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


SRINAGAR, Oct 12: MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami today said that he would like to see Kulgam district to come up as a model district with regard to implementation of Right to Information (RTI) Act particularly with respect to proactive disclosure of information of use and importance to the residents.The MLA Kulgam promised support including resource support from his MLA fund in order to make the vision of transparency and accountability in the district administration come true in the real sense and that too in near future. He said the RTI Act is not just any other law, but the very essence of good governance."In order to improve the system, awareness of RTI law among the people of Jammu & Kashmir is vital," said Tarigami while delivering the Presidential address at the District lev...Read more
Posted By : Saine
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
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
Posted By : Saine
 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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
      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
Posted By : Saine
Dear all, According to media reports, the 3-Judge Supreme Court Bench hearing the Aadhaar-related (UID) batch of petitions has decided that these petitions and the issue- whether people have a fundamental right to privacy and what is its scope and ambit - should be decided by a Constitution Bench. The pleadings of the Hon'ble Attorney General of India (AGI) appear to have prevailed over those of the Petitioners who argued that the right to privacy is undoubtedly a fundamental right. The Hon'ble AGI cited Constitution Bench judgements of the Court which are 5-6 decades old to argue that the right to privacy was recognised by Benches of lesser strength and therefore the matter should be authoritatively decided once and for all. Last week I commented on the incredulity (if not the fallacy...Read more
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
The Indian government is pressing agencies to proactively release more of the information repeatedly sought by requesters under the Right to Information Act. The government has asked all departments to do an analysis of information sought often by applicants and suo-motu make such details public, according to media reports such as an article in The New Indian Express. The report says the effort is in response to a recommendation by a Parliamentary Standing Committee. For more click the link below http://www.freedominfo.org/2015/07/india-looks-to-encourage-more-proactive-disclosure/...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
The Transparency Advisory Group (TAG) in South Asia has recommended making the private sector bodies and political parties subject to right to information laws. These were among a series of just-released recommendations decided on during the group’s sixth meeting, held in February. See detailed report on meeting and summary. The group also addressed the role of the media, gender bias and a variety of ways to improve access to information. The group was set up in 2012 to advise governments and other stakeholders on the establishment and strengthening of RTI regimes in South Asia. Members include retired and serving senior officials, information commissioners, activists and academics from South Asian countries, and from Mexico, Canada, UK, Australia, South Africa, Singapore and the US. T...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
New Delhi based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO working on Access to Information, Prison and Police reforms programmes in India and many countries of commonwealth has welcomed the move of Jammu & Kashmir High Court for notifying its own rules as per the mandate of the J&K RTI Act 2009.  For more, see http://www.earlytimes.in/newsdet.aspx?q=152221...Read more
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
  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
Posted By : Saine
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday said it will clear by June 30 75 per cent of cases pending since 2013. NAB chief Qamar Zaman Chaudhary said the move will help end backlog of cases whereas the remaining 25 per cent of cases have been forwarded for thorough investigation. For more click below http://tribune.com.pk/story/904171/right-to-information-informed-citizens-help-in-government-accountability-nab-chief/...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
he President added  that he took measures to curtail executive presidential powers according to the mandate given by the people.  The present government is based on good governance.  The Draft Bill on the right to information will be presented  to parliament shortly.  According to the existing law of the country there will not be any room for the resurgence of  terrorism.  No person will be allowed to erroneously use the democracy and freedom.  The government will constantly appear for freedom and territorial integrity.  Investigations will be conducted through a local mechanism, which complies with the basic law and other laws of the country to inquire into issues that arise regarding human rights.  This mechanism is scheduled to be commenced next month.  The President added t...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
The environment and human well-being are inextricably linked. When governments, businesses and others make decisions about land and natural resources, they inevitably impact the health, livelihoods and quality-of-life of local communities. So it stands to reason that the public should have a right to be involved in environmental decision-making—specifically, to know what is at stake, to participate in the decision itself and to have the ability to challenge decisions that disregard human rights or harm ecosystems. These three fundamental rights are known as environmental democracy—and not all nations provide it to their citizens. The new Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) is the first-ever online platform that tracks and scores 70 countries’ progress in enacting national laws that...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
The political parties are an integral part of parliamentary democracy as they are the ones which either run a government or keep a check on the government in the form of opposition. In the 170th report, the Law Commission had recommended transparency in the functioning of political parties with a special emphasis on the internal party democracy, transparency in financial matters and accountability in their working. It is almost 2 years since the June 3, 2013 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) which ruled that the six national political parties (Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party) are covered under the definition of the public authorities under the Section 2(h) of the...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
Why isn't the government appointing a Chief Information Commissioner so I can get the answer sheets that I have been fighting for?" asks Chandan Singh, a disabled engineering student, as he hands over a copy of his petition filed at the Prime Minister's Office. Chandan had moved the Central Information Commission (CIC) against his college, the National Institute of Technology, Trichy, to get a copy of his answer sheets. He won, but the institute insisted it couldn't locate all the papers."When I complained to the commission, they said I would have to wait for the government to appoint the Chief Information Commissioner," says the 22-year-old who was born without a lower arm. "How much longer will it take?"Chandan isn't the only one asking that question ahead of the 10th anniversary, next m...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
UNE: A total of 4.18 lakh people have benefitted from the System of Assisting Residents and Tourists through Helpline Information (Sarathi) started by the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), where 89,512 citizens' complaints were addressed through the civic body's grievance monitoring system."A total of 89,695 phone calls were received from citizens till April 30, 2015. Of which, 62,863 sought information while the remaining were complaints. On an average, 440 calls were received every day since the helpline started. The complaint redressal stands at 97.43%," said Neelkanth Poman, in-charge of the works under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.Poman said the Sarathi booklet is available in Marathi, Hindi and English on the website of the civic body. For more cl...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
As the British public finally got a look at memos sent by Prince Charles to government ministers, the re-elected Conservative government indicated its intention to tighten control of the freedom of information law. The release of the royal memos culminating a 10-year legal battle fought by The Guardian newspaper, which finally got to describe the memos: The letters reveal that Charles lobbied ministers, including the former prime minister Tony Blair, on a wide range of issues, including agriculture, the armed forces, architecture and homeopathy. During the long legal tussle, decided only recently by a Supreme Court ruling (See FreedomInfo.org report), Parliament approved an absolute FOIA exemption for the royal family. The ruling in the case challenged the government’s use of the so-...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Sarbananda Sonowal has said that in accordancewith the provisions of the National Sports Development Code of India (NSDCI), the recognised National Sports Federations arerequired to furnish certain documents namely, annual audited accounts, annual report, details of National / International championships including calendar of events, funds received from other sources etc. to the Ministry every year for annual renewal of their recognition from the Government. For more click on the link below: http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/pro-active-disclosure-sports-activities-ioa-and-ns...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
The Sri Lankan government plans to present the finalized Right to Information Bill and the National Auditing Policy Bill to parliament shortly. The Code of Ethics of parliamentarians that was assigned to be drafted by the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) by the National Executive Council (NEC) is also expected to be presented to parliament along with the RTI and National Auditing Policy Bills, sources from the NEC said. For more click on the link below: http://www.colombopage.com/archive_15A/May05_1430793165CH.php...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
When the Right to Information Act came into force on October 12, 2005, Tamil Nadu was one of the states that put in place a system aimed at implementing it in earnest. Ten years later, the system lies in a shambles, transparency has become a casualty.RTI applications are piling up as only three of the four available information commissioners hear cases on any given day.The Act says that every state can have 11 information commissioners, including the chief information commissioner. However, the state government has sanctioned posts for only seven information commissioners.Adding to delay and pile-up is the commissioners' intransigence that they hear cases in a hall. The Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (TNSIC) building has only three court halls. For more clck on the link below ht...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
The Ukrainian parliament has passed new laws encouraging the release of government open data and providing more information from the country’s archive of Soviet-era KGB files.Parliament April 9 approved a law to encourage government agencies to publish free operational data, statistics and reports on government websites and the national open data web platform at data.gov.ua.“The law doesn’t stipulate which categories of data that must be made public, however,” reported Bozhena Sheremeta in The Kyiv Post. “The Cabinet of Ministers must list the types of data that must be public, standards, staffing and responsibility for accuracy. The specifications must be approved in secondary legislation.”In another transparency development, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk announce...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
The Tamil Nadu police have closed  over 20 per cent of the cases filed by them in 190 police stations across the State in 39 months till March 2013, a data collected by an NGO has shown. This otherwise means the police citing their investigation have recommended that no further action is required. Based on the data obtained through the Right To Information (RTI) Act, Evidence, the Madurai-based NGO working on Dalit issues, has claimed that 23 per cent of First Information Reports (FIRs) filed at 190 police stations across 10 districts from 2010 to March 2013 have been closed by the police themselves without filing chargesheets or beginning the trial process.   For full news item click on the link below: http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Tamil-Nadu-Police-Arbitrarily-C...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
Activist and citizens on Tuesday criticised the move to bring in an ordinance for the Maharashtra Right to Public Services (RTS) stating that there was no 'emergency' for it. The Bill though introduced in the budget session was not cleared in both houses. On Monday, governor Vidyasagar Rao signed an ordinance on RTS, paving the way for the state to implement it. As per the Bill submitted in the state legislature, public authorities means government departments and authorities, corporations and local bodies, co-operative societies and anybody financed by the government – not just 'substantially' financed as in the case of RTI Act. Even non-governmental organisations receiving financial assistance from state government will also be covered.   For more click the link below: http://www....Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
  There is some good news for all those who want to file RTI applications. The department of civics and politics of the University of Mumbai will start a certificate course on RTI from the new academic year in July-August. To be in both English and Marathi, it will have a batch of 30 students. The course curriculum has been finalised and it has been moved for approval. For full report please click the link below: http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-varsity-to-begin-rti-course-in-july-2081299...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
Apr 27, Colombo: The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka is to inform the Speaker of parliament and the President of its opinion on the proposed Right to Information (RTI) Bill and the National Audit Bill. The verdict on whether the two pieces of legislation are consistent with the Constitution is to be announced tomorrow. President Maithripala Sirisena has sought the Supreme Court opinion on the two bills. Accordingly, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court presided by Chief Justice K. Sripavan will consider the issue. Other members of the panel of judges are Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe and Justice Priyantha Jayewardene.   Please find the link below: http://www.colombopage.com/archive_15A/Apr27_1430143127CH.php...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
  Since there are risks of a situation being created where important economic data that the country has to be aware of being limited through the proposed Right to Information Act, sharp attention has to be drawn towards this issue, say analysts. Cabinet approval has been granted to the draft Right to Information Act to be presented to Parliament as an urgent bill. Analysts warn that it is important to examine whether the less transparent Treasury as well as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka which has so far efficiently released economic data, could limit the releasing of economic data by utilizing the provisions of this proposed bill. This is due to this proposed bill containing certain provisions through which these institutions could limit the release of economic data. This Bill includ...Read more
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
The Centre today announced the formation of a three-member committee of senior bureaucrats to study the review of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in the wake of the requirements under the Right to Information (RTI).The committee, including the Secretaries of Home, Law and Personnel, was formed after the Cabinet Secretary met in February and decided to study the issue in depth, official sources said adding that the first meeting will be held tomorrow. To read more click below http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/committee-formed-to-review-osa-rti-conflict/68046.html...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
The provisions of Medical Council of India to protect confidentiality in patients' records cannot override statutes of Right to Information Act, Central Information Commission has held.  Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu held that after RTI Act has come into being, any rules which are not in conformity with the disclosure norms will be overridden by the transparency law.  For further information click on the link below: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/rti-overrides-privacy-norms-of-mci-in-patients-records-central-information-commission/articleshow/46936518.cms  ...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
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
Posted By : Saine
The Times of India carries a news report about the non-compliance of well known security and intelligence organisations with their obligation of reporting RTI applications statistics to the Central Information Commission (CIC) in India. The streak of comments that followed the news article seemed that they believe that Intelligence agencies should not be brought with the purview of the RTI Act. Here is Mr. Venkatesh Nayak's reply.  To read further click on the link below: http://counterview.org/2015/04/07/disclosing-rti-statistics-does-not-in-any-manner-jeopardise-national-security-external-or-internal/...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
Security and intelligence organizations continue to work under the veil of secrecy with minimal scrutiny from Parliament and judiciary. Nearly half of them have not bothered to disclose the number of RTI applications received in the last seven years.  About 11 or 44% of the 25 security agencies including Intelligence Bureau, RAW, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), Aviation Research Centre among others have not reported the number of applications received, rejected or information given under RTI since 2007.  To read more about the findings, please click the link below: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/RAW-IB-did-not-report-RTI-queries-finds-CIC/articleshow/46830859.cms?...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
A decade after enactment of the Right to Information Act , a study conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has revealed that the government departments are unwilling to share even basic data on how many RTI applications have been received, disposed of or rejected. The study shows that the percentage of public authorities unwilling to share this data with Central Information Commission (CIC), the transparency watchdog, has increased over the years, with 27% of government departments not reporting this data in 2013-14, compared to 11% in 2005-06, the year of introduction of RTI Act. For full news coverage click the link below: http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31816&articlexml=Ministries-Reluctant-to-Share-Info-Under-RTI-says-01042015002072...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
The RTI machinery all over India seems to be crumbling. Half the state information commissions, the final appellate authorities for handling cases under the Right to Information Act in states, are subsisting two or fewer commissioners as state governments refuse to fill vacant positions.  To read more about it, click the link below: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/right-to-information-mechanism-is-largely-obsolete/articleshow/46819076.cms...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
A new rating of open government in the United Kingdom is the vanguard of a much larger evaluative project planned by Transparency International.   The Berlin-based nongovernmental organization already has applied the new methodology to Ghana, Indonesia, Peru and Ukraine, with results to be released soon. Plans for much wider use of the tool are in the works.   The first glimpse of the effort came in the Open Governance Scorecard results for the UK, compiled by Transparency International UK.   For more Please click on the link below: http://www.freedominfo.org/2015/04/ti-rates-uk-openness-plans-reports-on-more-countries/...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
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
Posted By : Saine
Inclusion of a provision on access to information in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals is now considered likely and attention is focusing on how to measure progress toward achieving the goal. Supporters of Goal 16.10 are optimistic that it will be included in the final document, scheduled for adoption by the General Assembly in September. The goal states that all UN members should “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.” “The proposed Goal 16 target on access to information now appears safe, rather surprisingly so,” according to a recent article by Bill Orme, the UN representative for the Global Forum for Media Development. “This is a major advance.” “Unle...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission's website sought comments form the people on the Draft Regulations for the management of State Information Commission. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative had sent its comments within the deadline specified in the notice. We have made two major recommendations amongst others:   1) that the Draft Rules be translated into Hindi for people in UP and elsewhere to be able to send comments in larger numbers; and   2) extension of the deadline for submission of comments.   Several other RTI users, activists and organisations in UP may have made similar demands.    The UPSIC has put out a notice stating that the Hindi version of the Draft Rules will soon be available for consultation purposes. You may check this on their website at: http://...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
A decade after enactment of the Right to Information Act, a study conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has revealed that the government departments are unwilling to share even basic data on how many RTI applications have been received, disposed of or rejected.  For further information click the link below http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/ministries-still-reluctant-to-share-information-on-rti-applications-with-cic-study/articleshow/46763786.cms  ...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/should-there-be-standard-format-reply-rti-applicat#.VRjXq45qLK8 A Committee comprising representatives of Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Central Information Commission (CIC) was constituted to derive a standard format for the Public Information Officers (PIO) to reply to the applications filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. The Committee recommended that there should not be a standard format for reply to the RTI Application as there is no such provision in the RTI Act or RTI rules. However, the Committee recommended that few points can be uniformly adopted by the PIOs which have been taken up in the form of draft guidelines after consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice. Th...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
Source : Business Standard http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/ls-rs-delhi-hc-not-filing-rti-compliance-reports-chri-115032600772_1.html   Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats and Delhi High Court are among some prominent offices which have not filed mandatory annual reports of compliance of RTI Act even once since the transparency law was enacted nine years ago, according to an advocacy group.Commonwealth Human Right Initiative did a study of annual reports of the Central Information Commission which has been tabled in the Parliament every year and concluded that CIC is not able to compel a large number of public authorities to submit data.Every public authority under the RTI Act is mandated to submit the statistics related to processing of the information seeking ap...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
For two years, national political parties have defied the RTI Act that they themselves passed. They have not sought legal remedy either by appealing against the CIC order declaring them to be Public Authorities. If lawmakers defy the law in this fashion, it sets a bad precedent. Political parties should be more accountable if they break the law, not less Six national parties in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), have refused to comply with the Central Information Commission (CIC) order of 2013 declaring them as Public Authorities. On March 16, 2015, the CIC passed another order which in effect said...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Source:http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-308088-RTI-Commission-to-establish-helpline PESHAWAR: 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. According to the MoU, the CGPA will install a toll-free helpline in RTI Commission. It will also provide monetary and capacity building support including the hiring of helpline facilitators, acquisition and installation of toll-free number and its requisite hardware. The MoU was signed by Sahibzada Khalid and CGPA Director Muhammad Anwar.  ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Source: Hindustan Times http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cic-can-t-penalise-political-parties-for-not-following-rti/article1-1327571.aspx In a blow to transparency in political parties, the Central Information Commission Tuesday said it cannot penalise parties for failure to implement the information watchdog’s order bringing them under the ambit of the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The reason: the parties have not appointed the Central Information Officers against whom any action can be taken. In an order winding up its inquiry on failure of six national political parties to comply with its June 2013 order, the commission said penalties cannot be imposed on any leader or member of a party as they were not government servants. The CIC said that the failure to comply with the ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, The regime of transparency established by The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) received a body blow today from none other than the very body appointed to champion its cause and effect, namely, the Central Information Commission (CIC). In an order issued yesterday (16th March 2015), the CIC has thrown up its hands saying it cannot do anything about the six national level political parties which refuse to comply with its two-year old order (2nd attachment) declaring them public authorities under the RTI Act. So the CIC has decided to tamely wind up the inquiry into the complaints of non-compliance (see 1st attachment).   Background to the CIC's order: Readers will recollect that a full bench of the CIC had in June 2013 declared six national level political parties name...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Source: Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Over-12000-vacancies-keep-police-force-stretched/articleshow/46568562.cms MUMBAI: It could be the main reason behind work stress in the police force and failure to check crime in the state. According to the office of the director general of police, there are a total of 12,115 vacancies in the force, ranging from the post of constable to that of additional commissioner of police. The state government has not filled these posts for two years, learnt activist Anil Galgali when he used the Right to Information (RTI) Act last week. A vital detail is that out of the 12,115 vacant posts, 2,708 are of sub-inspectors, who form the backbone of every police station. Sources said that in the city alone there were around 2,000 va...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Source: http://www.colombopage.com/archive_15A/Mar11_1426093899CH.php Mar 11, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government plans to incorporate the Right to Information into the Constitution to give it a legal recognition as a fundamental right, Secretary to the Media Ministry Karunaratne Paranavithana said. According to the official, the government is planning to add a clause to Article 14 of the Constitution which ensures freedom of speech, assembly and movement as a fundamental right. "Article 14 of the Constitution will be amended to recognize the right to information as a fundamental right," he said pointing out that a number of Supreme Court judgements have upheld that the right to information is a fundamental right. Speaking at a press conference at the Media Ministry, Paranavithana has s...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled yesterday that the evidence presented by Croatia against Serbia and later the counter claim against Croatia filed by Serbia about acts of genocide, do not constitute 'genocide' for the purpose of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime against Genocide (Genocide Convention). This Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948 and entered into force in 1952. India is one of the original signatories to this Convention and took active part in the debate on the draft Convention.   The text of the judgement of the ICJ is attached (1st attachment). While the Indian print and electronic media has reported on this judgement, hardly anybody has highlighted the fact that Justice Dalveer Bhandari, former judge of the S...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
The South African Supreme Court of Appeal has recently ruled that Arcelor Mittal, that country's steel production giant make environmental information in its custody accessible to the people. On 26 November, 2014, the Court dismissed the appeal filed by Arcelor Mittal, South Africa (AMSA)challenging the judgement of the High Court which directed it to disclose information about its compliance with environmental regulations to an NGO. Readers may recollect that Arcelor Mittal is headed by Mr. Lakshmi Mittal of Indian origin who was dubbed one of the richest men in the United Kingdom a few years ago.     What was this case all about? In December 2011, Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA) filed an information request with Arcelor Mittal under the Promotion of Access to Informatio...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, The Indian Right to Information Act (RTI Act) has entered the 10th year of implementation. A major study launched by RAAG-2 has shown that the transparency regime is shrinking due to neglect from the Governments, public authorities and the Information Commissions. Readers may access this report at: http://www.rti-assessment.com/raag---ces--rti-study-2011-13.html This is a worrisome development especially because, less than 1% of the citizenry is using the RTI Act every year to demand transparency and accountability across the country.   We did a rapid study of how RTI is trending in 20 public sector banks which are under the control of the Central Government. The findings are based on RTI statistics published in the Annual Reports of the Central Information Commission fo...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
You may remember that in June 2011, the Central Government insulated the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) from the ordinary obligation of transparency applicable to other public authorities by notifying it as an 'exempt organisation' under Section 24 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). Even information furnished by security and intelligence organisations like NATGRID to the Central Government, is exempt from disclosure under this provision. These agencies have a duty to only furnish information about allegations of human rights violation or allegations of corruption when people make a formal request. Then again, information about allegations of human rights violation may be disclosed only with the approval of the Central Information Commission (CIC). NATGRID along with ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, Within 72 hours of assuming power and even before any of its elected representatives were sworn in formally as Members of Parliament, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government advised the President of India to promulgate two Ordinances. The first notified in the Official Gazette, on 28th February, removes the bar on ex-Chairpersons and Members of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from being appointed to any other position under the Government. The second Ordinance seeks to amend the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Actpassed by Parliament earlier this year to carve out India’s 29th State- Telangana from the erstwhile undivided State of Andhra Pradesh (2nd attachment). This Ordinance makes certain amendments to the territories covered by the Khammam dis...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, This year, in April, during the recently concluded general elections to Parliament, several personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) - an armed force of the Union, died in two incidents of militant attacks in the States of Chhattisgarh and Bihar when they were on election duty (see pages 3-5 of the 1st attachment). In my RTI application, I sought the following information about the two incidents from the CRPF:   "1)    A clear photocopy of all relevant intelligence reports received before and after the recent incidents involving the deaths of CRPF personnel in Bihar and Chhattisgarh; 2)     A clear photocopy of all reports prepared by the CRPF in relation to the said unfortunate incidents including such reports submitted to the Government of India til...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, Last year when the Central Government threatened to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) to keep all political parties out of its ambit completely, many of you joined a nationwide signature campaigns to oppose the move. Thankfully, this proposal has been put on the backburner for now although it may be revived under the new political dispensation that may emerge after 16th May when the results of Parliamentary elections are declared.   During the public awareness raising efforts around the RTI Amendment Bill, I had debated with Mr. Manoj Mitta of Times of India (ToI) about the likely impact of transparency on the transactions of political parties. As several colleagues and friends in the RTI movement had differences of opinion about whether to bring political ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, This is pathbreaking news from the European Union. The European Parliament has voted to make clinical trial data public 2016 onwards. Ms. Helen Darbishire, Executive Director Access Info Europe has circulated a news report about this matter below. A Reuters news reoprt on the same subject may be accessed at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/02/pharmaceuticals-europe-idUSL5N0MU4P120140402   Activists will recollect that phramaceutical MNCs have steadfastly opposed the idea of disclosing clinical trial data under the Indian RTI Act. They claim that this information attracts the protection of Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act which exempts disclosure of information that is in the nature of commercial confidence or trade secret or intellectual property if such disclosure will...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, Many of us have agonised over the adverse impact of the Hon'ble Supreme Court's judgement (1st attachment) in the matter of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs Central Information Commissioner and Ors. [SLP (Civil) No. 27734 of 2012, judgement dated 3 October, 2012] over access to information about serving public officers under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). In that case a two-judge bench of the Apex Court ruled that Immovable Property Returns (IPRs) and service books of a civil servant are personal information and attract the protection of personal privacy guaranteed under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. Such personal information including a chargesheet served on an officer during disciplinary proceedings and transfer orders were treated as sensitive information t...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, The deed is finally done. Erstwhile Andhra Pradesh is now almost divided into two successor States, namely, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The assent of the President of India will seal this change formally.    Many things have been divided between the two successor States. But there is a common High Court for both States which will succeed the Andhra Pradesh High Court and will be called the High Court at Hyderabad until a new High Court is established and constituted for Andhra Pradesh. Many State institutions already established in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh will continue to service people in both States. These institutions are mentioend in the 10th Schedule attached to the Reorganisation Bill.    The text of the Bill as introduced in the Rajya Sabha is accessible on...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Towards the fag end of its tenure the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government seems to have found a partial cure to its self-confessed policy paralysis in some quarters and moved ahead to make Indian democratic processes more transparent, participatory and consultative.   New Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy Apart from pushing through Parliament, reformatory legislation such as the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act and the Whistleblowers Protection Bill, which had been pending for a long time, the UPA Government has taken two important steps to increase transparency in decision-making and open up spaces for people's participation in law-making in a big way.   On 10th January this year the Committee of Secretaries which is the second most powerful decision making body in the count...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
The National Executive Council which met today, has decided to submit key proposals on constitutional reforms before Parliament next month. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that the decision was taken when the National Executive Council met today. He said that the proposals will include amendments to the constitution in order to curb the Presidential powers, which was a key promise given by President Maithripala Sirisena during his Presidential election campaign. The JVP leader said that the 19th amendment to the constitution, which will look at bringing the much awaited constitutional reforms, will also look to establish independent commissions. Dissanayake said that the National Executive Council also agreed to present the bill on the Right to In...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
  The Draft Right to Information Act of Sri Lanka The new government of Sri Lanka has made the draft for Right to Information Act available for the people for their feed back. The draft has come under criticism from some activists  on the basis that it does not provide full disclosure and secrecy clauses are too wide. The draft RTI of Sri Lanka: Draft RTI Bill...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
HC directs DVAC to upload its crime manual on website within six weeks Special Correspondent http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/hc-directs-dvac-to-upload-its-crime-manual-on-website-within-six-weeks/article6931027.ece In a significant judgement, the Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday ordered Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) to upload its crime manual, a compilation of government instructions and guidelines to investigating officers on the mode of enquiry to be adopted by them in corruption cases, on its website within six weeks. Justice M. Sathyanarayanan passed the order after rejecting the submission of the DVAC that the manual was a privileged document and it could not be made public. The judge held that the DVAC was not entitled to claim such a priv...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Friedrich Naumann Foundation highlights the work of RTI learning programe in their website http://www.southasia.fnst.org/Afghanistan-lawmakers-and-civil-leaders-visit-India-to-learn-about-the-Right-to-Information/380c31219i/index.html   A group of lawmakers and civil society leaders from Afghanistan concluded a visit to New Delhi aimed at familiarizing them with India’s Right to Information Act and related practices. Entitled the “Right to Information (RTI) Learning Programme”, the one-week course was organized by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) with support from the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). The program was well timed: In early December of this year, Afghanistan became the 101st country to get an access to information ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Once again the issue of whistleblowing on corruption and inappropriate behaviour and protection for individuals who blow the whistle is in the limelight. This, even as the Central and State Governments and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) drag their feet over operationalising the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 enacted in May 2014. In a country where whistling and making catcalls at women are often dismissed with a wink and an uncivilised  justification - "boys will be boys", can and should whistleblowers come forward to serve the national motto 'satyameva jayate' (truth alone triumphs) by risking their lives and reputation openly? Will the administrative edifice erected over the foundation of the rule of law rise to protect them or is the foundation itself so shaky that whistle...Read more
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THE Right to Information (RTI) Act, if used judiciously, can be a powerful instrument for the governed to hold the government accountable. However, despite the crucial role RTI can play to shed light on the corrupt and unlawful practices of politicians and public and private institutions, journalists in the country have so far been largely unenthusiastic about using it. Even five years after its enactment, RTI has reached only 5% of the total population. It is usually argued that the demand for information is miniscule because there is hardly any awareness of the benefits that RTI Act can deliver to the users. As far as journalists are concerned, however, the demand for information should be insatiable. Media outlets should highly encourage the use of RTI and build the capacity of journal...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
The details of prisoners who are set to be released on a recent Supreme Court order should be put in public domain, the Central Information Commission said in a directive to Tihar Jail. Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu directed Tihar authorities to place details of all such undertrials and prisoners in public domain as part of mandatory disclosure clause under the Right to Information Act. "The policy of releasing prisoners being a new one, the Commission directes the respondent to place in public domain all details of persons authorised to be released from prisons under its custody as per the Supreme Court order," he said. The Supreme Court on September 5 had ordered release of all undertrial prisoners who have spent half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offences th...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
NEW DELHI: It had been expected to dilute the UPA government's showpiece Right to Information (RTI) Act that had become a scourge of sorts for its ministers and bureaucrats and was even blamed by some as a contributing factor for the policy paralysis during its reign. But the Narendra Modi-led BJP government has done the reverse and taken RTI to quite another level.  Starting next month, all replies given under RTI by ministries will be posted online, available for access to all and not just to persons seeking the information. This will mean unprecedented scale of disclosure and cheer transparency advocates, especially those in the NGO sector with whom this government has had a testy relationship. Until now, only the person filing the RTI application seeking replies from a ministry or a ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Imphal, October 11 2014 : Even after a decade of the creation of Right to Information Act 2005, the practical regime of the Act is still a mockery in Manipur.On the occasion of 10th Anniversary of the RTI Act 2005, the Human Rights Initiative has urged the government of Manipur to appoint the Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners of the Manipur Information Commission, which has been remaining defunct for the last few years.Saying that Manipur Information Commission has remain non-functional due to non-appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners, the HRI pointed out that the Manipur HC had directed the state government to appoint the CIC and SICs of the Commission on May 29 in 2013 .However, the state government did ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
The Department of Personnel (DoPT) has uploaded the minutes of a meeting held in September with the Secretaries of its counterparts in the States (1st attachment). 20 States were represented by the Secretaries of their Personnel or General Administration Departments. Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura were not represented at this meeting according to the list of participants annexed to these minutes.   The gist of the speeches made by the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and the Secretary DoPT emphasised the need for greater transparency in the working of all Governments. The Hon'ble Mininster is said to have highlighted the need for transparent, responsive, objective and responsible administ...Read more
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Umar Cheema wins RTI Award for journalists Published on October 9, 2014 ISLAMABAD: The News investigative reporter Umar Cheema has won Coalition on Right to Information’s (CRTI) RTI Annual Champion Award for his efforts to promote right to information through investigative reporting and filing of over one dozen information requests with various government departments. The award was given in a ceremony hosted by Centre for Peace and Development (CPDI) at a local hotel on Thursday to mark the 12th International Right to Information Day. The award was given in three categories i.e. journalists, citizen and organization. In category of journalist, the award was given to Umar Cheema. According to organizers, Cheema contributed excellent analytical reports on RTI, perhaps, more than any...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
SUMMARYOver 500 people including sitting and former bureaucrats are among the applicants for four vacant posts of Information Commissioners... Over 500 people including sitting and former bureaucrats are among the applicants for four vacant posts of Information Commissioners (ICs) at the Central Information Commission. The list of applicants given in an RTI response includes former textile secretary Zohra Chatterjee, former Secretary in the Department of Personnel Shyamal Kumar Sarkar, Vishwapati Trivedi, who is Shipping Secretary apart from lawyers, journalists, activists and people from all walks of life. Lt Gen (retd) Anil Chait, Lt Gen (retd) N C Marwah also figure in the list which includes journalists V Venkatesan, Satya Prakash, activists Girish Mittal, Varun Arya among...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
      Today is the 12th International Right to Know Day-2014. Freedom of information organizations and advocates around the world are celebrating the day with activities to raise awareness of the Right to Information or RTI. In Nepal too, the organizations of RTI practitioners and advocates are marking the day by organizing several activities to highlight its importance and remind stakeholders of their obligation for effective implementation of the right to information. The nascent movement of Nepal´s Right to Information (RTI) has passed through a spate of landmark achievements; however it is yet to reach to the target groups in a way to trigger changes in the day-to-day life of unattended, poor and disadvantaged people. The movement had presumably begun to explore a sustaina...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
It is with great sadness that CHRI reports about the passing on of Mr. Balraj Puri, noted journalist and crusader for human rights in India. He was a founder member of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information. He was a dear friend and mentor. At a conference to discuss RTI which CHRI helped organise in Jammu and Kashmir a few years ago, he gave invaluable advice to the policymakers to revise the old RTI law and make its practices and procedures similar to the Central RTI Act. His contribution to the cause of human rights and peace in J&K will always be remembered with great respect. ...Read more
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By  Toral Varia Deshpande Home Minister Rajnath Singh has clarified that his ministry has not destroyed lakhs of government files, only thousands. Till recently Arun Jaitley wanted to declassify a controversial Indo-China war report, but as defense minister he’s changed his mind. In an age of increasing scrutiny, our writer examines how the Ministry of External Affairs has been quietly opening its secretive archive to the public this year. At last count, this remarkable effort has declassified almost 70,000 documents. Our government’s file-keeping systems and their role in our public life have been making a lot of news lately.   Defence Minister Arun Jaitley did a volte-face recently, declaring that his government could not possibly release the controversial Henderson Brooks...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
The parliament on Monday approved the nomination of former Maavashu MP Abdul Azeez Jamaal Abu Bakr to the newly created Information Commissioner's post. At the parliament sitting on Monday, 60 out of the 69 members who took part in the vote favoured Azeez’s nomination, whilst 19 members voted against him.The Right to Information Act, which had been ratified by the president in January, came into effect on July 12. The president has established the Office of the Information Commissioner as well.  ...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
A committee of the Pakistan Senate recommended amendments to the draft Right to Information Bill 2013 aiming to improve and ensure dissemination of information to the people. After much debate, the committee abolished the provision which had left the authority to implement the RTI law in the hands of the executive, despite passage in the parliament. The committee noted that ample time be given to the government departments to create the infrastructure for prompt dissemination of information. Due to the voting, nongovernmental organizations receiving government funds were to be included in the scope. The eligibility criteria for being a Commissioner would now include - a retired senior bureaucrat, a former parliamentarian, person having a known public service record including a media profe...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
SRINAGAR: ‘RTI on Wheels’, a campaign run on mobile van for spreading awareness about the citizens’ Right to Information has reached here.The pan-India campaign is the initiative of Gujarat-based NGO Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP).“In order to meet the lack of awareness for RTI challenge MAGP has come up with the innovative idea called. The campaign is run on a multi-media van having mobile RTI clinic. In order to reach RTI to most un-reached communities and regions MAGP will conduct RTI Bharat Yatra in forthcoming year,” Chairman J & K RTI Movement Dr Shiekh Ghulam Rasool said in a press statement. Published in: http://kashmirreader.com/rti-on-wheels-reaches-srinagar-14398...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
  The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has taken the progressive step of uploading concession agreements and progress reports about the Pubic Private Partnership projects (PPPs) under its jurisdiction through the Internet. The links to project specific websites containing this information may be accessed at: http://www.nhai.org.in/   Readers may remember my email alert sent out last year about guidelines issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for improving compliance with regard to proactive disclosure obligations of public authorities under Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. These guidelines were put together by a Task Force comprising representatives of Government and civil society organisations across the country (1st attachment)...Read more
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  The Government of India has published in the Official Gazette the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Special Investigation Team it has set up to investigate the issue of black money stashed abroad by Indians (2nd attachment). The setting up of the SIT amounts to a welcome reversal of previous government policy on this subject. The previous Government had opposed this direction despite a clear order from the Supreme Court in 2011. The SIT will be headed by Justice (Retd.) M B Shah with Justice Arijit Pasayat as Vice-Chair. The rest of the members are the same ex officio senior bureaucrats who were part of the High Level Committee set up by the previous Government to look into the cases of persons who were said to have stashed away money in foreign banks abroad. The Joint Secy. (Revenue) ha...Read more
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Dogged by a slew of challenges, the Information Commission seeks power to draw contempt of court proceedings against errant party to effectively implement the Right to Information (RTI) Act, reports UNB. "It's possible to implement the Right to Information (RTI) Act effectively by empowering the commission to draw contempt of court proceedings against errant party and with other time-befitting and effective systems," the Commission says in its annual report-2013. The existing law allows the commission only to impose fine from to Tk 50 to Tk 5,000 for violation of its rules. Five years into its formation and the emergence of the Right to Information Act, the Information Commission in its annual report identified 16 challenges for it to implement the act. Lack of awareness about the...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
Delegates of a regional conference on investigative journalism and citizens’ right to information (RTI) agreed to establish a “South Asia Right to Information Forum” to raise a voice for peoples’ right to know. The conference was organised by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) in Islamabad on Tuesday to mark World Press Freedom Day, said a press release. A declaration endorsed by the participants read that there are many commonalities in south Asian countries as far as free flow of information and public trust in the functioning of democracy were concerned. The proposed forum will monitor enforcement of RTI laws in the region. The forum will go a long way in establishing sovereignty of the poor, the press release added. Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2014....Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Source: Hindustan Times Delivering his keynote lecture to mark the CBI’s 50-year celebrations, former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who was the guest speaker, rebuked the agency for being the government’s alleged ‘department of dirty tricks’ instead of being honesty’s ally. Warning against the menace of corporate greed and black money as a parallel economy, Gandhi also described business group Reliance as an alleged parallel state. “The CBI has a very mixed image. Not all of it is flattering. It is seen as government’s hatchet, rather than honesty’s ally. It is often called DDT- meaning not dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, the colourless, tasteless, odourless insecticide it should be, but the department of dirty tricks,” Gandhi said at the 15th DP Kohl...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
The Punjab government has established the Punjab Information Commission and appointed the Commissioners. Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, the founding director of a Center for Peace and Development Initiative. The same group was indispensable towards adopting a law for guaranteeing the access to information by citizens. The Punjab Freedom of Information Law 2013 which was passed in December 2013. Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ali has been appointed an Information Commissioner. ...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
NRB's directive to adhere citizen's access to information The Nepal Rastra Bank – the central bank of Nepal – has issued directive to its subordinate banks and financial institutions to mandatorily implement the citizen's access to information. Adhering to the citizen's access to information guaranteed by the Interim Constitution of Nepal-2006 and Right to Information Act-2007, the regulatory and supervisory authority of financial institutions of Nepal has issued the circular to designate public information officer and manage information section to impart information to the public in an efficient manner. The circular ordered all licensed financial institutions to proactively disclose information including structure and nature of the body, duties, responsibilities and powers, numbe...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
After years of persistent campaigning by our partners - Transparency Maldives (TM) and their partners have been successful in getting the access to information Bill approved by the Parliament in Maldives on 29th December 2013. The Press Release is available here. (http://transparency.mv/wp- content/uploads/2013/12/EN_2013_12_29.pdf) This will be a important step for establishing a regime of transparency in the Maldives. CHRI has been closely associated with the RTI campaign in the Maldives. For more information about this campaign on RTI in the Maldives, the same is available here. (http://www.iipa.org.in/www/iipalibrary/transparentgovernance.iipalibrary.in/Maldives.html)...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Right to Information Act 2013 includes a criminal offence section in its ambit, which the civil society demands to be scored off. Definitely excited with the promulgation of an RTI Ac...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
Manipur is an armed conflict state of North East India where severe torture, extra judicial killings and other forms of gross human rights violations are taking place everyday without any intervention. The personnel of law enforcement agencies are playing a key role in such inhuman activities as a part of counter insurgency. However, innocent citizens have got its impact and hence trauma and fear psychosis in the hands of security forces.The Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 and other black laws have been enacted for the peoples of N.E. and  J& K. Meanwhile, a series of bomb blase is happening at the state capital during the last few weeks. On the another hand, personnel of Manipur Police have also been caught for extortion and torturing citizens in the name of Armed Opposition Gro...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Sierra Leone passed their Right to Access Information Law on 29th October, 2013, making them the 96th country in the world and 20th across the Commonwealth to pass this important piece of legislation. The law was passed on the first day of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit in London, paving the way for Sierra Leone's admission as a full member of the OGP. Human Rights Watch reports that The Right to Access Information Act in Sierra Leone establishes a right to access government information and requires all parts of government to adopt and widely disseminate a plan for making records publicly available. As a country that has emerged from conflict and committed itself to the path of democracy, this is a welcome step in building transparency, the rule of law and respect for human r...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Asian Centre for Human Rights   (ACHR has Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC)  C-3/441-C, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India  Phone: +91-11-25620583, 25503624  Email: suhaschakma@achrweb.org; Website: www.achrweb.org;  Twitter: www.twitter.com/ACHRIndia   23 October 2013 Dear Sir/Madam, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has the pleasure to share its Briefing Paper  titled, “Nepal’s Constituent Assembly Elections: A Lesson for the Convicted Politicians?". It is available at http://www.achrweb.org/briefingpapers/BPNepal-02-2013.pdf As Nepal prepares to hold the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections on 19th November 2013, there already seems to be one positive lesson: those “convicted of a criminal offence involving moral turpitude” have been barred from co...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Citizens’ Campaign for Right to Information (CCRI) in collaboration with National Information Commission (NIC) organizes essay competition titled “How Would I Use Right to Information.” The aim of the essay competition is to aware students and to promote Right to Information in Nepal. To encourage and ensure remarkable participation of students we have publicized the notice in most readable and popular national newspapers. http://www.ccrinepal.org/files/competitions/RTI-Essay-Competition-2013.pdf  ...Read more
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