Posts Tagged ‘RTI’

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that in a conflict between the Right to Information Act and the internal rules of a Public Authority, the RTI Act must prevail. It would prevail even if the internal rules pertain to the Supreme Court.

CIC Shailesh Gandhi passed this order in a case, in which information on certain judicial records was sought from the Supreme Court under the RTI Act. The First Appellate Authority (FFA) in the court held that any information on judicial records could be accessed only under Order XII of the Supreme Court rules.

The judicial records pertained to letters written to judges by R.S. Misra, appellant in the case. Mr. Misra, who wrote the letters in connection with a Special Leave Petition filed by him, wanted to know their status and filed an application under the RTI Act.

Mr. Gandhi held that the Supreme Court could not cite internal rules to deny information if it had been sought under the RTI Act. Further that information could be denied only if the information sought was prohibited under the RTI Act itself.

“The right to information is a fundamental right of the citizen of India. This has been clearly recognised by the Supreme Court in several decisions and subsequently codified by Parliament in 2005. The RTI Act was enacted with the spirit of ensuring transparency…Section 3 of the RTI Act lays down that subject to the provisions of the RTI Act, all citizens shall have the right to information… Further Section 22 of the RTI Act expressly provides that the provisions of the RTI Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than the RTI Act. In other words, where there is any inconsistency in a law as regards furnishing of information, such law shall be superseded by the RTI Act. Insertion of a non-obstante clause in Section 22 of the RTI Act was a conscious choice of Parliament to safeguard the citizens’ fundamental right to information…If the PIO has received a request for information under the RTI Act, the information shall be provided to the applicant as per the provisions of the RTI Act and any denial of the same must be in accordance with Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act only..”


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CHENNAI: Former union telecom minister A Raja, who is in Tihar jail in the spectrum scam, has objected to the disclosure of his tax returns by the income-tax department under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

Acting on his objection, the department has rejected the RTI application filed by V Gopalakrishnan, an activist in KK Nagar. Gopalakrishnan, in his application dated March 15, 2011, asked the department to furnish the copies of income-tax returns of Raja for ten years from 2000-01 to 2010-11.

The public information officer (PIO) of the Trichy income-tax office sent a letter to Raja on April 5, calling for his objections, if any, in furnishing the copy of his income-tax returns to the applicant. In response to the communication, Raja’s representative S Muthukumarasamy sent a reply saying, “The personal details of income-tax returns and other details are exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. The details called for are not eligible to be issued under the RTI Act.” He also quoted two decisions of the Central Information Commission (CIC) delivered in July 2006 and February 2007 in support of his objection.

On his part, Gopalakrishnan mentioned in his application a 2009 decision of the CIC arguing that the income-tax returns should be disclosed under the Act. The PIO in his RTI reply said there was no public interest involved in the disclosure.

Stating that he had sought for Raja’s objection as per section 11 of the Act since the applicant had sought for a third-party information, the PIO said: “I am not satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of the information sought for by the applicant. Accordingly, I decline to furnish the information.”

In the case of deputy chief minister MK Stalin, whose income-tax return copies were also sought for by the applicant for the years 2006-07 to 2010-11, the PIO of Chennai income-tax office rejected the application without even calling for Stalin’s objections.

“You (the applicant) have not made out any case in the larger public interest. I am satisfied that the disclosure of such information is not in any public activity or interest,” the PIO said.

On Tuesday, TOI reported the objections raised by chief minister M Karunanidhi, Union home minister P Chidambaram and Union textile minister Dayanidhi Maran to disclose their income-tax returns under the RTI Act. Following their objections, the income-tax department rejected the RTI queries seeking their IT-returns.


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BJP files RTI on funds use

Shillong, April 27: The Meghalaya unit of the BJP today sought information through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, on the slow processing of certificates for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Scheduled Castes (SC) by the state government.

“Smelling a rat” in the utilisation of funds meant for the OBCs, Scheduled Castes and minorities in the state, BJP general secretary Dipayan Chakraborty said, “We feel minorities in Meghalaya are being taken for a ride and the schemes are not being implemented by the Congress-led government. Similarly, it is not seen where the state government spends the central funds meant for OBCs and Scheduled Castes.”

Chakraborty, who was seeking information from the public information officer of the social welfare department, wanted to know about the number of certificates and the total amount of funds procured in the past five years from the Centre.

Elaborating, the BJP leader questioned the amount of funds that was utilised in the past five years for the welfare of the OBCs, Scheduled Castes and minorities in the state.

He also wanted details about the schemes under which the funds were utilised.


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Goa State Chief Information Commissioner Motilal Kenny on Thursday ruled that the Governor was a “public authority” and does come within the scope of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Mr. Kenny pronounced the verdict on a complaint filed by lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues against Governor S.S. Sidhu. He directed the Public Information Officer at the Raj Bhavan to furnish Mr. Rodrigues within 30 days the information sought by him under the RTI Act.

Mr. Rodrigues complaint against the Governor follows the stand taken by the Raj Bhavan that the Governor is not a public authority and does not come within the purview of the RTI Act.

Mr. Rodrigues had sought from Raj Bhavan, under the RTI Act, details of the action taken on the complaints made by him to Mr. Sidhu against Advocate-General Subodh Kantak. He had sought copies of noting sheets and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the Advocate-General.

“Public authority”

Mr. Rodrigues, in his petition to the State Information Commission, said the office of the Governor was a constitutional post within the definition of “public authority” under Section 2 (h) (a) of the RTI Act. He submitted that as the Governor was a public authority, the Raj Bhavan was bound to furnish the information sought and the refusal to furnish information was unreasonable, mala fide and without reasonable cause.

Lawyers appearing for the Raj Bhavan had argued that the Governor was not a “public authority”.

Mr. Rodrigues submitted that the violation of the law by the Head of a State was a bad precedent and was obstructing the enforcement of the RTI Act.

Even the President complied with the provisions of the RTI Act. Mr. Sidhu was the only Governor in the country who was not complying with the RTI Act claiming that he was not a “public authority,” Mr. Rodrigues submitted.


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Indian right to know activists March 13 passed a 12-point resolution urging that the law’s jurisdiction be expanded to cover Public-Private Partnership (PPP) entities, political parties, trade unions, and nongovernmental organizations.
The “Shillong Declaration” was approved at the conclusion of a three day national RTI conference in Shillong, attended by about 1,000 persons.
The declarations also calls for “ transparency in all religious and faith-based institutions about the use of public money for private purposes.”
Added to the initial draft resolution was a recommendation that all public expenditures be subjected to a “public/social audit.”
According to a report in The Assam Tribune, the provision “was only included after the strong insistence of RTI activist, Aruna Roy. She was amply supported by some of the country’s prominent figures in the field of judiciary, media and bureaucracy.”
12 Resolutions Adopted
The resolutions are:
(1) To strongly demand from the Government both state and central of suo-moto disclosure under Section (4) of the RTI Act. [According to Wikipedia: suo moyu, meaning “on its own motion,” is a Latin legal term, approximately equivalent to the term sua sponte. “It is used, for example, where a government agency acts on its own cognizance, as in “the Commission took suo motu control over the matter.”]
(2) Demand for an anti-corruption body such as the Lok Pal at the Centre and the Lok Ayukta in the states which are autonomous and are vested with appropriate powers and staff so that information obtained through RTI can be taken further.
(3) It is a moral and legal responsibility both of the Central and State Government to ensure protection of RTI applicants and activists. If an RTI applicant or activist is attacked the issue should be brought into public view.
(4) Ensure a process by which all legislations approved by parliament and state legislatures in their draft forms should be made public and provisions created for public discussion and inclusions of peoples’ views.
(5) Process of selection and functioning of state and Central Information Commissioners requires serious overhaul. The selection should be participatory and transparent and keep the interest of people paramount and not that of the government. The norms of selection should be mutually agreed upon and there should be a mechanism to get people’s views on the possible candidate for the post of Information Commissioner/s.
(6) Demand that government of India should set up an RTI Council along the lines of the NREGA Council with representatives from all states in the Council.
(7) Public Private Partnerships (PPP), Private Sector, Political Parties, Trade Unions, Co-operative Societies, NGOs should fall under the RTI Act Procedures and rules should be fine-tuned to make it easier to get RTI from the above institutions.
(8) The NCPRI believes that exemptions under Section (24) to Intelligence and Security Agencies are irrational and contrary to national interests and they need to be removed not by amendment of the Act but by withdrawing the list of notified agencies.
(9) For those areas in the North East where there are no local governments (Panchayati Raj Institutions) and where there are District Councils and traditional institutions, rules, procedures and structures should be made so that RTI is effective up to the grass roots level.
(10) There must be transparency in all religious and faith-based institutions about the use of public money for private purposes.
(11) All government expenditures must be subject to public/social audit.
(12) The NCPRI stands by all resolutions passed by all working groups at their workshops.

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