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HT : CIC officers to play dual role?


CIC officers to play dual role?

Aloke Tikku, Hindustantimes, New Delhi|
Updated: May 25, 2015 02:07 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rejected a proposal to set up statutory public grievance commissions at the Centre and states to hear appeals from people whose complaints to the government had remained unheard, or unresolved.

Instead, the prime minister’s office (PMO) wants the responsibility to be passed on to information commissions set up under the RTI act or a new ombudsman created by an executive order rather than a law.

RTI activists oppose the move to burden the information commissions with hearing public grievances too.

“This will lead to a collapse of the information commissions already crumbling under the weight of RTI appeals,” said Shekhar Singh, an academic who lectures civil servants, besides promoting transparency and accountability.

The first draft of the public grievances bill was drawn up in 2011 as part of the previous UPA government’s package to strengthen the legal framework to fight corruption.

The Modi government followed up on the UPA initiative, made some changes and came up with its own version: Right to Services and Grievances Redressal Bill 2014.

It is not clear if it has retained the penalties for bureaucrats who don’t deliver on their mandate. But it has proposed to give every resident — and not just citizen — the right to complain if public authorities do not deliver services within promised deadlines.

It had also proposed to set up commissions at the central and state levels to hear appeals.

Modi, however, had his reservations. The PM’s views were conveyed to the department of administrative reforms and public grievances (DARPG) when it sought permission to circulate the Right to Services and Grievances Redressal Bill 2014 to ascertain views of other ministries.

“The proposed bill envisages establishment of central Public Grievances Redressal Commission and State Public Grievances Redressal Commission similar to that in case of the Right to Information Act. This implies another hierarchy of organisational structure in addition to several others. This aspect needs to be revisited,” the PMO said in a note to DARPG, quoting the PM’s “observations”.

Later, the PMO asked the administrative reforms department to explore the possibility of getting the central and state information commissions to double up as grievance redressal panels by dedicating one or two commissioners to hear grievances.

Or, the department could explore the possibility of setting up a watchdog by an executive direction on the lines of the banking ombudsman “which shall not have the trappings of a final appellate authority for grievance redress for a group of ministries”.

“Both propositions are flawed,” said activist Anjali Bhardwaj. “Given the sheer number of grievances that will reach the commission, 1, 2 or even 10 commissioners wouldn’t be sufficient ... Also, it is important that the final appellate authority should have statutory powers and be set up across the country, not just Delhi or the state capitals”.

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Posted by: Lokesh Batra <batra_lokesh-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>



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Lucknow Woman RTI activist approaches SSP Lucknow to get F.I.R. registered for alleged insult to her modesty by Mahendra Agrawal who called her ‘DALAL’ in one of his facebook comments.


 
Dear friends,
This refers to Yellow slip No. 6390 dated 13-05-2015 issued to me by Police Station Hazratganj of Lucknow district on my complaint for registration of FIR against above named accused.
 
 
 
 
One Mahendra Agrawal, said to be a Journalist,a RTI activist ,an Advocate, an Editor of Newspaper ‘KOOTCHAKRA’, a Member of Working Committee of Uttar Pradesh Chapter of Transparency International India and a Secretary of Society for Fast Justice Lucknow, address 326 A Prince Complex Naval Kishore Road Hazratganj Lucknow Uttar Pradesh, Mobile 9415376117,E-mail id newskootchakra-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org, sffjlko-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org , newskootchakra12-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org has on social media facebook , deliberately to insult a woman’s modesty, made  false and baseless  allegations and aspersions containing defamatory content using foul and filthy language and thus insulted modesty of a reputed woman like me though he was well aware that I was the coordinator of the event.



Since SO of Police station Hazratganj has not registered a FIR in this cognizable offence of insulting the modesty of woman, so now I have approached SSP luck now for necessary relief. I have come to know that some so called social activists of Lucknow are trying their level best to make sure that FIR is not registered in this case but my fight for the truth shall continue.
 
 
Since the officer in charge of Hazratganj police station has gone against Supreme Court order dated 12-11-13 passed in WP(Criminal) no. 68 of 2008, So now I have written to SSP Lucknow to get a F.I.R. filed against Mahendra Agrawal under IPC read with The Criminal Law amendment act 2013  and also make all guilty public servants of Hazratganj Police station co-accused in this case for their not registering a FIR even by violating Supreme Court order dated 12-11-13 passed in WP(Criminal) no. 68 of 2008 and punish them U/S 166A of The Criminal Law amendment act 2013 also.
 
 
 
( Urvashi Sharma )
Secretary - YAISHWARYAJ SEVA SANSTHAAN
101,Narayan Tower, Opposite F block Idgah
Rajajipuram,Lucknow-226017,Uttar Pradesh,India
Contact 8081898081 email rtimahilamanchup-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org



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



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PIL Impact : PM-led committee to select CIC, CVC today : HT

Cheers at last :

Wish we had filed PIL six months ago...




PM-led committee to select CIC, CVC today

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Updated: May 23, 2015 00:35 IST

Nearly 10 months after the top post in two key watchdogs became vacant, the Prime Minister-headed selection committee will meet on Saturday to select the chief information commissioner (CIC) and the central vigilance commissioner (CVC).

While the post of the CIC has been vacant since August last year, that of the CVC has been vacant since September 2014.

Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge will attend the crucial meeting that comes days after his party chief Sonia Gandhi flagged the issue by moving an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha during the budget session.

She had then attacked the Narendra Modi-led government for its “blatant U-turn” on the promise of transparency and good governance, citing several vacancies in the CIC — the final arbiter of RTI requests.
Referring to 39,000 cases pending before the commission, Gandhi also took on the government for nibbling away at the CIC’s authority by giving its financial powers to a bureaucrat.

On Thursday, the Delhi high court had reserved its order on a plea seeking directions for the Centre to appoint CIC and three information commissioners.

Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain told the court that the candidates for the posts of CIC and information commissioners have been shortlisted and granted vigilance clearance.
As per the Right to Information Act, the central information commission has one chief and ten information commissioners out of which three are vacant.

The central vigilance commission is headed by a chief vigilance commissioner and has two vigilance commissioners. Rajiv, a former director general of Central Industrial Security Force, is acting as its interim chief.

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Posted by: Lokesh Batra <batra_lokesh-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>



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PTI / F.Post : CIC may finally have a chief as Centre tells Delhi HC candidates shortlisted



CIC may finally have a chief as Centre tells Delhi HC candidates shortlisted

May 21, 2015 19:47 IST

New Delhi: The CIC, which has remained without a head for over 10 months, may soon have a new chief with the Centre informing Delhi High Court on Thursday that candidates for the posts of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners have been shortlisted and granted vigilance clearance.

"Vigilance clearance from the respective cadre controlling authority in respect of the shortlisted serving officers and inputs from the Intelligence Bureau in respect of retired officers has been sought vide communications dated 5 May 2015 and 2 May 2015, respectively," Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the court.

The clearance has also been granted, he informed a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, adding that the matter now be put up before the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister as per the RTI Act, and the process would take another one or two months.

The goverment's response came after the court directed it to expedite the appointment process and inform it about the progress as the vacancies in Central Information Commission have led to a massive backlog of cases.

The Centre's counsel further said that the Chief IC and IC  would be appointed by the President on the recommendations of the selection committee.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by RTI activists R K Jain, Lokesh K Batra and Subhash Chandra Agarwal alleging that no action has been taken on the issue despite two "distress" letters written by CIC to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

The PIL filed through lawyers Prashant Bhushan has sought filling up of posts of Chief IC and subordinate staff in a time-bound frame.

During the hearing,, senior advocate Indira Jaising move an application on behalf of Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Amrita Johri, seeking direction to the government to allow the senior-most IC to hear a case in the absence of its chief.

Taking note of the submissions made by all the part ies, the court said it would consider all the aspects raised before it and pass an appropriate order.

The plea stated that "due to non-appointment of the Chief IC since 23 August 2014, the appeals and complaints relating to the important authorities including CVC, CBI, President's Secretariat, PMO, Cabinet Secretariat, Supreme Court and High Courts, Lok Sabha, CAG, DOPT, UPSC and Staff Selection Commission are not being heard and there is a vacuum of jurisdiction at CIC for more than 100 authorities/departments, as no officiating arrangements for CIC have been made.

"T he RTI Act prescribed statutory time lines of 30 days for providing the information from the date of application and disposal of first appeal within maximum period of 45 days."

It stated that these time-lines were being defeated due to non-appointment on these positions and the Commission was now taking nearly 2-3 years' time to hear complaints.

"The effective functioning of adjudicators under the RTI Act - the IC - is critical for the health of the transparency regime in the country.

"It is therefore a matter of grave concern that the post of the Chief IC in the CIC has been lying vacant since August 23, 2014. It is for the first time since the constitution of the CIC in 2005, the Commission is headless," the plea added.

PTI


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Posted by: Lokesh Batra <batra_lokesh-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>



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(unknown)

It is long time since I made a last post. This is to ascertain its function

Col NRKurup

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यूपी में ‘महिला-सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ' पर अखिलेश यादव की समाजवादी सरकार के दावे खोखले : महज कागजों में दफन है सरकार के मंचों, प्रचारों में प्रमुखता से प्रसारित 'महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ' l [1 Attachment]


 
Get complete details and scanned copy of RTI reply at http://tahririndia.blogspot.in/2015/05/l.html

लखनऊ.TAHRIR.यूपी में जब-जब समाजवादी पार्टी की सरकार रही है, क़ानून व्यवस्था पर हमेशा उंगली उठती रही है. महिलाओं के विरुद्ध होने बाले अपराध भी इनमे से एक हैं. इन सबके बीच सपा मुखिया मुलायम सिंह यादव के "लड़के हैं,लड़कों से ग़लती हो जाती है"  और "आवादी के हिसाब से यूपी में महिलाओं के विरुद्ध अपराध कम हैं" जैसे वक्तव्यों से समाज में जाती सपा सरकार की ग़लत छवि को सुधारने के लिए सूबे के युवा मुख्यमंत्री अखिलेश यादव और उनकी सांसद पत्नी डिंपल यादव ने आगे आकर महिलाओं के सम्मान की रक्षा के लिए कई लुभावनी योजनाओं की घोषणा बड़े जोरदार ढंग से की हैं.

बताते चलें कि इसी कड़ी में उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार ने बीते साल के अगस्त महीने में महिलाओं, नाबालिग बच्चियों व मासूमों के साथ होने वाले अपराधों पर लगाम कसने और उनके आरोपितों के खिलाफ कड़ी कार्रवाई करवाने के लिए पुलिस महकमे में महिला सेल को और ताकतवर बनाते हुए महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ का गठन किए जाने की घोषणा की थी.इस सेल को सुरक्षा के साथ महिलाओं से जुड़े अन्य मामलों जैसे भ्रूण हत्या, देहातों में शौचालयों की कमी जैसे सामाजिक मुद्दों पर कार्रवाई में भी मदद करनी थी. जिलों की एंटी ह्यूमन ट्रैफिकिंग यूनिट और वीमेन पावर लाइन 1090 की नोडल एजेंसी भी इसी प्रकोष्ठ को बनाया गया था. डीजीपी के नेतृत्व में एडीजी स्तर के अधिकारी को इसका  प्रमुख बनाया गया था. तब अखिलेश ने घोषणा की थी कि   महिलाओं के साथ होने वाले अपराधों व उत्पीड़न के मामलों की संवेदनशीलता और उनकी रोकथाम के लिए इस  प्रकोष्ठ के गठन का  फैसला लिया गया था. इस सेल के लिए जरूरी सभी संसाधन डीजीपी द्वारा उपलब्ध कराए जाने की बात थी.

उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार द्वारा  इस योजना  को गाहे बगाहे संचार के सभी माध्यमों से तो ज़ोर-शोर से प्रसारित-प्रचारित किया ही गया, साथ ही साथ अखिलेश ने स्वयं भी सार्वजनिक और राजनैतिक मंचों से  महिला सम्मान की इस  योजना की जोरदार चर्चा करके इसे  अपनी सरकार की उपलब्धि बताकर अपनी सरकार की छवि को सुधारने का भरसक प्रयास किया है. बड़ा सबाल यह है कि क्या अखिलेश यादव और सपा सरकार के महिलाओं के हितैषी होने के दावे सच्चे हैं ? क्या मंचों से की गयी अखिलेश की महिला सम्मान रक्षा की ये घोषणायें जमीनी स्तर पर क्रियान्वित हुई हैं या वह सपा सरकार की मात्र भाषणों और प्रचार-प्रसार के लिए की गयी राजनैतिक बाजीगरी  थी जो अब तक महज कागजों में ही दफ़न हैं? मेरी एक आरटीआई पर उत्तर प्रदेश के महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ के जन सूचना  अधिकारी के जबाब के बाद यह बड़ा सबाल उठ खड़ा हुआ है.

दरअसल मेरी एक आरटीआई पर उत्तर प्रदेश के महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ के जन सूचना  अधिकारी के जबाब से सरकार की इस योजना के लिए किए गये सभी सरकारी दावे खोखले साबित हो रहे हैं। महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ के संबंध में अखिलेश सरकार के दावे हकीकत से बिल्कुल विपरीत हैं। यह खुलासा सूचना के अधिकार (आरटीआई) कानून के तहत हुआ है। दरअसल मैने बीते साल 30 अगस्त को गृह विभाग के जन सूचना अधिकारी को एक अर्जी देकर  उत्तर प्रदेश के महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ की गतिविधियों के संबंध में जानकारी माँगी थी.  महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ के जन सूचना  अधिकारी  ने मुझे जो जवाब दिया है वह वाकई चौंकाने वाला है। मुझे बताया गया है कि 30 अगस्त 2014 तक महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ का तो कोई कार्यालय था और ही कोई स्टाफ. महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ के जन सूचना  अधिकारी  ने मुझे यह भी बताया है कि अब भी महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ में कोई भी नियमित स्टाफ नहीं है और मात्र कुछ लोग यहाँ संबद्ध किए गये हैं. और तो और, आरटीआई एक्ट में 30 दिनों में सूचना देने की वाध्यता होने पर भी महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ के जन सूचना  अधिकारी  ने महिला सम्मान जैसे संवेदनशील मुद्दे पर भी सूचना माँगे जाने के साढ़े आठ माह बाद और 02 माह के अतिरिक्त समय की माग की है.

महिलाओं से जुड़े मामलों की सुनवाई और कार्रवाई पर रखेंगे नजर रखने,एंटी ह्यूमन ट्रैफिकिंग यूनिट और वीमेन पावर लाइन की नोडल एजेंसी के रूप में कार्य करने,पॉक्सो एक्ट, महिलाओं के साथ होने वाले अपराधों, जुवेनाइल जस्टिस एक्ट, प्रीवेंशन आफ इमौरल ट्रैफिकिंग एक्ट, कार्यस्थल पर यौन शोषण से जुड़े मामलों, रेप, घरेलू हिंसा और दहेज से जुड़े मामलों की सुनवाई और कार्रवाई को देखने,मानव तस्करी को रोकने के लिए योजना बनाने,एसिड अटैक के मामलों में प्रभावी कार्रवाई करने और पीड़िता को मुआवजा दिलाने,पुलिसकर्मियों को महिलाओं के प्रति संवेदनशील बनाने और समय-समय पर उनकी महिला अपराधों की संवेदनशीलता को लेकर ट्रेनिंग कराने,गुमशुदा महिलाओं व बच्चों के साथ होने वाले अपराधों व उनके डीएनए का डाटाबेस बनाने और सूबे की पुलिस के साथ दूसरे राज्यों की पुलिस से समन्वय स्थापित करने,महिलाओं की सुरक्षा के लिए नई तकनीकों के बारे में पता करने और उन्हें सूबे में लागू करवाने,पुलिस , सरकारी विभागों और सिविल सोसायटी में महिला संबंधी नीतियों जैसे भ्रूण हत्या , देहातों में शौचालय के निर्माण , पर फीडबैक देने, पुलिस की वेबसाइट पर आने वाली महिलाओं की शिकायतों का प्रभावी तरीके से निस्तारण व कार्रवाई कराने,वैवाहिक विवादों में मीडिएशन के लिए बनी सेवाओं की देखरेख का कार्य करने और महिलाओं व बच्चों से जुड़े अपराधों में मुआवजा दिलाने के लिए नोडल एजेंसी के रूप में कार्य  करने जैसी बड़ी बड़ी ज़िम्मेदारियों के लिए सूबे के डीजीपी के नेतृत्व में एडीजी स्तर के अधिकारी के अधीन कार्य करने को बनाए गये अखिलेश सरकार के इस चर्चित महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ में संसाधनों की पूर्ण अनुपलब्धता अखिलेश यादव और सपा सरकार की कथनी और करनी के अंतर को को स्वयं ही उजागर कर रही है. 
 
हमें खेद के साथ कहना पड़  रहा है कि अपर पुलिस महानिदेशक- मानवाधिकार सुतापा सान्याल, जो  महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ की प्रभारी भी हैं, ने महिला होते हुए भी आधे साल से अधिक बीत जाने पर भी इस प्रकोष्ठ को ज़मीनी स्तर पर कार्यशील बनाने की  दिशा में कोई भी प्रयास  नही किया है और सरकार की महिला सम्मान की यह पहल आज भी कागजों में ही दफ़न है.
 
हमारा संगठन 'तहरीर' सूबे के राज्यपाल राम नाइक और सूबे के मुखिया अखिलेश यादव को माँग-पत्र  भेजकर उत्तर प्रदेश  महिला सम्मान प्रकोष्ठ को नियमित कार्यालय,स्टाफ,बजट और अन्य ज़रूरी संसाधन और सहायता तत्काल  उपलब्ध कराते हुए इस प्रकोष्ठ के कार्यों का अनुश्रवण  नियमित रूप से स्वयं करने का आग्रह भी कर रहा है.
 
इंजीनियर संजय शर्मा
संस्थापक अध्यक्ष - तहरीर
मोबाइल 8081898081



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Article on RTI and the Official Secrets Act

Dear all,
Please find a link to the article that I wrote for The Hoot recently analysing the implications of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 and the scheme for classifying sensitive documents in the light of the Right to Information Act, 2005. You may access the article at: 
Thanks
Venkatesh Nayak
CHRI


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RTI reply grills Governments' tall claims on development of the deprived as reserved and minorities fail to get proper representation in UP IPS cadre.

 
Snapshots -> UP Law & order at stake as 25% posts of state IPS cadre lying Vacant :Deprived unable represent as  13% SC,4%ST,19%OBC & a whopping 64%General Category IPS in UP Cadre : Minorities ‘ negligible representation as 2.84% muslims,2.6% Non-Muslim minorities and a whopping 94.56% Hindus working in UP IPS cadre.
 



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



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केंद्र सरकार और यूपी सरकार द्वारा समाज के बंचित वर्ग को मुख्यधारा में लाने के लिए चलायी गयी योजनाओं और घोषणाओं की सफलता पर प्रश्नचिन्ह लगाती आरटीआई : यूपी आईपीएस में आरक्षित व =?UTF-8?B?4KSw4KWN4KSXI

 
यूपी में आईपीएस के स्वीकृत पदों में से 25% से भी अधिक खाली: 13%पदों पर अनुसूचित जाति, 4%पर अनुसूचित जनजाति, 19% पर पिछड़ा वर्ग के अधिकारी कार्यरत. : 64% पद भरे हैं अनारक्षित श्रेणी से :कुल 94% पदों पर काबिज हिंदू अधिकारी: महज 3% पदों पर कार्यरत हैं गैर मुस्लिम अल्पसंख्यक: महज 3% पदों पर कार्यरत मुस्लिम.समाज के बंचित वर्ग को मुख्यधारा में  लाने को चलायी गयी  योजनाओं की सफलता पर  प्रश्नचिन्ह.
 
Find attachment & more details at http://upcpri.blogspot.in/2015/05/blog-post_19.html



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Supreme Court of India makes "CommonCause" with whistleblowing in public interest while Central Government wants it to pass 32 tests

Dear all,
Last week, on 13 May, 2015 the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government used its majority in the Lok Sabha to boorishly push through a set of regressive amendments to the Whistleblowers Protection Act (WBP Act) despite the very vocal and well-reasoned objections of the Opposition. Some MPs of the treasury benches also questioned the wisdom behind these amendments. In brief, the regressive amendments passed by the Lok Sabha:

1) seek to take away immunity of whistleblowers from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (OSA) which is part of the original Act;

2) prohibit a whistleblower from making any complaint (about corruption, the commission of any offence or the abuse of power or discretion within Government intended to cause substantial loss to the public exchequer or undue gain to a private party) if the information in the complaint relates to any of the grounds mentioned in Section 8(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) inserted as the new Section 4(1) of the WBP Act. These grounds of prohibition are not merely related to national security or relations with foreign States but also cover trade secrets, intellectual property rights, investigation or prosecution for criminal offences, contempt of court, intelligence informers, trust-based relationships such as lawyer-client, doctor-patient (fiduciary relationships), Cabinet Notes and personal privacy of an individual;

3) prevent the competent authorities from inquiring into any whistleblower complaint if it relates to any category of information described above in para #2 unless an officer of any grade or rank in the public authority complained against, as may be notified by the Government, certifies it fit for initiating the inquiry. The Competent Authorities at the Centre are- the Prime Minister (in the case of his/her Ministers), the Speaker and the Chairperson in Parliament (in the case of MPs) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC in the case of all other public authorities) and in the States are- the Chief Minister (in the case of Ministers), the Speaker and the Chairperson of the Legislatures (in the case of MLAs and MLCs) the High Court (in the cause of judges of the lower courts) and any other competent authority notified by the State Government (in case of other public authorities) ; and

4) prevent any person from providing assistance, information or documents to the competent authorities if it relates to any of the categories described at para #2 above.


Supreme Court requires only one test for inquiring into whistleblower complaints while Central Government wants 32 
Less than 24 hours after the Lok Sabha approved these retrograde amendments, the Supreme Court of India dealt with the issue of whistleblowing in a more reasonable manner. In the matter of Common Cause & Ors. vs Union of India & Ors. (I.A. No. 13/2014 and Crl M. P. 387/2015), a three-judge Bench of the Apex Court observed as follows (1st attachment): 

"40. ... Mr. Prashant Bhushan referred to Indirect Tax Practitioners Association v. R.K.Jain [(2010) 8 SCC 281] with regard to the growing acceptance of the phenomenon of a whistle blower."(2nd attachment). "This Court observed that the respondent in that case was the whistle blower who had tried to highlight the malfunctioning of an important institution established for dealing with cases involving the revenue of the State and there was no reason to silence such a person by invoking the contempt powers of the Court under the Constitution or the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

41. Though the submissions made by Mr. Sinha’s [Mr. Ranjit Sinha, former Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)] learned counsel on the contents of his application were limited, the oral submissions spread over a larger canvas. It is submitted by Mr. Vikas Singh that Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Common Cause and Mr. Kamal Kant Jaswal [the Petitioners] have not only committed perjury but are also guilty of contempt of Court and additionally Mr. Prashant Bhushan has violated the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 by placing on record the official notes with regard to the case of the Dardas [ex-MP Vijay Darda and his associates]. We have considered Mr. Sinha’s application from all these angles.

42. In our opinion, the submissions made by Mr. Vikas Singh in this regard do not deserve acceptance. It is true that this Court had required the Director, CBI to ensure, by
its order dated 8th May, 2013 that the secrecy of the inquiries and investigations into the allocation of coal blocks is maintained. However, if somebody accesses documents that ought to be carefully maintained by the CBI, it is difficult to find fault with such a whistle blower particularly when his or her action is in public interest. It is another matter if the whistle blower uses the documents for a purpose that is outrageous or that may damage the public interest. In that event, it would be permissible for this Court or an appropriate Court to take action against the whistle blower, if he or she is identified. However, the present case is not of any such category. The whistle blower, whoever it is, acted purportedly in public interest by seeking to bring out what he or she believes is an attempt by Mr. Ranjit Sinha to scuttle the investigations into the affairs of the Dardas or others in the Coal Block Allocation case. As mentioned above, we are not considering whether the file notes actually disclose an attempt by Mr. Sinha to scuttle the investigations. All that is of relevance is whether the disclosure by the whistle blower was mala fide or not. We are of the opinion that the disclosures made by the whistle blower were intended to be in public interest." [emphasis supplied]

Readers will recollect that this case is related to the allegations of corruption in the allotment of coal blocks by the Central Government over several years. The 2G Spectrum allocation scandal also figures in this matter with allegations based on "officially recorded information" about the behaviour of the ex-CBI Director. So in effect the Supreme Court seems to be saying:

1) It does not matter if a whistleblower complaint is made anonymously. If the allegations supported by copies of official documents reveal prima facie wrongdoing, it must be inquired into. The WBP Act makes it compulsory for a whistleblower to mention his/her name in the complaint which the competent authority will keep confidential and will not reveal to the public authority without his/her written consent. The WBP Act requires anonymous complaints to be trashed. So this provision of the WBP Act (Section 4(6) stands in complete contradiction to what the Apex Court has observed. This situation needs to be rectified through a positive amendment to the WBP Act;

2) The only test to be applied for inquiring into a whistleblower's complaint is that it must be made to protect the larger public interest and without mala fide intent. It is enough if the whistleblower believes that the complaint is being made in the public interest for the inquiry to be initiated. However if the purpose of the disclosure by the whistleblower is to outrage or damage the public interest, then any Court may take action against such a whistleblower. The amendment to Section 4 of the WBP Act approved by the Lok Sabha first of all, prohibits a whistleblower from making a complaint if it relates to any of the grounds mentioned in Section 4(1). Further, if the competent authority decides to take cognizance of such a complaint it must apply 32 tests [comprising each ground mentioned in Section 4(1)] to determine whether it is a fit case for inquiring into (Please see my previous emails on the subject). Third, if there is the slightest doubt, the complaint must be referred to a designated authority in the public authority complained against, in order to get clearance. If the clearance is not given, no further action can be taken on the whistleblower's complaint. So the Government's intention to put a whistleblower complaint through so many hoops with no time limit set for the end result, i.e., whether it will be inquired into or not, runs completely contrary to the observations of the Supreme Court.

3) The Apex Court clearly said that if the whistleblower complaint is genuine and appears to have been made to further the larger public interest, such a whistleblower cannot be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. If the whistleblower has attached copies of official records including file notings that are not already published, it should only be seen as the failure of the public authority concerned to maintain its records properly. The whistleblower must not be faulted or prosecuted under OSA for producing such information along with his/her complaint. The original WBP Act provided for such immunity from prosecution under OSA. However the amendment approved by the Lok Sabha takes way this immunity leaving the whistleblower vulnerable to vengeful prosecution by his seniors or the public authority complained against.

4) Another implication of the Apex Court's observations is that a whistleblower making a complaint to outrage or damage the public interest may be prosecuted for violation of the OSA or charged with contempt of court only if his/her identity is known. It did not proceed to say that an investigation must be launched to ascertain the identity of the anonymous whistleblower.

The short point of what the Apex Court said in the Common Cause case seems to be - "Heed the message, don't shoot the messenger". The Government seems to want to do the opposite by amending the WBP Act in a regressive manner.


'Public interest disclosure' does not mean that the contents of a whistleblower's complaint become public
The expansion of the grounds for prohibition on whistleblowing from national security (as was originally demanded by some MPs in the Rajya Sabha in 2011 and 2014) to cover all ten exemption clauses contained in Section 8(1) of the RTI Act appears to have been made by the Government in the mistaken belief that all information contained in a whistleblower complaint will become public automatically. Readers will remember that the original name of the WBP Act when tabled in Parliament in 2010 was- Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill. So it is quite possible either the political executive or the bureaucracy may have misunderstood the implication of the phrase - "public interest disclosure". "Public interest disclosure" does not mean that all information contained in a whistleblower complaint, including the attached official records (or copies) will become accessible to the public. Nothing in the WBP Act requires the competent authorities to publicly disseminate the contents of the complaint  either upon receiving it or during the inquiry. The competent authority is required to keep the identity of the whistleblower and the public servant complaint against, confidential and conduct a discreet inquiry into the allegations made. 

"Public interest disclosure" only means, that it is in the public interest to make a disclosure of wrongdoing within government bodies so that a competent authority may take action on it. In other words, it is not in the 'public interest' to keep such matters secret. This is the basic principle of whistleblower law - 'providing a safe alternative to silence' for a conscientious official or citizen or NGO to be able to make a complaint about wrongdoing instead of remaining a silent observer. 

Some MPs who spoke on the amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha seem to have been under the mistaken impression that the WBP Act expands the regime of transparency established by the RTI Act further. Nothing is farther from the truth. The WBP Act is not a transparency law. It is a law that establishes an important mechanism for deepening accountability in government and other public bodies. All safeguards that apply to the inquiry/investigation of complaints or corruption and other criminal offences under the criminal procedure laws will continue to apply to the inquiry into whistleblower complaints. A proper reading of the provisions of the WBP Act as enacted by Parliament in 2014 makes this point crystal clear. Any other twisted reading of the whistleblower law, as was originally enacted in 2014, will only make the practical realisation of the national motto - 'satyameva jayate' impossible. 

The NDA Government now has some guidance from the highest levels to rectify its mistakes by withdrawing the regressive amendments and by tabling progressive amendments to the WBP Act.

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
#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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Isn't this shocking! Should Modi continue is love for China?


#ModiInChina Day1 controversy: While Modi met Xi Jinping, China's CCTV showed India map without Arunachal & J&K

 

--
Vinita Deshmukh
Senior Journalist, RTI columnist & activist
98230 36663
Consulting Editor, Corporate Citizen magazine (fortnightly)
Consulting Editor, MoneyLife (www.moneylife.in)
Former Deputy Resident Editor and Senior Editor of The Indian Express, Pune
Author of the book `The Mighty Fall' (based on Pratibha Patil post-retirement home scam and Dow Chemicals - success stories through use of RTI)
co-author of the book`To The Last Bullet' (based on Vinita Kamte's expose of the needless deaths of her police officer husband Ashok Kamter along with Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, through evidence she procured under RTI)
Compiled and edited a book on RTI for YASHADA, `Milestone 7: Journey of RTI Act'
Guest faculty in Sri Balaji Society for teaching Conversational English and Communication Skills
Guest faculty in MIT, School of Government for teaching RTI Act
Convener, RTI Forum For Instant Information (RFII)
Convener, Pune Passport Grievance Forum (PPGF)
Convener, Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan
My philosophy: One tree can start a forest; one smile can begin a friendship; one hand can lift a soul; one word can frame the goal; one candle can wipe out darkness ; one laugh can conquer gloom; one hope can raise our spirits ; one touch can show you care; one ACTION can make a difference........ Be any ONE of that today 




--
Vinita Deshmukh
Senior Journalist, RTI columnist & activist
98230 36663
Consulting Editor, Corporate Citizen magazine (fortnightly)
Consulting Editor, MoneyLife (www.moneylife.in)
Former Deputy Resident Editor and Senior Editor of The Indian Express, Pune
Author of the book `The Mighty Fall' (based on Pratibha Patil post-retirement home scam and Dow Chemicals - success stories through use of RTI)
co-author of the book`To The Last Bullet' (based on Vinita Kamte's expose of the needless deaths of her police officer husband Ashok Kamter along with Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, through evidence she procured under RTI)
Compiled and edited a book on RTI for YASHADA, `Milestone 7: Journey of RTI Act'
Guest faculty in Sri Balaji Society for teaching Conversational English and Communication Skills
Guest faculty in MIT, School of Government for teaching RTI Act
Convener, RTI Forum For Instant Information (RFII)
Convener, Pune Passport Grievance Forum (PPGF)
Convener, Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan
My philosophy: One tree can start a forest; one smile can begin a friendship; one hand can lift a soul; one word can frame the goal; one candle can wipe out darkness ; one laugh can conquer gloom; one hope can raise our spirits ; one touch can show you care; one ACTION can make a difference........ Be any ONE of that today 



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Posted by: Vinita Vishwas Deshmukh <vinitapune-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>



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