Is the Attorney General of India right in telling the Supreme Court of India it is wrong about citizens' fundamental right to privacy? [1 Attachment]

Dear all,
According to news reports, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has reserved its opinion on referring to a larger bench the Hon'ble Attorney General of India's question as to whether it was correct or not for a smaller Bench of the Court to hold that every citizen has the fundamental right to his/her privacy when two earlier Constitution Benches of the Court have held that there is no such fundamental right. The opinion is likely to be delivered on Tuesday. As we wait for that opinion, it is useful to examine how the concept of the right to privacy has evolved in modern India. It is also necessary to examine whether the questions raised by the Attorney General of India (AGI) are germane or not to the debate on Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) which is central to this controversy.

Right to privacy in India before Independence
Several researchers including this author and academic scholars and experts have noted with exasperation the absence of a term in most of the popular languages in India that adequately captures all the facets of the concept of individual privacy. This is not to argue that there was no popular notion of privacy in ancient or medieval India. The point is being made that the local language variants do not capture facets such as- the nearly inviolate privacy of one's home, correspondence, thoughts, beliefs, faith as we all the necessity of protecting personal information from misuse by public or private agencies or its commercial use without the informed consent of the person.

Constitution of India Bill, 1895
The idea pf a right to privacy as a trump against the power and might of the State to interfere with personal freedoms is first expressed in the Constitution of India Bill drawn up in 1895 by authors whose identity is not well established. Bal Gangadhar Tilak who declared: "Swaraj is my birth right" and Mrs. Annie Besant who started the Home Rule League in India are said to be the inspiring leaders behind this Bill. The text of the Bill recognised that "Every citizen has in his house an inviolable asylum" - a simple articulation of the classic English notion of privacy- for every man his home is his castle and the State could not invade it without lawful and legitimate reason.

The Commonwealth of India Bill, 1925
Under the Chairmanship of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru another Bill was drawn up for self-governance in India. Mahatham Gandhi, Bipan Chandra Pal and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu were members of the Committee that put together this Bill. This Bill recognised that "Every person shall have the fundamental right to liberty of person and security of his dwelling and property." The notion of privacy now extends to personal liberty and security for one's property apart from one's home.

The Nehru (Swaraj) Report, 1928
Three years later the Indian National Congress constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of Motilal Nehru to draw up a plan for Swaraj (self-rule) for India. Renowned freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was a member of this Committee. This Committee placed a negative obligation on the State vis-a-vis privacy: "No person shall be deprived of his liberty nor shall his dwelling or property be entered, sequestered or confiscated save in accordance with the law". The multifarious aspects of the notion of privacy recgonised in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence is quite evident in this formulation.

Constituent Assembly (CA) debates on the right to privacy
The Constituent Assembly set up an Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities etc. chaired by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. A sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights was set up under the Chairmanship of Acharya J B Kripalani. Various members of the CA sent their views on what fundamental rights guarantees should be incorporated in the Constitution and. why. 

On the right to privacy, K T Shah wanted the following formulation (December 1946): "Every citizen of India has and is hereby guaranteed security of his person, papers, property, house or effects against unreasonable searches or seizure." 

K M Munshi's note called for this formulation in March 1947: "Every citizen... has the right to the inviolability of his home. Every citizen... has the right to the secrecy of his correspondence. Every person has the right to be free from interference in his family relations." Two rights were recognised for citizens and one for everybody including non-citizens.

Harnam Singh called for this formulation inspired by the Czech Constitution (March 1947): Every dwelling shall be inviolable". The right to privacy was expected to be attached to a physical space instead of an individual's person.

Dr. B R Ambedkar gave a more elaborate formulation (March 1947) favouring a collective right over an individual one: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized." Dr. Ambedkar wanted to fit in a strong safeguard against violation of the right to privacy but at the same time allowing for State action where required under strict monitoring by judicial 

In March 1947, the Sub committee on Fundamental Rights approved the following draft formulation for discussion: "The right to inviolability of his home - to all persons. The right of secrecy of his correspondence - to all citizens".. Later in April, the final formulation was approved as follows: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The right of every citizen to the secrecy of his correspondence." The compromise formula recognised the language proposed by Dr. Ambedkar and K T Shah and K M Munshi.

However noted jurist Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, former Editor of Hindustan Times Sardar K M Panikkar both members of the CA and its eminent constitutional advisor Benegal Narasingh Rau threw a spanner in the works. They argued that guaranteeing the right to privacy would impede law enforcement and the criminal prosecution of conspirators who will most likely be captured in their dwellings. They also pointed out that the Constitution of USA did not explicitly guarantee the right to privacy to its people. So the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights dropped the proposal to recognise the right to privacy as a fundamental right. However, the right to property and protection for the person of the individual were included as separate fundamental rights in Article 19 and 21. Much later the right to privacy was downgraded to a constitutional right and inserted as Article 300A in the Constitution. I have written a note on these developments earlier. So the Constitution was written up and enforced in 1950 without an explicit recognition of the individual's privacy as a fundamental right.

As for the USA, in several judgements the US Supreme Court has recognised various facets of the right to privacy as emanating in the penumbra of other fundamental rights explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution. We need not go into those jurisprudential developments here.

Did the Supreme Court of India say that there is no right to privacy?
The AGI is reported to have cited two Constitution Bench judgements to argue that the Supreme Court had ruled that privacy was not a fundamental right in the 1950s and the 1960s. So in his opinion smaller Benches of the Court had no business violating this law of precedents. Let us examine these judgements more closely.

The first case reportedly cited by him is M P Sharma & Ors. vs Satish Chandra, District Magistrate, Delhi & Ors. [AIR 1954 SC300]. In my opinion, this case from 1953 had nothing to with the determination of the issue, i.e., whether or not the Constitution recognised privacy as a fundamental right. Instead, it was a challenge to the search warrant issued by the District Magistrate in Delhi to the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE now knows as the CBI) to investigate a case relating to embezzlement of funds by a private company and its associated companies. The DSPE searched 34 places related to the company simultaneously and seized a "voluminous mass of documents". The Petitioners challenged these search warrants through an Article 32 Petition alleging that their fundamental right to property under guaranteed under the now deleted Article 19(1)(f) then and the right to non-self incrimination guaranteed by Article 20(3) of the Constitution. 

After examining the facts of the case and the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the 9-Judge Constitutional Bench, headed by the then Chief Justice M C Mahajan held that the search warrants were legal and necessary. They also held that such lawfully issued search warrants did not violate any fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. While saying so, they put in just one line about privacy:

"24. A power of search and seizure is in any system of jurisprudence an overriding power of the State for the protection of social security and that power is necessarily regulated by law. When the Constitution makers have thought fit not to subject such regulation to constitutional limitations by recognition of a fundamental right to privacy, analogous to the American Fourth Amendment, we have no justification to import it, into a totally different fundamental right, by some process of strained construction. Nor is it legitimate to assume that the constitutional protection under article 20(3) would be defeated by the statutory provisions for searches. It is to be remembered that searches of the kind we are concerned with are under the authority of a Magistrate (excepting in the limited class of cases falling under section 165 of the Criminal Procedure Code). Therefore, issue of a search warrant is normally the judicial function of the Magistrate. When such judicial function is interposed between the individual and the officer's authority for search, no circumvention thereby of the fundamental right is to be assumed." [emphasis supplied]

In my humble opinion what the Apex Court was saying was only a statement of a factual position that the right to privacy was not listed in the fundamental rights chapter in Part III of the Constitution. The word 'privacy' does not occur anywhere else in the entire judgement - either in the pleadings of the Petitioners or the opinion of the Court. The entire challenge was based on the twin premises that the right not to enter the Petitioner's property was guaranteed by the Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution and that seizure of documents during searches were akin to compelling the Petitioners to testify against themselves. The Court rejected this contention by holding that a search per se conducted under lawful authority would not amount to a restriction on the right to hold and enjoy property. This finding is arrived at in two paragraphs while the rest of the Court's opinion is focused on the violation of Article 20(3) in the light of the CrPC which authorises the conduct of searches by the police. To hold that this amounts to an authoritative denial that there is a fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution would be stretching the Court's words beyond what they intended to imply. The Court was only stating a factual point- the right to privacy is not listed in the fundamental rights chapter and they od not propose to import it into another extant fundamental right. In my opinion it would be not only crafty but also dangerous to interpret this one-liner to mean that a precedent had been set by the Court on this issue saying that the Court had rejected the idea of the fundamental right to privacy. They simply did not want to interpret the existing fundamental rights to discover the right to privacy.

The next case reportedly cited by the AGI is the Court's view in Kharak Singh vs State of U.P. and Ors. [AIR 1963 SC 1295]. In this case the Petitioner who was chargesheeted for the offence of dacoity but was later let off for want of evidence, challenged the Uttar Pradesh Police Regulations under which the UP Police frequently visited his house at unearthly hours (domiciliary visits) and compelled him to go to the police station. Further, whenever he was to go to other villages or towns he was required to give notice to the police who would then notify the local police of that place about his sojourn. The Petitioner claimed that such a Regulation permitting surveillance of a person like him who was not convicted of any crime violated his right to freely move about guaranteed under Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution and the due process guarantee of the right to liberty under Article 21.

Writing the majority opinion for the Constitution Bench headed by the then Chief Justice B P Sinha, Justice R Rajagopal Ayyangar held that there was no violation of the Petitioner's right under Article 19(1)(d) because that article refers to "something tangible and physical rather and not to the imponderable effect on the mind of a person which might guide his action in the matter of his movement or locomotion." However the majority held that the impugned UP Police Regulation  No. 236(b) violated the right to liberty guaranteed under Article 21 as it was not based on any law. In support of this finding the Court opined: 

"We have already extracted a passage from the judgment of Field, J. in Munn v. Illinois (1), where the learned judge pointed out that "life" in the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U. S. Constitution corresponding to Art. 21, means not merely the right to the continuance of a person’s animal existence, but a right to the possession of each of his organs-his arms and legs etc. We do not entertain any doubt that the word "’life" in Art. 21 bears the same signification. Is then the word "’personal liberty" to be construed as excluding from its purview an invasion on the part of the police of the sanctity of a man’s home and an intrusion into his personal security and his right to sleep which is the normal comfort and a dire necessity for human existence even as an animal ? It might not be inappropriate to refer here to the words of the preamble the Constitution that it is designed to "assure the dignity of the individual" and therefore of those cherished human value as the means of ensuring his full development and evolution. We are referring to these objectives of the framers merely to draw attention to the concepts underlying the constitution which would point to such vital words as "personal liberty" having to be construed in a reasonable manner and to be attributed that sense which would promote and achieve those objectives and by no means to stretch the meaning of the phrase to square with any preconceived notions or doctrinaire constitutional theories ... Murphy, J. considered that such invasion was against "the very essence of a scheme of ordered liberty". It is true that in the decision of the U. S. Supreme Court from which we have made these extracts, the Court had to consider also the impact of a violation of the Fourth Amendment which reads: 

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

and that our constitution does not in terms confer any like constitutional guarantee...."

However the Court did not stop there. It further opined: "Nevertheless, these extracts would show that an unauthorised intrusion into a person’s home and the disturbance caused to him thereby, is as it ultimate essential of ordered liberty, if not of the very concept of civilization. An English Common Law maxim asserts that "every man’s house is his castle" and in Semayne’s case (1), where this was applied, it was stated that ,the house of everyone is to him as his castle and fortress as well as for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose". We are not unmindful of the fact that Semayne’s case was concerned with the law relating to executions in England, but the passage extracted has a validity quite apart from the context of the particular decision. It embodies an abiding principle- which transcends mere protection of property rights and expounds a concept of "personal liberty" which does not rest on any element of feudalism or on any theory of freedom which has ceased to be of value." [emphasis supplied]

The majority view was also based on anther premise that Article 19(1) of the Constitution guarantees several freedoms such as those of speech and expression, freedoms of movement, residence and assembly, freedom to pursue a trade or profession of one's choice etc. are specific attributes of the individual freedoms and the right to liberty guaranteed by the Constitution under Article 21 is but a residue of what is not covered by Article 19(1).

Justice Subba Rao (as he then was) writing a separate concurring judgement on the main issue, namely the unreasonable domiciliary visits but opining in favour of striking down all the impugned UP Police Regulations reasoned as follows: "In A. K. Gopalan’s case it is described to mean liberty relating to or concerning the person or body of the individual; and personal liberty in this sense is the antithesis of physical restraint or coercion. The expression is wide enough to take in a night to be free from restrictions placed on his movements. The expression "coercion" in the modern age cannot be construed in a narrow sense. In an uncivilized society where there are no inhibitions, only physical restraints may detract from personal liberty, but as civilization advances the psychological restraints are more. effective than physical ones. The scientific methods used to condition a man’s mind are in a real sense physical restraints, for they engender physical fear channelling one’s actions through anticipated and expected groves. So also the creation of conditions which necessarily engender inhibitions and fear complexes can be described as physical restraints. Further, the right to personal liberty takes in not only a right to be free from restrictions placed on his movements, but also free from encroachments on his private life. It is true our Constitution does not expressly declare a right to privacy as a fundamental right, but the said right is an essential ingredient of personal liberty. Every democratic country sanctifies domestic life; it is expected to give him rest, physical happiness, peace of mind and security. In the last resort, a person’s house, where lie lives with his family, is his "castle" : it is his rampart against encroachment on his personal liberty. The pregnant words of that famous Judge, Frankfurter J., in Wolf v. Colorado, pointing out the importance of the security of one’s privacy against arbitrary intrusion by the police, could have no less application to an Indian home as to an American one. If physical restraints on a person’s movements affect his personal liberty, physical encroachments on his private life would affect it in a larger degree. Indeed, nothing is more deleterious to a man’s physical happiness and health than a calculated interference with his privacy. We would, therefore, define the right of personal liberty in Art. 21 as a right of an individual to be free from restrictions or encroachments on his person, whether those restrictions or encroachments are directly imposed or indirectly brought about by calculated measures. If so understood, all the acts of surveillance under, Regulation 236 infringe the fundamental right of the petitioner under Art. 21 of the Constitution.” [emphasis supplied]

Once again in my humble opinion, this Constitution Bench also did not hold that people do not have the right to privacy. Instead it only noted the absence of the right in the list of fundamental rights included in Part III of the Constitution. The Constitution Bench in Kharak Singh veered unmistakably towards the protection of personal liberties of an individual against uncalled for intrusions by the State. To hold that in this case the Apex Court had ruled against the fundamental right to privacy may amount to a complete misunderstanding of the thinking of the Court as well as attributing to it an opinion that it never expressed in the first place. The deep concern over the need for protection of an individual's freedoms against the unbridled exercise of State power by its agents and the relief provided by striking down the offending regulation as ultra vires of the Constitution clarifies the Court's views on the issue of an individual's privacy which are understood as personal liberties within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution. They only stopped short of declaring it as an implied fundamental right as happened 13 years later.

In Govind vs State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr. [AIR 1975 SC 1378] a 3-judge Bench comprised of Justice K K Mathew, Justice P K Goswami and Justice V R Krishna Iyer, the issue was again a challenge to the surveillance tactics (domiciliary visits) of the Police, now in Madhya Pradesh against a person who had been acquitted of criminal charges in 2 out of 3 cases. Delivering the opinion of the Bench and after examining the majority and minority view in Kharak Singh Justice Mathew opined as follows:

"23. Individual autonomy, perhaps the central concern of any system of limited government, is protected in part under our Constitution by explicit Constitutional guarantees. "In the application of the Constitution our contemplation cannot only be of what has been but what may be." Time works changes and brings into existence new conditions. Subtler and far reaching means of invadings privacy will make it possible to be heard in the street what is whispered in the closet. Yet, too broad a definition of privacy raises serious questions about the propriety of judicial reliance on a right that is not explicit in the Constitution. Of course, privacy primarily concerns the individuals. It therefore relates to and overlaps with the concept of liberty. The most serious advocate of privacy must confess that there are serious problems of defining the essence and scope of the right. Privacy interest in autonomy must also be placed in the context of other rights and values.

24. Any right to privacy must encompass and protect the personal intimacies of the home, the family marriage, motherhood, procreation and child rearing. This catalogue approach to the question is obviously not as instructive as it does not give analytical picture of that distinctive characteristics of the right of privacy. Perhaps, the only suggestion that can be offered as unifying principle underlying the concept has been the assertion that a claimed right must be a fundamental right implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.

25. Rights and freedoms of citizens are set forth in the Constitution in order to guarantee that the individual, his personality and those tilings stamped with his personality shall be free from official interference except where a reasonable basis for intrusion exists. "Liberty against government" a phrase coined by Professor Convin express this idea forcefully. In this sense, many of the fundamental rights of citizens can be described as contributing to the right to privacy....

28. The right to privacy in any event will necessarily have to go through a process of case-by-case development. Therefore, even assuming that the right to personal liberty, the right to move freely throughout the territory of India and the freedom of speech create an independent right of privacy as an emanation from them which one can characterize as a fundamental right, we do not think that the right is absolute. [emphasis supplied]

What is visible in these judgements cited above is the evolution of the jurisprudence around the right to privacy. From merely stating that Part III makes no mention of this right the Supreme Court over more than two decades cautiously deduced the existence of that right from the operation of other fundamental rights. No Bench of the Supreme Court has placed a bar on the interpretation of the listed fundamental rights to find other rights without which an individual would not be able to lead a life of dignity befitting a human being. It is pertinent to recall Justice Mathew's opinion from two years ago in the celebrated case of Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru & Anr. vs State fo Kerala & Ors [AIR 1973 SC 1461]: 

"The Fundamental Rights themselves have no fixed content; most of them are mere empty vessels into which each generation must pour its content in the light of its experience." [emphasis supplied]

It is this approach that the Apex Court adopted in 1975. Three months earlier another 3-Judge Bench of the Apex Court of which Justice Mathew was a part discovered the right to information within the scope of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) of the Constitution [State of U. P. vs Raj Narain (AIR 1975 SC 865)]. Had these jurisprudential developments caught the attention of the Hon'ble AGI, he might have arrived at a different view on the right to privacy. Several later judgements of the Apex Court recognise the fundamental right to privacy. An MS PPT on this subject that I had presented at the National RTI Convention orgnaised by the Central Information Commission in 2012 is attached for the reference of readers.

In Mrs. Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India & Anr. [AIR 1978 SC 597] famously known as the "Passport case" 7-Judge Bench of the Apex Court overruled the majority view in Kharak Singh regarding the interrelationship between Articles 19 and 21 and held that the minority view was correct. Justice Subba Rao had disagreed with the majority view that Article 21 only carves out residual freedoms from Article 19(1). He had held that both are independent fundamental rights and are overlapping. Justice P N Bhagwati (as he then was) held:

"It was in Kharak Singh that the question as to the proper scope and meaning of the expression 'personal liberty' came up pointedly for consideration for the first time before this Court. The majority of the Judges took the view "that 'personal liberty' is used in the article as a compendious term, to include within itself all the varieties of rights which go' to make up the 'personal liberties' of man other than those- dealt with in the several clauses of Article 19(1). In other words, while Article 19(1) deals with particular species or attributes, of that freedom, 'personal liberty' in Article 21 takes in and comprises the residue". The minority judges, however, disagreed with this view taken by the majority and explained their position in the following words : "No doubt the expression 'personal liberty' is a comprehensive one and the right to move freely is an attribute of personal liberty. It is said that the freedom to move freely is carved out of personal liberty and, therefore, the expression 'personal liberty' in Article 21 excludes that attribute. In our view, this is not a correct approach. Both are independent fundamental rights, though there is overlapping. There is no question of one being carved out of another. The fundamental, right of life and personal liberty has many attributes and some of them are found in Article 19. If a person's fundamental right under Article 21 is infringed, the State can rely upon a law to sustain the action, but that cannot be a complete answer unless the said law satisfies the test laid down in Article 19(2) so far as the attributes covered by Article 39(1) are concerned". There can be no doubt that in view of the decision of this Court in R. C. Cooper v. Union of India [1973] 3 S.C.R. 530 the minority view must be regarded as correct and the majority view must be held to have been overruled." [emphasis supplied]

Rustom Cawasji Cooper (R.C. Cooper) - also known as the "Bank Nationalisation" case was decided by an 11-Judge Bench of the Apex Court. Maneka Gandhi makes it clear that the main premise of the majority view of the Apex Court in Kharak Singh was not tenable. When a primary premise of the majority view in one case has been set aside by another Constitution bench using the rationale explained by an 11-member Constitution Bench, how does the Kharak Singh view on the status of right to privacy as understood by the Hon'ble AGI (that is not a fundamental right) hold is a question that only confounds laypersons like me.

Does the law in India recognise privacy as a human right?
There is another route that may be taken to get more clarity on this issue. India signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 and acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1979. Article 12 of the UDHR and Article 17 of the ICCPR recognise the basic human right to privacy. While ratifying the ICCPR, India did not enter any reservation or declaration about the human right to privacy. So it is duty bound to ensure that it takes all kinds of actions - legislative and executive to ensure that people in its jurisdiction enjoy the human right to privacy. The Protection of Human Rights Act enacted in 1993 recognises all rights "relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants such as the ICCPR and enforceable by courts in India as human rights. Consequently, the right to privacy which is recognised by the ICCPR becomes an enforceable human right in Indian Courts. 

In the matter of Ram Deo Chauhan <at> Rajnath Chauhan vs Bani Kant Das & Ors. [AIR 2011 SC 615] The Supreme Court opined as follows: 

"53. Human rights are the basic, inherent, immutable and inalienable rights to which a person is entitled simply by virtue of his being born a human. They are such rights which are to be made available as a matter of right. Constitution and Legislations of civilized country recognise them since they are so quintessentially part of every human being. That is why every democratic country committed to rule of Law put into force mechanisms for their enforcement and protection. Human rights are universal in nature. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as UDHR) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948 recognizes and requires the observance of certain universal rights, articulated therein, to be human rights, and these are acknowledged and accepted as equal and inalienable and necessary for the inherent dignity and development of an individual. Consequently, though the term ‘human rights’ itself has not been defined in UDHR, the nature and content of human rights can be understood from the rights enunciated therein.

54. Possibly considering the wide sweep of such basic rights, the definition of ‘human rights’ in the 1993 Act has been designedly kept very broad to encompass within it all the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by Courts in India. 

55. Thus, if a person has been guaranteed certain rights either under the Constitution or under an International Covenant or under a law, and he is denied access to such a right, then it amounts to a clear violation of his human right and NHRC has the jurisdiction to intervene for protecting it." [emphasis supplied]

Come Tuesday, the Court will say whether it will accept the Hon'ble AGI's contention that the issue of whether privacy is a fundamental right must be referred to a larger Bench. Until then one will have to wait with bated breath. It is highly desirable to have some clarity once and for all on the issue. But will this require a n 11-Judge Bench or a 13-Judge Bench to hear the matter? Next week we will get to know.

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Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
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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)

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"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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"People cannot have an absolute right to blow the whistle" - RTI reveals Government's rationale for whistleblower law amendments given in its Cabinet Note

Dear all,
Readers will remember the heated debate that took place inside and outside Parliament during the budget session earlier this year, on the proposals to amend the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 (WBP Act). The WBP Amendment Bill approved by the Lok Sabha and now pending consideration in the Rajya Sabha seeks to amend the WBP Act substantially apart from rectifying some typographical errors.

In May I had circulated critical comments on these amendment proposals arguing: "if the Whistleblower Act amendments go through, it might be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get a whistleblower complaint inquired as it will have to pass through 32 tests." The Cabinet Note attached to the WBP Amendment Bill only proves this allegory (see attachment).

WBP Amendment Bill's Cabinet Note proves the critique right
After the last budget session ended, I sought a copy of the Cabinet Note that was placed before the Union Cabinet for its approval to table the draft WBP Amendment Bill in Parliament. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which is the nodal department in the Government of India (GoI) for both whistleblowing matters and implementation of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) has furnished a copy of the Cabinet Note. GOI's justification for the restrictions sought to be placed on potential whistleblowers are as follows (along with my comment on their implications):

Reasoning 1: Justification for Amendment of Section 4(1): "In its present formulation Section 4(1) appears to confer an absolute right on the whistleblower to make a whistleblower complaint" about:

a) offences of corruption recognised under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1989, or attempts to commit such offences;

b) willful misuse of power or discretion to cause demonstrable loss to the Government or demonstrable wrongful gain to the public servant or a third party; and 

c) commission or attempt to commit any offence recognised under any law for the time being in force.

Apparently, this "absolute right" falls foul of Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. Further, Section 8(1) of the RTI Act contains safeguards against the disclosure of information that would prejudicially affect the sovereignty, integrity, defence, security, strategic, economic and scientific interests of the country, its foreign relations etc. So GoI has reasoned that it is essential to have such safeguards against whistleblowing under the WBP Act. So the 10 exemption clauses under Section 8 of the RTI Act must be imported lock stock and barrel to the WBP Act in Section 4(1). If the complaint relates to commercial confidence, trade secrets, intellectual property rights or is available to a person in his fiduciary relationship (lawyer-client, doctor-patient etc.) or relates to the privacy of an individual then the whistleblower must prove that the information was obtained under the RTI Act if the competent authority is to inquire into it (pages 6-7).

Reasoning 2: Justification for Amendment of Section 5: When a whistleblower complaint relates to any of the ten grounds for exempting information under the RTI Act then the Competent Authority must be prevented from inquiring into such a complaint without the approval of an authority authorised by the concerned Department to examine and certify whether or not the complaint relates to any of the prohibited categories. Such a certificate is conclusive and binding on the Competent Authority (page 7).

Reasoning 3: Justification for Amendment to Section 8(1): A person must be forbidden from furnishing  any information called for by the Competent Authority that is inquiring into a whistleblower complaint if it falls under the ten exempt categories because the Act must be brought in line with the restrictions on the right to freedom of speech and expression listed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India and also the exemptions listed in Section 8(1) of the RTI Act (page 7-8).

What is wrong with this rationale?
The cat is finally out of the bag. According to GoI, the restrictions on the fundamental right to free speech and expression and the right to information which is a part of that right as well as the prohibition of espionage under the Official Secrets Act must apply to whistleblowing as well. Is there anything left to complain about if all these restrictions are applied to whistleblower complaint? The following implications of the amendment proposals flow logically from the rationale explained in the Cabinet Note:

1) To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint if it relates to national security, defence or strategic or economic interests means that no official will be allowed to blow the whistle on scandals in defence procurement or any wrong doing in the Stock Exchanges or botch up in military strategies or failures of intelligence agencies;

2) To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint related to the commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property of a private company means that no officer, private person or NGO will be allowed to blow the whistle about environmental pollution or degradation of the ecology caused by that company's actions, often occurring in collusion with or connivance of other public servants. If a person makes a complaint about unsafe drugs or harmful GM crops released into the market and concerned public servants have done nothing to stop it, then he or she has to show that the information has been obtained under the RTI Act. Even then, the same department which gave him the information may certify that it falls under the exempt categories and prevent the competent authority from taking further action on the complaint. A combined reading of the amendment to Section 4(1) and 5(1) of the WBP Act indicates that there is no guarantee that a competent authority will inquire into a complaint even if it is backed up by records obtained under the RTI Act because the concerned department can block it through a certificate.

3) To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint related to the personal information about an individual means that no officer, private person or NGO will be able to make a complaint against any public servant for submitting false certificates relating to caste, education, income or character. Obtaining such information under the RTI Act is next to the impossible, thanks to the orders and judgements of some High Courts and the Supreme Court (Girish Ramachandra Deshpande case of 2012). It would also become very difficult to make a complaint about disproportionate assets of a public servant based on other publicly available records such as his/her Immovable Property Returns compared with property title registration documents obtained under other laws and rules that are in vogue. No more VYAPAMAdarsh or Commonwealth Games type of scams may be exposed by whistleblowers in future.

4) To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint related to the personal information about a public servant means means that he cannot make a complaint of bribery against a Minister unless he has obtained the supporting records under the RTI Act.  Even the Prime Minister may be blocked from inquiring into a whistleblower complaint of corruption against his/her Cabinet colleague if the authority authorised in the concerned Ministry certifies that it falls under the exemptions to whistleblowing.

5) While justifying the need for greater protection for national security-related matters, the Cabinet Note does not justify why other categories of information such as commercial secrets, parliamentary privilege and personal privacy must be brought in as restrictions on the right to blow the whistle. These categories of information have nothing to do with national security concerns.

6) Section 39 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) compels every person who has knowledge about the occurrence or likelihood of the occurrence of crimes such as murder, attempt to murder, rioting, adulteration of food and drugs, kidnapping for ransom etc. to report to the police or the nearest Magistrate. This duty includes reporting other categories of offences such as - waging war against the State or conspiring to so do and collecting arms for such purposes. So if the WBP Amendment Bill were to be passed by Parliament, then blowing the whistle on such matters to the police or the judiciary would be legal under the CrPC but doing so under the WBP Act would be prohibited. An official who has knowledge about his colleagues who may be engaged in activities inimical to the country's safety and security will have no recourse to the WBP Act but could make a complaint to the police or Magistrate under the CrPC. Further, Section 39 of the CrPC also makes it compulsory for a person to report bribery (Sections 161-165 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860) by public servants to the police or the Magistrate. So making a complaint under the CrPC about such actions would be legal but a whistleblower complaint made under the WBP Act to the competent authority will have to pass 34 tests [32 under the RTI Act and one each under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act and Article 19(2) of the Constitution] and there would still be no certainty that the concerned department would not derail the inquiry process by issuing an exemption certificate. Is this the modern version of Singhasan Battisi?

The sheer absurdity of the implications of these amendment proposals and the rationale underlying them is, to say the least, unbelievable. Article 19(2) of the Constitution only places reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression to protect national security, the dignity of courts, the reputation of private individuals and to prevent the incitement to commit any offence. These restrictions are intended to prevent public utterances from having such harmful effects on society. Section 8(1) of the RTI Act exempts disclosure of information held in government records in order to prevent harm to legitimate public interests such as national security, foreign relations, trade secrets, fair investigation into crimes and fair trial and personal privacy etc. Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act (OSA), is an anti-espionage provision which criminalises disclosure of secret codes, passwords, sketches, maps, models and articles where the disclosure is calculated to be useful to the enemy. It also criminalises trespass of or sharing information about prohibited areas such as defence installations or equipment.

The freedom of speech and expression is exercised publicly and in the privacy of one's home The restrictions are about preventing misuse or abuse of that fundamental right in public. Section 8(1) of the RTI Act prevents the harmful effects of information disclosure to the public and private spheres of civilised life. Official secrets of the kind listed in the OSA may be leaked both publicly or passed on to enemies covertly. In contrast, nothing in the WBP Act requires that a whistleblower complaint be made public prior to the initiation of the inquiry. No duty of transparency is placed on the competent authorities that are empowered to receive and inquire into whistleblower complaints regarding their contents until a final order is issued on the complaint. Even then the original complaint and annexures are not required to be made public. The WBP Act does not even recognise whistleblowing to the media unlike its counterparts in countries like South Africa, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. 

The Central Government has simply ignored the main principle underlying a whistleblower protection law- namely, to provide a safe alternative to silence to a person who has knowledge of or is witness to an offence or wrong doing in a public authority. Instead the amendments are aimed at making it nearly impossible for a citizen, official or NGO or any private entity to make a whistleblower complaint. A witness will not be able to report custodial murder or torture or custodial rape unless he obtains proof of the same under the RTI Act (CCTV camera recordings?).

Tongue-in-cheek, the Statement on Equity, Accountability and Innovations attached to the Cabinet Note (a common feature of every Cabinet Note which briefly explains how these imperatives will be furthered by the proposal) states that the proposed amendments are expected to make public servants more accountable and thus help eradicate corruption in the country! (page 13) The regressiveness of the amendment proposals is too stark to be missed. Strange that the legal luminaries in the Union Cabinet did not raise objections over the inconsistencies in the logic underlying the Cabinet Note.

What makes it worse, Parliament was never told that a citizen cannot have an absolute right to blow the whistle. The Statement of Objects and Reasons attached to the WBP Amendment Bill do not contain this line of justification. Had it been included, Lok Sabha may have looked at the Bill differently.

What is wrong with the process of consultation on the WBP Amendment Bill?
According to GOI's Transaction of Business Rules, 1961, when the subject of a case concerns more than one department, consulting them all is an essential ingredient of the decision-making process. According to para #37 of GOI's Handbook on Writing Cabinet Notes, the draft Cabinet Note must be sent to all ministries and departments whose work is likely to be affected by the proposal. Whistleblowing affects all ministries and departments in Government because corruption and misuse of power and discretion are very widespread phenomena. The Whistleblower Policy which has been repealed by the WBP Act was applicable to all ministries and departments since 2004. Nevertheless, according to the attached Cabinet Note, the DoPT consulted only the Law Department on the amendment proposals and none other. The Law Department is said to have concurred with the amendment proposals. One wonders how well the Law Department officials understood the principles on which a whistleblower protection law must be founded before giving their approval. 

The Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy adopted by the Government of India in January 2014 requires every Ministry to consult not only the stakeholders related to an issue but the public at large, on any new legislative proposal or amendments to existing laws. Neither employees' associations in government or public sector enterprises and banks, who constitute a major segment of the stakeholder community for the WBP Act, were consulted on these amendment proposals. The draft WBP Amendment Bill was never placed in the public domain to invite comments from the citizenry which has lost more than 40 members since 2005 for demanding to know the truth under the RTI Act. Many of them were acting as whistleblowers by merely demanding access to information about corruption or wrong doing in public authorities. Had these consultative processes been conducted, the illogicality and the regressive nature of the amendment proposals would have become apparent to the Government. Being an optimistic citizen I do not want to yet impute ulterior motives to the Government for bringing these retrograde amendments to the WBP Act- NOT YET! Therefore even though the DoPT wrongly calculated the additional RTI fee initially, I have sent them the balance amount after receiving the information (see last page of the attachment). One must act in good faith because Government is also expected to act in good faith.

What can we do now?
India's national motto is "satyameva jayate" (truth alone shall triumph). Every citizen, public servant and non-governmental organisation has the absolute right to know the truth and utter it to seek remedial action against corruption and the commission of or plans to commit offences and other kinds of wrongdoing recognised in the WBP Act. The "rule of law" is the fundamental basis of democratic, responsible and accountable governance. The Constitution of India particularly, the fundamental rights cannot be allowed to become an excuse to prevent whistleblowing. That is not the kind of governance that the mothers and the fathers of the Constitution had envisaged more than six decades ago. The rodents of corruption are gnawing away at the vitals of India's governance structures for too long. The very edifice of India's polity and civilisation is in serious danger of collapse. While it is fine to celebrate the glory that India of old was, the Government would do well to take a leaf out of Kautilya's Arthashastra (Book II: Chapter VIII) to promote whistleblowers through mechanisms such as rewards instead of discouraging them. Kautilya wanted external whistleblowers to be rewarded more than internal whistleblowers, as the latter would only be doing their duty. GoI does not even want to recognise the citizens right to blow the right on corruption and wrong doing in the public sector as being absolute. Blow the whistle on the prohibited categories of information and be damned by prosecution under OSA seems to be the new advance warning mechanism or- "close your eyes and ears and shut up about corruption and wrongdoing" seems to be the new aspiration.

The WBP Amendment Bill has been slated for discussion and passing in the Rajya Sabha during the current monsoon session of Parliament. It is important for every socially sensitive citizen and civil society organisations to meet their MPs - particularly from the Rajya Sabha and tell them how absurd the amendments are and demand that they reject the Amendment Bill. 

Note for friends in the media: This email is bcced to all recipients in order to protect the privacy of their email addresses. I am requesting journalist friends to cover this revelation without delay, if they find it good enough. This email is not being shared with anybody in an exclusive manner and is being sent out sufficiently early in the day to facilitate enough time to do the story.

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.
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
Fax: +91-11-26864688

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)

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


While the NDA Government amends the land acquisition law through Ordinances repeatedly, its Ministries acquire land under their own laws [3 Attachments]

Dear all,
Parliament enacted the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (RFCTLARR Act) in September 2013. The Government of India (GoI) enforced this Act fully on 01 January, 2014. This law repealed the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 under which the Central and State Governments acquired land for public purpose. By an Ordinance issued on 31st  December, 2014, GoI made several amendments to the RFCTLARR Act. One major aspect of these amendments was the inclusion of all 13 laws listed in the 4th Schedule within the RFCTLARR Act for the twin purposes of calculating and paying compensating persons whose lands are acquired for “public purpose” as defined in the Act and also for ensuring their rehabilitation and resettlement (if they are displaced as a result of the land acquisition). The earlier chapters such as conducting Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and preparing a mitigation plan required under RFCTLARR Act do not apply to these Ministries administering these 13 laws.

RFCTLARR Act is not only important because it seeks to bring about a sea change in the manner in which appropriate governments acquire land from people for public purposes and how the affected and interested individuals and families must be compensated and rehabilitated and resettled, if displaced, but also because it places enormous emphasis on the transparency of all actions and decisions taken under this law. The Amendments made by GoI through the Ordinances do not take away from these transparency provisions. Every document relating to land acquisition under this law is required to be accessible to any person, let alone those affected by land acquisition, is to be made accessible to people on request or in a large majority of circumstances, publicised through various means including websites of the Ministries which acquire land for public purposes. 

Under the RFCTLARR Act, Governments are required to comply with several procedures for identifying and acquiring land apart from compensating, rehabilitating and resettling the affected and interested people and families. This study looks at the manner in which Ministries under GoI have acquired land after the RFCTLARR Act was amended in December 2015. For the purpose of the study CHRI's Research Team has looked up all notifications published by various Ministries under GoI relating to land acquisition from 01 January – 30 June 2015 as published on http://www.egazette.nic.in/. The relevant websites of the Ministries have also been checked for similar information to ensure comprehensiveness of the research. In this study we have covered 505 gazette notifications of Ministries and public authorities under GoI declaring:

a)      Intent to acquire land for “public purpose” (NOIs) ;

b)      The competent authority for the purpose of land acquisition (NOCAs); and

c)      That they have acquired the land (NOAs) for the public purpose declared in the NOI.

Preliminary Findings
1) The study indicates that only the Ministries of Road Transport and Highways, Railways, Coal and Petroleum and Natural Gas (said Ministries) under GoI have acquired land for “public purpose” during the said period. We have found 219 such notifications published during the period 01 January – 30 June, 2015.

2) This study does not reveal any instance of the use of the RFCTLARR Act by these ministries for the purpose of acquiring land for developmental projects. All 219 acquisitions have been made under the sector-specific land acquisition laws administered by each Ministry.
3) The said Ministries have acquired land only for the purpose of building new highways or widening existing ones; prospecting or actually mining for coal; laying down railway tracks (segments of the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors amongst others) and pipelines for transporting petroleum, natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

4) Land has been acquired by these four Ministries in 1,584 villages situated in more than 263 talukas in 141 districts across 22 States.

5) Two of the developmental projects are in Schedule V areas (inhabited by members of Scheduled Tribes) in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. According to Section 41 of the RFCTLARR Act, land may be acquired in a Scheduled Area only as a last resort and that too after obtaining prior consent of the Gram Sabha or the panchayat. Nothing in the Gazette notifications studied here mention details of such a process having been undertaken prior to the acquisition of land.

6) None of the notifications indicate that land has been acquired by any Ministry under GoI for defence purposes or rural electrification or affordable housing or housing for the poor – “special categories of public purposes” for which the appropriate governments may waive the requirement for doing SIAs and the subsequent procedures.  These exceptions were introduced into the RFCTLARR Act through the Ordinances.

7) A large number of segments of land acquired are wetland or irrigated agricultural plots. 

8) Between 01 January and 30 June, 2015 the Ministries of Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Coal, Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Metro Railway issued 274 gazette notifications declaring their intention to acquire land for various developmental projects in more than 2,320 villages  in more than 403 talukas in 157 districts across 21 States (see Table 4). The process of land acquisition is still going on in these projects.

9) During the entire six month period, these Ministries declared their intention to acquire land under their sector-specific land acquisition laws instead of the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 despite being brought under this law through the Ordinances issued in December 2014 and again in April and again June 2015 for the purpose determining compensation and ensuring rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced persons, if any.

10) The most number of NOIs in a State during the six month period under study pertain to Uttar Pradesh (34) followed by Rajasthan (33), Gujarat (27), Karnataka (24) and Tamil Nadu (19) occupying the remaining top 5 slots.

11) In terms of the most number of villages in any State affected by the NOIs issued during this period, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with more than 553 villages followed by Karnataka (349 villages), Chhattisgarh (25 villages), Rajasthan (172 villages) and Gujarat (166 villages) occupying the top 5 slots.

12) 3 projects for which NOIs have been issued in Jharkhand, i.e., 2 in Ranchi and 1 in East Singhbhum, and 4 projects in Chhattisgarh in the districts of Jashpur (2), Korba (1) and Surguja (1) are situated in areas covered by the Schedule V of the Constitution.

13) 2 NOAs and 5 NOIs involve a private company, namely, M/s Reliance Industries Ltd. for the purpose of laying pipelines for transport of natural gas through the State of Madhya Pradesh.

Given these findings, it is intriguing that GoI had impressed upon the Hon’ble President of India about the urgency of amending the RFCTLARR Act through an Ordinance repeatedly, while its own Ministries have not shown any interest in acquiring land under this law to demonstrate that the ‘urgency’ is very real. More findings and the data tables are in the attached filed. The first attachment contains the preliminary findings of the study and the summary data tables. the attached MSExcel files contain tabulated data about the 505 gazette notifications relating to NOIs, NOAs and NOCAs about land acquisition.

Purpose of this Study
This study is not about questioning the decisions of government to implement developmental projects and acquire land for such purposes. The purpose of this research is to enable lawmakers, policymakers, civil society actors, academia, the media, and farmers' groups to debate the manner in which land is being acquired for public purposes since January 2015 and debate how best the RFCTLARR Act may be implemented with or without amendments. There has been some debate recently about allowing States the freedom to enact their own land acquisition laws or policies. I believe, Section 107 of the RFCTLARR recognises the power of States to enact their own laws or institute their own policies for providing better compensation or for making more beneficial provisions for resettlement and rehabilitation. Section 108 of the Act recognises the right of an affected person to choose between the Central or State laws as to which is more beneficial to them. 

So, the big question is whether more efforts should be put in to educate people about the RFCTLARR Act and its counterparts in the States as and when they come into existence or to amend the Central law while the Ministries under GoI continue to do their thing under their sector-specific laws.

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/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=65&Itemid=84  You will find the links at the top of this web page. If you do not wish to receive these email alerts please send an email to this address indicating your refusal.

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: +91-11-43120201/ 43180215
Fax: +91-11-26864688

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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Fw: PIL - Notice to Chief Justice of India

On Thursday, 30 July 2015 6:12 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On Thursday, 30 July 2015 6:11 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On Thursday, 30 July 2015 6:11 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On Thursday, 30 July 2015 6:10 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On Thursday, 30 Jul y 2015 6:10 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On Thursday, 30 July 2015 6:09 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On Wednesday, 29 July 2015 1:40 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

On Tuesday, 28 July 2015 1:53 PM, "naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org" <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:

Dear  Madam / Sir ,

   Please  provide justice  in the following  case involving  JUDGES & POLICE. Read  full case details at following  web page , also in the attachment.

Date :  26.07.2015 .........................................Thank  You ,
Place :&nb sp; Mysuru..............................................Nagaraja.M.R.

Posted by: <naghrw-/E1597aS9LQAvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org>


ET : Centre asks states, courts to harmonise RTI rules on fee charged [1 Attachment]

Notes ::

1.    I am attaching DoPT Response to my RTI dated 03.07.2015 that finally led to issue of this Circular. Last page of attachment has copy of DoPT Circular.

2.    DoPT Circular dated 10.07.2015 was uploaded on the&nbs p; website only on 29.07.2015 only after I had requested Secretary for the same.

3.    The Circular can also be downloaded from DoPT website Link below:

I Appeal to all Transparency Campaigners to work towards persuading the State Governments and Courts to Act on Central Government Advisory.iv>

Go ahead and read the ET story below.

Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd.) IN-1967


Centre asks states, courts to h armonise RTI rules on fee charged

By NIDHI SHARMA, ET Bureau | 29 Jul, 2015, 04.17PM IST

NEW DELHI: Three years after the Centre framed Right to Information rules, it has finally asked the sta te governments, high courts and Supreme Court to harmonise their rules and ensure uniformity in fee charged by them from RTI applicants.

The directives are significant as several states and high courts are charging more than Rs 10 - as stipulated in RTI Act rules by the Centre - as application fee. The Centre had notified a set of RTI Rules in 2012. While drafting them, it was stipulated that once notified, the state governments would be requested to adopt these rules "mutatis mutandis" (making necessary alterations while not affecting the main po int at issue) so that there might be uniformity, as far as possible, in the matter of implementation of the Act throughout the country, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said in an order.

"All the states or competent authorities are, therefore requested to kindly review their Right to Information (Fee and Cost Rules) and Appeal Procedure Rules and to notify, if need be, fresh rules in consonance with the those notified by the Government of India," it said in an order sent to the states and registrars of Supreme Court and high courts.

The order comes after a number of RTI applications filed by activist Commodore (retired) Lokesh Batra. Speaking to ET, Batra said, "The rules notified in 2012 had been finalized after four years of hard work. Though most states are charging Rs 10 as RTI application fee, many courts are charging a whopping Rs 500 as application fee. Now after repeated RTIs and reminders, DoPT has finally asked the states and courts to fall in line."

DoPT had in 2011 also written to public authorities to ensur e that "the fee should not become disincentive for using the Right to Information". It has now been observed that a few states have not yet harmonised their fee rules with that of the central government, the Centre's order said.



Attachment(s) from Lokesh Batra | View attachments on the web

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


DH : It is a good idea to debate exempted list under RTI Act

It is a good idea to debate exempted list under RTI Act

Prakash Kumar, July 28, 2015

Chief Information Commissioner Vijay Sharma, a retired Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS officer of 1974 batch, describes RTI Act as “game-changer”, saying it has upgraded the transparency and accountability of system since its enactment in 2005. “Public Information Officers and appellate authorities, however, are required to be more sensitive towards the need of an information seeker. They should also be protective of the people seeking information under the RTI Act,” he told Deccan Herald in an interview to Prakash Kumar. Excerpts:
How do you look at the journey of RTI Act so far?
The journey has put us in a position where we now have a very wide experience of the RTI applications and reasons why applications are made to get information. It has brought us to a position where we can say we have been able to upgrade our transparency and accountability systems. Not only have we substantially upgraded our transparency and accountability systems, we have also enabled the use of technology for easily accessing information. We are today able to access information, much more easily than what we did in past. The biggest contribution of the RTI Act is that it has been a game changer in changing the attitudes.
What are the challenges?
The challenge comes how much of the information sought under the RTI Act  has been usable from the point of view of the information seeker. The usability, relevance and timeliness of that information is also very important. Many of the RTI applications are coming from individuals who really want information. That information is vital to such individual as it may redress a grievance or upgrade a public service system. It could be filed for combating any kind of corruption, petty or otherwise.

And, there are RTI applications, which are needlessly flippant or vexatious. Some RTI information seekers also file repetitive applications. Our concern today is how to ensure that the genuine RTI applications do not get crowded out because of such applications which could be repetitive, frivolous or complex.
So what is the solution you propose?
We need to have a mechanism which is efficient enough to be able to identify applications which are bottlenecking and clogging the system. It should be rule based objective system to filter flippant and repetitive RTI applications so that genuine RTI applications do not get crowded out. Such rules should be effective and legally tenable. The applicants should know that if they file repetitive or unnecessary RTI applications, the system would throw them out and subject them to a bit of scrutiny. Today, we don’t have such rule based filter. All the RTI applications are considered. Public authorities are under pressure.
But don’t you think such a system may be misused by the public authorities?
That’s why I said there has to be a rule based mechanism, which is objective and legally tenable. A lot of people are saying that there is a problem of repetitiveness of RTI applications. The problem has to be recognised and addressed. Most of the RTI applications are not complex. They need genuine information and the public authorities provide it. An application becomes complex when the applicant gets into interrogation mode and starts seeking clarifications from the public authority. There have been such complaints.
Many say getting information under the RTI Act is more difficult today than few years back. What is your view?
My assessment is that if the information is available, the public authority do not resist. They give information. Value systems have changed. I say this because I have been in the system. Ten years ago, there was resistance. The moods have changed. Annual confidential entries which were really confidential in past, is completely out in the open today.
If it is so, why do we have piles of appeals?
Those, who are involved in day to day handling and management of the RTI applications, need to be properly trained and sensitised. This is one of the areas where I would like to work on. The public information officers (PIOs) and at least the first appellate authorities, must be sensitive towards the needs of the information seeker, instead of being too technical. They need to be caring persons. Even if the department is little short of the documents, the needs of information seeker can be addressed. The PIOs should find the solution.
There are demands to bring CBI under the ambit of RTI. What is your view?
What essentially you are saying may be there is a need to revisit of what is on the exempted list. The RTI has induced a lot of openness and transparency. If there is a debate on whether there is scope for further rationalisation, it’s a good idea.
Safety of RTI activists is a big concern today. What measures should be taken to check such incidents?        
So far as the incidents of attack on RTI activists are concerned, our criminal judicial system is taking care of such cases. Here again, however, the role of PIOs are significant. There should not be any tendency to deny information. It increases tension between an RTI applicant and the information provider. The department should not only be an information provider but be protective of the information seekers.
What is the future of RTI Act?
S far as the entitlement and rights of the information seeker is concern, the Act is bound to go stronger and stronger. Technology will play a major role in creation of depositary of information and its sharing. The adversariality between the information seeker and provider is bound to get mitigated.


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


"Time mila toh I'll think about politics" : TOI feature on One of the youngest RTI activists Lucknow girl Aishwarya Parashar

"Time mila toh I'll think about politics" : TOI feature on One of the youngest RTI activists Lucknow girl Aishwarya Parashar

Jul 24 2015 : The Times of India (Lucknow)
Time mila toh I'll think about politics
Saloni Tandon

One of the youngest RTI activists, city girl Aishwarya Parashar has been asking the government pertinent questions about civic issues, governance and Indian history 
Thirteen-year-old Aishwarya Parashar has as many RTI queries to her name as her age, making her one of the youngest RTI activists in the country . The Class IX student of CMS Rajajipuram filed her first RTI query at the age of seven, and there has been no stopping her since then. From questions pertaining to her History classes that her teacher can't answer to governance matters in the country , Aishwarya's RTI applications have even left the concerned authorities stumped at the little girl's knack for questioning.

“My mother, Urvashi Sharma, is a social activist. She would hold sessions with people every Sunday who would come and discuss their problems with her. When I was in Class 3, I heard her telling a few people about the Right to Information. It was then that I came to know what it is,“ says Aishwarya, as she goes on to tell us about her first RTI query . “I was in Class III only and there was this garbage house right outside our school. Everybody used to complain about it, but to no avail. I filed an RTI to the CM Office asking who would take responsibility if any of the kids fell ill because of the unhygienic condition outside our school. Within a month, the garbage house was cleared and now, a library has been constructed there. Because of the prompt action taken then, I knew it was an effective tool,“ she adds.

Aishwarya's queries have ranged from local civic issues to more pertinent questions about the country's history . Like her 2012 query to the PMO on the title of `Father of the Nation' given to Mahatma Gandhi.“I had read in my history books that Gandhiji was called Father of the Nation. But who gave him that title, since when was he called that and if there was an official order ­ there was no information on that. So I filed an RTI to the Prime Minister's Office, which kept being forwarded to different departments for a long time. Finally , I came to know that the earliest reference of the title was in a speech by Subhash Chandra Bose and there was no official order related to it,“ she explains.

Aishwarya's latest RTI was addressed to the CM Office in UP and the PMO, seeking details on the funds spent and the meetings called in FY 2014-15 and 2015-16 in the Clean Gomti and Clean Ganga campaigns.
“I filed the query in May 2015. The response I got was that the central government had not spent any money on the campaign in FY 2015-16,“ she says.

Another RTI by Aishwarya which turned out to be quite a revelation was regarding hockey being the national game of India. “I wanted to know when had the government issued an order to announce the country's national game, and the response I got from the Ministry of Youth Affairs was that there was no official order or notification which gives hockey the status of national game!“ she says.

Aishwarya has encouraged her friends and teachers to get RTI-friendly . “It is a misconception that filing an RTI is a long process. I just write the application, pay the `10 application fee by Indian Postal Order and send it to the concerned office by speed post. Initially, I would take my mother's help, but now I can do it on my own,“ says Aishwarya, adding, “After seeing me, a few of my friends and even my father have also started filing RTIs.“ Ask her about the problems she faces and she says nonchalantly , “Kabhi kabhi RTI transfer kar dete hain. Kabhi response delay ho jaata hai jisse appeal file karne ka time nikal jaata hai. In that case, I have to file the RTI again. But I haven't faced any hassles as such.“

Like other girls her age, Aishwarya is extremely fond of singing and dancing. “Now studies are so much, I don't get much for my hobbies, but I used to attend dance classes when I was in Class VI,“ says Aishwarya, who aspires to be a cardiologist. “I want to become a heart specialist, but my friends keep saying I should become a politician. But first I'll concentrate on becoming a doctor, phir time mila toh I'll think about politics,“ she says candidly .

Aishwarya's mother, Urvashi Sharma, attributes Aishwarya's affinity for RTIs to her inquisitive nature. “Bachpan se hi Aishwarya aisi hi rahi hai ­ kya ho raha hai, kyun ho raha hai, she's always been very questioning. She reads the newspapers and all her queries from her classes or current matters which we or her teachers can't answer, she files an RTI for the same,“ says Urvashi.



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


Home Ministry moves to collect data on attacks on RTI activists, journalists, whistleblowers and social activists [1 Attachment]

Dear all,
While in one Central Indian State the art of getting rid of whistleblowers is dangerously progressing towards becoming a science, the Government of India has initiated the exercise of collecting data on attacks on Whistleblowers, mediapersons, social activists and RTI activists from across the country. Readers will recollect that Parliamentarians have frequently sought information from the Government about the number of attacks on RTI activists and the Government has often replied that it does not maintain such a database centrally. Meanwhile, RTI users, activists, organisations and people's movements for transparency and accountability have frequently highlighted how unsafe it is to seek information in the public interest under the RTI Act. Thanks to a sensitive mass media, instances of attacks- often murderous- on RTI activists and social activists and whistleblowers have received wide coverage. News stories of such attacks are publicised prominently and followed up on in terms of the progress made in the investigation of such cases.

Every year the Government of India collects data from the police station level across the country including Jammu and Kashmir about the occurrence of various crimes under several Central and State laws during the previous year. The focal point for collecting such information is the Delhi-based National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) at the Centre and its counterparts in the States- State Crime Records Bureaus and their feeders- District Crime Records Bureaus. The NCRB publishes a wealth of information about the occurrence of and actions on crime in its Annual Crime in India Reports (CIR) accessible at: http://ncrb.gov.in/crimeinindia.htm The CIR for 2014 is due soon. The Police Station forms the basic unit for reporting crime statistics across the country.

The NCRB has circulated a new template to all States, Union territories and Cities for capturing statistics relating to the occurrence of crime (see attachment). Readers will recollect that data for cities and Union territories often has to be collected separately because they have Police Commissionerate systems unlike other parts of the States which come under the respective Police Departments. The latest version of the data collection template mentions three new categories of crime statistics at pata #20 on Page 1:

1) Attack on Media Person

2) Attack on Whistle Blower

3) Attack on RTI/Social Activist

This data is to be collected under the crime-head - Grievous Hurt of varying degrees- which are recognised in Sections 325, 326, 326A and 326B of the Indian Penal Code. My colleagues at CHRI who work for police accountability and reform, obtained a copy of this template recently.

That the Government has woken up to the cruel reality of attacks on citizens who speak the truth and demand their right to know the truth about public affairs is very welcome. Until now the only source where information about attacks on RTI activists was the dedicated Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attacks_on_RTI_activists_in_India. CHRI also collects data about attacks on RTI users and releases them to the media from time to time to highlight this socio-political malaise. 

Problems with the NCRB Template
Official efforts to collect data about attacks on RTI activists, whistleblowers and mediapersons is a belated but commendably important first step towards recognising that phenomenon. However there are some technical problems in the manner of collection of such information:

1) If an RTI activist/ social activist, mediaperson or whistleblower is murdered (Heavens forbid!), then that case will be counted under the Crime Head- Murder (Section 302) at para #1 of the attachyed template. So to be counted separately these activists, whistleblowers and mediapersons will have to ensure that they survive the attack. If not, the deceased will be counted in the larger category of 'murders' which gives no breakups regarding the identity of victims.

2) Will a first time user of RTI who is attacked (and survives) for his/her intervention under para #20 be treated as an RTI/Social Activist is a moot question. The recent instance of the alleged murder of an RTI user who filed his first RTI application to inquire about police action against a suspected bootlegger in Gujarat may not even qualify for inclusion in this category. For example see: http://www.counterview.net/2015/06/cost-of-filing-rti-with-police-in.html 
The Police Official at the police station who is in charge of supplying such data on a monthly basis to the NCRB will wield a lot of discretion in counting such numbers unless the template is refined further to reflect all attacks- murderous and grievous ones separately, for RTI users/activists, social activists, mediapersons and whistleblowers.

3) Recording of attacks on whistleblowers may not be easy. While a citizen who blows the whistle on wrongdoing in government may file a complaint about a resultant attack, an internal whistleblower, namely an employee of a government office may not be able to get a complaint registered by the police without adequate support from sympathisers or influential people. Indeed we do not have enough data on how many internal whistleblowers have made complaints about attacks on them to the police till date. The Vyapam scandal in Madhya Pradesh has opened only a peephole into this macabre tradition (and not merely phenomenon) of silencing those who speak the truth.

4) It is quite possible that some cases of attacks may go unregistered by the police at first instance. In such cases if the 'sufferer' (and not victim or survivor - because 'suffering' reflects the truth of his/her experience and not just its aftermath) or the witness move the Magistrate's Court through a private complaint under the Criminal Procedure Code, such instances may not necessarily be reflected in the statistics sent by the police to the NCRB.

5) As the Government of India (GoI) drags its feet on ensuring effective whistleblower protection for internal and external whistleblowers, seeking to amend the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2014 (WBP Act) instead of implementing it, who will the Police Official responsible for sending the data to NCRB, recognise as a whistleblower is a big question. GoI succeeded in pushing through a very retrograde set of amendments to the WBP Act during the budget session of the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament).  Will the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) support it or reject it remains to be seen in the monsoon session which began today. Readers may like to see these links for a critique of the amendments to the WBP Act: 

It is very commendable that the Government and the NCRB have started collecting monthly data on attacks on social activists, RTI activists, whistleblowers and media persons. However, citizens, activists, civil society organisations and the media must come forward to suggest to the NCRB how better to record and collect information about attacks on them. Police Officials who record complaints about crime and report crime statistics must be trained to faithfully account for every instance of such attack reported to them and not merely where an activist is the sufferer. It is important to provide practical guidance to them for recognising each case in a sensitive manner rather in a lackadaisical routine fashion.

Sufferers of such attacks or their witnesses who move the police or the courts for redress must ensure that the reason for the attack - whistleblowing, RTI or social activism or media intervention must be clearly mentioned in such complaint to unequivocally establish the link between the activism and the attack.

The NCRB must pay immediate attention to refining its template to cover all kinds of attacks on these categories of persons to be separately and accurately reflected in the statistics instead of being mixed with the general figures about crime. NCRB must work with knowledgeable civil society actors, academics and mediapersons to develop guidelines for police officials who record and transmit such data. For example, attacks on activists who struggle against corruption, gender, caste, religion or language or disability-based discrimination or the rights of children or for protecting the environment or those who expose illegal mining, land mafia, sand mafia and all other kinds of mafia which have become so common place in India, must be faithfully recorded and reported instead of sidelining the issue. The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders provides a comprehensive list of such activists who work for accountability and social justice. These categories must be incorporated in the guidelines to capture all instances of attacks on individuals who are engaged in such activities. See: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/Declaration.aspx These portions of the monthly reports must be sent to the National Human Rights Commission and the sector specific Commissions such as those established for protecting the rights of vulnerable groups such as women, children, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, religious minorities and the differently-abled. This will help them to take suo motu cognizance of such cases and demand immediate action by the police under their supervision.

Further, the template must be refined to include fields regarding the progress of the investigation and the prosecution in such cases on a monthly basis. All this information must be proactively disclosed through the websites of the respective Police Departments (State and District Level and if available Police Station level) as well as the NCRB.

Readers may have many more useful suggestions for the NCRB on this issue. Please send your suggestions by email to : dct-B2dN8uQM3sExFYw1CcD5bw@public.gmane.org or send them a post card or letter with your suggestions at this address: National Crime Records Bureau, East Block-7, R. K. Puram, New Delhi- 110 066. You could also fax your suggestions to the Director, NCRB at- 011-26197984.

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/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=65&Itemid=84  You will find the links at the top of this web page. If you do not wish to receive these email alerts please send an email to this address indicating your refusal.

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: +91-11-43120201/ 43180215
Fax: +91-11-26864688

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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Pankaja Munde's deeds are horrendous. Read my RTI col published in Moneylife


Chikki moment: When the SCIC also keeps mum on RTI queries

VINITA DESHMUKH | 16/07/2015 07:32 PM |   

Activists have been demanding transparency regarding the Rs200 crore scam pertaining to purchases ordered by minister Pankaja Munde but even the State Chief Information Commissioner, who has received a complaint is keeping mum
Can a six-month-old be given chikki – a hard nut based sweet that a mother would hesitate to give even to a two-year-old? Well, that’s precisely what Pankaja Munde, minister of women and child welfare in Maharashtra, ordered, under the mid-day meal scheme, for children between 6 months to 3 years; for anganwadi children up to six years and pregnant mothers in the state. 
More shockingly, the order, to the tune of Rs75 crore odd, has been made during the last month of FY2014-1015, which means for the consumption for just one month. This despite, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court banning large scale purchases without auction or tenders and the Tribal Commissioner coming heavily on its adulteration in the earlier purchase of Rs38 crore worth of this chikki in 2013.
Chikki, bought from Suryakant Mahila Audyogik Sahakari Trust, which has again been placed with Rs75 crore order by Ms Munde, has had a dangerously tarnished backdrop. In 2013, the chikki bought from the Trust was found to be adulterated with pieces of blade, clay, mud, worms, fungus and the packets did not contain manufacturing or expiry dates, as per the report from Tribal Commissioner Radhika Rastogi. Besides, the organization does not exist at all on ground zero. Added, to this is the Supreme Court order of providing hot and piping meals for school children, made by local units to ensure freshness and nutrition.
Ironically, when the chikki scam unearthed in 2013, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Nitin Gadkari and Vinod Tawade amongst others, made a lot of noise in Maharashtra Assembly resulting in the establishment of the one man PS Meena Inquiry Committee. This Committee never gave its report. When BJP government was formed in the State, its minister Pankaja Munde did not bat an eyelid in defying the HC ruling and questioning about the Committee’s findings. Audaciously, she gave the contract in February 2015 to the same deadly contractor, who has no qualms to adulterate chikki that could take the life of infants, children and pregnant mothers. 
Despite this deadly scandal that concerns lives of young children and pregnant mothers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad as well as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is maintaining silence.
Given this backdrop, isn’t it the right of every citizen to know why taxpayers’ money is being laundered for corrupt and vested interest purposes such as these, and one that could dangerously affect the health of thousands of children and pregnant mothers? Precisely for this reason, RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar has lodged a complaint with SCIC Gaikwad, stating it is mandatory to put in public domain, all documents pertaining not only to the chikki scam, but other purchases amounting to Rs205 crore.
In his complaint of 1st July to SCIC, Kumbhar said, “Maharashtra government’s Women and Child Welfare department has recently given a purchase order of Rs206 crore in one day alone. This was ordered on 13 February 2015, for chikki, mats, dishes, books and hand paper for anganwadi schools across Maharashtra. It is mandatory, under Section 4 of the RTI Act, for the public authority, in this case the Women and Child Welfare department to put up the government resolution (GR) along with relevant information pertaining to the purchase, in the public domain, that is, the website. However, this has not been done and information continues to be opaque.
“I had written to Chief Minister Fadnavis on 24th June, requesting him to put the information in public domain. I got a reply stating that the letter has been sent to the appropriate authority for action, however nothing has happened. The information is of large public interest as the entire expenditure comes from taxpayers’ money. Since these are administrative decisions, the process of decision making comes has to be made public as it comes under Section 4 (1) wherein it is mandatory to make public administrative decisions, including the processes that finally made the decisions,” Kumbhar said.
Kumbhar has quoted various sub-sections of Section 4 that makes it mandatory for public authorities to make public: the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes and so on.
Besides chikki, various other procurements for children, which include books, mats, utensils, handmade paper and paper are shockingly scandalous. While Kumbhar has demanded that all information pertaining to these purchases must be in the public domain, surprisingly Chief Minister Fadnavis, as well as, SCIC Gaikwad, who normally does not keep pendency, are totally mum on this front.
It is pertinent to note, that, besides the purchase of chikki, the following purchases are also shocking. Kumbhar has sent a detailed complaint to the Anti-Corruption Bureau but there too, there is utter silence:
  1.  Vaidya Industries Nagpur, which has been closed for several years and has no equipment whatsoever to manufacture steel thalis for children, has been given an order of Rs1.15 crore order for 8,93,330 plates, for mini-anganwadi and anganwadichildren.
  2. Everest Industries, Gangapur in Aurangabad district just does not exist yet the women and child welfare department has given it an order of around Rs2.65-odd crore for procurement of 5,250 water filters cum purifiers
  3. In order to print calendars and picture puzzle books for children, around Rs1 crore and Rs5 crore respectively were ordered. However, the handmade paper institute outsourced mill paper, to a contractor
  4. Mats of 12x15 ft and 9x12 ft were ordered from the handloom units of Mumbai and Nagpur. For this, around Rs4.35 crore were spent. However, complaints of mats already having been torn are reported. Another set of mats to a non-existent company called Bhavani Enterprises has been ordered for around Rs2 crore. Around 12,700 mats were purchased but they remain unused as the sizes ordered do not fit the anganwadi schools.
  5. In three instances, books for children and guidebooks for teachers of anganwadiwere purchased to the tune of several crores of rupees, without any proper process of purchase.
  6. Ayurvedic biscuits, whatever that means, were ordered from Govardhan Ayurpharm Ltd, for Rs5 crore, when the last contract was of Rs95 lakh and the same was to be continued after the termination of the contract in 2014, as per renewed terms and conditions. However, strangely, the order has been jacked to Rs5 crore on that single day of February 2015
  7. Despite the fact that Prist Pharmaceuticals does not exist, an order of Rs3.70 crore odd order has been placed for medicine kits for children. Earlier, this order was spiked by the commissioner, but graciously given by the minister
  8. Twenty first Century Laboratory and Ajantha Pharma, Thane have been given Rs18 crore odd order for purchase of protein powder and sprinkles for daily and weekly consumption respectively without proper monitoring of their contents
  9. A whopping Rs24 crore order has been given for growth weighing machines. Earlier it was given to Sai HiTEch Company but suddenly half of the order of Rs.12 crore has been given to Nitiraj Engineers, Dhule and there is no knowing of procedures followed of either of the orders.
The scandal in comparison to others that rocked the nation may not be high in the amount of rupees however, it concerns the lives and limbs of little children and pregnant mothers, thus making this crime, serious and unpardonable. Also, making it a strong case for availability of all information pertaining to purchases, in the public domain.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.) 
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 

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


IndiaToday : : RTI appointments: Babus give cold shoulder to PM's 'demographic dividend'

RTI appointments: Babus give cold shoulder to PM's 'demographic dividend'

Documents reveal that when it came to curbing corruption and empowerment of citizens by filling key posts at the Central Information Commission, bureaucrats chose to introduce an arbitrary provision to keep the youth out.

Jugal R Purohit New Delhi, July 11, 2015 | UPDATED 09: 49 IST

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has seldom shied away from referring to India's 'demographic dividend' and goading the youth to do more, the top bureaucrats running his administration share little of his enthusiasm. Documents reveal that when it came to curbing corruption and empowerment of citizens by filling key posts at the Central Information Commission, bureaucrats chose to introduce an arbitrary provision to keep the youth out. They instead opted to empower retired governmen t servants. This occurred in the much-delayed and recently-concluded selection for the post of one Chief  Information Commissioner and three Information Commissioners (ICs).

An application under the Right to Information Act of 2005 (RTI), filed by retired naval officer, Commodore Lokesh Batra has unearthed nearly 250 pages of the official correspondence for the same.

For selection to posts like CIC and ICs, the RTI Act 2005 seeks "persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance". Based on this, applications were invited. 203 applications were received for the post of CIC and 553 for the three posts of ICs. Documents reveal that of the entire lot, over 400 applications were made by people from categories like Law, Management, Science and Technology, Journalism, Social Service and others. However in a meeting of the 'Search Committee' on January 16, 2015, "...the committee had decided to further consider the detailed applications of persons with experience of 30  years and above". Having done this, in a subsequent 'Search Committee' meeting on April 25, 2015, three retired government servants were shortlisted for one CIC post and nine were shortlisted by three IC posts, no other applications from  any sector specified in the act were found eligible for short-listing. It was based on this short-listing that on June 1, PM Modi, Finance Minister Jaitley and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge made the final selection of Vijai Sharma as the CIC and Sudhir Bhargava as Information Commissioner. Incidentally since Vijai Sharma was elevated from the post of Information Commissioner to CIC and only one appointment was made to the post of IC, vacancies in CIC remained for three ICs.

"This process of rejecting the names of applicants on this ground has clearly violated the basic right of a citizen of 'equality to status and of opportunity' granted by our constitution. This should be challenged in the court," said Commodore Batra. He also termed the process an 'eyewash' since the new CIC has "just 100 working days" before he retired. Former Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi remarked, " The selection process is being fixed so that the Commission becomes a senior citizens club! Yes, it does look as if they want a smaller number applying and favouring retired persons. A larger problem is that the Commissioners are not working fully and efficiently."

The committee consisted of former Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, Home Secy LC Goyal, Expenditure Secy Ratan Watal, DoPT Secy Sanjay Kothari, Additional PS to PM PK Mishra & Director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy, Prof Naresh Chand. When asked for their comments, with questions sent on email, none of the members of the committee responded.

Shortlisted for CIC

Atul Kumar Gupta, retired IAS officer and former UP Chief Secretary
Dinesh Kumar Mehrotra, Retired LIC Chairman

Vijai Sharma, retired IAS officer

Shortlisted for IC

Ashish Bahuguna, retired  IAS

Sudhir Bhargava, retired IAS    
Amitava Bhattacharya, retired IAS

Stuti Narain Kacker, retired IAS

Dr SS Mantha, Former Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education

Rajan K Medhekar, retired IPS

Vijaya Moorthy, retired Indian Audit and Accounts Service officer

Dr Shyamal Kumar Sarkar, retired IAS

R Venkateswarlu, retired Indian Information Service officer

============================================ ==========
Note :

After Vigilance Clearance reports .....the name of Shri Atul Kumar Gupta, retired IAS officer and former UP Chief Secretary was replaced with Shri  Sanjay Kumar Srivastva in meeting of Search Committee held on 14.05.2015            

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


Extortions from Agricultural Labour By TTEs (Travelling ticket Examiners)

Posted by: rajneesh_madhok <at> yahoo.com