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Unknown to many, Bhausaheb Rajaram Wakchaure, a Shiv Sena MP from Shirdi (Maharashtra) has introduced a Private Members Bill in Parliament, on 02 September 2011, seeking to amend the RTI Act 2005. He proposes the following amendments

1. That the applicant needs to give reasons for seeking information.
2. The PIO can reject the information under sec 8 if he thinks the reasons are not adequate in his opinion.

His profile

http://164.100.47.132/LssNew/Members/Biography.aspx?mpsno=4385

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002606271270&sk=info

Loksabha Bulletin on 5th sep – http://164.100.24.207/bull2/2011/05.09.2011.pdf

The proposed amendments bill is here.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/69075299/RTI-Amendment-Private-Members-Bill


AP Information Commission following the supreme court judgment on providing evaluated answer scripts under RTI has directed the AP information commission to provide certified copies of the evaluated answer sheets.

Please find the copy of order here.APIC – Answer sheets

The Medak Dist. Consumer Forum (in AP) has awarded a compensation of Rs 20,000 to an RTI applicantfor deficiency of service by the PIO – the District Education Officer (DEO) of the district.

Although the PIO argued that the applicant could have gone for a first appeal as provided in the RTI process, the consumer forum ruled that since the applicant had paid an application fee and was made to run around, this amounted to a deficiency of service.

The court also over ruled that the consumer forum had all the rights to go into the matter and award compensation for “deficiency of service” since the RTI Act only provided for Penalty and Disciplinary action but did not provide for compensation for “deficiency of service”.

Please Click Here for the full order

Notice to CPIO and FAA

We received a reply to our RTI filed on NIT Director’s selection criteria. This was the second RTI which we filed on this line and our previous RTI too was the similar one. The second RTI had to be filed as the second appeal filed with the CIC is yet to come for hearing. The link to the information received from ministry has been attached in the below link and is also available in “Our Work” tab of this blog.

REPLY 

We sought various information related to the Director’s selection, right from applications received for the advertisement to file noting of various meetings held in the due process for selection. The reply received from ministry indicates that there was a purposeful delay and illegitimate use of various sections of RTI to provide the information sought within time.

1. The first paragraph of the reply contradicts ministry’s own statement on “Third party” and provides all contact information in a neatly tabulated sheet when we have asked for the copies of the application filed. The ministry makes a baseless statement, “due to tremendous pressure of work, it has not been possible for the NIT division to seek the opinion for furnishing copies of their personal details/applications.” The statement itself is inherent in its character for non compliance of the act and the double talk of the ministry. If the personal details form “Third party” data, why did the CPIO furnish all personal details in a separately prepared document and send it. Didn’t the CPIO know that he had to contact all the 147 applicants before disclosing their personal details? When all the personal contact information related to applicant was provided, how is it that the rest of information provided by applicant in the application a third party information? The sanity levels of CPIO need to be questioned?

2. The names of persons who applied for the post have been given under personal details and recommendations were highlighted along with the name who proposed them.

3. The list of committee members is also given. The interesting point to be noted is that the Directors of Institutes which are on par with few NIT’s are involved in selecting the directors and it is like ,” You select my friend I will select yours”.

4. The biggest flaw in the selection process comes here. No evaluation is done in short listing the 46 candidates from 147 applicants in first round and final short listing after interview.

5. The committee has listed 4 points for selection criteria and has relaxed norms to include few poodles in the final list who recently completed their terms at NIT’s.

6. The ministry refuses to disclose the vital information related to selection process quoting that the selection process has not yet been completed.

All these dilatory tactics are to pave roads for the corrupt to these premier institutes.  Over time ministry might forget about the selection process but Team Asthra would take up this issue again and again till all the details are disclosed and it is convinced that the selection process was a fair one. Professors, Academicians and volunteers who like to get associated with us on this issue please mail us at asthra@live.com

National  Institute of Technology, Durgapur, One of the premier institutions of the country set up in 1965 with a great vision to promote a healthy academic and cultural environment. The motto of this institute:”udhyog purushasya lakshanam” is facing an identity crisis not just at the hands of the administration but also by the students.

As in many other colleges, this college too has an elected student body, Student Gymkhana. The gymkhana primarily comprises of:

President

Vice-President

General Secretary (Signatory)

Asst General Secretary (Cultural)

Asst General Secretary (Sports)

The gymkhana acts as a bridge between the administration and the students. Any student-related activity in the college is supervised or assisted by the gymkhana. Further, it is the sole body which conducts the national level cultural fest, Recstacy, of the college.

Now, the question arises. To whom is this student gymkhana answerable to? The Administration? The students?

As it so happens, all dealings regarding this body are vague. Nothing is transparent. Nothing seems to be accounted for by the administration. It is a body completely managed by the students. And, as in any other body with ample paisa and power, this one too is wrought with corruption. The lamentable part is that corruption over here is at the hands of the future citizens, the youth and not some grubby slimy politician.

Whatever has been stated above is not just hearsay. It is backed by tangible evidence. When we filed an RTI demanding the bills of the cultural fest Recstacy 2011, we were amazed and shocked at the four-lined laid back reply.

The authorities had clearly mentioned that they do not have any accounts of the expenditure incurred during the fest and that it managed solely by the students.

Further, there is reason to believe that the previous gymkhana body has made a “Profit” of  lakhs just from the one fest. The gymkhana had also been allotted lakhs to organize Fresher’s party on behalf of the college for the first year B.Tech and PG students last year. Suspiciously, the event never took place. What was even more suspicious was the fact that some members of the student body were spotted flaunting flashy new bikes. They were also spotted scooting off to tourist destinations and indulging in various pleasures disproportionate to a student’s budget.

Moreover even the budgets of all the clubs and other student related activities are finalized by Student’s Gymkhana. So there is no knowing what goes on behind the scenes during the process of fund-allotment. There is no fool-proof and established system to keep a tab on the activities. And this is not it. The Gymkhana is known to have demanded a certain sum of money from the various clubs to ensure the smooth functioning of their fests and other activities. And when the clubs refused, they were denied many basic necessities for carrying out their events(as stated by some students of NIT Durgapur).

This was just the story of Student Gymkhana. In addition to it, the college has 14 clubs. All of these clubs are allotted funds at the start of each academic year proportional to its scale of activities. At the end of each year, how much of these funds have been effectively utilized and how much has vanished into thin air is another burning question. Plus, there are 10 hostels in the campus, each of which has a hall-secretary and a few mess-secretaries. Even they have the power to acquire funds from the college to take up some restorative activities in the hostel. These funds too are unaccounted for.

The objective of the article is not to crucify the wrong-doers (who in this case are the ‘Yuva’) but to make them answerable. The future of these students is invaluable. It can not be jeopardized by an inefficient and opaque system which has become something of a heirloom passed on from one batch to the next. The minds of these youngsters can not and must not be corrupted at such a precious age and such a precious institution. If there is no conscience, there should at least rise a fear in the minds of the students that they are accountable to someone. They are answerable to someone. There is a law which is not some silly college rule and is not meant to be broken, but to be respected, feared and abided by! What we want is to clean up this slime, finish off the pests at the roots before it manifests itself into that venomous monster crippling the entire system of the country. What we want is what the entire nation wanted when one man Anna Hazare spoke up.What we want is justice. What we want is a new and shining India!

Below is what we got in response to the RTI filed.

Link: Reply

The central information commission (CIC) has directed the Supreme Court (SC) to make public the list of all such cases where the arguments were over, but judgments were reserved. Currently, the apex court does not maintain case details in this form either on its website or on any other platform where public can access it.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Supreme Court’s public information officer argued that the court ordinarily passed orders within 2 – 4 weeks of reserving the orders. “About those few rare cases in which orders were not passed for a longer period, no specific data was being maintained,” said Smita Vats Sharma, CPIO.

The CIC ruled that the total number of such cases in which orders were reserved should be duly intimated to the general public. “Now that the benefit of computerization is available, placing such data in the public domain should not be particularly difficult. Therefore, if the Supreme Court is not maintaining such data, it should do so now in order to facilitate the citizens to learn about the status of pendency before the Supreme Court,” said the order.

The CIC was hearing the case of commodore Lokesh K Batra. In December, the applicant filed RTI application with the high court and Supreme Court asking the total number of cases pending for judgements where arguments had been heard and Judgements are reserved in the year 2007, 2008 and 2009.

While the high court provided him with the data, the apex court told him that it did not maintain data in that manner making the applicant move the CIC.

“The supreme court said that  it does not have the data on cases where judgments were not passed beyond 2- 3 months of the closure of arguments. Does that mean that such cases would never come beofe the benches? This is absurd,” said the applicant.

If you buy electricity from Reliance Energy, you can now get any information from the parent company — Reliance Infrastructure — using the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

The state information commission has stated that suburban power supplier Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) comes under the ambit of the RTI Act.

Justifying the order, the commission said though RInfra is a private company, Reliance Energy provides essential public service, and hence should come under the Act.

On Tuesday, state chief information commissioner Vilas Patil, state information commissioner (Amravati bench) Bhaskar Patil and state information commissioner (Nashik bench) M Shah directed RInfra to appoint a public information officer and a first appellate authority.

The order comes in the wake of a complaint filed by RTI activist Anil Galgali.

In his RTI application to Reliance Energy, Galgali had sought details of his electricity meter connection.

Reliance Energy declined to provide the information saying it is a private firm and the RTI Act does not apply to it.

The firm’s vice-president argued that since the government does not provide monetary or any other kind of assistance nor is the firm formed by the constitution or any act of the state or assembly, it is not a public company and hence out of the ambit of the Act.
Galgali counter-argued that as RInfra was formed under the Company Act and functioned as a public utility, it should come under the Act.

After hearing both sides, the commission stated that since the company was formed and given work under the Electricity Act, 2003, and supplying power is a public service under this Act.

“I am happy with the state information commission’s order as it is in favour of the public. It is a win situation for Mumbaikars,” said Galgali.

The order stated that other power suppliers in the state come under the RTI Act as they “supply essential service” and so consumers buying electricity from them were at an advantage as they could seek information.

The commission also referred to the definition of the word licence, which is given to REL for supplying electricity. “If a license is coupled with a grant or interest than the grantor cannot in general revoke it so as to defeat the grant to which it is incident. In order to grant license a man need not be its owner,” the order stated.

ash“We have received the said order. It is being examined and will take steps as available under the law,” said the spokesperson of RInfra.

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_reliance-infra-comes-under-rti-info-panel_1567799

The Madras high court has held that assets details of IAS officers furnished to the government in a sealed cover can be made available under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Inspection of asset details of the officer concerned can be allowed as well, it further held.

An appeal by V Madhav said that on February 12, 2009, he applied to the public information officer (PIO) of the public department seeking permission to inspect the five latest statements of assets’ disclosure submitted by 10 IAS officers, including the chief secretary. It was rejected by the PIO and the appellate authority on the grounds that the information was exempt under Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act.

The information commission contended that the assets declaration related details were personal information, the disclosure of which would have no relationship to any public activity or interest or which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual. The commission also said the information furnished in a sealed cover is “held” by the government to ensure confidentiality.

While the government pleader said the information about the IAS officers in question was made available on the website as per a circular of the Union ministry of personnel , public grievances and pension dated April 4, 2011, V Krishna Ananth, counsel for the petitioner, said the information on a website may not be authentic as it was liable for hacking. The information also had no evidentiary value , he said.

In light of the direction from the central government on disclosure of assets by IAS officers, counsel contended there could not be any impediment for the Commission to allow the appellant to access information sought for in his application. In its order, the bench of justices D Murugesan and K K Sasidharan said, “We find force in the above submission.”

Passing orders, the bench held that the disclosure of such information under the provisions of the act would ensure a culture of openness. A sound administrative system leading to efficiency and effectiveness could be achieved. It would further result in involving a better form of government, the bench said, adding that the relief sought for in the writ appeal be considered.