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11 अप्रैल के 'पुतला दहन' कार्यक्रम के चलते टला यूपी के नवनिर्मित 'आरटीआई भवन' का उद्घाटन l

आरटीआई कार्यकर्ताओं की एकजुटता रंग लाई : हमारे 11 अप्रैल के 'पुतला दहन' कार्यक्रम के चलते टला यूपी के नवनिर्मित  'आरटीआई भवन' का उद्घाटन l अब बिना उद्घाटन ही शुरू होगी सुनवाई l

पहले यूपी के सीएम अखिलेश यादव 11 अप्रैल को इस नवनिर्मित  'आरटीआई भवन' का उद्घाटन करने वाले थे l

-उर्वशी शर्मा
मोबाइल 8081898081


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Posted by: urvashi sharma <rtimahilamanchup-/E1597aS9LQxFYw1CcD5bw@public.gmane.org>



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Updating LIst of RTI users who have been attacked [1 Attachment]

Dear all,
Parliament is slated to meet again during the 3rd week of April to complete the business of the budget session begun in February this year. Readers will remember that the Lok Sabha passed retrograde amendments to the Whistleblowers Protection Act last year. The amendment Bill is pending consideration in the Rajya Sabha. The original Act passed by Parliament has not been enforced yet.

Meanwhile, attacks on RTI users continue to be reported by the media with alarming frequency. The most recent incident is that of the Late VInay Baliga from Karnataka. Unless specific provisions for the protection of people who seek information under the RTI Act are incorporated in the Whistleblowers Protection Act, in its present form it will not come to their rescue until they make a complaint about corruption or wrong doing in government to a competent authority in accordance with the procedure described in this law.

It is important to collect and collate a comprehensive database of attacks on RTI users (murders, assaults, harassment, torture etc) across the country to influence the debate on the whistleblower amendments when it resumes in the Rajya Sabha. Several efforts have been made in the past to collect such a database. Readers will find one at this weblink: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attacks_on_RTI_activists_in_India

Erstwhile volunteers for NCPRI such as Nachiketa Udupa also prepared a comprehensive list some time ago. CHRI has tried to put together whatever information it could find from publicly available sources. The list is in the attachment. CHRI is not making any claim about the comprehensiveness or accuracy of this information. It is entirely based on online news reports.

We are circulating this compilation for your comments and inputs. Please let us know if there are more cases of attacks on RTI users that need to be included in this list. If you are aware of the latest development in any of these cases, please add the details in the column next to the relevant entry. If you think any of these reports are erroneous, please explain why and also send some substantial proof to support your claim. 

Kindly note that this compilation is based on online reports published in the English language. It is quite possible that several cases of attacks are not included in this list simply because the reportage was in one of the local languages or published only in hard copy. When you fill in such cases in the attachment, please remember to send us the relevant news clippings about such cases.

I request readers to send us your updates by 15 April, 2015. Please note that CHRI claims no proprietary rights on the information contained in the attachment. It is a compilation of publicly reported news stories. You are free to circulate this material as you deem appropriate. We would really appreciate it if you will help us update this information. This will be the first step in the direction of making the effort to ensure better protection for RTI users which is still a long way ahead.

Kindly circulate this email and the attachment widely.
Thanks
Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
#55A, 3rd Floor, Siddharth Chambers-1
Kalu Sarai, New Delhi- 110 016
Tel: +91-11-43180201/ 43180215

The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything, that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing": Justice K K Mathew, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, (1975)

"“Where a society has chosen to accept democracy as its credal faith, it is elementary that the citizens ought to know what their government is doing": Justice P N Bhagwati, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, (1981)

"Information is the currency that every citizen requires to participate in the life and governance of society”: Justice A. P. Shah, former Chief Justice, Delhi and Madras High Courts, (2010)



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Supplementing "5 Cs" with "2 Gs" (good governance) - analysis of the Coal Ministry's RTI performance since 2005

Dear all,
Recent media reports have highlighted a statement attributed to a serving senior bureaucrat in the Union Ministry of Coal about the inhibiting impact of the Central Information Commission (CIC) on the decision-making processes relating to development. According to these reports, the Secretary in charge of that Ministry is said to have made a comment on Facebook about the substantial contribution of 5 'Cs' namely, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Comptroller & Accountant General (C&AG) and the Courts apart from the CIC, to the creation of an inhibiting environment for quick and effective decision-making that impacts development. It is not clear which Ministries and Departments he had in mind while making this comment. However, the performance of the Coal Ministry and the public sector enterprises under its jurisdiction vis-a-vis the implementation of The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) is worth examining in this context. Preliminary findings from data gleaned from the Annual Reports of the CIC and the pendency data that it puts up on its website are given below.


Preliminary findings regarding the Coal Ministry and its PSUs
According to data published by the CIC in its Annual Reports, ordinarily, 13 public authorities are registered with it for the purpose of reporting statistics about information requests received and disposed under the RTI Act, every year. The prominent ones amongst them are the Ministry itself (stand alone), and major public sector undertakings (PSUs) such as Coal India Ltd. and Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. and those manning vast coal mining areas such as Central Coal Field Ltd., Eastern Coal Fields Ltd., Mahanadi Coal Fields Ltd., Northern Coal Field Ltd., Southeastern Coal Fields Ltd., Western Coal Fields Ltd. and Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd. which extracts lignite coal and also generates electricity. The RTI dataset collated from various CIC reports is in the attachment to this email. The RTI trends of these coal majors between 2005-2015 are as follows:

1) The Coal Ministry (stand alone) is a frequent defaulter when it comes to reporting RTI statistics to the CIC. According to the CIC, this Ministry has not submitted its RTI statistics since 2013. In fact since the implementation of the RTI Act began in 2005, data about RTI applications handled by this Ministry (stand alone) are available only for three years, namely, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2012-13. During this period the Coal Ministry (stand alone) reported handling 891 RTI applications. This works to less than 297 RTI applications per year, on an average. Further, this amounts to less than 1 RTI application per day to deal with. However as will be shown below, the Coal PSUs receive and dispose far more RTI applications in comparison with the Ministry (stand alone) and also report their RTI statistics to the CIC more faithfully than the Ministry itself.

2) The proportion of rejection of RTI applications by the Coal Ministry (stand alone) was as high as 45.6% in 2012-13 - perhaps the highest amongst Union Ministries and Departments for that year. The Finance Ministry with a large number of banks, insurance companies and income tax and customs authorities rejected only 21.30% of the RTI applications received during the same period. Some of these authorities, particularly PS Banks had rejected between 20-40% of the RTI applications on their own. In 2012-13 the Coal Ministry (stand alone) rejected 200 RTI applications by invoking Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act under which disclosure of information is exempted if it will impede the process of investigation or prosecution or the arrest of offenders. No RTI application was rejected that year under Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act which protects the economic and the strategic interests of the State or Section 8(1)(d) which pertains to matters of commercial confidence or intellectual property. Only 4 RTI applications were rejected by the Ministry under Section 8(1)(d) in 2009-10.  In 2008-09, the first year in which the Coal Ministry (stand alone) reported its RTI statistics, it had not rejected any of the 79 RTI applications received.

Comparative data for 2014-15 is not available because the Coal Ministry (stand alone) did not submit its annual report to the CIC. Unless data is placed in the  public domain about the number of RTI applications received and disposed of by the Coal Ministry, it is not possible to see a connect between the Hon'ble Coal Secretary's comments about the CIC and its impact on decision making in the Coal Ministry.

Further, the Coal PSUs' rejection rate is much lower compared to that of the Ministry (stand alone) as will be shown below.

3) According to data available on the CIC's website, the Coal Ministry (stand alone) had 63 appeal/complaint cases pending before the CIC as on 06/04/2016. In comparison, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had 273 cases, the Ministry of Power, 140 cases, the Prime Minister's Office 375 cases, the Supreme Court, 217 cases, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development a whopping 1,536 cases pending before the CIC. So the burden on the Coal Ministry (standalone) is not as high as it is in relation to other public authorities that come under the rubric "economic development"-related Ministries.

4) Amongst the Coal PSUs named above, Southeastern Coal Fields Ltd. (SECL) has always received the most number of RTI applications. In 2014-15, SECL handled more than 3,500 RTI applications through 17 Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs). Interestingly, the proportion of rejection by SECL was as low as 1%. SECL's rejection rate has fallen to this low from 15% in 2005 when it started implementing the RTI Act. This indicates progress made by SECL to reject fewer RTI applications. Of course this is not an indicator of the levels of satisfaction RTI applicants have with the information they received. Past experience shows that the number of first and second appeals against several public authorities are often higher than the proportion of rejection reported by a public authority. See CHRI's RTI Rapid Study Report 3.0 for a discussion on this subject (pages 29-32).

5) The highest proportion of rejection amongst Coal PSUs in 2014-15 was reported by Northern Coal Field Ltd. - 19.30% of the 1,153 RTI applications handled in that year. Even here the proportion of rejection has fallen considerably from 23.20% in 2013-14. It is necessary to study why the rejection rates vary so much between Coal majors. Are the categories of information requested so different that the rejection rates cannot be compared or is this an indicator of the skewed implementation of the RTI Act ins some coal majors?

6) Central Coal Fields Ltd. has not rejected any of the RTI applications since 2011 despite dealing with between 500-600 requests every year.

7) Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. received the 2nd highest number of RTI applications- 2,562, amongst the Coal PSUs in 2014-15 and reported rejections of 3.2% only. Western Coal Fields Ltd. received the 3rd highest number of RTI applications in 2014-15 - 2,228 and reported rejections slightly higher at 3.80%.

8) Overall, the Coal Ministry along with its 13 PSUs dealt with almost 11,500 RTI applications in 2014-15 (including the backlog from 2013-14). The overall proportion of rejection was 4.1% - well below the average rejection for the Union Government of 8.4% that we calculated a few weeks ago.

9) Overall, the coal majors invoked Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act most often to reject access to information for the years for which RTI statistics are available. 1.38% (895) of the RTI applications reported during the last 10 years across the Coal Ministry (combined) were rejected under Section 8(1)(j), namely personal information where disclosure was not in the public interest or would invade the individual's privacy. Only a miniscule number of 27 RTI applications were rejected under Section 8(1)(a) relating to economic and strategic interests of the State and only 137 requests were rejected by invoking Section 8(1)(d) of the Act relating to commercial confidence and intellectual property.

From the above analysis, it appears that the Hon'ble Coal Secretary's concerns do not seem to borne out- at least by the statistics supplied by his own Ministry (combined). If he was referring to the RTI trends in other Ministries, then he might like to come clean on the names of such Ministries which find the CIC's role a hindrance to economic development and also demonstrate that point through facts, figures and illustrative cases. Anything less will be treated as mere kite-flying aimed at building adverse opinion against the RTI Act which has served Indian democracy well. Parliament crafted the exemptions regime in the RTI Act based on international best practice to avoid excessive secrecy. India's RTI law is adjudged the 3rd best in the world by international experts. So, neither the law nor its creation- the CIC can be accused of compelling the disclosure of information that ought to be kept confidential for protecting a legitimate public interest.

Recognising RTI's contribution to the deepening of democracy, the Hon'ble Prime Minister said on 16th October, 2015, that merely seeking copies of official documents through RTI was not enough. Citizens must have the right to demand accountability by asking questions of public authorities (perhaps a "6th C"), he is reported to have said. Perhaps the Coal Secretary was too busy to familiarise himself with the Hon'ble PM's speech delivered at the inaugural session of the 10th Annual RTI Convention organised by the CIC. The Hon'ble PM's intention seems to have been to supplement the "5 Cs" with "2 Gs", namely, "good governance whose hallmarks are transparency, accountability, responsible, responsive and just governance. Good governance is not possible in the absence of checks and balances and regulatory frameworks of the "5 Cs" kind. The "5 Cs" were put in place because the system has a tendency to become corrupt and they act as checks on the abuse of power and authority. Without such a framework, the rule of law and proper use of discretionary authority cannot be guaranteed.

Please circulate this email widely. Friends in the media may kindly note that this email is not being shared exclusively with anybody. Please make use of this material as you deem appropriate in your work.


In order to access our previous email alerts on RTI and related issues please click on: www.humanrightsinitiative.org/blog. If you do not wish to receive these email alerts please send an email to this address indicating your refusal.

Thanks
Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
#55A, 3rd Floor, Siddharth Chambers-1
Kalu Sarai, New Delhi- 110 016
Tel: +91-11-43180201/ 43180215

The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything, that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing": Justice K K Mathew, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, (1975)

"“Where a society has chosen to accept democracy as its credal faith, it is elementary that the citizens ought to know what their government is doing": Justice P N Bhagwati, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, (1981)

"Information is the currency that every citizen requires to participate in the life and governance of society”: Justice A. P. Shah, former Chief Justice, Delhi and Madras High Courts, (2010)



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Posted by: Venkatesh Nayak <venkatesh-VldVBIePPc7rfyPWP6PaXg+gnn+XHhfY2LY78lusg7I@public.gmane.org>



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Attachment (CoalMin-RTIstats-2005-2015-Apr16.xls): application/vnd.ms-excel, 91 KiB
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Central Government invites suggestions on the manner of uploading RTI replies and FAA orders on website in a legal vacuum about personal data protection [1 Attachment]

Dear all,
In its OM dated 23/03/2016, the Department of Personnel & Training, Government of India has invited people to send their suggestions on the manner of disclosure of RTI applications and first appeals received and the responses of the Public Information Officers (PIOs) and First Appellate Authorities (FAAs), respectively on their official website. The deadline for submission of suggestions is 07/04/2016.

Before arriving at any opinion on the issue raised in the OM, it is important to look at the practice of Information Commissions regarding disclosure of the identity of the appellant and complainants who approach them.


The Practice across Information Commissions
 A snapshot view of the practice in the Information Commissions established across the country is given below:

The practice is not uniform within the Central Information Commission (CIC). The orders issued by 5 members of the CIC disclose the name and the postal address of the RTI Appellants. In some cases even the name of the father of the RTI Appellant is mentioned. For example see: 


In the case of the 6th IC at the CIC the orders disclose only the name, district and some times the State of the RTI Appellants. For example please see:



In the case of the 7th IC at the CIC the orders mention only the name of the RTI Appellant and the name of the public authority. For example please see:


This the latest pattern of recording the identity of the RTI Appellants of the members of the CIC who have been around for some time now. The orders of the 3 newly appointed ICs are not yet available on the CIC's website, if they have started hearing cases.


In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the lone serving IC's orders disclose the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants along with the name of their fathers. For example see: http://jksic.co.in/pdf.php?id=3233


In the case of Himachal Pradesh, the name and address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed. In some cases the name of the Appellant's father is also disclosed. For example see: 



In the case of Punjab, the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants are dislcosed. In some case the name of the RTI Appellant's father is also disclosed. For example see: http://infocommpunjab.com/Orders2016.aspx


In the case of Haryana, the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed in the orders. IN some cases the name of the RTI Appellant's father is also mentioned. For example see:



In the case of Uttarakhand, the orders disclose the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants. For example see:


In the case of Bihar, the orders of at least 1 serving IC disclose the name and postal address of the RTI Appellant. For example see: http://www.biharonline.gov.in/sic/sic_docs/10274_08_09/10274_08_09-Page5.pdf RTI users in Bihar may share the practice of other ICs


In the case of Rajasthan, I could not find the orders of the IC for 2015-16 on the website. Until 2014 the practice was to disclose the name and postal address of the RTI 


In the case of Chhattisgarh, I could find decisions of the ICs only up to January 2015. The practice varies from case to case. In some, only the name of the RTI Appellants and the district are disclosed in the order while in others the complete postal address is disclosed. For example see: 


In the case of Maharashtra, the name and complete postal address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed in the orders. For example see the decisions from various Benches: 








In the case of Karnataka, the name and complete postal address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed in the orders. In some cases the name of the Appellant's father is also disclosed. For example see:





In the case of Kerala, I could find decisions of the ICs only up to 2014. The orders disclose the name and postal address of the RTI Appellant. For example please see:http://keralasic.gov.in/images/stories/sic/decisions/orders2014/cic_14/ap79_13.pdf


In the case of Tamil Nadu, the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed in the orders. For example see: http://www.tnsic.gov.in/judgements/new/pdfs/E_SA3981_010316_BNj.pdf


In the case of Andhra Pradesh, the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed in the orders. For example see: http://www.apic.gov.in/decisionsPDFwithFrame.do?ic=CMR/2016/I


In the case of Odisha, the name and the postal address of the RTI Appellant are disclosed.  For example see: http://orissasoochanacommission.nic.in/(S(34xvf145mguklzf2445mqh55))/OrderDetails.aspx?qname=I%20Quarterly%20(January%20~%20March)%20&year=2016&type=Complaint%20Cases


In the case of Arunachal Pradesh, the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants are mentioned in the orders. Arunachal and Tripura (see below) are perhaps the only SICs which name the PIOs in their orders. I have not come across names of PIOs in the recent orders issued by any of the Information Commissions reviewed here. For example see: http://www.arnsic.nic.in/decisions/2015/decisions/APIC-59-2015.pdf


In the case of Assam, only the names of the RTI Appellants are disclosed in the orders. For example see: http://www.sicassam.in/ssc/decision-onhearing-2015.php


In the case of Manipur, in some of the orders only the name of the RTI Appellants are mentioned while in others the postal address of the Appellant is also mentioned. For example see: 



In the case of Meghalaya, only the names of the RTI Appellants and the area/town/city/village of residence and/or the district are disclosed. For example see: 



In the case of Nagaland, the name and the postal address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed. For example see: http://nlsic.gov.in/appeals14-15/da18-close.pdf


In the case of Mizoram, only the name and the area in which the RTI Appellant lives is disclosed in the SIC's order. For example see: https://mic.mizoram.gov.in/uploads/files/s-a-no-53-2015-mic.pdf


In the case of Tripura, the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants are disclosed. In some case the name of the father of the RTI Appellant is also disclosed in the SIC's order. The names of the PIOs are also disclosed. For example see: 



In the case of Sikkim, only the name of the RTI Appellants and the area and district where they live are disclosed in the order. For example see: http://www.cicsikkim.gov.in/

As for West Bengal, the SIC's website does not display a list of orders after 2009. Even this list does not open up the actual orders on any Internet browser. Similarly, the Gujarat SIC's website does not display any orders since 2009. However the Cause List for March 2016 discloses the name and postal address of the RTI Appellant.

In the case of Uttar Pradesh, recent decisions are not accessible on the SIC's website. However the orders from 2009-2011 disclose only the name of the RTI Appellant and the Respondent Public Authority. In the case of Madhya Pradesh, I could not find orders issued after 2006 on the SIC's website. In the few orders uploaded on their website, the name and postal address of the RTI Appellant are mentioned. I could not locate any of the decisions of the Jharkhand SIC on its website. In the case of Goa, although the cause titles of decided cases are mentioned, the text of the orders do not open up on any browser.

A large number of the Information Commissions disclose the name and postal address of the RTI Appellants and Complainants in their orders. So when one makes a recommendation to the DoPT the practice of the ICs should also be borne in mind as any decision applicable to the PIO/FAA stage of the RTI process will have a bearing on the practice adopted by the Information Commissions also, eventually.


What is "personal information", deserving protection from disclosure?
Further, there is no clarity on what constitutes 'personal information' in the context of RTI. Names are the most personal of information in relation to any individual. Should names not be disclosed when RTI applications and responses, first appeals and FAA orders are uploaded on the websites? 

In countries like the United Kingdom, all names are deleted from the FOI requests and responses. Please see examples on the FOI logs accessible at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/freedom-of-information-disclosure-log. In the UK their data protection law prevents public authorities from making names of individuals on either side of the information accessing process public. 

In India there is no comprehensive data protection or privacy law. Last year the Hon'ble Attorney General of India succeeded in sowing doubts in the mind of the justices of the Hon'ble Supreme Court about whether the Constitution guaranteed the people a fundamental right to privacy. This issue has been referred to a Constitution Bench and awaits adjudication. 

To the best of my knowledge, the only statutory regime for personal data protection in India is afforded by the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information), Rules 2011 notified under the Information Technology Act, 2000. Under these Rules "sensitive personal data" includes (Rule 3) : password, financial information such as bank account or credit/debit card details, physical, physiological and mental health condition, sexual orientation, medical records & history, biometric information etc. However information that is freely available in the public domain or accessible under the RTI Act will not be treated as "sensitive personal data or information". For example, names and addresses of citizens registered as voters are easily available on the website of the Chief Electoral Officers. These will not be treated as 'sensitive personal information' for the purpose of the IT Rules.

Under the 2011 IT Rules, every body that collects "sensitive personal data/information" of the kind mentioned above is required to put in place various measures for ensuring the security of such information. The scope and shortcomings of these Rules are examined in depth in the report submitted by the Justice A. P. Shah led Group of Experts on Privacy in 2012

Clearly, the definition of 'sensitive personal data/information' contained in the 2011 IT Rules will not apply to names and addresses of RTI applicants. So there is no law in force that can protect such personal information. It is in this legal vacuum that recommendations have to be made to the DoPT about protecting personal data.


Protecting RTI users from harm
By the latest count at least 51 murders reported across the country has been related to the use of RTI by the deceased. More than 240 other have been assaulted or severely mentally harassed into withdrawing their RTI applications. It is in this context that in November 2013, the Calcutta High Court had directed that public authorities should not insist on disclosure of postal addresses of RTI applicants - to ensure their security (see attachment). My critical analysis of the direction is accessible at this link. The DoPT's OM mentioned above refers to this case also. However, nothing in this order pertains to disclosure of RTI applications and first appeals and the responses of the public authorities to the same on their websites. Security of RTI users is paramount, no doubt. However, RTI users need to take a stand whether they would like to exercise their fundamental right to seek information in complete anonymity or would they like to pressure the system to ensure that their personal details are not misused to harass them or assault or get rid of them. 

Until the system works to protect every RTI user, perhaps the middle path would be to press for the deletion of all contact details except the names of the RTI applicant/appellant and those of the PIO/FAA from the documents.

I request readers to share their views on this subject with me.

Please circulate this email widely.

In order to access our previous email alerts on RTI and related issues please click on: http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/blog. If you do not wish to receive these email alerts please send an email to this address indicating your refusal.
Thanks 
Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
#55 A, 3rd Floor, Siddharth Chambers-1
Kalu Sarai
New Delhi- 110 016
Tel: +91-11-43180201/ 43180215

The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything, that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing": Justice K K Mathew, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, (1975)

"“Where a society has chosen to accept democracy as its credal faith, it is elementary that the citizens ought to know what their government is doing": Justice P N Bhagwati, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, (1981)

"Information is the currency that every citizen requires to participate in the life and governance of society”: Justice A. P. Shah, former Chief Justice, Delhi and Madras High Courts, (2010)



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आमंत्रण : यूपी की राजधानी लखनऊ में 11 अप्रैल को उद्घाटन के दिन ही आरटीआई भवन के मुख्य द्वार के सामने सभी सूचना आयुक्तों का पुतला दहन कर विरोध प्रदर्शन l [1 Attachment]

[Attachment(s) from urvashi sharma included below]

प्रिय मित्रों,
हमारा उत्तर प्रदेश आवादी के हिसाब से देश का सबसे बड़ा सूबा है पर दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण है कि इस सूबे में पारदर्शिता के सिपाहियों और सूचना आयुक्तों के बीच की जंग थमने का नाम लेती दिखाई नहीं दे रही है l जहाँ एक तरफ यूपी के सभी सूचना आयुक्त आने वाले 11 अप्रैल को गोमती नगर के विभूति खंड में 20 करोड़ रुपये की लागत से बने नए चार मंजिला आरटीआई भवन में कार्य करने को लेकर उत्साहित हैं और उत्तर प्रदेश राज्य सूचना आयोग को इन्दिरा भवन लखनऊ से गोमती नगर लखनऊ में निर्मित सूचना आयोग के नवीन भवन में स्थानान्तरित करने की तैयारी कर रहे हैं तो वहीं मैंने हमारे सूबे के आरटीआई कार्यकर्ताओं द्वारा सूचना आयुक्तों पर आरटीआई आवेदकों का उत्पीडन करने और आरटीआई एक्ट के प्राविधानों से इतर
कार्य कर भ्रष्टाचार में लिप्त होकर व्यक्तिगत अभिलाभ अर्जित करने के
दुरुद्देश्य की पूर्ति करने के चलते ही आयोग की कार्यवाहियों की वीडियो
रिकॉर्डिंग न कराने के आरोपों का संज्ञान लेकर अपने नेतृत्व में 11 अप्रैल को गोमती नगर के विभूति खंड में बने आरटीआई भवन के उद्घाटन के दिन ही आरटीआई भवन के मुख्य द्वार के सामने सभी सूचना आयुक्तों का पुतला दहन कर नवीन भवन में आयोग की सभी कार्यवाहियों की शत-प्रतिशत वीडियो रिकॉर्डिंग कराने और इन रिकॉर्डिंग्स को आईटी एक्ट में प्राविधानित समय तक संरक्षित रखकर किसी भी पक्ष द्वारा मांगे जाने पर उपलब्ध कराने की माँग बुलंद करने के लिए कमर कस ली है । मैंने इस निमित्त निर्धारित प्रपत्र भरकर लखनऊ के जिलाधिकारी के कार्यालय में प्राप्त करा दिया है

मेरा आपसे कहना है कि यद्यपि आरटीआई एक्ट में सूचना आयुक्तों के लिए
पारदर्शिता के संरक्षक की भूमिका निर्धारित है पर यूपी के वर्तमान सूचना
आयुक्त इससे उलट नितांत अपारदर्शी और निरंकुश रीति से कार्य कर
पारदर्शिता के विनाशक बनते जा रहे हैं l मैंने बीते 19 मार्च को सूबे के राज्यपाल,मुख्यमंत्री,मुख्य सचिव, पुलिस महानिदेशक और लखनऊ के जिलाधिकारी और वरिष्ठ पुलिस अधीक्षक को एक ई-मेल के माध्यम से यूपी के सूचना आयुक्तों पर भ्रष्टाचार में लिप्त होकर दोषी जन सूचना अधिकारियों को संरक्षण देकर भ्रष्टाचार को पोषित करने, आरटीआई आवेदकों द्वारा भ्रष्टाचार से सम्बंधित संवेदनशील प्रकरणों की सूचना मांगने पर पर उन पर झूंठे आरोप लगाकर उनको सुनवाइयों में आने से रोकने का षड्यंत्र करने के गंभीर आरोप लगाये हुए आशंका व्यक्त की है कि अपेक्षाकृत सुनसान गोमती नगर के विभूति खंड में बने नए आरटीआई भवन में वीडियो रिकॉर्डिंग के बिना सुनवाई होने पर आरटीआई आवेदक और अधिक असुरक्षित हो जायेंगे और साथ ही साथ सूचना आयुक्त और अधिक निरंकुश और भ्रष्ट हो जायेंगे l

मैं आपको बताना चाहती हूँ कि मैंने बीते 18 जनवरी को उत्तर प्रदेश के मुख्य
सूचना आयुक्त जावेद उस्मानी को पत्र देकर इन मुद्दों पर वार्ता हेतु
आरटीआई कार्यकर्ताओं के प्रतिनिधिमंडल को समय देने की माँग की थी किन्तु मुख्य सूचना आयुक्त द्वारा इन संवेदनशील मामलों में असंवेदनशील रवैया रखने और आरटीआई हेल्पलाइन पर प्राप्त शिकायतों के मद्देनज़र ही मैंने सूबे के आरटीआई कार्यकर्ताओं को एकजुट कर आने वाले 11 अप्रैल को उनके साथ गोमती नगर के विभूति खंड में बने आरटीआई भवन के उद्घाटन के दिन ही आरटीआई भवन के मुख्य द्वार के सामने सभी सूचना आयुक्तों का पुतला दहन कर नवीन भवन में आयोग की सभी
कार्यवाहियों की शत-प्रतिशत वीडियो रिकॉर्डिंग कराने और इन रिकॉर्डिंग्स
को आईटी एक्ट में प्राविधानित समय तक संरक्षित रखकर किसी भी पक्ष द्वारा मांगे जाने पर उपलब्ध कराने की माँग बुलंद करने का निश्चय किया है ।

साथियों ,यदि आवश्यकता हुई तो इस माँग के लिए मेरे नेतृत्व में सूचना आयोग में ‘सविनय कार्य बहिष्कार’ आन्दोलन और तत्पश्चात अहिंसक रूप से ‘कार्य रोको’ और ‘जेल भरो आन्दोलन भी चलाया जायेगा ।


आप सभी के प्रतिभाग और सहयोग की अपेक्षा में :

भवदीया
उर्वशी शर्मा
मोबाइल 9369613513


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यूपी के सूचना आयुक्तों का पुतला दहन लखनऊ में 11 अप्रैल को [1 Attachment]

यूपी के सूचना आयुक्तों का पुतला दहन लखनऊ में 11 अप्रैल को


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यूपी में आरटीआई को कमजोर करने की साजिश में जुटे पत्रकार अमित मिश्र और आरटीआई एक्टिविस्ट मुन्नालाल शुक्ल l

पीत पत्रकारिता करने वाले पत्रकार हमेशा रहे हैं और रहेंगे भी l ऐसे ही एक पत्रकार हैं दैनिक जागरण लखनऊ के रिपोर्टर अमित मिश्र l इसी प्रकार आस्तीन के सांप आरटीआई एक्टिविस्ट भी हमेशा रहे हैं और रहेंगे भी l ऐसे ही एक आरटीआई एक्टिविस्ट हैं मुन्नालाल शुक्ल l

आज एक तरफ सूबे के आरटीआई आवेदक सूचनाएं न मिलने से बेहाल-परेशान हैं तो वहीं अपने निहितार्थ साधने के लिए मुन्नालाल शुक्ल सरीखे आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता सूचना देने में उदासीन सरकारी विभागों को क्लीन चिट देने में लगे हुए हैं l

रिपोर्टर अमित मिश्र ने एक चौंकाने बाली रिसर्च की है कि आरटीआइ आवेदकों पर बढ़े हमलों का कारण मेरे जैसे आरटीआई एक्टिविस्ट हैं तो वहीं आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता मुन्नालाल शुक्ल का कहना है कि आरटीआइ का इतना नुकसान तो उदासीन सरकारी विभागों ने भी नहीं किया है जितना आरटीआइ को दलाली का हथियार बनाने वाले तथाकथित एक्टिविस्टों ने कर दिया।

मैं इस पत्रकार अमित मिश्र और आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता मुन्नालाल शुक्ल को खुला चैलेंज देती हूँ कि ये दोनों यूपी के आरटीआई कार्यकर्ताओं के द्वारा ब्लैकमेलिंग, दलाली, उगाही और खुन्नस निकालने के मामलों की कुल संख्या इन सभी मामलों के प्रमाण सहित सार्वजनिक करें l

इन दोनों के इस प्रकार के आचरण का कारण शायद यह  कि ये दोनों, अर्थात अमित मिश्र और मुन्नालाल शुक्ल यूपी के भ्रष्ट सूचना आयुक्तों से पैसे पाकर आरटीआई को कमजोर करने का षड्यंत्र रच रहे हैं जिसके लिए में इनकी सार्वजनिक भर्त्सना कर रही हूँ l आप भिज्ञ हैं कि  मेरे द्वारा आगामी 11 अप्रैल को नवीन आरटीआई भवन के उद्घाटन के समय ही नवीन आरटीआई भवन के गेट के सामने सभी सूचना आयुक्तों का पुतला दहन करने के निर्णय से बौखलाए सूचना आयुक्तों ने अब अमित मिश्र जैसे बिकाऊ पत्रकार और मुन्नालाल शुक्ल जैसे बिकाऊ आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता के मार्फत मुझ पर अपरोक्ष हमला बोला है जिसका स्वागत है l पर मैं हर लड़ाई प्रत्यक्ष और पारदर्शी रूप से लडती हूँ इसलिये इन दोनों का नाम लेकर इनकी सार्वजनिक भर्त्सना कर रही हूँ lपुतला दहन कार्यक्रम के मेरे प्लान और मांगों से संवंधित दिनांक 20 मार्च की खबर यहाँ पढ़ें http://gaongiraw.com/2016/03/20/153

विगत दिनों दैनिक जागरण के लखनऊ संस्करण के पेज 12 पर आरटीआई को बना दिया वसूली का औजारशीर्षक से एक खबर छपी  l इसमें केस संख्या 2 मुझसे सम्बंधित था  l इसमें रिपोर्टर अमित मिश्र ने लिखा  समाज कल्याण विभाग में कार्यरत एक साहब किसी आरोप पर निलंबित कर दिए गए तो उनकी पत्नी ने आरटीआइ आवेदन कर कई सूचनाएं मांग लीं। विभाग जवाब देने में हिचकिचाया तो पत्नी ने शर्त रख दी कि मेरे पति को बहाल कर दो तो आरटीआइ आवेदन वापस ले लूंगी। विभाग ने बहाल कर दिया तो मैडम ने आवेदन वापस ले लिया, लेकिन उन्हें आरटीआइ का इस्तेमाल समझ आ गया। आनन-फानन में एनजीओ बनाया और बड़े पैमाने पर यही काम शुरू कर दिया।संवंधित खबर यहाँ http://epaper.jagran.com/ePaperArticle/30-mar-2016-edition-Lucknow-page_14-30105-3370-11.html

अमित मिश्र ने मेरे मामले का हवाला देते हुए लिखा है कि मेरे द्वारा आरटीआइ का बड़े पैमाने पर दुरुपयोग भी हो रहा है। अमित मिश्र का कहना है कि मुझे कोई संवैधानिक दर्जा या मानदेय नहीं मिलता, लेकिन फिर भी मैं फुलटाइम आरटीआइ एक्टिविस्ट बन गयी हूँ । अमित मिश्र के अनुसार मुन्नालाल शुक्ल सरीखे आरटीआइ एक्टिविस्ट तो वास्तव में जनोपयोगी सूचनाएं मांग रहे हैं पर मेरे जैसे आरटीआइ एक्टिविस्टो ने आरटीआइ को ब्लैकमेलिंग, दलाली, उगाही और खुन्नस निकालने का औजार बना लिया है और इससे ही आरटीआइ आवेदकों पर हमले बढ़े हैं।

अमित मिश्र ने अपने निहितार्थ साधने को मुझ पर आरटीआइ को ब्लैकमेलिंग, दलाली, उगाही और खुन्नस निकालने का औजार बनाने के झूंठे आरोप लगाए है जिसके लिए में पीत पत्रकारिता करने बाले इस पत्रकार की एक बार फिर सार्वजनिक भर्त्सना करते हुए अमित मिश्र को इस मामले पर मुझसे सप्रमाण इन-कैमरा बहस का खुला चैलेंज दे रही हूँ l आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता मुन्नालाल शुक्ल को भी सप्रमाण इन-कैमरा बहस का खुला चैलेंज l

यदि ये दोनों मुझे या मेरे एनजीओ को गलत साबित कर दें तो मैं सार्वजनिक जीवन से संन्यास ले लूंगी अन्यथा अमित मिश्र पत्रकारिता छोड़ दें और मुन्ना लाल सार्वजनिक जीवन l

यदि इन दोनों ने एक माह में मेरा चैलेंज स्वीकार नहीं किया तो इन पर मानहानि का वाद दायर करूंगी l

Urvashi Sharma
Mobile 9369613513
 


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URGENT ALERT : Is Government planning Amendment to RTI Act ? : : Another DoPT OM seeking comments [2 Attachments]

ALERT : Is Government planning  Amendment to RTI Act ? :: Another DoPT OM seeking comments



Last Date for sending Comments : 06 April 2016

[DoPT OM of 23.03.2016 attached]

1.    In context  of data on RTI Activist killed Harassed .....Recall Government had been taking a stand  in Parliament  that Government is not maintaining data.

2.    In Lok Sabha, on 16 March 2016, government took a similar stand in respect Harassment Cases.

[PQ & Response attached.]


3.    I have the DoPT file documents on which OM refers Calcutta High Court Order. Will share.


4.    Please go ahead and read below Asian Age report dated 31. March 2016 and take your on call.


Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd.) IN-1967
BringChangeNow
 
Tel : xxxxxxxx
 
‘Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is truth’
                                                         Mahatma Gandhi

===============================================

Asian Age




Plans to amend RTI Act after attacks on activists

Mar 31, 2016 - Animesh Singh  | New Delhi

Concerned over the growing instances of attacks on people and even deaths of those who have sought information under the provisions of the Right To Information (RTI) Act in the country, the government in a significant step is planning to amend the legislation by inserting a clause under which personal information of an individual seeking information will not be disclosed.

According to sources privy to the development, the department of personnel and training has prepared a draft circular stating that while disbursing RTI applications and appeals, personal information of an individual should not be disclosed. The department has sought comments from various stakeholders on the draft circular, which was prepared last week, by the end of the first week of April, and once these are received, the government plans to insert the clause through an amendment in the act, which would be sent for parliamentary approval after the Cabinet’s approval, sources informed.

The move has come amid the fact that around 45 RTI activists have been killed and 240-odd have been assaulted across the country between July 2005 and August 2015, which is the first decade of the legislation. The RTI Act had come into force in July 2005.

Sources added that though public authorities have been, at regular intervals, apprised about the fact that they may not disclose personal information of people seeking information, as it does not serve any public interest, yet it has been brought to the notice of the government that on several occasions, personal details of information seekers have been disclosed, thus putting their lives at risk.

Taking cognisance of this, the government has initiated this move and it is likely that the necessary changes would be made soon.

According to the existing provisions, “An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.”

Despite this provision being in place in the legislation, stakeholders have brought to the notice of the Government that personal details of information seekers have been divulged on many instances, thus increasing the threat to their lives.

RTI activists though feel that how far this move will help in bringing down incidents of violent attacks on information seekers, remains to be seen.

***********





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Cabinet Secretariat rejects information on lawful measures to be taken to ensure safety of India's intelligence operatives working abroad [3 Attachments]

Dear all,
The print and electronic media have extensively reported the recent apprehension of a person of Indian origin by Pakistan's law enforcement agencies. Pakistan is said to have summoned India's envoy to that country and issued a demarche about the alleged "interference by India in its internal affairs in Balochistan through its intelligence operative belonging to the Research & Analysis Wing" (R&AW) of the Cabinet Secretariat (Cab Sec). The Official Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs has vehemently denied that charge while confirming that the apprehended individual is indeed a retired Indian Navy officer and has sought consular access to him. As no other details are officially available from the Indian government, it is not possible to state anything more about this incident given its security implications. Saying anything else will only amount to indulging in speculation that may have harmful effects in several quarters.

However, what should be of interest to the citizens in India is the complete lack of access to information about the measures that the Government of India has put in place to ensure the security of its intelligence operatives if and when they are arrested or harassed in any other manner by foreign law enforcement agencies abroad. There is no information in the public domain about what must be done, if, heavens forbid, if an Indian intelligence operative were to be murdered abroad. This is a concern that is very much valid even though it must not be taken as a comment on the latest incident of the apprehension of an Indian national in Pakistan.

In January 2016, I filed a formal information request application with the Cabinet Secretariat seeking the following information under The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act):

"1)   A clear photocopy of all laws, rules and regulations that explain the nature and the extent of legal protection that the Government of India is committed to provide to officers and employees of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) who are engaged in overseas intelligence operations; 

2)    A clear photocopy of all procedures, norms, instructions or guidelines by whatever name called, that contain details of the action that must be taken by the Government of India to defend the officers and employees of R&AW who are engaged in overseas intelligence operations when law enforcement agencies in those countries take any adverse action against them; and

3) A clear photocopy of all procedures, norms, instructions or guidelines by whatever name called, that contain details of the action that must be taken by the Government of India upon receipt of information about the death of any officer or employee of R&AW who was engaged in overseas intelligence operations, due to any adverse action taken against him/her by any agency in a foreign country.

 

In my RTI application I clarified that details of the manner in which officers of R&AW involved in overseas intelligence operations are trained to protect themselves against legal or illegal action by law enforcement agencies in foreign countries were not required. The purpose of including this clarification was to reassure the Cab Sec that I was not seeking information that would expose the training and other measures that India's R&AW officers and other intelligence operatives are instructed to undertake to protect themselves as such disclosure would most likely endanger them and not be in the public interest at this stage.


A week later, Cab Sec transferred the RTI application to the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) and Under Secretary of Cab Sec (SR) Section under Section 6(3) of the RTI Act. Two weeks later the CPIO of the EA-II Section of Cab Sec who is also the US (SR) and CPIO rejected the RTI application stating that all the information sought pertained to "the organisation mentioned at Serial #2 of the 2nd Schedule to the RTI Act" which is exempt from the purview of the RTI Act under Section 24 subject to other conditions stipulated in that Section (1st attachment). Interestingly, the CPIO does not even mention the name- R&AW in his reply. So high is the level of secrecy.



What is problematic with this reply?

The final reply from the CPIO, EA-II Section is in tune with past attempts which frustrate all efforts to secure basic transparency in the working of exempt organisations. Although the RTI application was never addressed to R&AW but to the Cabinet Secretariat, the first CPO transferred it to EA-II Section thereby facilitating its rejection under Section 24 of the RTI Act read with the 2nd Schedule. The refusal to part with the information amounts to stating that while Cab Sec/R&AW wants Indian citizens to work for them to gather and analyse intelligence for maintaining the external security of the country, they will not tell the people what mechanisms exist for ensuring their safety and security. One presumes that such information may at least be shared with those very intelligence operatives before they are deployed on official duty. But this attitude is similar to another RTI reply that I received in 2014 from the  Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The CRPF's CPIO replied that the actions of left wing militants in blowing up a CRPF convoy resulting in the deaths of CRPF personnel in Bihar and Chhattisgarh during election duty did not amount to human rights violation of the deceased (2nd attachment). I sincerely hope the same attitude is not adopted by the intelligence agencies in relation to their operatives who are posted abroad. The citizens of India have the right to know what measures the Government is required to undertake by law to ensure the safe return of its external intelligence operatives even though they may not have been involved in the latest case as clarified by the Government.


R&AW is also not transparent about the manner in which it deals with RTI applications year after year. The Central Information Commission's Annual Report for 2014-15 lists only one instance of rejection of an RTI application under Section 24 for the entire year (Serial #7 on Sheet 1 in the 3rd attachment). It is highly unlikely that R&AW received only one RTI application during this period. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) which is listed at serial #1 on the 2nd Schedule of the RTI Act, received more than a thousand RTI applications in 2014-15. Of these 95.5% requests were rejected by invoking Section 24 of the RTI Act. The IB is reputed to be India's premier internal intelligence agency. When compared with IB, Cab Sec.'s figures do not seem very convincing. Interestingly, unlike IB which is registered with the IC as a separate public authority, R&AW is not even mentioned as a separate public authority under Cab Sec in any of the CIC's Annual Reports since 2005. Nevertheless, those parts of Cab Sec which are fully covered by the RTI Act treat R&AW as a separate public authority for the purpose of transferring RTI applications under Section 6(3) as happened in my case. This is a major contradiction in their implementation of the RTI Act.


Two judgements of High Courts make it very clear that the reply of the CPIO EA-II are not in order. In the matter of High Court of Judicature of Rajasthan at Jaipur Bench suo motu vs State of Rajasthan [D.B. PIL Petition No. 14370/2014, judgement dated 8/9/2015] a Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court held as follows:


"6. It is evident from the perusal of the reply and submissions of the learned Advocate General that all the Rules framed by the State of Rajasthan under Article 309 of Constitution of India have not been uploaded on the website of the Government and public authorities. If the rules, regulations and instructions issued by Government and public authorities are not made available to the public at large, it would defeat the purpose of the enactment of the Right to Information Act which is meant to bring transparency in the functioning of the Government and public authorities."


In another case relating to the matter of Superintendent of Police vs M. Kannappan, W.P. No. 805 of 2012, judgement dated 28/11/2012 [(2013) MLJ 438], a single Judge Bench of the the Madras High Court directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to publicly disclose its Vigilance Manual even though it was exempted under Section 24 of the RTI Act by the Tamil Nadu Government. The Court observed as follows:


"9. In view of the judgment of the Division Bench read with the provisos to Section 24(4) of the RTI Act, I am of the view that the first respondent herein is entitled to have the manual of the DVAC. The manual cannot be kept as a secret document. It is nothing but a set of rules as to how the DVAC is functioning. I am not able to understand as to why the DVAC feels shy to furnish the manual. In fact, the information that were the subject matter before the Division Bench" [The Superintendent of Police vs R. Karthikeyan, W. A. No. 320 of 2010, judgement dated 06/04/2011] "were concerned with the corruption and the consequent action taken by the DVAC and those details were directed to be furnished. Hence, the DVAC cannot refuse to furnish the manual maintained by it."


The judgements mentioned above make it abundantly clear that laws, rules and regulations cannot be kept secret by the Government even if they pertain to security and intelligence agencies exempted under the RTI Act. Keeping information about laws, rules and regulations applicable to State agencies is nothing but a violation of the concept of the 'rule of law' enshrined in the Constitution. Laws kept in secret cannot be enforced either, because courts always go by the understanding that ignorance of the law is no excuse for violating it. People must have access to laws, rules and regulations that are implemented by governments. This is the only way they will be able to debate in an informed manner whether the steps taken by the Government are adequate or not and as required by the law to ensure the safe return of its intelligence operatives as and when they are apprehended by law enforcement agencies abroad in future. The slogan- "Sabka saath sabka vikaas" which the present Government used in its election campaign very effectively, must include Indian citizens who gather intelligence abroad for ensuring the country's safety and security. The Central Government has a duty to publicise all laws, rules and regulations that have been put in place for ensuring the safety and security of the country's intelligence personnel.


Please circulate this email widely.


In order to access our previous email alerts on RTI and related issues please click on: http://sartian.org (Latest News) . If you do not wish to receive these email alerts please send an email to this address indicating your refusal.

Thanks
Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
#55A, 3rd Floor, Siddharth Chambers-1
Kalu Sarai, New Delhi- 110 016
Tel: +91-11-43180201/ 43180215

The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything, that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing": Justice K K Mathew, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, (1975)

"“Where a society has chosen to accept democracy as its credal faith, it is elementary that the citizens ought to know what their government is doing": Justice P N Bhagwati, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, (1981)

"Information is the currency that every citizen requires to participate in the life and governance of society”: Justice A. P. Shah, former Chief Justice, Delhi and Madras High Courts, (2010)





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RTI ACTIVIST’S MURDER: GOING KALBURGI WAY?

By Deepthi Sanjiv, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Mar 25, 2016, 04.00 AM IST


Rationalist Nayak takes up the case of Vinayak Baliga's murder

The federation of Indian Rationalist Associations has decided to take up the fight against the murder of Mangaluru-based RTI activist Vinayak Baliga.

Last Monday, two bike-borne assailants attacked the 52-year-old with lethal weapons while he was on his way to a temple.

The victim was rushed to a private hospital where he was declared dead. Four days have passed, but the police are yet to get any lead in the murder. According to Mangaluru police, they have formed three teams to crack the case. Police sources say it is suspected that the murder could be an act of revenge for his RTI activism.

Officials investigating the case say the recent cases Baliga had taken up are being closely examined to zero-in on the accused.

Fearing the case may go the Kalburgi way, Narendra Nayak, president of the federation, has decided to take up the case. Rationalist MM Kalburgi, who spoke against idolatry in Hinduism, was shot dead in August 2015 at his residence in Dharwad district by two unidentified men. There has been no headway in the case.

Speaking to Mirror, Nayak said, "It looks like the murder was carried out by a professional gang. It left Baliga's aged parents and unmarried sisters shaken and helpless. He had made many enemies."

Referring to Baliga, he said, he had filed many cases against vested interests, lobbies and religious groups. A devotee of Venkataramana, he would start his daily routine with a visit to the temple.

Nayak said, "He may have probably spotted some violation during his morning walk which must have angered him. For instance, there is a school complex in the area which would cause traffic blocks and the road in the residential locality was made one-way at the behest of the owners of this educational complex. Again, on the same road is a huge complex of hundreds of flats, which have no sewage treatment plants.


I saw sewage leaking on its premises and flowing into the stormwater drains on Thursday around 11am. Since he had a keen eye for law violations, it could be anything."

Nayak said Baliga had filed a number of complaints and one of them came up for hearing on Thursday at the office of the corporation commissioner.

He also filed a case against alleged irregularities at a temple on Car Street. In fact, he raised serious irregularities in the financial affairs of the temple. In the process, he took on an affluent and influential community. Two of his close friends, who were co-litigants, have refused to speak out about the issue. It appears that they are too scared to open up about the whole episode. 

Nayak said he is in the process of gathering documents to build a strong case. He said it's also learnt that Baliga had filed a public interest litigation against the Mangalore City Corporation against the violation of laws by a number of influential builders.

It has also been gathered that the High Court had directed the City Corporation to investigate and file a report in 30 days.

"We are waiting for the confirmation. One of his friends had informed me that Baliga had given documents to the press, but none had taken it up," he said.

Baliga had always been fearless, but his family members were always worried about his safety. His 85-year-old father is bedridden while his mother too is ailing.

"All his files have been taken away by the police. Baliga never used to update his family about the activism he did. His family members still rue the day when he was unable to take his father to hospital because of the blockage of the main road by vehicles of the nearby school and the police made him take a diversion which was again blocked due to a wedding in the nearby hall. Following this incident, he had complained to the commissioner of police about making a one-way road at a residential locality at the behest of the owner of an education complex on it. He had probed further into the affair and found that part of it was an unauthorised construction. Many people told me that even the road in front of the school, a public property, is treated like a private property of the school," Nayak said. 

Nayak said the city has turned a fiefdom for moral police brigade and gangsters belonging to communal outfits. 

"It was Baliga today, and who next is the question before all of us who dare to raise our voices against evils of the system. We are still sourcing information and once we get details of the cases, we will take up all the public interest cases he was pursuing," said Nayak.

Meanwhile, the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI) has urged chief minister Siddaramiah to ensure a thorough investigation into the murder.

"The state must look into various cases of wrongdoing and corruption unearthed by Baliga and take stringent action against the guilty. Considering the increasing number of attacks on RTI activists in the country, the government must push for effective implementation of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act," said Nayak.



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Posted by: Anil kumar <anil_crp-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>



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Trends from the CIC's Annual Report for 2014-15; number of RTI applications decline, CIC imposes fewer penalties, PMO, Delhi High Court & several others reject queries for reasons other than permissible exemptions [1 Attachment]

Dear all,
The Annual Report of the Central Information Commission (CIC) for the year 2014-15 is out. While the soft copy is not yet uploaded on the CIC's website, I obtained a hard copy from the office of the CIC on request. Our preliminary findings based on the latest Annual Report in comparison with similar reports of previous years are given below (See spreadsheet in the 1st attachment).


Major findings from the aggregated statistics:
Trends in RTI statistics reporting: Only 2,030 public authorities under the Government of India registered to submit their RTI returns under Section 25 of The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) in 2014-15. The most number of public authorities registered for any reporting year was in 2012-13 at 2,333. Of the 2,030 registered public authorities, 75.27% submitted their annual RTI returns to the CIC in 2014-15. The highest percentage of reporting - 89.23% was in the first three months of the implementation of the RTI Act in 2005. However only 938 public authorities had registered themselves with the CIC that year. 2012-13 saw much better compliance in comparison with the total number of public authorities registered. 79% of the 2,333 public authorities submitted their RTI statistics to the CIC that year.

Trends in the receipt of RTI applications: A total of 7.55 lakh (755,247) RTI applications was received by the reporting public authorities in 2014-15. This is about 79,000 fewer RTI applications received in 2013-14. The CIC reports notes this decline in the number of RTIs received (para 2.4.2 <at> page 10). However almost 90,000 RTI applications were pending decision at the start of the reporting year of 2014-15.

Trend in rejections: The proportion of rejection of RTI applications has shot up by 1.2% in 2014-15. While only 7.20% of the RTI applications was rejected in 2013-14, this figure has increased to 8.40% in 2014-15. This is cause for worry and must be examined. On the face of it, this comparative figure appears to support the anecdotal experiences of many an RTI user/activist that the public authorities under the Government of India have begun rejecting more and more RTI applications under the NDA regime. However this trend requires deeper analysis to ascertain whether the rejections were justified under the law or were simply anti-transparency bureaucratic responses. 

Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act exempting personal information continues to be the most invoked of exemptions under the RTI Act to reject information requests. More than 35% of the RTI applications were rejected under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act in 2014-15. About 20% of the RTI applications were rejected under Section 8(1)(d) which exempts information in the nature of commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property- making it the 2nd most invoked exemption followed by Section 8(1)(e) relating to information made available in a fiduciary relationship (14.6%). About 6.1% of the RTI applications were rejected under Section 8(1)(h) which exempts access to information if disclosure will impede an investigation, trial or arrest of offenders. Parliamentary privilege [Section 8(1)(c)] was the least invoked of exemptions - only 86 RTI applications were rejected under this clause. However this may not include the data from the twin Secretariats of Parliament as they do not seem to have submitted their RTI statistics to the CIC. About 11.8% of the RTI applications were rejected under Section 24 relating to the 25 exempt organisations under Schedule 2 of the RTI Act. For the purpose of the calculation of percentages in this para, only rejections under Sections 8, 9, 11 & 24 of the RTI Act are included as they are the only valid grounds for rejection of an RTI application.

The proportion of RTI applications rejected for reasons other than Sections 8, 9 (private copyright), 11 (third party) and 24 seems to be ever growing. It stood at 28,444 marking an increase of more than 6% as compared to 2013-14. In previous years, the CIC had called for a deeper examination of this problem as the RTI Act does not permit the rejection of RTI applications for any other reason. In the 2014-15 Annual Report, the CIC does not even comment on this phenomenon. Strangely, the CIC states that the increase is only 1% in this category as compared to the previous year (para 2.4.5 on page 12) whereas a comparison between the figures for 2013-14 and 2014-15 under "others" category clearly shows an increase of 6.2% even though fewer public authorities registered and reported their RTI statistics to the CIC.

Trends in 1st appeals: During 2014-15, 86,944 first appeals were filed with various public authorities under GoI. 96% of them are said to have been disposed of during the same year. However when compared with the total number of rejections (Sections, 8, 9, 11, 24 & "others" included) at 8.40% at the stage of the Public Information Officer (PIO), the proportion of first appeals filed stands at 11.78% indicating a more than 3% increase. This shows that a large number of RTI applicants were dissatisfied with the responses of the PIOs even though they did not invoke any exemption to reject their RTI applications.

Trends in 2nd appeals and complaints received and disposed by the CIC: The CIC received 35,396 appeals and complaints cases in 2014-15. The CIC decided 20,181 cases during the year. 37,323 cases were pending before the CIC as on 1st April 2015. Interestingly, the CIC does not provide any data about how it decided these cases- in how many cases the appeal or complaint was upheld and information ordered to be disclosed and in how many the appeal/complaint was rejected. This continuing trend of lack of publication of data about the outcome of the cases decided by the CIC year after year is preventing any informed discussion on whether the CIC is ordering disclosure of information more and more or otherwise.

Trends in penalties imposed by the CIC: The CIC imposed penalties to the tune of more than Rs. 7 lakhs (Rs. 739,000) on errant PIOs in 2014-15. This figure has reduced drastically by 61% when compared with the imposition of fines to the tune of Rs. 19.25 lakhs (Rs. 1,925,000) in 2013-14. During 2014-15 the CIC recovered penalties better as compared to the previous year. It recovered Rs. 11.31 lakhs (Rs. 11,31,225) as compared to Rs. 10.19 lakhs (Rs. 1,019,628) which is about 10% higher. It is not clear whether the reduction in the number of penalties is due to better compliance of PIOs or a more lenient attitude adopted by the Information Commissioners. This requires a deeper examination of all the CIC's orders to ascertain whether penalty was or was not imposed in deserving cases.


RTI trends across some prominent constitutional authorities, Ministries and Public Authorities:
1) President's Secretariat: The President's Sectt. received 2,816 RTI applications in 2014-15 marking a decline of more than 8% over 2013-14. The proportion of rejection in 2014-15 was also lesser at 9.30% as compared to 10.79% in 2013-14. The number of rejections under "others' category also fell to 222 in 2014-15 from 298 in 2013-14.

2) Prime Minister's Office (PMO): The PMO witnessed a 44% increase in the number of RTI applications received in 2014-15 (12,674) as compared to 2013-14 (7077). The proportion of rejection was higher at 22.10% in 2014-15 as compared with 20.50% in 2013-14. While the PMO rejected only 14 RTI applications under the grounds permissible in the RTI Act, it rejected 99% of the requests (2,781) under "others" category making it the topmost public authority rejecting RTI applications for reasons not permissible under the RTI Act.

3) Cabinet Secretariat: Cab. Sectt. received 1,061 RTI applications in 2014-15 marking an increase of 13.78% over the previous year. The proportion of rejection has fallen drastically to 4.3% in 2014-15 as compared to 15.10% during the previous year. The number of rejections under the "others" category has also come down drastically from 85 in 2013-14 to 24 in 2014-15. It is not clear whether the Cab Sectt. statistics include RTI data from R&AW under it which is exempt under Section 24 of the RTI Act except in matters relating to allegations of corruption and human rights violation.

4) Comptroller & Auditor General of India (C&AG): C&AG received 5.3% fewer RTI applications in 2014-15 as compared to the previous year. The proportion of rejection also fell from 7% in 2013-14 to 6.3% in 2014-15. C&AG did not reject any RTI application under the "others" category, according to the CIC's report.

5) Election Commission of India (ECI): ECI received 1,939 RTI applications in 2014-15 - a jump of 4.6% over the previous year. The proportion of rejection has remained steady at 0.10% since 2011-12.

6) Ministry of Personnel, Pubic Grievances and Pensions: The Ministry of Personnel responsible for steering the implementing the RTI Act in the Central Government received 24,524 RTI applications in 2014-15. This shows an increase of 51% over the figures reported in 2013-14. However the Dept. of Personnel and Training had not reported its RTI statistics for that year, so the comparison may not be accurate. The Ministry rejected 9.4% of the RTI applications in 2014-15. This shows a marker decline from 14.50% during 2013-14. However the number of rejections under "others" category, almost doubled in 2014-15.

7) Ministry of Finance: The Finance Ministry receives the largest number of RTI applications as it has public sector banks, insurance companies, tax authorities and tribunals under its jurisdiction. With fewer public authorities reporting RTI data to the CIC the Finance Ministry seems to have received 140,324 RTI applications in 2014-15 - the highest amongst all reporting ministries. In 2013-14 this Ministry had received 1.5 lakh RTI applications. Despite fewer RTI applications being reported the proportion of rejection has increased by 1% in 2014-15 (20.20%) as compared to the previous year. The rejection under "others" category also witnessed a marked increase of 8.6% over the figures of 2013-14.

8) Ministry of Home Affairs: The Home Ministry received 52,009 RTI applications in 2014-15 marking an increase of 12.3% over the previous year. More than 42% of these RTI applications were received by the Delhi Police which comes under this Ministry (see #12 below). The proportion of rejection in 2014-15 has also increased to almost 16% as compared to 14.20% in 2013-14. However the number of RTI applications rejected under "others" category has come down slightly from 2,164 in 2013-14 to 2,148 in 2014-15.

9) Ministry of Defence: The Defence Ministry witnessed an increase of 11.7% in the number of RTI applications received (35,082) in 2014-15 as compared to the previous year. The rate of rejection has also shot up from 12% to almost 16% in 2014-15. 2014-15 witnessed an increase of 31% in the number of instances of RTI applications being rejected under "others' category. 

It is to be noted that the Hon'ble Defence Minister was himself an avid RTI user while he was in the Opposition in Goa. One would have expected a lower rejection rate from the Ministry of Defence under his leadership. However it is necessary to study the nature and contents of the RTI applications rejected by the Defence Ministry before anything conclusive can be said about the manner of treatment they have received by the PIOs.

10) Ministry of External Affairs: The Foreign Ministry witnessed a marked decline of more than 26% in the number of RTI applications received in 2014-15. The proportion of rejections has also increased from 4% in 2013-14 to 7% in 2014-15. However, the number of rejections under "others" category fell by almost 54% in 2014-15 as compared to the previous year.

11) Delhi High Court: In our study of the CIC's Annual Report published widely last year we had reported that the Delhi High Court had not been submitting its RTI data to the CIC. The Delhi High Court has presented its data to the CIC in 2014-15. It received 839 RTI applications in 2014-15 of which 28.7% were rejected. This is higher than the proportion of rejection reported by the PMO. While only 22 RTI applications were rejected under the permissible exemptions specified in the RTI Act, 219 requests were rejected in the "others" category.

12) Delhi Police: Delhi Police received about 0.8% fewer RTI applications (29,927) in 2014-15 as compared with the previous year. The rate of rejection has fallen conspicuously from 9.20% in 2013-14 to 7.30% in 2014-15. The number of RTI applications rejected under "others" category has also slightly declined from 593 in 2013-14 to 561 in 2014-15.


Public Authorities which did not submit their RTI statistics to the CIC
Of the 502 public authorities which did not submit their Annual Returns to the CIC, the following prominent ones are noticeable:

Constitutional Bodies/Authorities: Supreme Court of India, Lok Sabha Secretariat & Rajya Sabha Secretariat (whether they have registered with the CIC ever since 2005 is also unclear. The RTI data of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs does not mention whether the data for these two Secretariats are included in it).

Ministries: Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Housing & Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Women & Child Development,

Departments: Dept. of Defence, Dept. of Defence Production, Dept. of Financial Services, Dept. of Pharmaceuticals, Dept. of AIDS Control, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Legal Affairs, Dept. Legislative Dept., 

Regulatory Authorities: Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India, 

Other Public Authorities: Air India, Bharat Electronic Ltd., Central Board of Excise & Customs, several Chief Commissioners of Excise & Customs across the country, Coal India Ltd., Central Board of Secondary Education, CBI, Central Administrative Tribunal, Delhi Metro Corporation Ltd., Delhi Milk Scheme, National Gallery of Modern Art, National School of Drama, Nuclear Power Corporation of India, RML Hospital, New Delhi, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Smt. S K Hospital, Delhi, Central Universities of Gujarat, Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand etc., IISC & IIM - both in Bengaluru, IIT Madras, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, Employees State Insurance Corporation, Directorate General of Mines Safety, Rahstriya Mahila Kosh, Staff Selection Commission, etc.

This email alert is an advance intimation of the broad trends of RTI across the Government of India. We will circulate more detailed RTI trends across other prominent public authorities in future when the CIC uploads the e-copy of its report on its website.


Please circulate this email widely. Friends in the media sector may kindly note that this email is not being shared exclusively with anybody. Please feel free to use this material in your stories as you deem appropriate.


In order to access our previous email alerts on RTI and related issues please click on: http://sartian.org (Latest News) . If you do not wish to receive these email alerts please send an email to this address indicating your refusal.

Thanks
Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
#55A, 3rd Floor, Siddharth Chambers-1
Kalu Sarai, New Delhi- 110 016
Tel: +91-11-43180201/ 43180215

The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything, that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing": Justice K K Mathew, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, (1975)

"“Where a society has chosen to accept democracy as its credal faith, it is elementary that the citizens ought to know what their government is doing": Justice P N Bhagwati, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, (1981)

"Information is the currency that every citizen requires to participate in the life and governance of society”: Justice A. P. Shah, former Chief Justice, Delhi and Madras High Courts, (2010)



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