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Current evets on RTI events in news outlets and partner websites.


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The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Commission (RTI) on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) to install a toll-free helpline with a view to facilitate the citizens in exercising their constitutional right to information here. For more Information click on the link below: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-308088-RTI-Commission-to-establish-helplinep  ...Read more
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In an exemplary development, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Commission has provided corrected papers of the K-P Public Service Commission (PSC) to a candidate who had lodged a complaint against the marking system. For more on the story click the link below: http://tribune.com.pk/story/863352/the-paper-chase-rti-commission-provides-marked-papers-to-complainant/...Read more
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Karachi—Sindh government was committed to introduce ‘Right to Information’ law in accordance with the letter and spirit of Article 19 9 (A). The law department is reviewing other pieces of legislation on right to information already introduced by the National Assembly, Punjab Assembly and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.Sindh Minister for Parliamentary affairs Dr Sikanadar Mandhro said in a meeting with Amjad Bhatti, UNDP’s National Technical Advisor on Decentralization and Local Governance. For more details visit http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=262185...Read more
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Article 19-A of the Constitution of Pakistan states, “Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.”With this fundamental right granted to the people of Pakistan, the country finally entered the era of transparency but the weak law continues to make this process tiresome and inhibitive. The undefined linguistics of restrictions and the broad generalisation has left a loophole in the system which is now being compromised and fraudulently used by public officials to hide discrepancies. Even the Sindh Freedom of Information Act 2006 does not define the exclusions comprehensively enough to stop misuse. No rules and regulations have been outlined till to-date. For full a...Read more
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Dear all, The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) - the nodal department for implementing The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) in the Government of India has uploaded two important documents on its website.   1) The DoPT has issued reasonably detailed guidance for Public Information Officers (PIOs) to help them send better drafted replies to RTI applicants. Every PIO is now required to include in his.her reply- the office number given to the request, name and contact details of the PIO including email address, detailed reasons invoking the relevant provisions of access to information is denied, name and contact details of the appellate authority whom the applicant may approach with a grievance within 30 days of receipt of the reply. This advisory is an outcome of t...Read more
Posted By : Saine
A two-day capacity building workshop concluded at Cultural Hall Kargil, today.  The workshop was organized by J&K RTI Movement and Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative.  Yesterday the workshop was inaugurated by the Chairman and Chief Executive Councilor Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Kargil, Haji Mohammad Haneefa Jan. Noted activists from Delhi and Kashmir, Venkatesh Nayak, Manisha Chaheri and Dr Ghulam Rasool were present on the occasion.  The activists interacted with the local activists and discussed various issues related to district Kargil.  The representatives of Student Educational Movement Kargil (SEMOK) and Youth Action Committee also attended the workshop. Ventakesh Nayak (CHRI) and Dr Ghulam Rasool (J&K RTI) gave a presentation on Right To Informa...Read more
Posted By : Saine
A two-day capacity building workshop concluded at Cultural Hall Kargil, today.  The workshop was organized by J&K RTI Movement and Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative.  Yesterday the workshop was inaugurated by the Chairman and Chief Executive Councilor Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Kargil, Haji Mohammad Haneefa Jan. Noted activists from Delhi and Kashmir, Venkatesh Nayak, Manisha Chaheri and Dr Ghulam Rasool were present on the occasion.  The activists interacted with the local activists and discussed various issues related to district Kargil.  The representatives of Student Educational Movement Kargil (SEMOK) and Youth Action Committee also attended the workshop. Ventakesh Nayak (CHRI) and Dr Ghulam Rasool (J&K RTI) gave a presentation on Right To Informa...Read more
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MUMBAI: It's been a year since Sandeep Shetty quit his job and began fighting full time to bring his brother's killers to book. Court hearings and a botched up CBI probe have taken up much of his time over the last five years, ever since his brother Satish was knifed to death in Pune while using the Right To Information Act to expose land scams along the Mumbai-Pune expressway.Satish is one of 10 RTI activists killed in Maharashtra, a state that has recorded the highest number of attacks, both fatal and otherwise, on RTI activists in India, a decade after the country passed its sunshine transparency act. Data compiled by the Comonwealth Human Rights Initiative shows that 60 RTI activists were attacked, harassed or killed in the state, the highest for the country.When it comes to murders, ...Read more
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 Indian authorities should promptly and thoroughly investigate threats and attacks on so-called right-to-information activists, Human Rights Watch said today. The killing of a right-to-information activist in Bihar state in August 2015 highlights the risks to people requesting information from the authorities, as provided by law. Since India’s Right to Information (RTI) Act was enacted in 2005, at least 45 right-to-information users and activists have been killed and over 250 assaulted, harassed, or threatened, according to local groups. Police often fail to investigate the attacks, under pressure from politicians and contractors with vested interests in keeping the information from becoming public. “The Indian government needs to fully enforce the Right to Information Act if it ha...Read more
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The Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Movement (J&K RTIM) has impressed upon the state government to pass the Whistle Blower Protection Law and set up fast track courts so as to decide about the cases pertaining to RTI Act. The demand was made by J&K RTIM Chairman Dr. Sheikh Ghulam Rasool and other participants during one day training workshop on RTI Act at Bandipora. The workshop was organized to empower people through the use of RTI Act. The workshop was jointly J&K (J&K RTIM) and Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).At the end of the programme the participants reached to the conclusion that state government needs to implement Section 4 (Proactive disclosure) and section 23 (awareness among public about RTI Act) and restore RTI Rules-2010. "It becomes imper...Read more
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Readers may remember the major controversy over the coverage of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) under The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance Government. While the Central Information Commission (CIC) wanted them to be covered by the RTI Act, the now defunct Planning Commission was hesitant to act immediately. Pursuant to this controversy, in August 2011, I had filed an RTI application with the Department of Ports, Puducherry asking for the Concession Agreement relating to the PPP project. After four years, the CIC has ordered that the Concession Agreement be disclosed after severing those portions relating to commercial confidentiality. Despite the order being passed in June 2015, the Department of Ports, Puducherry has neithe...Read more
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      Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat   Bringing issues related to Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) under the ambit of Right to Information Act (RTI) has been a challenging work not only for the anti corruption crusaders , Journalist and  RTI activist but it has been an extra ordinary and demanding task for New Delhi based Central Information Commission (CIC) as well. We must be knowing that a major controversy had erupted many years back during Congress lead UPA  Government , between CIC and the erstwhile Planning Commission for bringing  Public Private Partnerships (PPP) under the provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005 .  The Central Information Commission (CIC) wanted them to be brought under the ambit of RTI Act, but the erstwhile  Planning Commission was reluc...Read more
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According to news reports, the Supreme Court has reserved its opinion on referring to a larger bench the 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...Read more
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Dear all, Congratulations on putting together a progressive RTI Bill for the Federal level in Pakistan. We have examined the Bill in light of the decade-long implementation experience in India as well as knowledge of the content and the implementation of such laws in other Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth jurisdictions. 60+ comments and observations for further improvement in the Bill are keyed in as recommendations for your ready reference. If you would like CHRI to send a formal submission on the Bill, do let us know the deadline for so doing. Please feel free to circulate this email and attachments to any person who may be interested. regards Venkatesh Nayak CHRI  ...Read more
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NEW DELHI: Records of death penalty convicts who have been executed since independence have gone missing from many prisons with the National Law University (NLU), conducting a first of its kind study, able to confirm data related to 755 executions since 1947."Some prison authorities have written to us that either the records have been lost or destroyed by termites," NLU director Anup Surendranath told TOI, who is heading the death penalty research project. The NLU is compiling data on all prisoners who have been executed since independence with the help of the central government.The missing files are not only a serious lapse on part of prison authorities but has also hampered an ongoing attempt to study all death row convicts to ascertain the fairness of the capital punishment jurispruden...Read more
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The National Crime Records Bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs has circulated a new template to all states for capturing statistics related to crime. The new template now has a section to capture the attacks on RTI/Social Activists, Journalists & Whistle blowers. While this is a welcome first step, there are certain issues with the current template and it needs to be refined further. 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, media persons, social activists and RTI activists from across the country.   Every year the Government of India collects data from the police station level across the co...Read more
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Abdul Salam Kuchay of Breinwar Chadoora had sought some information under RTI Act but was later attacked by a group of persons in his locality yesterday at around at 7pm. An RTI applicant was allegedly beaten and thrown into a stream by a group of people in Chadoora area of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district for unearthing a ‘scam’ in aid given to Kashmiri migrants.   Abdul Salam Kuchay of Breinwar Chadoora had sought some information under RTI Act but was later attacked by a group of persons in his locality yesterday at around at 7pm.   “I had sought information about the Kashmiri migrants who are receiving migrant aid from the government. The reply reveals big frauds as a number of people who never migrated have registered their names in official records as migrants,” Kuc...Read more
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As the Right to Information Act completes a decade, Sunday Times takes a look at how India's landmark transparency law is faring: How many of us have ever filed a query under RTI? Data mined by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) shows that an estimated 40-50 lakh people over the age of 18 used RTI between 2012 and 2014 — that's 0.5-0.6% of the electorate. However, there has also been a 57% spike in first appeals over the last year, taking them to 94,945. This shows rising dissatisfaction with replies received under RTI. The CHRI data shows that 280-odd activists have allegedly been harassed, assaulted or killed till date. Vacancies continue to plague various information commissions. Retired bureaucrats make up a disproportionately high number of information commissioners; ...Read more
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The debate over capital punishment may be still going on, but the courts in India awarded death penalty to 2,052 individuals between 1998 and 2013, a report released on Thursday said.   The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said it meant 186 individuals were sent to gallows every year during the period. In the first 13 years of this century, the number was 1,0677. “The maximum number of death sentences was in 2007 when courts across India punished 186 individuals. In 2000, 165 individuals received death sentences while 164 individuals received the punishment in 2005. The least was 55 in 1998,” the report, released in the wake of a consultation by the Law Commission on death penalty, said. The commission’s consultation paper said there was no spurt in cr...Read more
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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid said here Monday that the draft of Right to Information Bill (RTI)-2015 would be placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the Federal Cabinet. He informed that the Prime Minister has recently approved the placement of the draft Bill on agenda of the next meeting of the Federal Cabinet to solicit its approval. He said that government is committed to Right to Information as constitution of Pakistan gives every citizen a fundamental right to have access to information in all matters of public importance. The Minister said that the bill will grant the right to every citizen to seek information. Apart from providing access to information, it will also pave the way for a more systemic approach re...Read more
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Among Indian states, Maharashtra has the highest ratio of people using the Right to Information Act to the general voting population of the state. So says a study named 'State of Information Commissions and the Use of RTI Laws in India, a rapid study 3.0' based on annual reports of Information Commissions for the year 2012-2014, with updated figures as provided by them. The study was conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an organisation that was closely associated with the drafting of the two RTI laws – Central Act and Jammu and Kashmir Act, that cover all the commissions. The comparative study pertains only to 12 of the 29 Information Commissions across the country, as the others either did not publish their annual report or did not provide information despite b...Read more
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NEW DELHI: India enacted the Right to Information Act a decade ago, but not even 1 per cent of the country's population exercises its power under the transparency law. A nationwide study by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has revealed that only 0.37-0.41 per cent of India's population sought information under the RTI Act in 2014. As per the first of the annual survey on the number of citizens using their right to know, CHRI found that as a proportion of the electorate, people aged 18 years and above, this percentage works to 0.5-0.6 per cent of the population. Though the absolute number of RTI applications is increasing, the micro trend points to a male-female and rural-urban divide.  Read more at : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/only-0-41-per-cent-o...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Curious Indians are prolific users of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and public authorities are unable to keep them satisfied. Indian citizens have filed close to 50 lakh RTIs in a year (2013-2014) but the number of rejections and appeals indicate that public authorities are often failing to give the information that people are seeking. A country-wide study on the functioning of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and state information commissions by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) reveals that the number of RTIs has increased exponentially . While the number of RTI applications in the Jammu & Kashmir has increased by 127%, the same for Rajasthan has almost doubled.Gujarat has recorded 41% increase in the number of RTI applications while Karnataka witnessed a 31% ...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Maharashtra has the highest number of second appeals in the country, when it comes to Right To Information (RTI) queries. Second appeals not being heard is one of the biggest factors killing the RTI Act. Though the Central Information Commission (CIC) receives the maximum queries, a study of state information commissions (SICs) placed Maharashtrain a dubious first. Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat and Odisha followed the state. The highest number of appeals in Maharashtra pertained to urban development department replies. The study by Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), however, acknowledged that Maharashtra receives the maximum RTI queries among states. The state has a good record in clearing backlog also, but much more needs to be done, it observed. "The high proportion of secon...Read more
Posted By : Saine
NEW DELHI: Curious Indians are prolific users of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and public authorities are unable to keep them satisfied. Indian citizens have filed close to 50 lakh RTIs in a year (2013-2014) but the number of rejections and appeals indicate that public authorities are often failing to give the information that people are seeking. A country-wide study on the functioning of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and state information commissions by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) reveals that the number of RTIs has increased exponentially. While the number of RTIs in the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has increased by 127%, the number of RTIs in Rajasthan has almost doubled. Gujarat has recorded 41% increase in the number of RTI applicants while Karnataka ...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Right to information legislation promised by the new president has not passed in Sri Lanka, a victim of political differences over electoral reform that led President Maitripala Sirisena to dissolve parliament and call new elections. Passage of an RTI bill in his first 100 days in office was a campaign pledge for Sirisena, who was sworn in Jan. 9, but the development of a bill look some time and now has been caught up in the larger political stalemate. The president dissolved parliament June 26 and has called for a general elction on Aug. 17. Minister of Public Administration, Local Government and Democratic Governance Karu Jayasuriya said the government had to shelve initial plans to table the bill in Parliament as an ‘Urgent Bill’ after protests from the opposition, which has a par...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act 2009 (J&K RTI Act 2009) designates various “Competent Authorities” under the provisions of section 2 (b) (i) (ii) (iii) of this act. In case of Jammu & Kashmir High Court, Chief Justice has been designated as the competent authority. For J&K Legislative Council Chairman of the Council is the competent authority, and Speaker is the competent authority for J&K Legislative Assembly. For rest of the authorities constituted under J&K Constitution or Constitution of India, the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir is the designated competent authority. Powers to make Rules by Competent Authorities:    Section 25 of J&K RTI Act 2009 gives powers to the competent authorities to make their own rules. The J&K Right to Inform...Read more
Posted By : Saine
PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was not included under the ambit of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2015 when it was passed unopposed on Tuesday. As a result, no one can extract information about assembly proceedings under the new law. Through an amendment presented in the house, Minister for Information Mushtaq Ghani left K-P Assembly from the purview of the act. When contacted, the Assembly Secretariat told The Express Tribune the legislature is exempted from the RTI because it would conflict with the Privileges Act 1975, a separate legislation for lawmakers. The amendments that were passed include placing a public information officer in every government department instead of information officers. The number of members of the Information Commiss...Read more
Posted By : Saine
According to media reports the Ministry of Home Affairs is working on a fresh set of rules aimed at tightening the controls on foreign-funded NGOs. As per the news report, “NGOs would be mandated to have a website on which they will be required to put out the details of each foreign inflow for public viewing within 48 hours of receiving the funds. This will include the source of funds, the intended activity for which the funds are expected to be used and the details of its partner NGOs in that specific project," disclosed a senior government official. Annual audited reports for previous years should also be made public, the official said.” This move is said to be directed by the Prime Minister’s Office for putting in place a mechanism for monitoring foreign funding NGOs. This is sa...Read more
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NEW DELHI: Retired bureaucrats never retire. Stumped? A look at the information commissions, the transparency watchdogs, all over India reveals that they have become a re-employment arena for bureaucrats.Even though the Supreme Court has advised looking beyond retired civil servants for posts of information commissioners and chief information commissioners, governments prefer retired bureaucrats over candidates with specializations in other fields. Read more at: An annual study by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, exclusively accessed by ET, reveals 25 of the 29 information commissions, including the Central Information Commission, are headed by retired civil servants. Information commissions in Goa, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand are without chiefs. The study found that 76...Read more
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  Five months after the Narendra Modi government sacked the then foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, it has refused to divulge under the Right to Information Act the Cabinet note or any other details related to the controversial decision The Cabinet Secretariat has not divulged the Cabinet note, file notings and papers related to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) meeting on January 28, which had decided to replace Singh with S Jaishankar.     For more: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sujatha-singhs-sacking-details-blocked-cabinet-secretariat-says-cabinet-papers-exempted-from-disclosure/articleshow/47697830.cms       Normal 0 false false false EN-IN X-NONE X-NONE ...Read more
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NEW DELHI: Even though the government has tightened its reins on foreign-funded NGOs, it has not been able to set its own house in order. An independent study has revealed that Indian missions abroad have been shying away from revealing budgetary allocations and expenditure over the years. The study conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) of Indian missions in 122 countries has revealed that only missions in Austria, Madagascar and Uzbekistan have voluntarily revealed budgetary information for 2015-16.  Read more at:http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/indian-missions-abroad-shying-away-from-revealing-budgetary-allocations-study/articleshow/47650134.cms...Read more
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A panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalised the names of the next the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) on Wednesday. A formal announcement of the names will take place after President Pranab Mukherjee gives his assent. The President is away on a five-day visit to Sweden and Belarus, till Thursday. There was no official word on the names but sources told NDTV that former chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes, K V Chowdary, is tipped to be the next CVC. Though a couple of other senior IAS officers were under consideration, there seemed consensus on the name of Mr Chowdary, a retired Indian Revenue Service officer. Mr Chowdary, who retired as CBDT chief in October last year, has been working as adviser to Supreme Court appointed ...Read more
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New Delhi: A meeting of a Prime Minister-led panel has been called on Monday to decide on the chiefs of Central Information Commissioner (CIC) and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). Monday's meeting has been convened at the Prime Minister's residence and will be attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, official sources said. The last meeting of the panel held here on 23 May had remained inconclusive. The names for the post of information commissioners in CIC and vigilance commissioners in CVC are also likely to be finalised in Monday's meeting, they said. Earlier this month, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi had q...Read more
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As suggested by the 19th Amendment, on the 3rd of this month, the speaker of Parliament convened Parliament to finalise the members of the Constitutional Council. During this meeting, a few names were nominated for membership into this Council, including 3 representatives from civil society namely Radhika Coomaraswamy, A.W. A. Salam and Dr A.T. Ariyarathne. There seemed to be a certain orientation in the selection of members by the President, the Prime Minister, and the Opposition leader, for whilst the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader selected Wijedasa Rajapakshe and D.M Senevirathne respectively, President Sirisena’s selection is Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka. One might see this as an indication of where alliances lie, for while the President had every oppo...Read more
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Without a head, functioning of Central Information Commission has come to a halt When the Bharatiya Janata Party won by a massive majority in the general election last year, one of the key election promises that brought it to power was transparency and accountability in governance. A year later, many of the electoral promises made on that front remain on paper — the Lokpal Bill and the Grievance Redressal Bill, key transparency and accountability legislation, did not reach Parliament at all. Even the functioning of the Central Information Commission has come to a virtual halt without a functioning head. Right to Information activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal said the NDA government had disappointed information activists by ignoring or giving vague responses to RTI petitions. It wa...Read more
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The Supreme Court was moved on Tuesday for a declaration to make political parties "public authorities" under the Right to Information Act The Supreme Court was moved on Tuesday for a declaration to make political parties “public authorities” under the Right to Information Act, liable to disclose their financial assets for public scrutiny. The petition was filed by noted RTI activist Subhash Agarwal and Association for Democratic Reforms, an NGO whose legal battle led to the Supreme Court judgment in 2002 making it mandatory for electoral candidates to declare their criminal antecedents. It arraigns political parties, including the Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party and Bahuja...Read more
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On May 13, 2015 the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government used its majority in the Lok Sabha to boorishly push through a set of regressive amendments to the Whistleblowers Protection Act (WBP Act) despite the very vocal and well-reasoned objections of the Opposition. Some MPs of the treasury benches also questioned the wisdom behind these amendments. In brief, the regressive amendments passed by the Lok Sabha: 1) Seek to take away immunity of whistleblowers from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (OSA) which is part of the original Act; 2) Prohibit a whistleblower from making any complaint (about corruption, the commission of any offence or the abuse of power or discretion within Government intended to cause substantial loss to the public exchequer or undue...Read more
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PPP Co-Chairman and former President Asif Ali Zardari showed serious concern about the impunity of crimes against media persons in the country on “Press Freedom day”. He emphasised the significance of “Right to Information Bill (RTI) and categorically stated that the draft federal RTI legislation had not been tabled even after one year of its finalisation by the Senate Committee. Right to Information legislation, also referred to as freedom of information or access to information laws, establishes a general presumption that all information held by government should be accessible and set out the mechanisms by which it can be accessed. There is a dire need of early adoption of the Right to Information (RTI) bill in the Sindh Province, as it will not only play a vital role in effectiv...Read more
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A few weeks ago a major headline in the print and electronic media was the allegation that the family members of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were being snooped upon by Government of India. One positive outcome of the hullaballoo around this ‘snoopgate’ was the reported announcement of a committee to review the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (OSA) under which officials can classify a sarkari document – “top secret”, “secret’ or “confidential” – to remain as such decade after decade. This announcement was reportedly based on an assurance given by the Prime Minister during his meeting with Netaji’s kin in Germany. The media also reported that the Prime Minister had assured Netaji’s kin that the Government would look into the demand for declassifying the top secret files...Read more
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Today is the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) by Parliament. Ten years ago the Rajya Sabha gave its approval to the RTI Bill and the first baby steps were taken towards establishing a regime of transparency across the country. Two main purposes of the RTI Act as spelt out in its Preamble are – (a) containment of corruption, and (b) making Government and its instrumentalities accountable to the governed, namely, the people of India. While the RTI Act has arguably become the most popular law in recent times, the regime of transparency and much less the regime of accountability remain a quest.  The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (LL Act) enacted in 2013 and the Whistleblowers Protection Act (WBP Act) enacted in 2014 are enabling legislation for pur...Read more
Posted By : Saine
In its bid to undo and outdo everything that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)  Government did between 2004 and 2014, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government has proposed to amend the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 (WBP Act) in the Lok Sabha. Parliament enacted the WBP Act in February 2014 and it was gazetted later in May. The Government has not implemented this law which aims to create a statutory mechanism for whistleblowing about corruption, abuse or misuse of power or authority or discretion to cause undue loss to the public exchequer or undue gain to a third party or any offence recognised under any law. While debating the Bill in the Rajya Sabha in February 2014, the UPA Government had promised to introduce tighter restrictions on whistleblowing if it relates to ...Read more
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With no Chief Information Commissioner, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has been left in a quandary with its orders open to challenge by a court. Activists have urged PM Narendra Modi to appoint a chief for the Commission soon adding that the delay was adversely impacting its functioning. Already there are 25,000 appeals pending before the CIC. According to Section 12 of the RTI Act, the Chief Information Commissioner is tasked with "general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the Central Information Commission" and is assisted by the information commissioners and may exercise all such powers to work autonomously without being subjected to directions by any other authority under the RTI Act. "The Section implies that the role of the Chief Information Comm...Read more
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The government is unaware of who attended the meeting to select the chief information commissioner, an appointment that has been pending for the last seven months. In response to an RTI query, the government admitted that it had not maintained any minutes of a meeting convened to pick the CIC and so did not know who attended the meeting. Slamming the "deliberate delay'', activists said this was an attempt to weaken the legislation and its implementation. The National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI) condemned the delay in appointment of the CIC, dilution of the Lokpal Act and Whistleblowers Protection Act and the lack of a legislative framework for grievance redress. NCPRI also objected to the recent order of the CIC in which it closed the case related to non-complianc...Read more
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In January, the News International reported that in Pakistan’s Punjab province, over one-third of the Basic Health Units—clinics that provide primary care to underserved areas—were operating without a doctor. It was a startling revelation, as the province’s ruling party had campaigned specifically on strengthening the Health Units. In certain Punjab districts, over 80 percent of the clinics lacked a single doctor. This critical revelation might never have come to light if not for Punjab’s Transparency and Right to Information Act. The public’s right to information—a right that has historically eluded citizens in much of the developing world—is shaping up to be one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Pakistan took a big step toward meeting this challenge on ...Read more
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An RTI query seeking details of expenses incurred by the Centre on hosting US President Barack Obama earlier this year has been rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs on the ground that such information is sensitive and may affect bilateral relations with the foreign country.Source : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/mea-declines-answer-to-rti-query-on-us-president-barack-obama-visit-expenses/articleshow/47147221.cms An RTI query seeking details of expenses incurred by the Centre on hosting US President Barack Obama earlier this year has been rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs on the ground that such information is sensitive and may affect bilateral relations with the foreign country. Mumbai-based activist Anil Galgali, who filed the query with ...Read more
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Jashodaben Modi, who claims to be legally married wife of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has once again filed an appeal before the Information Commissioner under the Right to Information Act in the state’s capital city of Gandhinagar to seek information on her security protocol and her entitlement as the prime minister’s wife, though estranged. This is the third time she has filed the appeal after being denied information twice in the past one year. Her brother Ashok Modi, who spoke on her behalf, confirmed today about her filling the third appeal. Jashodaben had first filed an application under the RTI Act in November last year with the Mehsana district police seeking details of the security provided to her. She filed another plea in January but against didn’t get satisfactory reply....Read more
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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has called for early adoption of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill that has been lying in limbo since long despite its unanimous adoption by a Senate standing committee. PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari said in a message issued here on the eve of the Press Freedom Day: “The fact that the RTI legislation had been finalised by the Senate committee almost a year ago but the government, despite promises, has not tabled it in parliament raises serious questions about the intent and motives of the government.” He said PPP was deeply concerned over the impunity with which crimes had been committed against media persons and called for an effective institutional mechanism for their protection as well as for bringing the per...Read more
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The Government of India officially announced in the Lok Sabha on April 30, 2015 that it will table the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (Land Bill) next week to replace the Ordinance that was promulgated for the second time on 03 April, 2015. This Land Ordinance is already operational and the Bill seeks to replace the Ordinance which amends the Land Acquisition Act (LARR Act) passed by Parliament in 2013 in many crucial areas. There are only three days left for the Lok Sabha to conclude its business next week starting May 5. No formal public consultation yet on the amendment proposals. Neither the Department of Land Resources which has the responsibility for all matters relating to land acquisition l...Read more
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has come to the rescue of RTI applicants waiting to be heard at the Central Information Commission in the absence of a chief. The court has directed that the seniormost information commissioner can hear a case in the absence of the CIC.Source : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/senior-information-commissioner-can-act-as-cic-delhi-high-court/articleshow/47103813.cms     NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has come to the rescue of RTI applicants waiting to be heard at the Central Information Commission in the absence of a chief. The court has directed that the seniormost information commissioner can hear a case in the absence of the CIC. Ruling on a writ petition filed by Sushila Kumari, waiting for her case to be heard by CIC, Ju...Read more
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The Right to Information Bill which was once again presented by the Prime Minister with amendments, has been approved by the cabinet. The statement informing of cabinet decisions reads that a decision was taken to table the bill in parliament under general procedures. Expressing their vehement objections in Parliament recently, opposition MPs charged that the prime minister had forwarded the Right to Information bill to the supreme court without first presenting the Bill in Parliament. However, at the previous cabinet meeting, the Right to Information Bill received the approval of the cabinet. The bill was taken up for discussion yet again at the cabinet meeting convened on Wednesday. Various organisations and institutions had submitted revisions to be incorporated in the Bill. However,...Read more
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The Great Indian Land Law Excuse Market conditions led to sputtering growth The land acquisition law passed by the UPA government in 2013, then supported by the BJP, is now the whipping boy of the Narendra Modi regime. It blames the law for slowing down growth by stalling projects. However, on Tuesday, this newspaper reported startling results, from a right-to-information (RTI) query that blows the lid off this claim. Of a total 804 stalled projects, a mere 8% were affected by problems in acquiring land. The biggest reason why projects got stuck was ‘unfavourable’ market conditions, followed by lack of clearances unrelated to the environment, and dwindling promoter interest. Further, most of the projects that are stalled because of land issues have little to do with social better...Read more
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A big question that is begging a credible answer today is – why is the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government hell-bent on road rolling amendments on to the land acquisition law without even implementing it despite vociferous opposition from several quarters? Several spokespersons for the government and the political parties which support it have repeatedly said that the amendments to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR Act), enacted by Parliament in 2013, first promulgated as an Ordinance, and repromulgated because they could not get the approval of Parliament last month, are necessary to arrest the slowing down of the economy and breathing life into the stalled development projects. The mainstay of thi...Read more
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The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that appointment of judges under the newly created National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) would be subject to public scrutiny unlike the opaque collegium system.   Defending the new system, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said:  “If there are requirements, as per the Act and rules to be framed, the appointments will be subject to Right To Information (RTI) queries. The public will know why people are selected. In the collegium system that was not there”.   Rohatagi told a constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar, which is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the new law that  a citizen can know the bonafides of judges as the criteria for their appointments had to be justified by the new ...Read more
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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said in Parliament that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution would only be effective from April 30 if the Bill was passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament today. The Prime Minister said this provision was included in the Bill to provide space to present the Right to Information Bill and National Audit Commission Bill as urgent bills in Parliament.He noted that the government had told the public that both Bills would be taken up in Parliament after the 19th Amendment as urgent bills."However, if the opposition is against presenting these bills as urgent bills, we will refrain from presenting them. You have the majority. However, I must remind that the presenting of urgent bills was not a new thing. The previous government presented the...Read more
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The land acquisition law passed by the previous government may not be the villain of the piece when it comes to stalled projects, according to data generated by a Right to Information (RTI) query. See : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/cant-blame-upa-land-acquisition-bill-for-stalled-projects-rti/articleshow/47077042.cms See: http://www.countercurrents.org/nayak050515.htm       The Modi government's determination to amend the land acquisition law in the teeth of resistance from farmers and political parties has stemmed from the legislation's apparent role in just this — bringing projects across the country to a standstill. Read more at:http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/47077042.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&u...Read more
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The tabling of the Right to Information Bill was debated as an urgent bill in Parliament on Monday, as the opposition charged that the bill has already been referred to the Supreme Court without the Parliament being informed. Speaking on the matter, the Leader of the House, Lakshman Kiriella noted that they are prepared to present the bill to parliament following the determination of the Supreme Court. When the question was raised by UPFA MP Dinesh Gunewardena asking if a copy has been sent to the Speaker, the Speaker replied saying that he has not received ‘anything.’ The Minister of Justice Wijedasa Rajapakshe then noted that a request has been made to the Supreme Court to consider the bill and arrive at a conclusion regarding the bill, once the 19th Amendment is passed. UPFA Pa...Read more
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Sri Lanka may soon have its own RTI (Right to Information) law.   Called the “Right to Know Information” legislation, the proposed law is part of the new regime’s 100 Days Programme.   On Thursday, the present coalition government, comprising members of the two principal parties, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) along with those from a few other parties such as Jathika Hela Urumaya and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, completed its 100th day.   Announcing the government’s decision to introduce a draft bill in Parliament, Rajitha Senaratne, Cabinet Spokesperson and Health Minister, told a media conference that the Cabinet, at its meeting on Wednesday night, approved a proposal presented by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. President Maithripal...Read more
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COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan cabinet has decided to urgently bring a bill to provide Lankans the Right to Information (RTI) as in India and several other democracies.Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told the media here on Thursday, that it will be presented to parliament as an “emergency bill” under clause 122 of the Lankan constitution.Senaratne said that the urgency was on account of the fact that bringing about an RTI Act within the first hundred days of his rule was one of the major election promises of President Maithripala Sirisena. Such an Act was to be part of several measures to loosen the tight control over information exercised by Mahinda Rajapaksa during his rule from 2005 to 2014.No Go ZonesHowever, while giving Lankans the right to get information about State institutions, ...Read more
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This is to update you on the RTI intervention to get some transparency on the circumstances leading to the promulgation of the Ordinance to amend the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. (LARR Act), the first time. As this is an issue of enormous importance and implications for the people of the country and as there is a CIC decision from a few years ago that Cabinet Notes relating to proposed legislation must be made public within a week of the Bill being tabled in Parliament, Venkat and a few other likeminded transparency advocates sought access to materials that were put before the Hon'ble President of India to convince him about the need for promulgating the Ordinance. While some explanation has been placed in the public domain about the need for the amendments, nothing has been said about the ...Read more
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On Tuesday, the new Government is optimistic that those parts of the 19th Amendment (19A) to the 1978 Constitution — cleared by the Supreme Court — would be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament, notwithstanding undercurrents of a spoiler by lawmakers unhappy with the outcome of the January 8 Presidential election.While there is general acceptance to whittling down the powers of the Executive Presidency, the contentious issue is that electoral reforms must also be passed at the same time. That is nothing but a ploy to scuttle 19A. One of the progressive measures the new Government promised and has taken meaningful steps in implementing is the long-felt need for a Right to Information Law. International covenants encourage such a law and modern democratic nations have embraced i...Read more
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KARACHI: Sindh government is committed to introduce the law of "Right to Information," in accordance to the spirit of Article 19 9(A), said the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Sikandar Mandhro here on Friday. In a meeting with UNDP's National Technical Advisor on Decentralization and Governance, he said the provincial government is presently reviewing legislation on the right to information as adopted in other provinces including Punjab and KP. The minister said Sindh would not only ensure a comparative study of available pieces of legislation on the subject but would also corporate recommendations by different political parties, civil society organizations, bar councils and media organizations. Dr Mandhro said draft bill on right to information is in process of being developed, ...Read more
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April 19, 2( Ap015, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian ) Constitution-making exercises in Sri Lanka are generally a coyly deceptive dance of appearing to give much but actually conceding very little. And for too long, we have suffered from a peculiar obsession with keeping rights away from the people.This is not an affliction limited to a particular political era or to individuals of greater or lesser talent as the case may be.Constitutional compromises on rightsSo the first attacks on an independent judiciary and public service under the 1972 Constitution were engineered by those generally acclaimed as the great leftist thinkers of the day. Such are our delusions. This constitutional document undermined the rights of minorities even as it was hailed as an ‘autochthonous’ (native) freeing of ...Read more
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April 7, 2015 turned out to be a bloody Tuesday in the newly-formed states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Broadly, this is what the media reports on the two incidents of extra-judicial killings said:(a) The first incident was in Warangal district of Telengana where the police escorting five under-trial prisoners shot them dead on the pretext that one of them tried to snatch a firearm from one of the escorts in a bid to flee police custody; and(b) In the second incident, 20 men alleged to be smugglers of red sandalwood were shot dead in the Seshachalam forest of Chittoor district in a joint operation conducted by the Andhra Police and Forest Officials.The purpose of this article is not to make a assessment about whether the use of lethal force by the police was justified or not in either ...Read more
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The Narendra Modi government has refused to part with copy of the order to abolish Group of Ministers (GoM) and Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoMs) citing "residual issues". The refusal comes in reply to a right to information (RTI) plea by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) activist Venkatesh Nayak. The activist had sought a copy of the cabinet order ratifying the Prime Minister's decision to abolish GoMs and EGoMs.Rejecting the application to give the cabinet secretariat note ratifying the PM’s decision, the official concerned invoked Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act, saying that the decisions of Councils of Ministers and their reasons can be made public only after “the matter is complete, or over.”Wondering whether the reply means that a final decision hasn’t yet been ta...Read more
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1 out of 25 have never reported any RTI information to the CICIndia’s top security and intelligence agencies consistently refuse to give out any information about the Right to Information requests they receive, and those that do, reject the bulk of queries they receive, new data shows.Twenty-five of India’s top security agencies are exempt from most of the requirements of the RTI Act, but are required to provide access to information if it relates to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.They also need to appoint public information officers and submit reports to the Central Information Commission about the number of RTI applications received, amount of fees collected and details of cases where access to information was rejected.The Delhi-based Commonwealth Human Rights ...Read more
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MUMBAI: In the nine years of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Parliament has never submitted statistics on the RTI applications it has received till date. Neither the Lok Sabha (LS) nor the Rajya Sabha (RS) secretariats have ever submitted reports to the Central Information Commission (CIC), which compiles data received from public authorities across the country.   "Parliament has the right to get annual reports on the implementation of the RTI Act under section 25 of the Act. It is a contradiction of sorts that the supervisory body itself has never submitted RTI stats to the CIC," says Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, which has analyzed CIC reports over the last nine years.   "I personally know of retired and serving officials in the LS and RS secretar...Read more
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