the Congress Bureau of Investigation. Thankfully, even the Congress Party does not do much to dispel this notion when one of its senior leaders, Digvijay Singh, who has remained the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for two consecutive terms comes out in open to threaten another Chief Minister by showing the deadly fangs of this Institution, in almost the same tone and tenor that Shashi Kapoor's words had when he had delivered those famous lines in Deewar- "Mere paas Maa hai" (I have mother with me). Thus while the police inspector in that film had his mother to shield him, the Congress (or for that matter any ruling establishment) seems to have the CBI as their last refuse.
          Let us first look at what the CBI did in the 1984 rioting case. Everyone knows that Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler along with the now deceased H K L Bhagat went openly out not only to assist the rioters, but to initiate and propagate the entire event, which was no less a state-orchestrated pogrom than the Gujarat riots. The purpose of these people were two-fold. The first was to use the situation to produce a Hindu-Sikh divide and to use this voter's polarization to their advantage in the coming Lok sabha elections. successfully. But more important was to gain some brownie points in the eyes of Rajiv Gandhi whose infamous statement about the little tremors as a result of a falling Banyan tree had already made his preference clear. This triumvirate, along with several other lesser minions played havoc for days in the most dirty and dastardly fashion. Yet, it takes the CBI more than 25 years to come to any conclusion. And what results do they arrive at- that there is not enough evidence again Kumar and Tytler. This too again at a time when the General elections are in process and the Government is not sure of its retuning back. Could there be a more blatant example of the clear-cut misuse of the powers of the CBI? This entire act was managed so secretly that it could have simply passed unnoticed. It took a shoe to be thrown at the Home Minister for the Nation to know of this chicanery. The CBI is still speaking in double tones as regards the case, to much so that no one knows where exactly it stands on this issue. If this is what the CBI has brought its stature and reputat ion to, it has no one except itself to blame.
          The second case is no less more glaring. Bofors is a chapter that the Gandhi-Nehru family would never like to remember. Yet, this weapon has the inbuilt capability of bouncing back. The latest in this series of headlines in the long list of deliberate mishandling is the act of the CBI of asking the Interpol to drop the name of Ottavio Quatroccchi from the list of the most wanted persons. How could the CBI do this to our Nation? in a case that has become the byword for corruption at the highest level, in which even the then Prime Minister himself was accused and even implicated in the earlier stage of investigation, and where it is common knowledge that Quatrocchi played the chief facilitator of this sleaze, does it suit the CBI to act as a benefactor to the same person who owes so much exp lanation to us? Again, here, as in many other cases in which CBI plays the hide and seek game in its two-forked manner, while clearing the name from Interpol list, the CBI goes to the Court and asks for two months time to decide on the further course of action. What is this? What right do the officers of this investigative agency have to reduce it to a farce?
          The CBI's performance in all the cases of political nature has been very poor, at least in the last few years. Whether it is the Mulayam Singh Yadav disproportionate assets case or Mayawati's Taj corridor and DA case, the CBI has been seen to be shifting its stand as per the political weather. When the person is out of favour with the Central government, the agency suddenly acquires wings and starts playing the prosecutor with the highest sense of urgency and alacrity. But the moment the same person becomes inevitable for the government, with the power of influencing its policy decisions, the CBI starts playing a radically different tune. Is this what is expected from a body like the CBI? Is this anything less than being shameful?
          These are the questions the CBI will have to think over and will have to answer, not only to itself but to the entire country. And it shall never expect the Government of the day to come to its assistance in this regards. this is because every government would always love to use the CBI to achieve its political goals and would never hesitate to dictate it as long the organization is willing to oblige.
          But had the CBI officers joined this premier organization to enjoy its privileges, perks and prestige only to pawn their conscience before these hankering and hovering politicians?

          Dr Nutan Thakur
          IRDS
          Lucknow

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            rajneesh madhok | 2 May 08:46 2009
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            Illegal Confinement



             
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "rajneesh madhok" <rmadhok_pgm <at> bsnl.in>
            To: "Babubhai Vaghela" <vaghelabd <at> yahoo.com>
            Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 11:44 AM
            Subject: Fw: Illegal Confinement BY Police (Kapurthala Case); Police put Kulwinder in Lock up without Warrant

            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: "rajneesh madhok" <rmadhok_pgm <at> bsnl.in>
            > To: <dircoord-mha <at> nic.in>; ""Amitabh Thakur"" <amitabhth <at> yahoo.com>; ""arun
            > agrawal"" <arun_agrawal <at> yahoo.com>; <sspkapruthala <at> yahoo.com>;
            > <dsp.phagwara <at> yahoo.com>; ""Bimal Khemani"" <bimal.khemani <at> gmail.com>
            > Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 11:39 AM
            > Subject: Fw: Illegal Confinement BY Police (Kapurthala Case); Police put
            > Kulwinder in Lock up without Warrant
            >
            >
            >> Sir,
            >> I had given this application to
            >> The SHO,
            >> Police Station Rawalpindi,
            >> Tehsil Phagwara Distt. kapurthala.
            >>
            >> SUB: MR. HARJINDER SINGH MUNSHI HEAD CONSTABLE STATEMENT AND SHO RAWAL
            >> PINDI STATEMENT.
            >> Sir,
            >> As per Mr. Harjinder Singh Munshi Head constable that Mr. Kulwinder Ram
            >> can be put up in lock up and it is valid to put him. As he has been
            >> arrested under Sec 107/51 of IPC as per the offence he had been indlulged
            >> in providing conveyance to the residents of the village to cast vote in
            >> Elections in last elections and he was driving the vehicle. His car had
            >> been impounded and the he had been fined by The honourable Judicial
            >> Magistrate amounting to Rs. 1,000/-. Now we have adopted the precautionery
            >> steps and put him in lock up. Now go and arrange for property documents
            >> from the Patwari and get the papers typed to get bail. He will be
            >> presented before SDM Phagwara. As today is Saturday and SDM will not be
            >> available in his court. So, the person will be put in lock up for three
            >> days. His offence is what I have described means he had made offence in
            >> the past if not you, then your father would have been done, if he had not
            >> been done then his four fathers would have been done.
            >> Yes it is my India.
            >> Rajneesh madhok
            >> ----- Original Message -----
            >> From: "rajneesh madhok" <rmadhok_pgm <at> bsnl.in>
            >> To: <dircoord-mha <at> nic.in>; "Amitabh Thakur" <amitabhth <at> yahoo.com>; "arun
            >> agrawal" <arun_agrawal <at> yahoo.com>; <sspkapruthala <at> yahoo.com>;
            >> <dsp.phagwara <at> yahoo.com>; "Bimal Khemani" <bimal.khemani <at> gmail.com>
            >> Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 11:05 AM
            >> Subject: Fw: Illegal Confinement BY Police (Kapurthala Case); Police put
            >> Kulwinder in Lock up without Warrant
            >>
            >>
            >>>
            >>> ----- Original Message -----
            >>> From: "Vaghela B D" <vaghelabd <at> yahoo.com>
            >>> To: <dircoord-mha <at> nic.in>
            >>> Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 8:54 AM
            >>> Subject: SOS : Illegal Confinement BY Police (Kapurthala Case)
            >>>
            >>>
            >>>>
            >>>> Director (Coordination),
            >>>> Ministry of Home Affairs, GOI,
            >>>> New Delhi
            >>>>
            >>>> Dear Sir,
            >>>>
            >>>> You may like to look into the serious complaint on top most priority.
            >>>>
            >>>> With warm regards,
            >>>>
            >>>>
            >>>> Babubhai Vaghela,
            >>>> Ahmedabad
            >>>>
            >>>> --- On Sat, 5/2/09, rajneesh madhok <rmadhok_pgm <at> bsnl.in> wrote:
            >>>>
            >>>>> From: rajneesh madhok <rmadhok_pgm <at> bsnl.in>
            >>>>> Subject: Illegal Confinement BY Police
            >>>>> To: ""her ececellency president of india""
            >>>>> <presidentofindia <at> rb.nic.in>, ""Hon'ble Chief Justice of India Mr. K.G
            >>>>> Balakrishanan"" <speakerloksabha <at> sansad.nic.in>, ""Vaghela BD""
            >>>>> <vaghelabd <at> yahoo.com>, ""Deputy Commissioner Kapurthala""
            >>>>> <pun-kph <at> chd.nic.in>, DailySouthAsian <at> yahoogroups.co.uk, ""Hon'ble
            >>>>> Prime Miister of India Dr. Man Mohan Singh"" <pmosb-A5gn5j7FT0U@public.gmane.orgin>,
            >>>>> editor <at> ibnlive.com, ""Forum_humanrights""
            >>>>> <forum_humanrights <at> yahoo.co.in>, ""Serious Fraud Investigation Office""
            >>>>> <sfio-R9E+szwozl8@public.gmane.org>, gandhim <at> sansad.nic.in, HumJanenge <at> yahoogroups.co.in,
            >>>>> hansrajb <at> sansad.nic.in, ""Help Supreme Court"" <supremecourt <at> nic.in>,
            >>>>> ""Home Minister of India"" <websitemhaweb <at> nic.in>,
            >>>>> ""humanrightsactivist"" <humanrightsactivist <at> yahoogroups.com>,
            >>>>> IHRO <at> yahoogroups.com, intuchq <at> del3.vsnl.net.in, ""IK""
            >>>>> <ikchhugani <at> yahoo.com>, ""Jagnarain Sharma""
            >>>>> <jagnarain.sharma <at> gmail.com>, ""Karamyog"" <karmayog <at> yahoogroups.com>,
            >>>>> LoksattaUttarpradesh <at> yahoogroups.com,
            >>>> milap_choraria <at> yahoo.com, Praja-Vol <at> yahoogroups.com,
            >>>> ratnam <at> indiatoday.com, rti4empowerment <at> yahoogroups.com,
            >>>> rti4ngo <at> yahoogroups.com, rajnath <at> sansad.nic.in, thedmk <at> vsnl.com, ""India
            >>>> united"" <indiaunited1 <at> gmail.com>, varinderkr <at> eci.gov.in,
            >>>> webmaster <at> telugudesam.org, ystandhope <at> eci.gov.in
            >>>>> Date: Saturday, May 2, 2009, 6:30 AM
            >>>>> May 2, 2009
            >>>>> 1. To
            >>>>> Her Excecellency President Of India,
            >>>>> Rashtrapati Bhawan,
            >>>>> New Delhi
            >>>>> 2. To
            >>>>> The Senior Superintendent of Police,
            >>>>> Kapurthala
            >>>>>
            >>>>> SUB:  ILLEGAL CONFINEMENT BY RAWALPINDI POLICE,TEHSIL
            >>>>> PHAGWAR, DISTT. KAPURTHALA, PUNJAB
            >>>>> Action aginst Police officials who picked Mr. Kulwinder Ram
            >>>>> of village Bhabiana without providing any summon
            >>>>> Sir,
            >>>>> As per my earlier appeal sent to you to provide Warrrant
            >>>>> u/s 77 of IPC for arrest or Mr. Kulwinder Ram S/o Sardari
            >>>>> Lal, V&Po Bhabiana.
            >>>>>
            >>>>> Today Mr. Kulwinder Ram of Bhaabiana picked up by Rawal
            >>>>> pindi Police and put in illegal confinement, whereas it has
            >>>>> already been requested to the Police to provide the
            >>>>> documents for illegal confinement. But it is a great
            >>>>> highhandedness on the part of police to pick a person from
            >>>>> his home without valid grounds and furnishing of Warrant.
            >>>>> Sir, it is requested to kindly investigate about the matter
            >>>>> of harassment, insult and illegal confinement by the
            >>>>> Policemen of Rawalpindi police station.
            >>>>>
            >>>>> Kindly investigate in the matter of Misconduct with Mr.
            >>>>> Kulwinder Ram and the matter of picking him and keep in
            >>>>> illegal confinement on May 2, 2009 in early morning hours.
            >>>>>
            >>>>> A police man by pushing him and abusing and insulting him
            >>>>> picked from his house in the early morning.
            >>>>>
            >>>>> I hereby complain against the misbehaviour/ misconduct to
            >>>>> your goodself . I understand from the vigilance that he has
            >>>>> been reprimanded for his conduct.
            >>>>> The copy of my complaint dated April 4 2009 is enclosed
            >>>>> herewith sent by Speed Post and the fax has been made at
            >>>>> your office..
            >>>>>
            >>>>> Sir, Mr. Kulwinder Ram has been detained  at the Police
            >>>>> Station Rawalpindi on what grounds it has not been specified
            >>>>> till now.
            >>>>> Kindly look in to the matter and oblige,
            >>>>>
            >>>>> Rajneesh Madhok,
            >>>>> B-xxx/63, Nehru Nagar,
            >>>>> St,. No. 2, Railway Road,
            >>>>> Phagwara-144401 (Pb)
            >>>>> Ph: 01824-262569 (O), 268210 (r), 094173-06415
            >>>>> Tele-fax: 01824-262569, E-mail: rajneesh_madhok <at> yahoo.com
            >>>>
            >>>>
            >>>>
            >>>
            >>
            >

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              Nutan Thakur | 2 May 08:52 2009
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              Fixed tenure for Legislatures



              Friends,

              While casting his vote at Ahmedabad during the third phase of the elections, L K Advani raised a few fundamental issues which need to be taken seriously. He asked the political parties and the Election Commission to think over changing the Constitution for a fixed tenure for Lok Sabha and the Assemblies. He said that the same went on for the first four General elections but this has been completely delinked since 1971 pre-mature dissolution of the Parliament. He also spoke of voting being made compulsory and to take place in the month of February.
              It is true that Advani is being liked and disliked in equal measures by people on both side of the divide. There is a perceptibly large number of people who are in no way among the admirer of the person but despite this fact each of his words as narrated above need to be taken seriously. There is no doubt that despite our country voting for a new Parliament to be followed by a new government, two important factors are there for everyone to see. The first of these is the low voter turn out which goes down as low as 25% in a state like Jammu & Kashmir and in general falls around 50%. While one of the important reasons for such a situation might be the voter's apathy and complete disinterest towards these political persons whom they have seen long to get completely disenchanted and averse , yet a sizeable percentage of low voting can easily be attributed to the weather where the simmering heat around the country is making people stay in their homes instead of moving out to vote. Thus, if in an urban constituency like Lucknow or Kanpur, the voting is as low as 39% or 42%, then it is time for all of us to sit down and to ponder. Since the democracy, by its very genesis, is the kind of government which relates itself to people (i.e. the voters) and gains all its strength and authority from this very fact, hence if more than half the voting population does not come out to cast its most potent weapon, then the entire exercise automatically becomes meaningless. Can any one cherish the fact that the winning candidate from many of the Constituencies shall be representing it with hardly 10-15% of the voting population having okayed his candidature? This is a serious question that we need to answer. For this some kind of compulsion as regards casting one's vote might be enforced. And it will not be a dictatorial order, it will more be a facilitator for this great cause. But to enforce this compulsory voting status, the State needs to take a very large number of measures which could guarantee this mandatory voting provision. This would include all the possible use of innovative technological and managerial ideas and their pooling together to come up with a solution which provides every voter such a condition where casting the vote does not come as a distraction or disturbance or nuisance to them. Changing the voting season to February seems to a brilliant idea beca use this is the month which has the least amount of distractions, disturbances and diversions.
              Even more important is the issue raise by him where he has suggested a fixed tenure for all the State Assemblies along with the National Parliament. If only such a thing could actually happen ! It would not only solve many of our problems but would also reduce the costs and trouble in the entire exercise to a massive scale. There are two different issues involved here. The first one is as regards the fixed tenure of these Legislative bodies. Their need is increasingly being felt. With the kind of "hung" legislative bodies where the people's verdict is completely fractured, the fear of a deadlock where none of the groups or formations is able to form a government is becoming the order of the day. We saw this at the National scale on so many occasions in the past. The same holds tr ue for the States. The few recent examples where it happened in the most blatant and perverse manner are Bihar, Jharkhand and Karnataka. There can be many more examples. Thus, more important than the elections, it is the post-poll scenario that has become much more relevant. With aspirations running high and the ambitions going sky-bound, each one of these groups and sub-groups lay their claim on the highest chair. The result is often visible in the form of a caricature of democracy where these legislators present the dirty dance before us which we as the helpless citizen are forced to watch. There is an immediate and the most urgent need to make some formulations in which the formation of a government and its continuity becomes almost an automatic and mechanical exercise, so that these greedy politicians do not have much discretion left to them in these matters. This is one such suggestion that India needs to adopt at all costs. Otherwise, things are going to turn for the worse in the days to come.
              Again, the simultaneous elections for the National and State legislatures is a much desired goal. No doubt, its initiation would face some practical difficulties because over the years, the different State Assemblies have got spread over a very wide spectrum and hence many of them might try to show their disagreement as regards the date of dissolution for beginning this process. One suggestion in this regards could be to make a mathematical formulation for deciding this matter and to enforce it.
              Finally, I would like to add that while Advani is absolutely correct when he asks for such changes. But he certainly goes off tangent when he finds a place for the Election Commission in this process. May be, this is the hangover of the Election Commission's overriding powers that it has usurped over the years. It is because the Election Commission is nothing more than a regulatory and implementing body, albeit deriving some authority through the Constitution but it does not have a role in the Policy formations of basic and fundamental nature. This is the work that will have to be done only the political parties themselves, with the aid and assistance of the academicians, legal luminaries and other enlightened citizen.
              Though it may sound a bit too unrealistic but I am sure the real compulsions of our democratic system will sooner or later force us to move in this direction.

              Dr Nutan Thakur
              IRDS
              Lucknow

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                lokesh batra | 2 May 08:52 2009
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                TOI : Two war reports, two rulings: CIC seeks clear declassification policy



                 
                 

                Two war reports, two rulings: CIC seeks clear declassification policy

                2 May 2009, 0423 hrs IST, Himanshi Dhawan, TNN
                NEW DELHI: In a space of four weeks, the Central Information Commission has given what appear to be contradictory rulings related to matters of national security.

                While the information watchdog has allowed disclosure of details related to the 1971 Indo-Pak war spy case, the same commission chose to withhold the Henderson-Brooks report on the 1962 Sino-India war. The ambiguity over which information should be made public is compounded because of a lack of declassification policy in the country.

                "There should be a clear declassification policy. It is a logical consequence of the Right to Information Act to have a disclosure policy and a right to privacy policy,'' Wajahat Habibullah, chief information commissioner said.

                Denying that the two orders were opposed to each other, Habibullah said that in the Henderson-Brooks report, there was a lot of material on the Line of Control (LoC) which was a "live issue''. "The Henderson-Brooks report deals with issues related to the Line of Control that are still under negotiation. It was felt that it would be detrimental to national interest to be make such information public,'' he said.

                He added that the allegations of an alleged CIA agent in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet was an issue that did not affect present circumstances.

                The chief information commissioner was of the opinion that clear laws on right to privacy and declassification would facilitate dispensation of the RTI Act. "Giving information is the rule and not giving it is an exception. A clear policy on declassification, like the one in the United States, would make our work much easier,'' Habibullah said.

                The US and United Kingdom have a disclosure policy under their respective Freedom of Information Act. In the US, documents are automatically declassified after a period of 25 years unless exempted under section 3.3 (B) of the executive order 12958.

                Activists have long argued that information related to public events — of national and international importance — must be made public.

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                  lokesh batra | 2 May 08:56 2009
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                  TOI : RTI on cops' returns rejected



                   
                   

                  RTI on cops' returns rejected

                  2 May 2009, 0316 hrs IST, TNN
                  PANAJI: The Goa State Information Commission turned down an appeal that sought information on the annual property returns of all police officers right from the rank of deputy superintendents of police (DySP) to the topmost ranking officer.

                  However, the Commission ruled that the applicant may seek the same information "with a proper, specific and resonable request".

                  The ruling pertains to an appeal filed by Kashinath Shetye, who is well known for filing RTI applications seeking details of former chief secretary J P Singh and former development commissioner Anand Prakash.

                  On July 7, 2008, Shetye had filed an RTI application seeking information on various aspects about the traffic police department. In the same application, Shetye had also sought de tails of the annual property returns of all police officers with the rank of deputy superintendents of police (DySP) and above. Shetye also wanted year-wise certified copies of the annual returns from 1998 till date.

                  The superintendent of police (SP) at the police headquarters, who considered that particular request, rejected it on the ground that the information was personal in nature and that its disclosure would cause unwarranted invasion on the privacy of the individual.

                  Shetye then made his first appeal to the inspector general of police (IGP) who upheld the SP's ruling and refused to give the information.

                  In his second appeal before the Goa State Information Commission, Shetye, among other arguments, stated that the Commission had earlier provided him information regarding the annual returns of former chief secretary J P Singh and that there were no reasons as to why such information should be de nied now.

                  The Commission however considered that information regarding annual returns was "out of context from the contents of the other information" that pertained exclusively to the traffic police department.

                  The Commission noted, "There is no connection of calling annual returns of the entire police force of the rank of DySP and above, with the inquiries of the traffic cell. The appellant should have indicated some connection or purpose of seeking the information of annual returns of all DySPs and officers above them with information regarding the traffic cell of police."

                  State information commissioner Afonso Araujo also said that the appellant could approach the SP (headquarters) "with a proper, specific and reasonable request" in respect of information regarding annual returns and that the SP(headquarters) should deal with the request according to law.

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                    lokesh batra | 2 May 09:02 2009
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                    USA : Access to Information is a Fundamental Human Right, Participants of Hemispheric Conference Affirm



                     
                     
                    Access to Information is a Fundamental Human Right, Participants of Hemispheric Conference Affirm
                     
                    Journalists, government workers, and representatives of non-governmental organizations from 18 countries in the Americas, met in Lima, Peru, April 28-30, and developed a “Regional Action Plan to Advance the Right to Access Information.”
                     
                    The plan will be released within a couple of weeks, as part of the conclusions of the Americas Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information conducted in Lima by the Carter Center, in collaboration with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, the Organization of American States, and the Andean Commission of Jurists.
                     
                    The 115 participants, from 18 countries in the hemisphere, reaffirmed at the end of the conference that the “access to information is a fundamental human right related not only to the fight against corruption and the improvement of development, but also to health, education, quality of life, and other essential rights.”
                     
                    Elaborated by thematic working groups at the beginning part of the conference, the document was discussed in a plenary session coordinated by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who passed through Lima during a tour to personally ask the presidents of South America to promote the right to information access.
                     
                    Access to information can change the environment of entire societies, Carter said. He emphasized the need to further promote the right to access, which is currently defended in the Americas only by a few members of civil society, an elite.
                     
                    The plan of action that was approved specifically emphasizes the importance of participation by the media and by investigative journalists.
                     
                    Editors, media owners, and journalists must promote the use of the transparency mechanisms for investigative journalism to increase the skills of journalists, the draft plan says.

                     
                     

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