Thursday, November 27, 2014

CIC directs sharing of info on Vahanvati

The Hindu: New Delhi: Thursday, 27 November 2014.
The Central Information Commission has directed the Centre’s Department of Legal Affairs to share information on the appointment of law officers and also whether there was any proposal from the Law Ministry asking the former Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati to “take part in the 2G allocation matter.”
The order of the CIC came on an appeal filed by RTI activist Subhash Chand Agrawal. Mr. Agrawal had in an RTI application sought to know from the Department of Legal Affairs information on any complaint received against any law officer with action taken against them. He sought information on law officers having violated the Law Officers (Service Conditions) Rules, 1972.
He sought information on “appointment of G.E. Vahanvati as the Attorney-General and sought copy of proposal/ reference by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice for him to take part in discussion process and/or drafting press note in respect of the 2G spectrum allocation.”
As per the rule, a law officer shall not advise any ministry or department of the Centre or a statutory body or public sector undertaking unless there is a proposal or reference in that regard received through Ministry of Law and Justice.
Mr. Vahanvati’s role as then Solicitor General in the 2G spectrum allocation had come into question. He was later given a clean chit. Mr. Vahanvati died of cardiac arrest in September.
The Public Information Officer of the Department of Legal Affairs, however, replied that the correspondences and documents concerning appointment of law officers (G.E. Vahanvati, Gopal Subramanium and Rohinton Nariman), were bulky and would involve diversion of resources.

Maharashtra government to hire 179 judges to clear mountain of cases

DNA: Mumbai: Thursday, 27 November 2014.
With the Maharashtra government on November 18 sanctioning 179 additional posts of judges, there seems to be hope of reducing the massive backlog of pending cases in the city's courts, which is more than 3.65 lakh as on March 2014.
The number of judges in the state will rise from the existing 1,781 to 1,960. The government has also sanctioned 759 posts of support staff for the additional judges.
This development comes in compliance with a Bombay high court order. The HC had directed the government to appoint more judges in pursuance to a Supreme Court judgment in the case of Brijmohan v. Union of India. In this 2012 case, the SC had asked all the states to increase the judges' posts by an additional 10%.
As per information received under the Right to Information (RTI) by activist Chetan Kothari, there are a total of 3,65,418 cases pending in various magistrate courts across Mumbai as on March 31 this year. Of these, around 43,647 cases were more than 10 years old while 72,047 cases were pending for over five years.
The RTI reply also states that last year a total of 2,19,842 cases were disposed of, while in 2012, the number of disposed cases was 3,49,116.
"High pendency of cases has always been an issue. With increasing litigation, there was a need for more judges to dispose of the cases faster. Hopefully, now the disposal rate of cases will be speedier," said advocate Jamshed Mistry.
The state government has sanctioned Rs 48.41 crore for the additional posts and support staff, read the cabinet decision.
State government statistics say that lower courts have over 56,000 pending cases of crimes against women. Of these, 11,074 cases are pending with the sessions court and 45,057 with the magistrates' courts.
There are nearly 90,000 cases of motor accident claims, say the government stats.
Moreover, 3,768 pending cases pertain to crime against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, while 3,336 cases were lodged under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The HC order was passed while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Vihar Durve seeking that the government should be directed to implement the SC order and accordingly increase the posts of judges in the state.
The PIL sought the establishment of additional fast track courts to try cases of crime against women, which are on the rise.
Government's apathy towards the judiciary reflects in the fact that since May 2010, the HC has been exchanging communications with the state on the matter, but the government kept raising queries about the appointments.

RTI में खुलासा, डॉक्टर ने किया गलत इलाज

नवभारत टाइम्स: गुड़गांव: Thursday, 27 November 2014.
राजीव नगर स्थित एक प्राइवेट हॉस्पिटल के डॉक्टर पर मरीज के परिजनों ने लापरवाही का आरोप लगाया है। स्वास्थ्य विभाग की ओर से मिले आरटीआई के जवाब में डॉक्टर द्वारा ईलाज में लापरवाही बरते जाने का खुलासा हुआ है।
परिजनों ने इसकी शिकायत पुलिस को दी थी, जिसके बाद पुलिस ने इस पर सीएमओ को पत्रा लिख मेडिकल ओपीनियन मांगा। इसमें सीएमओ की ओर से गठित की गई टीम में शामिल डिप्टी सिविल सर्जन डॉ. सुनीता राठी, सर्जन डॉ. जागीर नैन ने जांच में पाया कि डॉक्टर द्वारा इलाज के दौरान जो ट्रीटमेंट किए जाने का निर्णय लिया गया, उसमें खामियां थी। परिजन अब पुलिस से डॉक्टर के खिलाफ केस दर्ज करने की मांग कर रहे हैं।
गुड़गांव निवासी 33 वर्षीय भीम शर्मा का 5 फरवरी 2011 को मुरादाबाद में एक्सीडेंट हो गया था। उन्हें तुरंत ही मुरादाबाद के दीन दयाल उपाध्याय गर्वमेंट हॉस्पिटल ले जाया गया। यहां से उन्हें दिल्ली रेफर कर दिया गया। इस पर परिजन उन्हें गुड़गांव के राजीव नगर स्थित एक प्राइवेट हॉस्पिटल ले आए। यहां पर डॉक्टर उमेश गुप्ता ने उनका उपचार किया। डॉक्टर ने उनकी आंख के पास स्टीचिस लगाने के साथ उन्हें आईसीयू में एडमिट कर लिया व पांच यूनिट ब्लड भी चढ़ाया, लेकिन ऑप्रेशन की जरूरत नहीं समझी। भीम को 11 फरवरी 2011 को डिस्चार्ज किया गया।
पीड़ित ने आरोप लगाया कि इस दौरान उनके पेट में दर्द होता रहा और उनकी हालत बिगड़ने लगी। इसके बाद 19 फरवरी 2011 को परिजन उन्हें दोबारा उसकी हॉस्पिटल ले गए। इसके बाद 27 फरवरी तक वे यहां एडमिट रहे। इस दौरान भी डॉक्टर उमेश गुप्ता ने उनका इलाज किया। इस दौरान उन्हें दो यूनिट ब्लड व 3 यूनिट प्लाजमा चढ़ाया गया, लेकिन हालत में कोई सुधार नहीं हुआ। 6 मार्च को परिजन उन्हें दूसरे प्राइवेट हॉस्पिटल में ले गए।
जहां डॉक्टरों ने चेकअप कर पाया कि पीड़ित की आंतों में घाव व इंफेक्शन काफी ज्यादा बढ़ गया है। यहां पर डॉक्टरों ने उन्हें किसी बड़े हॉस्पिटल ले जाकर तुरंत ऑपरेशन कराने की सलाह दी। इस पर परिजन 7 मार्च 2011 को पीड़ित को आर्टिमिस हॉस्पिटल ले गए, जहां 8 मार्च को उनका ऑपरेशन किया गया।
यहां डॉक्टरों ने बताया कि पीड़ित को लाने में काफी देर कर दी गई, जिसकी वजह से उनकी आंतें सड़ गई हैं। ऑपरेशन करने वाले डॉक्टरों ने परिजनों को दूसरे ऑपरेशन का सुझाव दिया। इसके बाद डॉक्टरों ने दिल्ली के दूसरे हॉस्पिटल में जॉइन कर लिया। इस वजह से परिजनों ने 17 मार्च को भीम को यहां से डिस्चार्ज करा लिया।
परिजन इन्हीं डॉक्टरों से भीम का इलाज कराना चाहते थे। इसके बाद दो बार पीड़ित की हालत खराब होने की वजह से उन्हें आर्टिमिस हॉस्पिटल में भर्ती कराया गया। डॉक्टरों द्वारा ऑपरेशन की सलाह पर पीड़ित को 11 अप्रैल को डिस्चार्ज करवाकर परिजन दिल्ली ले गए। यहां उन्हीं डॉक्टरों के पास लाया गया, जिन्होंने भीम का ऑपरेशन किया था। परिजनों के अनुसार दूसरे ऑप्रेशन के बाद भी पीड़ित की हालत खराब रहती है।
अभी तक उनका इलाज दिल्ली के एक हॉस्पिटल में चल रहा है। पीड़ित को हर चार माह में 6 यूनिट ब्लड चढ़वाना पड़ता है। इस वजह से पीड़ित को सप्ताह भर तक एडमिट रखना पड़ता है।
पीड़ित के परिजनों ने अब डॉक्टरों की जांच रिपोर्ट को आधार बनाकर संबंधित डॉक्टर के खिलाफ एफआईआर करने के लिए सेक्टर-14 पुलिस चौकी में लिखित शिकायत दी है। पुलिस मामले की जांच में जुटी है।

States failed to lift foodgrains from godowns: RTI

Times of India: Shimla: Thursday, 27 November 2014.
Himachal Pradesh has contributed only 0.57 % to the national percentage of the pressure on Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns by lifting fairly well percentage of the food grains against the target fixed by the Centre through FCI in the last 10 years.
The information obtained through RTI by Dev Ashish Bhattacharya from Food Corporation Of India has revealed that in the last 10 years, around 19 Crores,88 lacs,81 thousand and 110 Metric tones (19,88,81,110 MTs) of the food grains remained un-lifted against the targetted quantum of the food grains being assigned to each state.
"Out of this national data the contribution of Himachal Pradesh was only 11 lacs,44 thousand and 670 MTs (11,44,670 MTs) which is only 0.57% of the national mismanagement," said Bhattacharya. He said now the major issues which come out of this exercise is whether this awesome quantum of unlifted food grain by the different states, against the targetted quantum, caused in massive food grain damage in different FCI godowns because of the creation of the paucity of space?
" Why the government failed to rectify the targets for each state keeping in view the actual off take by the states on year basis. What penalty the union government has imposed on various states for not lifting the targetted Food Grains each year," he added.
Bhattacharya asked whether the union government charged the godown charges from the states for storing the unlifted food grains against the assigned targets. "Since the FCI fixes the targets to lift the food grains for each state keeping in view to cater to the subsidised food grains for various poverty eradication schemes, therefore, has the union government sought reports from the states that why they have failed to lift the assigned quantum of the subsidised foodgrain meant for the marginalised citizens of the country," he added.

Translation of material sought under RTI Act triggers debate in Punjab information commission

Times of India: Chandigarh: Thursday, 27 November 2014.
Can an applicant under the Right to Information Act, 2005 seek translations of government texts in Punjab? The tricky question generated much heat in the Punjab State Information Commission in a recent case last week.
In a case related to land acquisition titled 'Naib Kaur versus Punjab Housing and Urban Development, New Oustee Policy (Policy related to compensation to the individuals)', the applicant sought translations of certain paragraphs of the government order from English to Punjabi, besides wanting to know if the policy applied to her as well.
"It was startling that the said three passages, of which the complainant was seeking Punjabi translation, were of just 150 words and the entire New Oustee policy not more than 1,000 words," said the initial order of the commission passed by state information commissioner Surinder Awasthi.
The case also revealed other startling facts such as the department had no designated public information officer for nearly six months ending March, for which a notice was sent to Venu Prasad, secretary, department of housing and urban development, to clarify as to who had been discharging the duties of PIO during the contentious period.
"The respondent deemed the PIO has stated that the PIO is not legally obliged to get any policy translated into Punjabi, which is the official language of the state. The contention of the deemed PIO is that the Punjabi version of the policy can't be supplied as it is not available. Thus, getting it translated in Punjabi would be creation of information which is not mandated under RTI Act," reads the order.
"The information seeker was not demanding a moon, but a mere translation of three paragraphs and it did not entail a rocket science but required simple translation skill which almost every government officer in Punjab is expected to have," it adds.
However, the full bench of the commission later held a different view and ruled, "The PIO is required to supply the 'material' in the form as held by the public authority and is not required to do research on behalf of the citizen to deduce anything from the material and then supply it to him or her."

Govt ignoring monthly reports: RTI

Times of India: New Delhi: Thursday, 27 November 2014.
What's the best way to ensure your government works? The answer may lie in the monthly summaries that every ministry and department must submit to the cabinet secretariat on the work they've been doing. But when transparency activist Venkatesh Nayak attempted to obtain reports for 27 departments under 10 ministries through the Right to Information Act, only six replied in full. More than half didn't bother writing back at all. And some replied without giving him the information.
Nayak, programme coordinator with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, is now set to petition the government to disclose these monthly summaries on all ministry and department websites. Filing monthly summaries is mandatory under the 'Rules of procedure in regard to proceedings of the cabinet,' a manual compiled in 1987 which itself was kept secret until Nayak battled the administration through RTI in order to get hold of a copy.
Nayak filed an RTI query in August this year, asking for monthly summaries for departments under key ministries such as home, finance, defence, external affairs, social justice and water resources. While Nayak received the maximum number of replies from departments under the ministry of finance, his applications were rejected by the ministry of defence.
The department of defence under the ministry of defence rejected the RTI application to provide monthly reports on the grounds that it was exempt from disclosing information under section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI act, dealing with national security. "This is a complete misreading of the clause. Information is exempt only if disclosure will affect national security. The department did not bother to explain how the entire monthly summary attracts this provision," says Nayak.
Ironically the department of personnel and training, which looks after the implementation of the RTI and the Lokpal Act, did not reply to the RTI query on monthly submissions.
Strangely, while Nayak did not receive any information from the departments of disinvestment and financial services under the ministry of finance, sister departments such as expenditure, revenue and economic affairs were prompt with their response.
"One of the reasons for what was believed to be policy paralysis under the previous government may have been a lack of adequate monitoring of the work that each department did. If a report does not come at all, or a report with the word 'nil' is filed, how will the cabinet secretariat or the prime minister even get to know if work is progressing well or has slowed down?" asks Nayak.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Schools wary of stifling norms

Times of India: New Delhi: Tuesday, 25 November 2014.
With the high court ordering Delhi government to ensure that playschools on DDA land start admitting children into EWS quota, this move could result in automatic recognition and regulation for them. While managements of such schools accept the recognition move and concede some norms need to be laid down, they fear interference on matters of fees and curriculum in the future.
Till now, playschools have been the only unregulated part of education, running as commercial ventures. The EWS part of the order alone may impact over 400 schools.
The Monday order doesn't mention recognition, though the government was rebuked for trying to argue that playschools aren't in their 'jurisdiction'. "We have to see if playschools breach the lease-deed agreement which requires 25% EWS admissions and report to Delhi Development Authority," said Padmini Singla, director, education.
However, petitioner Khagesh Jha argued that this will automatically lead to recognition. "To implement this, DoE will have to recognize these schools, be they on private or DDA land. It can't monitor institutions it has no control over," reasons Jha.
In response to an RTI query in 2013, Jha obtained from DDA a list of over 300 plots allotted to establish "nursery schools". This year, DDA told the high court it has allotted 169 plots. "These are all playschools. They've received land on DoE's sponsorship and regulation is a condition of that endorsement," said Jha.
About six of Shemrock's 50 schools in Delhi are on DDA land. The vice-chairman and managing director, Amol Arora, said they'll be "adhering to the lease deed agreement". He blames the "lack of awareness about this provision" for it not being implemented. "We can't deny admission if there are seats, but we have not been approached," he said. He added that a basic checklist with certain norms, especially ones pertaining to safety and hygiene, are a must.
Playschools, however, do not welcome interference in areas such as curriculum and fees or obtaining a large number of permits that may push up running or establishment costs.
"While some norms should be specified, recognition shouldn't be compulsory. It's a long procedure and most playschools run on a very small scale. Also some parents send their kids only for a few months," said Pooja Mehta, principal Tiny Tots Playschool, Janakpuri. Curricula are constantly updated and altered and kids join throughout the year.
Prajodh Rajan, CEO of Eurokids International, which runs 35 schools in Delhi on non-government land, points out that the issue of playschools has been addressed in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy, though it hasn't been implemented fully. "Minimum standards of space, infrastructure, teaching and equipment aren't a bad thing. But if the government gets into regulating fees then we'll face the heat," Rajan said.
Shipra Sharma, an educator with Mother's Pride, which has a network of 78 schools across Delhi-NCR, says that "the government and managements need to work together on a policy that'll be in the interest of the children."
The recent spate of molestations - and one of a child consuming paint thinner in school - led to protests by parents demanding regulation in September and October. The trigger was a molestation case reported from a playschool in Rohini. These cases even prompted Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights chief, Arun Mathur, to write to the chief secretary asking for a policy decision.

RTI Movement, CHRI organise 2-day workshop

Kashmir Reader: Srinagar: Tuesday, 25 November 2014.
The J&K RTI Movement and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) are holding a two-day state level advanced capacity building workshop at the Kashmir University’s Center for Central Asian Studies.
Inaugurated on Monday, the workshop is aimed to impart training to the RTI activists associated with the J&K RTI Movement and Sangharsh RTI Movement Jammu, a press statement issued here said.
The workshop is being chaired by Programme Coordinator of the ATI CHRI, Venketesh Nayak, and Chairman J&K RTI Movement, Dr Shiakh Ghulam Rasool, it said, adding, Amrita Paul and Seema Choudhary from CHRI presented a draft report of the decisions taken by the State Information Commission on appeals and complaints made in 2013.
Activists from across the state are participating in it, it said.
It said the chief information commissioner G R Sufi and the first Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah will be a part of the workshop’s Tuesday’s session.

Over 10,000 RTI appeals pending

The Hindu: New Delhi: Tuesday, 25 November 2014.
When the new Chief Information Commissioner is appointed, he or she will find a mammoth 10,000 Right To Information appeals already pending before him or her. The new government’s delay in appointing a new Chief has led to pendency shooting up, much of it surrounding new policy decisions taken by the government.
The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission, the body which hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority they are seeking information from, and major issues concerning the RTI Act. Since August 22, when Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur retired, the government has not appointed a new Chief. Instead of convening a meeting and promoting the seniormost commissioner, the NDA government in the last week of October advertised for a new Chief. Monday was the last day for applications.
RTI activist Commodore (retd.) Lokesh K. Batra filed a query with the Central Information Commission, asking how many cases had been pending before the Chief as on August 23 and as on November 22. The CIC in its reply said that 10,290 cases were pending. “At this rate, people are going to lose faith in the commission and in the Act,” Mr. Batra told The Hindu.
Over a third of cases involve appeals against the Ministry of Defence alone.
Reflecting recent news development, there has been a big rise in the number of appeals against the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the University Grants Commission, the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan.
The Chief Information Commissioner is to be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a three-member committee headed by the Prime Minister and including the Leader of Opposition and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister. “All that it needed was for the meeting to be called and appointment made,” Nikhil Dey of the National Campaign for the People’s Right To Information said. “The appointment was not held up by the lack of a Leader of the Opposition, because the RTI Act clearly states that the leader of the single largest opposition is also acceptable. If transparency had mattered to the government, they would have made the appointment a priority,” he said.
Former central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has long said that rising pendency is killing the landmark Act. “When I was in the CIC, we decided that we would dispose of a minimum of 3,200 cases per year. I myself was doing 5,000 cases a year and 6,000 in my last year. Yet this norm is being flouted, and Information Commissioners are working less and less, and pendency is piling up,” he said.

Pendency killing RTI, say activists

The Hindu: New Delhi: Tuesday, 25 November 2014.
The post of Chief Information Commissioner has been vacant since August 22 when Rajiv Mathur retired. The Chief Information Commissioner is to be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a three-member committee headed by the Prime Minister, that includes the Leader of the Opposition and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
“All that it needed was for the meeting to be called and appointment made,” Nikhil Dey of the National Campaign for the People’s Right To Information said. “The appointment was not held up by the lack of a Leader of the Opposition, because the RTI Act clearly states that the leader of the single largest opposition is also acceptable. If transparency had mattered to the government, they would have made the appointment a priority,” he said.
Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has long said that rising pendency is killing the landmark Act. “When I was in the CIC, we decided that we would dispose of a minimum of 3,200 cases per year. I myself was doing 5,000 cases a year and 6,000 in my last year. Yet this norm is being flouted, and Information Commissioners are working less and less, and pendency is piling up,” he said.
Reflecting recent news developments, there has been a big rise in the number of RTI appeals against the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the University Grants Commission, the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. Over a third of cases involve appeals against the Ministry of Defence alone.

PM Narendra Modi’s wife files RTI request in Gujarat: What services, security am I entitled to?

Indian Express: Ahmedabad: Tuesday, 25 November 2014.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wife, Jashodaben Modi, on Monday filed an application under the Right To Information Act, seeking details of the official order under which she has been provided security cover and what other “services” she is entitled to among other things.
One of the grounds cited for her concern is former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her personal security guards.
In her RTI plea dated November 24, sent to the Superintendent of Police, Mehsana, Jashodaben, 62, a retired schoolteacher who lives in Unjha town of Mehsana district, has listed 12 queries. Some of these are:
·       “India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was attacked and killed by her personal bodyguards, because of which we are very afraid of our bodyguards. So we want the complete information on the guards protecting us, and if they have a copy of the order under which they are deployed here. If they don’t have it, then on whose orders they don’t have it. We need a certified copy of that order with all these details”.
·       “I have been given protection as per protocol. Please do elaborate what other kind of services can I get as per the protocol, and I also appeal for an elaborate definition of this protocol.”
·       “When I am travelling by public transport, the security personnel protecting me travel by government vehicles. Under whose orders do they use government vehicles, kindly furnish the certified copies of the same urgently… under which law is this covered?”
·       Another question reiterates how she used public transport while her guards used government vehicles. “Do let me know if I am eligible under this protocol or not.”
·       “The security personnel who are deployed to work for ensuring my protection have told us that we should treat them like guests, so if the protocol could be explained and a copy of the same furnished. While we have repeatedly asked the security commandos to show us the order by which they are assigned to protect us and whose authority does this come under, they have failed to do so.”
Most of her questions begin with, “Amo arajdar vada pradhanna patni Jashodaben Modi Chhiye…”(I, the petitioner who is the Prime Minister’s wife Jashodaben Modi…). In her RTI plea, Jashodaben has sought a reply in the next 48 hours, with relevant documents, stating that the issues concern her “life and death”.
Confirming that she had filed the RTI plea, Jashodaben’s younger brother, Ashok Modi, with whom she lives, said: “How would it feel for a PM’s wife to move about on an Activa (two wheeler)? After all she is the first lady, so why not give her adequate transport facilities to move around. While we have never asked for this security cover and are, in fact, tired of it, we have not been shown the order authorising this security cover. Also, since she has VVIP status, why not give her an identity card for the same. These SPG commandos who protect her are in plainclothes and not in uniform.”
According to Ashok Modi, about 10 SPG commandos, in two shifts, have been deployed for her security. “Vada pradhan na patni ne shu malvu joiye? Je prem emne malvu joiye, e nathi maltu. What necessary facilities should a a PM’s wife be getting, the love that she should be getting is not being given to her,” he said.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Delhi Police splurge Rs 15 crore to keep force's vehicles on the road

Daily Mail: New Delhi: Monday, 24 November 2014.
The Delhi Police spent about Rs 15 crore on maintenance of its nearly 3,500 vehicles in the year 2013-14. The figure may not raise eyebrows at first glance, but close scrutiny reveals that some battalions and departments have submitted maintenance bills exceeding Rs 1 crore each.
Moreover, the largely new fleet of police vehicles includes nearly 2,000 bikes.
According to the information gathered through an RTI query filed by activist Zeeshan Haider, the Delhi Police’s Third battalion spent Rs 1.93 crore on maintenance of its vehicles, including vans, bikes and cars, in 2013-14.
The Third battalion has 96 vehicles, of which 10 are not in a usable condition.
It means that the battalion spent more than Rs 2 lakh on an average annual basis. Till June 30 this year, the battalion spent Rs 36 lakh in just three months.
Similarly, Outer District police have submitted a bill of Rs 1.30 crore for the maintenance of their vehicles.
According to a senior officer, Outer District has approximately 250 vehicles, out of which around 150 are bikes.
On an average, Outer District also spent Rs 50,000 for maintenance on each vehicle.
The Central District had maintenance bills worth Rs 1.11 crore in the same period.
Surprisingly, the same district has spent only Rs 8,000 on the maintenance of vehicles in three months ending on June 30 this year. Delhi is divided into 11 police districts.
The Right to Information (RTI) data reveals that the Delhi Police’s security wing had submitted maintenance bills worth Rs 1.41 crore in 2013-14.
“The figures are raising questions and an inquiry is required to check how many fake bills were generated for the maintenance of vehicles,” a senior government official said.
"It is bizarre that cops spent Rs 2 lakh on a bike which cost only Rs 80,000."
At the same time, there are various battalions whose maintenance bills are much lesser in comparison to others.
The Delhi Police’s Fourth battalion has spent Rs 8 lakh in two years. In 2013-14, the battalion spent Rs 5 lakh. Similarly, the Second battalion spent around Rs 6 lakh in three years on maintenance of vehicles.
“Almost 60 per cent of the vehicles are recently inducted into the force. The Delhi Police has a policy to scrap any vehicle which is more than five-year old. And almost 50 per cent of the PCR vans were recently purchased,” a senior police officer said.
"The force got 370 new PCR vans last year itself. Every Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and above rank officers have new vehicles…"
The fleet of police control room (PCR) vans comprises Innova, Tavera, Qualis, Gypsy, SX4, Accent and Ambassador, while Bullet and Pulsar are the preferred choices of city cops when it comes to motorcycles.
The Delhi Police deploy its fleet of four-wheelers and two-wheelers for various assignments, including patrol duty and keeping a check on speed demons in the Capital.

NTCA approves tiger reserve in Chhattisgarh

Times of India: New Delhi: Monday, 24 November 2014.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has given in-principle approval for creation of Guru Ghasidas-Tamor Pingla tiger reserve in Chhattisgarh.
The NTCA here has sought a final proposal from the state administration in this regard, officials said.
The proposal to declare Guru Ghasidas National Park as a tiger reserve was proposed in June 2011 by the then Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh.
The national park lies between two important tiger reserves Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh) and Palamau (Jharkhand) and is also contiguous with the Sanjay-Dubri tiger reserve (Madhya Pradesh) is about 450 km away from state capital Raipur.
The area was surveyed by the Wildlife Institute of India in 2010. Though the prey population in the habitat is low at present, it has considerable diversity. Therefore, with good management and protection under Project Tiger, the area has a potential for supporting a viable tiger population along with the Sanjay-Dubri tiger reserve, Ramesh had said.
"This would ensure the largest landscape within the part of central India for tiger conservations," he had said in the letter and sought a proposal from the state government in this regard.
The in-principle approval for creation of the reserve has been given and a final proposal has been sought from the Chhattisgarh government, said the letter written by NTCA to the state and accessed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who hails from state's Korea district, in response to an RTI query.
Chhattisgarh has three tiger reserves Indravati, Udanti-Sitanadi and Achanakmar. It has an 26 tigers in its reserves, according to an NTCA data on the big cats census of 2010. The country has an estimated 1,706 tigers in its various reserves, the data said.

In revised rape law, J&K lets troops retain shield

Indian Express: Srinagar: Monday, 24 November 2014.
At a time when the National Conference and the PDP are engaging in one-upmanship over the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the impunity enjoyed by the armed forces, another central act adopted by the Jammu and Kashmir assembly earlier this year omitted a provision that allowed prosecution of public servants, including personnel of police and the armed forces, for crimes against women without the need for prior sanction from central authorities.
After the Criminal Law (amendment) Act, 2013, was passed by the Centre following the Delhi gang-rape, the J&K assembly adopted the amendments in March this year. However, the state law left intact the need for sanction for prosecution of public servants. No party objected to the continued impunity provided to public servants.
This comes when parties continue to attack AFSPA. During the current poll campaign, CM Omar Abdullah accused the Congress and the PDP of not supporting him in his effort to get AFSPA repealed. The PDP’s Nayeem Akhtar, for his part, claimed his party would get AFSPA repealed, saying Omar didn’t take any concrete measures.
One of the major criticisms of AFSPA is that once the police file and investigate a case against members of the armed forces, they need sanction, which is frequently denied, from the Ministry of Defence (to prosecute army personnel) or Home (paramilitary forces). Responding to an RTI application, Integrated Headquarters of MoD (Army) in April 2012 revealed that 44 cases had been received during 1990-2011 for sanction for prosecution under AFSPA from J&K government. The Centre denied sanction in 35 of the cases while nine were “under process in MoD/integrated headquarters of MoD (Army)”. In one case, the Army conducted a court-martial and convicted and punished a soldier with dismissal and ten years’ imprisonment.
After the Delhi gang-rape, one of the key recommendations of the Justice J S Verma committee was that sexual offences by armed forces personnel be brought under ordinary criminal law. In Kashmir and the northeastern states, where too AFSPA is in force, the armed forces have frequently got immunity from prosecution in civilian courts after their personnel have been charged with rape. In submissions to the Verma panel, activists and lawyers such as Vrinda Grover had suggested deletion of the need for sanction for prosecution. AFSPA’s immunity clause is circumscribed by “good faith”; it should come into play only when personnel make a “bona fide mistake” during operations, but they have invoked it in rape cases too.
The central Criminal Law (amendment) Act, 2013, incorporated to CrPC section 197 an explanation that says that “for the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that no sanction shall be required in case of a public servant accused of any offence alleged to have been committed under section 166A, section 166B, section 354, section 354 A, section 354B, section 354C, section 354D, section 370, section 375, section 376, section 376A, section 376C, section 376D or section 509 of IPC”.
These sections cover offences such as “rape”, “sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment”, “assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe”, “voyeurism”, “stalking”, “rape”, trafficking, “sexual intercourse by a person in authority”, “words and gestures and act intended to insult the modesty of a woman”, “disobeying direction under law”, “fails to record FIR”, “punishment for non-treatment of victim”, “disobeys the direction of law regulating the manner in which he shall conduct such investigation”.
The J&K assembly, however, passed the law without doing away with the need for sanction for prosecution of public servants. There is no impunity provided to public servants in the amended law in the northeast states.
When contacted, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, “I don’t know about it and I will have to check with the law department”. State law secretary M Ashraf Mir told The Indian Express, “It happened before I took over. There was a committee made with the director (prosecution), the advocate general, and the special secretary (law) to see which amendments we would adopt from the central law”. Advocate general Ishaq Qadri said, “We had not proposed to drop this explanation. There should not be a need for prior sanction to prosecute public servants in cases of crimes against women.”
The J&K Act does add “the driving licence of the accused of rape” or other sexual assault cases “shall stand suspended from the date the accused is challenged in a competent court of law till the announcement of the judgment” and if guilty, “shall have no right to drive any vehicle in the state and his licence shall stand cancelled on conviction”.
Request & denial:
44 requests for sanction to prosecute defence personnel, 1990-2011
35, the number of cases in which sanction denied
9 “under process in MoD/integrated headquarters of MoD (Army)”
As per RTI reply by MoD, which also mentioned a court-martial and conviction
Rape charges:
1997, Anantnag: A housewife accused an army officer of rape; state’s request for sanction to prosecute “under consideration in army headquarters/ Ministry of Defence”.
1999, Rafiabad: Army major accused of raping a housewife; request for sanction to prosecute “under consideration”

कुमाऊं में सूचना आयोग की पीठ को शासन को भेजा पत्र

दैनिक जागरण: देहरादून: Monday, 24 November 2014.
राज्यपाल ने कुमाऊं मंडल में राज्य सूचना आयोग की एक पीठ स्थापित करने की राष्ट्रीय सामाजिक न्याय कृति मंच की मांग को संज्ञान लेते हुए सचिव सामान्य प्रशासन को कार्यवाही के लिए पत्र लिखा है। मंच ने आयोग में अतिरिक्त आयुक्तों की तैनाती की बजाए वहां स्टाफ की कमी को दूर करने पर भी जोर दिया है।
राष्ट्रीय सामाजिक न्याय कृति मंच के प्रदेश उपाध्यक्ष भूपेंद्र कुमार ने यह जानकारी दी। उन्होंने बताया कि मंच की ओर से 5 जुलाई को राज्यपाल एवं मुख्यमंत्री को पत्र भेजा गया था। इसमें यह भी उल्लेख किया गया कि सूचना आयोग में नियुक्त आयुक्तों के लिए वर्तमान में रोजाना एक-दो घंटे का कार्य ही उपलब्ध है। उन्होंने बताया कि इस पत्र पर राज्यपाल ने कार्यवाही के लिए सचिव सामान्य प्रशासन को पत्र भेजा है।
श्री कुमार के अनुसार वर्तमान में राज्य सूचना आयोग में स्टाफ की भी भारी कमी है। इसके चलते विभिन्न मामलों में पारित आदेश कई-कई दिन बाद मिल पा रहे हैं। ऐसे में जरूरी है कि आयोग में नए आयुक्तों की नियुक्ति की बजाए स्टाफ की कमी को दूर करना चाहिए।
उधर, राज्य निर्माण आंदोलनकारी सम्मान परिषद के पूर्व अध्यक्ष रविंद्र जुगरान ने कहा कि राज्य में मुख्य सूचना आयुक्त समेत पांच आयुक्त तैनात हैं। रोटेशन फार्मूला अपनाते हुए प्रदेश के सभी जनपदों में समय-समय पर सूचना आयुक्तों के कैंप आयोजित किए जाने चाहिएं। इससे सूचना अधिकार अधिनियम की मूल अवधारणा के अनुरूप राज्यहित में आम जनता को लाभ मिल सकेगा।

Disclose communication on request to probe ex-CJI: CIC

Zee News: New Delhi: Monday, 24 November 2014.
The Central Information Commission has directed the Law Ministry to disclose the action taken on a request to probe former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan for alleged misconduct, saying correspondence between the Executive about a former CJI is not privileged correspondence.
Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said that even if it is assumed for a moment that the information regarding 'action taken' on a request for probe against a former CJI is privileged, such 'privilege' is not expressly provided as a ground for rejection of a request for information under Section 8(1) of the Right to Information Act.
The case pertains to a request by RTI activist Subhash Agrawal for a probe against Balakrishnan for alleged misconduct while he was the CJI through the public grievance portal of the government.
Through his RTI application, Agrawal had sought copies of correspondence, file notings, documents, etc. On action taken on his submission regarding the probe.
The information was not provided by the ministry.
But Acharyulu held that, "the information sought has nothing?to do with the privilege of Parliament or state legislature.
"The correspondence between Executive about a former CJI is not privileged correspondence as per any provision of RTI Act or Constitution of India. It is not information given in fiduciary capacity."
He said that even if any disclosure of such information about probe against a former CJI would cause harm to 'protected interest', Section 8(2) of the RTI Act allows disclosure of the same if the larger public interest is involved.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Punjab commission for review of laws against right to information

The News International: Islamabad: Sunday, 23 November 2014.
The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) has asked the provincial government to review its laws that are in conflict with citizens’ right to information as guaranteed by Article 19-A of the Constitution.
In a recent order, the Punjab Information Commissioner Mukhtar Ahmad Ali directed the provincial secretary Health and his subordinates to take immediate steps to fulfill their responsibilities under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information (RTI) Act 2013.
The government departments have also been directed to amend to review rules procedures, manuals to bring them in conformity with Article 19-A of the Constitution and provisions of the RTI Act.
The decision of the Information Commission was given on a complaint by this correspondent about non-provision of information under the new RTI Act 2013 by the executive district officer (EDO) Health, Khanewal.
The Commission was informed that the EDO had not responded to an application for access to information within the time period specified in the RTI law. The complainant had sought certified information about total number of applications submitted against illegal clinics and medical stores in the district from January 1, 2013 to September 1, 2014. The information request was made on September 2, 2014 but the EDO refused to provide the information citing the Punjab Drugs Rules, 2007, Rule 8 which bars any such information-sharing.
“The Respondent has taken this stance despite the fact that section 24 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 explicitly and unambiguously states that the provisions of this Act ‘shall take precedence over the provisions of any other law,’” the commission said in its written order.
The Commission also took strong notice of the failure of the EDO in responding in specified time in accordance with Section 10 of the RTI Act 2013.
“The explanation of the Respondent in response to the Commission’s letter doesn’t suggest that the Respondent had made any serious effort to decide the application within 14 working days or to communicate his decision of rejecting the application to the complainant. Hence, the Respondent has acted in violation of explicit provisions, such as section 10, of the Act,” the order further states. “Such careless and negligent attitudes on the part of concerned officers and public bodies are in violation of the letter and spirit of the Act and are not acceptable,” said the commission.
The commission directed the public bodies to take effective and proactive steps to ensure that relevant officers were well-versed with the Act and process and decide the applications for access to information within the prescribed time limits.
“Therefore, the Commission is of the view that provisions in other laws and rules (e.g. Rule 8) that restrict citizens’ access to information cannot be relied upon to refuse disclosure of information sought under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013,” the verdict said.
In fact, the said Rule 8 of the Punjab Drugs Rules 2007, for being in direct contradiction of the explicit provisions of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, has become outdated and redundant, and should no longer be retained or allowed to guide the conduct of inspectors, analysts or other officers in the health department, it adds.
When contacted, the Punjab Information Commissioner Mukhtar Ahmad Ali told The News that currently there were several laws in Punjab which were impeding citizens’ access to information.“The previous legal system is biased against right to information, so we must change the laws to ensure that people have the access to information according to the provisions of the Constitution and RTI Act 2013,” he said.

RTI provides maximum disclosure : AMJAD KHAN

The Nation: Lahore: Sunday, 23 November 2014.
The Right to Information Bill, as mandated in Article 19 of the Constitution, must be expedited and ensured, as it is necessary for the transparency of governance. Federal Minister for Information, assured the Senate’ Standing Committee of Information that the Right to Information Law (RTI) will be presented before the cabinet for approval at its next meeting, before tabling it in parliament. The Prime Minister will be asked to expedite the process to adopt the bill without delay, as it is the right of the citizens of Pakistan. The RTI seeks to repeal the existing Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 and is based on the principle of providing maximum disclosure, minimum exceptions, no blanket immunity and punishment for willfully withholding or destroying information. When RTI comes into practice it will allow for greater transparency and better working of the government.

Political Parties Give A Miss To CIC Summons

Free Press Journal: New Delhi: Sunday, 23 November 2014.
Ignoring summons by the Central Information Commission, none of the six political parties including BJP and Congress on Friday appeared before it for hearing on non-compliance of its order that they came within the ambit of RTI Act.
A full bench of the Commission comprising Information Commissioners Vijai Sharma, Manjula Parashar and Sharat Sabharwal heard the views of complainants Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), activist Subhash Agrawal and intervener R K Jain who demanded issuing show cause notice to the political parties for imposition of penalty.
After the detailed hearing, where Agrawal and ADR demanded imposition of penalty on the political parties, which were issued notice by the transparency panel, the Commission reserved the order.