Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CONGRESS TAKES ON BJP’S RICHEST CORPORATOR OVER ILLEGAL PROPERTY

Pune Mirror: Pune: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
RTI reveals violation of margin norms, among others, in Vijay Shewale’s plot in Sadashiv Peth
Pune city’s richest Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Vijay Shewale has come under scanner for unauthorised construction.
Shewale represents Bopodi area. Sudhir Kale, vice-president of Shivajinagar Congress block committee, has submitted documents pertaining to Shewale’s illegal construction at Ganeje Chowk in Sadashiv Peth to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner. Kale has even demanded to cancel Shewale’s membership from the civic body.
Kale received this information through Right To Information (RTI) application. Kale said, “Shewale has furnished incorrect information to the civic body. Therefore, the civic chief needs to revoke his membership under section-10 (1D) of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act. Also, the commissioner will have to take action against the officer concerned, who has failed to take cognisance of the illegal construction.”
According to Kale, Shewale is running a women’s hostel and Pushpaviaja Hotel in the area. Both the facilities are a part of the same structure. He has also claimed that the PMC’s various departments including the health, water supply and property tax departments, had sent notices to Shewale last year regarding the illegal construction. Recently, the Pune fire brigade department, too, had sent a notice to Shewale’s women’s hostel as the structure did not have a firefighting system in place and had violated margin norms.
Confirming this, Rajesh Guram, inspector of PMC’s building permission department, informed, “Last year, we had sent notices to Shewale. We had also taken action by removing the unauthorised part of the structure. He has filed a case against the corporation in this regard.”
When Mirror contacted Shewale, he denied all the allegations. “Four years ago, I had given my property on lease-basis to a person. Now, he is running the hotel and giving rooms to women as paying guests. However, the property originally belongs to me and I have not carried out any illegal construction there. The complainant is only trying to damage my image in the public,” Shewale said.
He continued, “I have also filed a case against PMC for issuing notices to me. And, we have got a stay from the PMC court and the final decision is still pending. I have also recorded the information on my court case in the affidavit filed for the nomination.”
Shewale has mentioned his property worth Rs 157.29 crore in his affidavit filed along with a nomination for civic polls in 2018. He also declared jewellery worth Rs 39.15 crore and investments in various banks. Furthermore, he possesses vehicles of different brands worth Rs 3 crore.

Mewat man scripts state civil services history

Times of India: Gurgaon: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
"I've never considered religion because I'm a social worker." Meet Wakeel Ahmed, 32, an impressive young man from Mewat who has become the first ever from this region to be selected for a career in the Haryana civil service.
Hailing from Tain village, in Nuh tehsil of Mewat district, Ahmed is an old head on young shoulders. Last September, he sat down confidently for his interview, prepped for the questions. "I was asked why does Mewat, barely 70 km from the Millennium City, have a reputation for backwardness? And who is responsible for this state of affairs?" he said in a freewheeling chat with TOI, at the Haryana Institute of Public Administration.
"I replied that while the fault lies with the community, there's also governmental neglect. And for the region to emerge out of backwardness, education must improve."
A year on, following a rigorous training program conducted over 11 months, which included a 'Bharat Darshan', in which the recruits imbibed the best administrative practices from around India, he awaits his first posting. "I got selected on merit, and now I have to perform, to deliver."
After completing a Bachelors in political science (in which he earned a gold medal) and a Masters in social work, both from Jamia Millia Islamia, Ahmed interned with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), the organisation which pioneered the RTI movement. It was here, in 2007, that he presented an impact analysis of RTI - two years after the campaign was born - in front of the former chief justice, the late J S Verma, who was struck by the aptitude and dedication shown by the young man.
"Justice Verma advised me not to waste my talent, and that if I had justice of the common man in mind, I can serve the people." It was then that Ahmed seriously began to mull a life in service of his countrymen and countrywomen.
"Thanks to the orientation I got in two years of social work, I got to meet people from all walks of life, people like Aruna Roy, Prashant Bhushan and Medha Patkar.
"I learnt a lot, and now I'm able to understand the problems of the common man from the perspective of the common man."
His deep dive into the world of RTI gave Ahmed a clearer understanding of governance, while his work as a block development officer, in five postings spread across three years - which included handling three blocks at one time - helped ready him for the demands of public service.
And for anyone questioning the Mewati's patriotism (since canards abound when it comes to this Muslim-dominated enclave), Ahmed has the answer in history. "Before the battle of Khanwa in 1527, Babur saw that Hasan Khan Mewati, the region's ruler, had joined forces with Rana Sanga of Mewar. Babur saw this as an act of apostasy, to which Hasan Khan's answer was, 'You're an outsider, I don't owe allegiance to you - he is my brother, and this is my homeland."
Ahmed also happens to be a writer, one who has penned eight short stories in Hindi (to be anthologised soon). But it's the chance to do good for society, to empower people, that challenges and inspires him. "I want to help people to help themselves, but also to serve the needy and deliver justice to them."

Central Information Commission slams ministry for not providing roster of sporting events

Indian Express: New Delhi: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
The Central Information Commission has slammed the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Sports Authority of India for not providing an annual schedule of sporting events and directed them to proactively put it up on their websites.
Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said such a "proactive disclosure" was mandatory under the Right to Information Act.
The commission also directed the ministry and the SAI to update their official websites with the roster and schedules "to avoid the sports lovers from filing RTI requests for such routine information and report compliance to this commission before September 15".
"If the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports says that it does not know what is the schedule or roster of sports of the year in the nation, there is nothing more embarrassing than this," Acharyulu said.
He said the ministry is expected to have at least the schedule of various sporting events for the year.
"Whether the ministry wants the sports lovers to file an RTI to know the sports calendar?" he quipped.
The order came on a plea of Deepak Sandhu who had sought certified copies of roster of various sporting events, that come under the ministry, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and their subordinate authorities, conducted in a year.
He had also sought sports calendar for 2015-16.
Having failed to get any information, Sandhu approached the commission.
"At least the Sports Authority of India should have supplied this information. It was the duty of the CPIO of the ministry to collect the schedule and keep it as part of its record and supplied the same to the applicant," Acharyulu said.

32,864 Mumbaikars have sought IVF treatment between 2012 to 2016

Mid-Day: Mumbai: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
Data procured through RTI application shows cases of IVF treatment being sought have risen by over 100 per cent in the past five years.
In this city of dreams, conceiving a child seems to have become a nightmare for more and more couples, data procured through the RTI Act has revealed.
Statistics show that in the last five years, since 2012, more than 32,000 people have opted for in vitro fertilization, pushing worried doctors to sound the alarm changes in lifestyle is to be blamed for the rise in infertility among Mumbaikars.
A disturbing trend
IVF is a series of procedures used to treat infertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are retrieved from ovaries and fertilised by sperm in a lab.
An erratic lifestyle and delay in getting married have rendered an increasing number of couples infertile, forcing them to rely on IVF.
According to the information procured through an RTI application, filed by activist Chetan Kothari, sent to BMC's public health department, cases of IVF treatment being sought have gone up by 118 per cent between 2012 and 2016. In the same period, 32,864 Mumbaikars have approached IVF experts for pregnancy.
In 2012, 3,961 patients conceived through IVF, a number that has only risen  5,280 in 2013; 5,934 in 2014; 7,052 in 2015; and 8,313 in 2016.
Doctors said that on an average, every year, 5,000 children are born through IVF.
Lifestyle issues
According to experts, the rise in number is more for "social infertility" than medical infertility. The sperm count among men has dipped drastically in the past two decades due to pollution and other related factors.
"Nearly 27 years ago, when I started my career, the sperm count among men used to be at least 80 million. In fact, I had laid it down as a prerequisite for those who wanted to donate their sperm. But now, I get patients with hardly 20-30 million. There's nothing wrong with their sex lives, yet they face a problem in conceiving," said Dr Anjali Malpani of Malpani Infertility Clinic, a pioneer in starting a sperm bank in Mumbai.
"Plastics that we use in our daily lives have certain toxins that decrease the sperm count. Air pollution and smoking are also reasons; both lead to the destruction of sperm. However, with respect to smoking, once the individual kicks the habit, the count increases."
To address this, experts have been administering intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.
A knotty affair
Women delaying in tying the knot has also been cited as a reason for growing infertility among them. "Between 20 and 30 years is when a woman's fertility is at its peak. But in today's world, career comes first for most, with marriage getting put on the backburner. This is impacting women's fertility and chances of pregnancy," said Dr Duru Shah, scientific director of Gynaecworld and the Gynaecworld Assisted Fertility Center.
Experts also put the rising numbers on increase in awareness among people, making them approach doctors for treatment in the early stages.
"Two decades ago, people were quite unaware about IVF. A majority would come to us very late. But now, not only married couples but even the unmarried ones are coming forward for fertility tests, which is a good sign," said Dr Malpani.

Voter has right to question legislators : By Madabhushi Sridhar

The Hans India: New Delhi: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
A voter Vishnu Dev Bhandari asked for the progress of the works undertaken in Khatauna block of Madhubani district, Bihar, and under RTI he was asking for the action taken report. The CPIO and First Appellate Authority did not bother to respond.  If not the voter who would ask the representative or agency that executes the works for which representative has allocated funds?
If a voter sought information about his representative in Parliament regarding the progress of works initiated under his MPLADs, it has to be appreciated as proper use of RTI. The voter-appellant wanted to know the progress/status of developments in the Parliamentary constituency of Madhubani under Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme (MPLADS) in Khatauna block of Madhubani district, Bihar. A voter has every right under the RTI to know about selection of works, progress, incomplete works, the delay, reasons thereof and possible time of their completion.
It is from the tax payer’s money that each parliamentarian is getting Rs 5 crore per annum, besides all his primary and VVIP standard facilities were taken care of. Each Member of Parliament is privileged to allocate from his Rs 5 crore annual fund for the developmental activities in his constituency which is called ‘Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).’
The actual progress on the field could be ascertained by the local authorities like District Magistrate and his subordinates. Regarding how the works were chosen, the officers said that it was totally at the discretion of the MP concerned and no authority could intervene in it.  
This information is partly held by the respondent Ministry, District Collectors/Magistrates in the Constituency, the MP, his legislature party and the political party, if they have any guidelines or policy regarding allocation of funds for the works in the constituencies. All of these authorities have a duty to answer to the voter-citizen.
There is no doubt that the Ministry and the District Collectors are public authorities under the RTI Act and they are supposed to answer the appellant within 30 days.
Voter’s request for information is not motivated by any personal interest, and he was not asking any personal information or private information about the MP. He is not even asking about their assets, or increase during the term or the money he spent to get elected etc. He was also not raising any political issue.
The information sought does not fall under any category of exceptions prescribed under RTI Act. In fact, it was the duty of the Ministry, which is called “Statistics and Programme Implementation” that means it is supposed to have information and also supervise the implementation of the programs. The question, questioner and also questioned authority were proper and
Though officers or District Magistrates/Collectors of districts concerned can provide statistical data as available, the real questions regarding criterion etc of the MP’s decision to allot funds for some works and refusing others remain unanswered, which could be answered either by MP or his legislature party or its original political party.
The Commission directed the CPIO of Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, and CPIO of Lok Sabha Secretariat to provide a report on activities on MPLADS in Khatauna block of Madhubani constituency along with details sought by the appellant, besides placing it in their official website, before 7th September 2017.
The Commission directed the CPIO and S K Surwade, Director and HOD, who is considered as deemed CPIO, to show cause why penalty should not be imposed against each of them for not responding, which amounts to deemed refusal under Section 7(2) and will attract Section 20 of the RTI Act.  The First Appellate Authority is also directed to explain why disciplinary action should not be recommended against him for not taking up the first appeal at all, which amounts to abdication of responsibility under RTI Act.
The Commission directed the PIO/PA or PS of the MP concerned, Honorable Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, to furnish the details of the works recommended by him, the criterion of selection or rejection and progress of the work etc.  Last date for responses was 7th September, 2017.
Considering the possibility of policy or guidelines being issued from the Parliamentary Party of the BJP, in which the MP concerned is the member, invites the views/contentions of the Government Chief Whip, the Leader, and Deputy Leader (LS) of BJP, or any other authorised representative as to why the BJP Parliamentary Party should not be declared as ‘public authority’ under 2(h) of RTI Act, 2005.
As the BJP Parliamentary Party is the ruling party of the Government of India, which proclaimed its commitment to transparency and clean government, the Commission recommends to voluntarily disclose the criterion for selection of works under MPLADs along with constitution-wise works list and their progress with regular updating, on their official website/websites of the party or Legislature Party or individual MPs, if they have any, to fulfil their democratic obligation to inform the voters of India, within reasonable time.
In principle, every legislature/parliamentary party shall be considered as public authority. Either because of RTI Act, or because of their Constitutional obligation to provide good governance or because of their oath under the Constitution, every legislator and their group called “Legislature/Parliamentary Party” or their “Original Political Party” as defined under the Constitution (Tenth Schedule), have moral, legal and constitutional obligation to disclose at least the MPLADs-related information on their own under Section 4(1).
The Commission recommends every legislator to fulfil this obligation as they have promised this nation to work as per the Constitution.  The Commission would like to remind the elected legislators the oath they have taken while assuming the office of membership of legislature. The MPs and if one of the MPs is the Minister, are under obligation to take following oath as per the Third Schedule of our Constitution:
Form of oath of office for a Minister or the Union:-
"I, [the name], do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, [that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,] that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties as a Minister for the Union and that I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will." Form of oath of secrecy for a Minister for the Union:-
"I, [the name], do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person or persons any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as a Minister for the Union except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as such Minister."
The Ministers who took oath of secrecy, need not be reminded that they have a duty to reveal that information that may be required for the due discharge of their duties as minister. This means the information like progress of works under MPLADs scheme shall be disclosed as that would be required in due discharge of the duties.
The MPs, MLAs and MLCs will not take oath of secrecy, and hence bound to give all information, including that was asked by the appellant in this case. They have to uphold integrity of India, which cannot be done without integrity of individual members of legislature, and if the anti-corruption measures including transparency are not ensured. All of them have duty to faithfully discharge their duties under the Officer they entered upon.
Apart from political parties in centre and states, the Commission also invites civil society including NGOs and individual citizens having concern for democracy and transparency to express their opinion/contentions or views on the issue of bringing legislature parties/parliamentary parties under the purview of Right to Information Act, 2005 to provide people access to information, by email to madabhushisridhar@gov.in before 8th September, 2017.

Disclose lease documents of land to Moolchand Hospital: CIC to

India Today: New Delhi: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
The Central Information Commission has directed the union urban development ministry to disclose lease agreement documents of the land for the Moolchand Hospital within a week.
Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad said the information as sought by the appellant Harvinder Singh, a resident of Lajpat Nagar here, is undeniably one which every citizen has a right to know.
Through his RTI application, Singh had demanded from the Ministry the lease agreement of the land for Moolchand Hospital, the copy of documents submitted by Moolchand Kharaiti Ram Charitable Trust for the allotment of the land and the policy under which the land was allocated to it.
The Ministry official responding to his RTI query asked him to furnish documentary proof to establish his stake in the Moolchand Khairati Ram Trust within 10 days.
Under the RTI Act, a Central Public Information Officer cannot ask an information seeker the reasons behind raising the query.
"After hearing parties and perusal of record, the Commission finds that no legitimate exemption in terms of RTI Act have been cited by the Respondent (the ministry) to deny disclosure of information," Azad said.
He said the ministry has taken the "unusual route" of questioning the purpose of the query and the locus standi of Singh in seeking the information.
"It is clear from the averment of the Respondent (the Ministry) that the custodian of information is the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India which awarded the land under lease agreement to the Moolchand hospital," Azad said.
He directed to disclose all the material sought by Singh. PTI ABS IKA

Malegaon blast: Co-accused sought details of Purohit’s salary via RTI

Times of India: New Delhi: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
Questions over whether Lt Col P S Purohit received his salary while being named an accused in the Malegoan blast case have reached the CIC.
In an RTI plea filed by co accused Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, the central information commission has ruled that details be given to the applicant.
Although Upadhyay, who filed his RTI from the Yerwada central prison in June 2014, had asked for the salary details of not only Lt Col Purohit but also that of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, Lt Gen Ravi Dastane and Col R K Srivastava, his curiosity about a fellow accused raised many eyebrows. Upadhyay is one of the founders of Abhinav Bharat, the organisation that Lt Col Purohit is alleged to have been a part of.
Upadhyay was lodged in Yerwada central prison and was reportedly in a cell close to Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, with whom he reportedly established a rapport. It is also interesting that Col Srivastava was in charge of the preliminary investigation in the Army against Lt Col Purohit. The other two were top level Army officers involved in controversies over seniority within the forces.
Upadhyay approached the CIC following the refusal of the public information officer of the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) to share the information. In his order, information commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha has noted that "every public authority is obliged under section 4(1)(b)(x) of the RTI Act, to publish the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations."
Directing the PCDA to provide Upadhyay with the remuneration (pay and allowances) for the period of May 2014 of Suhag, Srivastava and Dastane, the commission has noted that Purohit's salary may not be provided "as similar information" for Purohit has already been furnished.

SIC DENIES PERSONAL INFORMATION; RTI ACTIVISTS UP IN ARMS

Bangalore Mirror: Bangalore: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
The State Information Commission (SIC), which is supposed to ensure government officials cannot use excuses to hide information, has itself ordered that information on appointment, transfer and promotion of a public servant is personal.
This order has drawn flak from the RTI fraternity, which has called for its immediate withdrawal.
The SIC order came in a case on an RTI application, in which, one S Gopal in December 2015 had sought information pertaining to an officer, Muniraju, then joint commissioner, BBMP, Bommanahalli zone.
Gopal had sought information on the appointment order in services of rural development and panchayati raj development, all promotion orders and transfer orders issued to him since his date of joining service till date and a certified copy of the order issued appointing him as joint commissioner.
As information was not provided, Gopal filed his first appeal in January 2016 and the second one in April 2016 before SIC. The commission heard the case recently and termed this information “personal” citing a Supreme Court order.
“The information sought is personal and the appellant has not proved its revelation served any public interest. Considering that the revelation of information would affect the privacy (of the officer), under Section 8 (1) (J) of RI Act, the information is hereby considered personal information,” it observed.
Activists take objection
RTI activists say the Supreme Court had never considered transfer, promotion and appointment orders of a public servant as personal information. “No decision must give the PIO and first appellate authority the chance to deny information. The appellant was not given an opportunity to submit his written statement and argument. The PIO and FAA did not appear or file any statement in the case. When the appointment, transfer and promotion orders of judges of High Courts and Supreme Court are in the public domain, I do not understand how similar information of a public servant are exempted under the RTI Act,” BH Veeresh an RTI activist said.
Another activist S Bhaskaran said there is no bar on seeking information under the RTI Act regardless of the public office they hold be it the President or a Group D employee. “Information can be sought for the purpose of relief and justice in court. Such information can’t be called personal as then we will never be able to access information on irregularities and scams. Such orders defeat the very purpose of the RTI Act,” he said.
Information commissioner PG Vijaya Kumar, who passed the order, didn’t respond to BM despite our attempts to reach him.

CIC Calls For Views On Bringing Parliamentary Parties Under RTI Act, Says MPs Obliged To Disclose Works, Use Of Funds Under MPLADS

Live Law: New Delhi: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
Opining that “in principle, every legislature/parliamentary party shall be considered as public authority”, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has called for views from the BJP and other political parties as to why legislature/ parliamentary parties should not be brought under the purview of RTI Act and why were they not disclosing voluntarily the selection of work and use of funds under the MPLAD scheme.
Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu invited the views of all political parties with presence in the legislative houses at the Centre and the States on the issue while also calling the civil society, including NGOs and individual citizens, before September 8, 2017.
The order came on a complaint filed by Vishnu Dev Bhandari, who had sought information for the progress of the works undertaken in Khatauna block of Madhubani district, Bihar, under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme (MPLADS). Under the RTI Act, he sought the action taken report.
The Ministry of Statistics & Programme did not bother to respond his query, at which he had also asked whether he should ask the MP concerned.
“The voter-appellant was furious over non-response of the public authority. His questions appear to be genuine and quite democratic. If not, the voter who would ask the representative or agency that executes the works for which the representative has allocated funds? If a voter sought information about his representative in Parliament regarding the progress of works initiated under his MPLADS, it has to be appreciated as proper use… A voter has every right under the RTI to know about selection of works, progress, incomplete works, the delay, reasons thereof and possible time of their completion,” Acharyulu said.
While asking the ×rst appellate authority to explain why disciplinary action should not be recommended against him for not taking up the first appeal, the Commission directed “the PIO/PA or PS of the concerned MP, Hukumdev Narayan Yadav to furnish the details of the works recommended by him, the criterion of selection or rejection and progress of the work etc before 7th September 2017”.
It said the MPs, who take oath of secrecy, have the duty to provide information on the use of Rs. 5 crore tax payers’ money under the MPLAD scheme.
“Considering the possibility of policy or guidelines being issued from the Parliamentary Party of the BJP, in which the concerned MP is the member, invites the views/contentions of the Government Chief Whip, the Leader, and Deputy Leader (LS) of BJP, or any other authorized representative as to why the BJP Parliamentary Party should not be declared as ‘public authority’ under 2(h) of RTI Act, 2005, on 7th September 2017 at 2 pm before this Commission.
“As the BJP Parliamentary Party is the ruling party of the Government of India, proclaimed its commitment to transparency and clean government, the Commission recommends to voluntarily disclose the criterion for selection of works under MPLADS along with constituency-wise works list and their progress with regular updating, on their official website/websites of the party or Legislature Party or individual MPs, if they have any, to fulfil their democratic obligation to inform the voters of India, within reasonable time,” it added.
“The Commission considers that it is required and that will be appropriate for all other parties, who have presence in their respective legislative houses at centre or states, also to express their views on the point why their respective legislature/parliamentary parties shall not be brought under the purview of RTI Act, as public authorities and why not they disclose such information voluntarily.
“Apart from political parties in centre and states, the Commission also invites civil society including NGOs and individual citizens having concern for democracy and transparency to express their opinion/contentions or views on the issue of bringing legislature parties/parliamentary parties under the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to provide people access to information, by email to madabhushisridhar@gov.in before 8th September, 2017,” it ordered.

Monday, August 21, 2017

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT BUDGAM | No promoted junior assistant qualifies ‘mandatory’ typing test: RTI reveals

Greater Kashmir: Srinagar: Monday, August 21, 2017.
None of the class IV employees promoted as in-charge junior assistants in the education department in district Budgam, has qualified the ‘mandatory’ typing test, an RTI has revealed.
In a reply to RTI filed by activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat, the department has acknowledged that none of the employees in Budgam district has qualified the typing test even as they continue to work on the post.
“The department received a communication from directorate of school education, Kashmir, wherein point number 6 reads that as per the result statement furnished by the principal 1T1 Srinagar among 16 in-charge junior assistants from district Budgam none of them has qualified the typing test,” reads the reply to the RTI.
The reply also states that the administrative department in a letter has already asked the director school education Kashmir that the class-IV employees placed as in-charge junior assistants, “if failed to pass the type test within six months, shall be reverted back and opportunity would be provided to others.”
As already reported by Greater Kashmir dozens of class IV employees were promoted in 2013 by the then director school as junior assistants in Budgam and Anantnag districts. However no typing test was held for the promoted lot for some time. “And, when the test was held, they did not qualify it.”
"Four years passed since their promotion but department is yet to take action against them,” an official said.
On the other hand, the class IV employees working in school education department for the past five years are running from pillar to post for redress of their demands.
“Despite we being qualified having bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the department is not conducting our typing test to make us eligible for promotion as junior assistants. This is sheer injustice with us,” said a group of aggrieved class-IV employees.
According to officials, under SRO 308 of 2008, 25 percent posts of junior assistants were kept reserved for 10th pass class-IV employees who also have diploma certificate in computers.
"But it was mandatory for these employees to pass the basic typing test within a period of four months after their promotion which they have not qualified for past four years," he said.
Interestingly, the promotion order number 2150 DSEK of 2013 issued on November 7 of 2013 by the then director reads, “the class IV employees cannot confer any claim /benefit for such placement unless they qualify the type test within a period of 4 months from the date of issuance of order.”
In case of failure, the placement order shall be deemed as rescinded, the promotion order reads.
Director school education G N Itoo ruled out his involvement in the issue and said the promotion order was issued years before his posting in the department.
“It is mandatory for them to qualify the typing test for which we provided them one month training in DIETs so that they will qualify the test which will be conducted in near future,” Itoo said.

Over 5k bank frauds of Rs29k crore in last fiscal: RTI

Times of India: Nagpur: Monday, August 21, 2017.
Over 5,000 bank frauds worth a whopping Rs29,933 crore came to fore in last fiscal (from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017) in India, an RTI query has revealed.
The reply by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also mentioned that about 480 employees were suspended after their role was established in these frauds, which were all over Rs1 lakh.
RBI refused to specify the number of old notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000 denomination collected during demonetization period from November 9 to December 31, stating that "the figures are still under reconciliation".
It also failed to inform about number and amount of Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency deposited with district cooperative banks in Maharashtra. The top bank didn't inform about the number of forged notes collected during demonetization period, citing the reason that "notes are being processed".
The query by senior RTI activist Abhay Kolarkar disclosed that about 25 scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) and 95 urban cooperative banks (UCBs) were into losses ranging from few lakh rupees to crores in last financial year. Among the commercial banks which recorded most losses, the Indian Overseas Bank leads the chart with net loss of Rs2,770 crores followed by Central Bank of India at Rs1,847 crores and IDBI Bank at Rs1,958 crore. The Bank of Nova Scotia and Doha Bank are at bottom with net losses of Rs6 crore and Rs1 crore respectively. Collectively, these 25 commercial banks account for losses of Rs17,357 crore.
Interestingly, the list also figures five associates of Bhartiya Mahila Bank (BMB) which would be merged with the banking behemoth State Bank of India (SBI). They included—State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ), State Bank of Mysore (SBM), State Bank of Travancore (SBT), State Bank of Patiala (SBP), and State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH). All these five associates are facing massive losses led by SBT with Rs1,398 crore.
On other hand, about 95 of total 1,574 cooperative banks, collectively accounts for losses to the tune of 30,27,713 crore.
Kolarkar also asked about penalties imposed on the banks for not complying with Know Your Customer (KYC) norms, but the RBI's central public information officer (CPIO) P Vijaya Kumar replied that information would be available on the bank's website. It was mentioned there that the RBI found huge cash withdrawals from certain accounts took place.

Recording will not be open to RTI, Supreme Court says

Deccan Chronicle: Hyderabad: Monday, August 21, 2017.
The Supreme Court has recently directed that CCTV cameras be installed inside courtrooms and at important locations within the court complex in at least two districts in every state and Union Territory in the country.
In March 2017, a two-member bench of Justice A.K. Goel and Justice U.U. Lalit had ordered that cameras be installed inside courtrooms on a trial basis, and observed that “we have already incorporated safeguards of footage of recording not being given for any purpose other than the purpose for which the High Court considers it appropriate."
The top court, which was initially reluctant to allow recording of court proceedings, agreed with the Union of India’s argument that "CCTV cameras are the culture of the day and promote good governance.”
The bench, while dealing with a petition by one Pradyuman Bisht, seeking direction for audio-video recording of the trial proceedings of his matrimonial dispute to ensure a fair trial, had ordered on March 28, 2017: “We direct that at least in two districts in every State/Union Territory (with the exception of small states/Union Territories where it may be considered difficult to do so by the concerned High Courts) CCTV cameras (without audio recording) may be installed inside the courts and at such important locations of the court complexes as may be considered appropriate.”
On August 14, the bench modified its order while considering the suggestion from some of the High Courts that audio recording should also be permitted, and ruled that audio recordings will also be allowed.
Many PILs demanding recording of proceedings in courtrooms have been dismissed by the Supreme Court and certain High Courts in the past because it impinges on the privacy of judicial officers.
In the Pradyuman Bisht case, the Centre pointed out that there was “acknowledged utility of CCTV cameras in recording contemporary events which may be useful for any monitoring authority”.
While directing that cameras be installed in courtrooms, the bench said that the footage “will not be available under the RTI Act and will not be supplied to anyone without the permission of the concerned High Court. Installation may be completed within three.”
The bench directed the Centre, the Union IT ministry in consultation with the e-committee of the Supreme Court to lay down technical specifications and other modalities, including price range and sources of supply, for installation of CCTV cameras.
The Supreme Court opined that similar orders may be issued by the government for tribunals, noting that recordings will help the constitutional authorities and the High Courts in exercising jurisdiction.

Keep info panel from becoming home for former bureaucrats, say RTI activists

Times of India: Bengaluru: Monday, August 21, 2017.
Even as the state delays the appointment of the chief information commissioner (CIC), RTI activists are asking the government to appoint people other than retired IAS or IPS officers.
The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has been without a chief since November 2016 when D N Naraishma Raju resigned. The government issued a notification in December inviting applications from persons interested in becoming the CIC, but an RTI activist moved the high court against the notification saying it violates provisions of the act.
Converting the writ petition filed by T Narasimhamurthy into a public interest litigation, the court asked the government to put the appointment process on hold for three weeks from August 10. "The coveted CIC post has been occupied by retired IAS officers all along. Our appeal is that people of eminence from across domains should be given an equal opportunity to head it," said Narasimhamurthy, an advocate.
RTI activists say the notification is in violation of the Right to Information Act, 2005. "It says sitting MLAs, MPs and those who hold other office of profit are not eligible. But the act says any person of eminence in public life can apply and he has to resign from his office of profit if he is chosen as CIC. Apparently, the government's move is to avoid people from other fields," said S Umapathi, an RTI activist who is among those resisting the appointment of former bureaucrats as information commissioners.
The KIC has had three chief information commissioners since its inception in 2005 — K K Misra, AKM Nayak and DN Narasimhamurthy, all retired IAS officers. Misra is a former chief secretary, while Nayak and Narasimhamurthy were principal secretary to the chief minister.
The rumblings against the appointment of bureaucrats are getting louder at a time when the names of former chief secretary Aravind Jadhav and former director general of police Om Prakash are doing rounds for the CIC post. The government has received 166 applications, many of which are from retired IAS and IPS officers.
"We have sent the applications to the chief minister's office, which will take the process forward," said Rajamma, undersecretary, Janaspandana wing of the department of personnel and administrative reforms (DPAR).
The selection committee headed by chief minister Siddaramaiah will make the final decision, and sources said the government is in favour of appointing a former bureaucrat.
"There has been an inordinate delay in the CIC appointment and the government's indifference could be seen as a move to undermine the institution," said L Vasudevamurthy, a social activist and executive member of Visvesvaraya Technological University.
Why is CIC post sought after?
The CIC post is sought after owing to the attractive salary and benefits. The tenure is five years, and the salary is Rs2.5 lakh a month, inclusive of perks. The post-retirement benefits include a monthly pension of Rs1.25 lakh and furnished government accommodation. A retired CIC is entitled to an orderly, and can claim reimbursements up to Rs 2,500 for monthly telephone bills. A former CIC and spouse are entitles to be escorted by a protocol officer to the airport or railway station. Y G Mularidharan, an RTI expert, said post-retirement benefits for the CIC must be abolished. "'No such benefits are given to chairpersons of human rights commission, electricity regulatory authority, telecom regulatory authority and others. Why is it given only to CIC?" he said.

Right to privacy versus right to information: Indian example : Muhammad Zamir

Financial Express: Bangladesh: Monday, August 21, 2017.
The right to privacy as a concept and an issue has been drawing the attention of citizens all over the world - but more so in all the countries of South Asia. This article deals with the on-going dynamics within the judicial parameter in India.
The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India consisting of nine Judges is currently hearing arguments about whether Article 21 of the Indian Constitution contains within its connotations and denotations a guarantee of the right to privacy of individuals - and also its scope.
The controversy was recently generated through the submission made by the Government of India in the context of a batch of petitions that has challenged the constitutionality of Aadhaar (Unique Identification - UID) a couple of years ago. According to media reports and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the current Attorney General of India (AGI) has apparently conceded on behalf of the Government that while the right to privacy is a fundamental right, it is a "wholly qualified right." This is being interpreted as a climb down from the original argument made by his predecessor in August 2015. At that time it was questioned whether there was a fundamental right to privacy at all under the Constitution.
The current AGI is said to have argued that "Since the right to privacy consists of diverse aspects and is a sub-species of the right to liberty, every aspect of the sub-species will not qualify as a fundamental right". Most interesting! This suggests that right to privacy is not a homogeneous right and is not only a combination of various aspects of privacy but also there is the question as to whether they can all be collated together instead of the Courts examining them individually as the occasion arises. The AGI's argument symbolically underlines that different species of privacy exist and all of them cannot be elevated to the status of a fundamental right. This is being interpreted as an argument that where personal liberty exists as a right, it also has to be subordinate to the right to life of others.
The counsel for Maharashtra has put forward his opinion that "privacy" is only a concept and that since 1975 several Benches of the Supreme Court had erred in holding it to be a fundamental right. He is reported to have told this Supreme Court Bench that privacy can become a fundamental right only through a constitutional amendment. Such an approach will definitely create a new matrix within the legal system.
THE CONTROVERSY: According to CHRI, the controversy over whether privacy is a fundamental right or not arose on at least three occasions in India. On these occasions the Constitutional Courts protected the right to privacy of judges and the judiciary. In one of those instances, the right to privacy of an entire High Court was claimed and upheld. In all these cases, information sought under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) was also at stake.
An interesting reference may be made with regard to the Judge's Assets case (2007-2010). At that time the Indian judiciary successfully protected its right to privacy. In November 2007, Delhi-based transparency Advocate, Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal asked the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court of India for some information, under the RTI Act. The request mainly related to receiving - a) a copy of the Resolution adopted by the Full Court of the Supreme Court of India that required all judges to submit details of their assets to the Chief Justice of India; and b) whether judges were complying with this requirement. Mr. Agrawal did not ask for a copy of the asset declarations of the judges of the Supreme Court. His RTI queries were aimed at getting a copy of the Full Court Resolution (which had not been made public until then) and ascertaining whether judges were complying with the disclosure requirement to which they had unanimously agreed.
The CPIO of the Apex Court refused to disclose any information and the matter escalated to the Central Information Commission (CIC). The CIC ruled in favour of disclosure of the information. During the pendency of this case, the CPIO supplied a copy of the text of the Resolution to the applicant, but rejected the second query about compliance, on various grounds, one of which was the judges' right to privacy.
Subsequently the CPIO challenged the CIC's decision before the Delhi High Court - a first in independent India where the highest Court of the land challenged the decision of an administrative tribunal in a Court over which it exercises appellate jurisdiction. The CPIO argued that the assets declarations of judges may be lying with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and that office is not covered by the RTI Act.  
Mr. Agrawal eventually submitted a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court's ruling. In July 2015, a three-judge Bench led by the then Chief Justice of India dismissed the SLP without even admitting it. According to media reports, the Bench is said to have made the following observations while dismissing the petition: "We understand that we are getting the reimbursement from public money for our treatment and we are entitled for it as per the service conditions of judges... there should be some respect for privacy and if such informations are being disclosed, there will be no stopping... Today he is asking informations for medical expenses... Tomorrow he will ask what medicines are purchased by the judges. When there will be a list of medicines he can make out what type of ailment the judge is suffering from. It starts like this. Where does this stop?"
Interestingly, a couple of weeks later in August 2015, the Apex Court agreed with the then Attorney General of India that it was doubtful whether a citizen of India has the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. This was hinted after he presented a convoluted interpretation of a couple of Constitution Bench judgments from the 1950s and the 1960s on the subject.
In 2009, a single-Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of disclosure of information about compliance of Judges with the assets disclosure Resolution. Regarding the public disclosure of the contents of the assets declarations (which the RTI applicant never sought in the first place), the Court said judges were entitled to protection of their personal information and privacy. In this case, repeatedly, the contents of the assets declarations of judges (despite not being in question) were treated as personal information attracting the protection of the right to privacy.
It may also be mentioned that according to CHRI, the Madras High Court has also extended the fundamental right of privacy under the Indian Constitution and the exemption for personal information and privacy under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act to itself as an institution even though these protections are generally meant for individuals only. This judgment has not been set aside by the Indian Supreme Court, till date.
CONSTITUTIONAL POSITION: It would be pertinent here to point out that the right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Chapter on Fundamental Rights included in Part III of the Constitution of India. However, the need for protecting the privacy of every Indian has been recognised since 1895. This view exists in the first Constitution of India Bill that was drawn up for self-governance. Subsequently, although the right to privacy was proposed for inclusion in the Draft Constitution, the Advisory Committee of the Constituent Assembly dropped it based on objections raised by some members and experts. Nevertheless, the right to privacy in India gradually emerged due to the jurisprudential development of Article 21 from which successive Benches of the Supreme Court deduced this right.
In this context, it would also be fitting to note that Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also recognises the right to privacy of every human being by stating that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation".
India acceded to the ICCPR on April 10, 1979 during the post-Emergency Janata Party government. Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the predecessor of the present-day Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was part of this government and approved the Cabinet decision to accede to the ICCPR. While acceding to the ICCPR, India did not enter any reservation or declaration to Article 17 which mentions the right to privacy. Having accepted Article 17 of the ICCPR unconditionally, India, according to many rights activists, is now duty-bound to ensure the promotion and protection of the right to privacy of every person. This view is sometimes coming into conflict with the dynamics of right to information.
(The writer, a former Ambassador and Chief Information Commissioner of the Information Commission, is an analyst specialised in foreign affairs, right to information and good governance.)

Extension of RTI law to Fata sought

DAWN.com: PK: Monday, August 21, 2017.
Journalists belonging to Khyber Agency on Saturday demanded extension of the Right to Information (RTI) Act to tribal areas so as to enable local mediapersons to have easy access to information.
The demand came during a consultative dialogue organised by Internews at Jamrud Press Club. The dialogue was attended by mediapersons and representatives of local political administration and agriculture and health departments.
The participants said that most of the time their stories were not carried by their respective organisations as these were not balanced due to absence of official version on a particular issue.
They said that in most of the cases they relied on personal contacts with the government officials as they were otherwise denied access to information in the absence of a law.
They said that with easy access to information the problems confronted by the residents could be highlighted for their resolution. They said that as most of the displaced families had now returned to their hometowns it was time that the government departments shared plans for the rehabilitation of these families alongside reconstruction activities.
The tribal journalists urged the federal government to include the extension of RTI law to Fata along with approval of the reforms plan for tribal areas.