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.

Mughal-era building lies in neglect

Times of India: Meerut: Sunday, 23 November 2014.
Even as the ASI held a drawing competition for schoolchildren at the historic Shahpir ka Maqbara on Saturday, little has been about the illegal structures that have mushroomed around the historical structure. The Mughal-era building, too, lies in some neglect, and the repair work undertaken have only added to the problems.
The competition was held to mark the ongoing World Heritage Week at the 17th-century monument built by the Mughal queen Noor Jehan. Interestingly, as a result of the royal's ire, the mausoleum- which still draws the faithful - was never completely built.
Over the years, the monument has become so engulfed by the illegal constructions that it is no longer from Hapur road on which it stands. In fact, in a reply earlier this year to an RTI plea filed by Lokesh Khurana, the Archaeological Survey of India said it had served repeated notices on the illegal establishments. The notices were served between May 21, 2013 and December 19, 2013. What's more, the Meerut Masterplan 2021, drafted way back in 2003, had said no constructions would be allowed near the Maqbara.
But ASI says it is helpless in the matter. "We keep getting notices and demolition orders from our circle office in Agra. But we have to depend on the local civic administration to follow the orders," assistant patron, ASI, Ankit Kumar, said. The civic authorities, however, have been shockingly lackadaisical about the issue, he said. "is it any wonder then that so many monuments have been encroached upon? And ASI is reduced to nothing but a mute spectator to society's deliberate attempt to destroy our heritage?" Kumar fumed.
But ASI may not be completely above blame. In the RTI plea, it said that from April 2011 to March 2014, it had spent Rs 17,87,559 on the tomb. Yet, the entire historic complex is in a state of some neglect. Some parts of the red stone structure have chipped off, while the gate leading to the complex is in a dilapidated state. Other structures in the complex, too, are in a poor condition.
What's worse, the small amount of repair work undertaken by ASI has done more harm than good. For starters, cement has been used to carry out the repairs. Government Museum curator Manoj Gautam said, "It is essential that when repair work is done, it should be done with the original material. Cement cannot hold in a structure made of lime mortar and this is what has been done here."
As the cement doesn't stay for too long on a stone structure, this paves way for seepages, which will cause severe damage to the building. What's more, astonishingly, missing portions of the stone structure have been replaced with white marble. This violates the aesthetic integrity of the historic building entirely.
The birth of the mausoleum is wrapped in both historical fact and lore. It is said that empress Noor Jehan, perturbed by her husband Jehangir's inordinate drinking, approached the Sufi saint Shahpir Rehmatullah Auliya.
When the queen noticed her husband refusing alcohol in a few days, she ordered a mausoleum to be built for Shahpir sometime around 1633. But, the story goes, the royal devotee later fell out with the saint for some reason. Construction of the mausoleum was abruptly stopped. And that's how the Shahpir Ka Makbara stands today in all its splendour - incomplete.

आरटीआई अब आपके मोबाइल में, आ गया ऐप

अमर उजाला: नई दिल्ली: Sunday, 23 November 2014.
साल 2005 में सूचना का अधिकार (आरटीआई) कानून लागू हुआ था जिससे आम आदमी को भ्रष्टाचार से लड़ने में काफी मदद मिली। यह एक ऐसा सशक्त हथियार है जिसके जरिए सरकारी महकमों के कामकाज की सारी हकीकत सामने आ जाती है।
सूचना का अधिकार (आरटीआई) के तहत जानकारी प्राप्त करने के लिए आपको एक आवेदन फार्म भरने की जरूरत होती है। ‌इसके लिए थोड़ी मशक्कत करनी पड़ती थी, लेकिन अब इस काम को दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के प्रोफेसर गुरुपित सिंह टुटेजा ने और भी आसान बना दिया है।
जाकिर हुसैन कॉलेज के सहायक प्रोफेसर ने एंड्रॉयड यूजर्स के लिए 'आरटीआई गुरू' (RTI Guru) नाम से एक एप्लिकेशन तैयार की है। इसके जरिए आप आरटीआई दाखिल करने की पूरी प्रक्रिया स्मार्टफोन के आसानी के साथ कर सकते हैं।
10 जरूरी शार्टकट्स जानिए, काम होगा फटाफट:
यहां हिंदी और अंग्रेजी दोनों तरह के ऑनलाइन फार्म की सुविधा दी गई है। आवदेन करने के बाद यूजर्स आरटीआई गुरू के जरिए आवेदन प्रक्रिया को ट्रेक भी कर सकते हैं।
इस ऐप में आरटीआई मैनेजर नाम से एक खास फीचर दिया गया है, जिसके जरिए यूजर्स अपनी आरटीआई से संबंधित जानकारी को सुरक्षित भी कर सकते हैं।
यह ऐप सूचना का अधिकार (आरटीआई) कानून 2005 की जानकारी के साथ-साथ अन्य महत्वपूर्ण वेबसाइट्स की भी जानकारी देने का काम करती है।

55 info officers to be fined Rs 25,000 each

Times of India: Meerut: Sunday, 23 November 2014.
State Information Commissioner (SIC)Rajkeshvar Singh, on a visit to Meerut on Saturday, instructed the district magistrate to penalise 55 information officers from different departments with a penalty of Rs 25,000 each. The SIC was in the city to address a meeting of officials on the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005.
On getting to know that there were as many as 832 RTI applications pending in Meerut, the official said those responsible for the large pendency - and Meerut has the dubious distinction of being the district with the largest pendency of RTI applications in the state - should be penalised. Chaudhary Charan Singh University accounts for 116 of the pending RTI applications.
The SIC asked the district magistrate to recover Rs 13,75,000 from the 55 information officers who showed laxity in responding to RTI applicants. He directed all departments to dispose of pending applications in a period of one or two months.
Addressing the media, he said, "Awareness of RTI Act is a big reason of the increasing pendency. Information officers are not intentionally showing laxity. This is the system. It is not so perfect. Under the law, information must be provided in 30 days."
The SIC explained that departments that have the largest public dealings also have the highest pendency. "Following the CCSU, the revenue department is at second position, having 100 pending cases. Power Corporation and Meerut Development Authority have 60 and 54 pending applications respectively."
Asked about threats to RTI applicants, the SIC said, "The protection of RTI activists is not in the hands of the Information Commission. It is the responsibility of police and district administration."
He urged citizens to refrain from misusing the RTI Act. If bizarre information is sought, it takes up time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere, he said. "Information on a private person cannot be provided. Information that affects business interests is also not given. There is a provision to consider the needs of secrecy," the SIC explained.
A special hearing of RTI applications is scheduled in Lucknow on December 27. RTI applications that pertain to the Meerut Development Authority and the city municipal corporation will be heard on January 17 next year.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

RTI ऐक्टिविस्ट पर फायरिंग, बचे

नवभारत टाइम्स: गाजियाबाद: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
कार सवार हमलावरों ने शुक्रवार रात शालीमार गार्डन में रहने वाले एक आरटीआई ऐक्टिविस्ट पर ताबड़तोड़ फायरिंग की। हालांकि, इस हमले में वह बाल-बाल बच गए। गोलियों की आवाज सुनकर आसपास के लोगों ने घेराबंदी कर दो हमलावरों को दबोच लिया। खबर लिखे जाने तक इनकी पहचान नहीं हो पाई थी।
हमलावरों के निशाने पर आए ऐक्टिविस्ट महकार कसाना पेशे से वकील भी हैं। शुक्रवार रात करीब 8 बजे वह घर के बाहर अपने भांजे के साथ बैठे थे। उसी दौरान वैगनआर कार से 4 हमलावर आए और पहले धमकी दी। बदमाशों को देख वह भागने लगे तभी उनपर ताबड़तोड़ फायरिंग कर दी। हालांकि, वह बच गए।
उन्होंने बताया कि कुछ दिन पहले ही एक अस्पताल के अवैध तरीके से निर्माण कराए जाने को लेकर संबंधित विभाग में आरटीआई डाली थी। इसके बाद धमकी मिल रही थी। आशंका है इसी बात को लेकर उनपर हमला किया गया। वहीं, पुलिस इस मामले में आरोपियों से पूछताछ कर रही है।

RTI के दायरे में सियासी दल : फैसला सुरक्षित

नवभारत टाइम्स: नई दिल्ली: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
केंद्रीय सूचना आयोग ने आरटीआई के दायरे में राजनैतिक दलों के आने के मामले में फैसला सुरक्षित रखा है। दरअसल किसी भी राष्ट्रीय दल का प्रतिनिधि शुक्रवार को सीआईसी की सुनवाई में नहीं पहुंचा। 6 राजनैतिक दलों के खिलाफ शिकायत है कि वह उस आदेश का पालन नहीं कर रहे हैं, जिसमें कहा गया था कि वह आरटीआई के दायरे में आते हैं। आयोग ने पिछले साल 3 जून को घोषित कांग्रेस, बीजेपी, सीपीआई, एनसीपी, सीपीएम और बीएसपी को सूचना के अधिकार कानून के तहत जवाबदेह बताया था। हालांकि किसी भी राजनीतिक दल ने इस फैसले को कहीं चुनौती दी, न ही सरकार ने नियम बदले, लेकिन दूसरी ओर आरटीआई के तहत सूचना देने से भी वह लगातार इनकार करते रहे। इसके बाद आरटीआई एक्टिविस्ट्स ने सीआईसी में मामला दायर किया था।

RTI: Raj Bhavan PIO summoned by KIC

Times of India: Mangaluru: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
Now, the Personal Information Officer (PIO) at Raj Bhavan has been issued summons by the Karnataka Information Commission for not furnishing information sought by an applicant under Right to Information Act, even after a year.
The application was filed by CS Shastri from Puttur on August 8, 2013 under RTI asking for the details such as heads, duties, date of commencement of functioning, date of submission of report, total expenses incurred, action of the government under the report of various commissions formed by Government of Karnataka.
Shastri said even the highest office in the state was neglecting queries under RTI as the KIC was not punitive enough and was letting go officials with a slight rap.
The KIC summons directs PIO to be present at the Court Hall 2 on November 25 at 11am. The order stated either the respondent should appear in person and should send a representative producing documents on action taken on RTI. "In case the respondent fails to appear the matter would be decided ex parte," the order stated.

RTI a costly affair?

Times of India: Hyderabad: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
Obtaining information through Right to Information (RTI) just became a costly affair. An activist, who had earlier this month sought information on developmental works was left flummoxed after the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board (HMWS&SB), in their reply, asked him to pay a whopping Rs 32,470 for providing the demanded statistics.
In a series of five questions, a social activist Mohammed Abdul Akram of Yugantar (NGO) sought data on the number of completed and pending projects in Moghalpura, and the budgeted amount earmarked for each. He had also requested information on the list of borewells sanctioned from 2009 to 2014, apart from requesting details on the number of sanctioned bore-wells which were yet to be dug.
Instead of furnishing the information, HMWS&SB general manager of O&M division 1, Miralam S V Ramana Rao on November 11 gave the applicant a list of charges which the water works department would reportedly incur in providing the information.
What is ironic is that out of the Rs 32,470 "fee", only Rs 60 was mentioned as cost component for typing and printing the information.
Invoking section 7 (3) of the RTI Act in reply to the NGO activist, the HMWS&SB said that it would need a technical officer (TO), a manager, an attendant and a data processing officer (DPO) to procure the information and that the entire procedure would take eight days. Calculating salaries of each staff member for the same period, the applicant was asked to shell out Rs 17,240 as changes for deputing the TO, Rs 4,434 for the manager, Rs 7,672 for the attendant and Rs 3,064 for the DPO.
"The information I sought was simple. I have not asked for any technical plans. By unjustifiably charging me, it seems the HMWS&SB is trying to block information," Akram claimed.
When TOI tried to contact the HMWS&SB general manager of O&M division 1, Miralam S V Ramana Rao, he remained unavailable for comments.

RTI query on RTIs stumps development authority

Bangalore Mirror: Bangalore: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
BDA failed to provide information on how many RTI applications were filed before it in a particular period.
Let alone evasive or tangential information by government agencies or departments in replies to queries under the Right To Information (RTI) Act; this one takes the cake.
Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has not been able to provide an answer to queries by an RTI activist about applications it had received and information it had provided to such applications between January 1, 2005, and September 30, 2011.
The RTI application was made by activist ARS Kumar who had sought the information from all the PIOs in BDA in September 2011. The information sought was meant to throw light on the effective implementation of the RTI Act in BDA. But BDA did not give out the information.
Kumar lodged a complaint with the information commission in October 2011, and the hearing of the case commenced in May 2012. Notices were issued to 11 PIOs of various wings in BDA.
However, as none of them appeared before the commission, show-cause notices were issued to all of them. The information commission then asked the errant BDA officials to pay fines to the tune of Rs 5,000 each by June 11, 2014.But as only one official, Indudhar, law officer, BDA, paid the fine on that day, the commission set November 19 as the date for the rest to pay up.
On the same day (June 11), the commission penalised two more officers - Sunder Raj, AEE, infrastructure division III and MC Somesh, PIO, peripheral ring road - with the same amount of fines each.
On Wednesday, five BDA officials - G Nagraj, assistant commissioner and PIO (east); CV Nagaraj, executive engineer, east division, Bangalore; CManjappa, engineer officer I; TD Nanjundappa, engineer officer II; and Gowdaiah, engineer officer V - paid penalties for failing to provide information. Four others - an executive engineer and PIO, infrastructure division 1(unnamed); NP Ramachandraiah, AEE (assistant executive engineer) housing project division; R Vijay Kumar, AEE, Infrastructure division VII; and Raghavan, engineer officer III - are yet to pay.
Two others have filed applications to drop penalty orders against them. The commission has posted the case to February 27, 2015. "They have neither provide information to applicants, nor bothered about applications. The response from senior officials and penalties is an indication to the same," Kumar said.
Fight for information
Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has not been able to provide an answer to queries by RTI activist ARS Kumar about applications it had received and information it had provided to such applications between January 1, 2005, and September 30, 2011. The information sought was meant to throw light on the effective implementation of the RTI Act in BDA.

Green panel not formed as per norms: RTI reply

Times of India: New Delhi: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
An RTI enquiry has found that a high-level committee, formed by the ministry of earth sciences and climate change to review environmental laws, was not constituted according to requisite administrative procedure.
The committee, headed by former cabinet secretary T S R Subramaniam, was tasked to review six environmental, forest and wildlife laws, including the Air and Water Act. An RTI application dated October 1, 2014, was filed before the ministry by NGO EIA Resource and Response Center seeking bio-data of the panel members. The reply states that the information is not available with the ministry.
The members of the committee are retired judges and bureaucrats. The RTI plea also revealed that the committee had been formed under rules and regulations notified under an Act of Parliament. However, it does not mention which Act that might be. The RTI also sought information on whether the PM or the cabinet secretary's approval has been taken before it was set up. But the reply only stated that approval of the ministry has been obtained.
Members of the NGO said the committee has been formed without examination of their suitability in the field of environmental, forest and wildlife laws. "From the response it is clear that the ministry made no effort to check the background of the people who have been entrusted with this task," an NGO statement said.
"This only reflects the casual manner in which this committee has been constituted. Review of environmental law is a serious task and requires both expertise as well as effective public consultation," environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta said.

People do not get benefits of RTI in Manipur: Joykumar

E-Pao.net: Imphal: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
Human Rights Initiative (HRI), Zeliangrong Youth Front (Assam, Manipur Nagaland), and Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA) jointly organised the "State Level Training on welfare schemes and RTI Act for youth leaders, an initiative of conflict transformation in Manipur" at Manipur Press Club here on Thursday.
Human Rights Activist Wahengbam Joykumar delivered lecture on 'Basic concept of Human Rights, Entitlement and RTI, 2005'.Saying that Manipur is a conflict-ridden state and human rights violation takes place on a large scale, Joykumar expressed his view that it is the duty of the governments at the state and the centre to uphold the human rights under provisions given in Indian Constitution and the International Human rights Laws.
Implementation of RTI Act in Manipur has been in jeopardy, as the appointment of the Information Commissioners has been unduly delayed by the government.
Hence, the people do not get the benefits of RTI Act, he lamented.

Ambit of RTI Act grows to cover private unaided schools on government land

Times of India: Mumbai: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
In a landmark order, Aurangabad information commissioner D B Deshpande on Friday observed that a private unaided school on government land or land allotted by a state-run corporation is covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
As a result, it is mandatory for such institutes to provide information sought under the RTI Act.
Aurangabad resident R K Bhalerao had sought some basic information from Y S International School, but the school administration rejected his application. It said the RTI Act was not applicable to it since it was private and unaided.
Bhalerao filed an appeal before the Aurangabad information commission. Bhalerao's contention was that since Cidco had granted prime land at a nominal price to the school, it was obligatory on the institute to provide information under the RTI Act. He submitted: "Since the school has secured land from a government agency at a nominal price, the school is a public authority as per the provisions of the RTI Act."
When the case came up for hearing, Deshpande summoned Bhalerao, the school administration, education officials and officials of Cidco to verify the applicant's claim. Cidco officials confirmed to the commission that it had allotted a prime piece of land to the international school at 50% of the market price.
In his 11-page order, Deshpande directed the school administration to provide information within three months and asked it to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 to Bhalerao towards the cost of litigation.

Six parties ignore CIC summonses

Times of India: New Delhi: Saturday, 22 November 2014.
Cocking a snook at the Central Information Commission (CIC), none of the six national political parties were present to respond to summonses of non-compliance. The CIC had issued a third notice in September this year seeking to know why political parties had not complied by its June 3 order that recognized them as public authorities under the 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 RK Jain who demanded issuing show-cause notice to the political parties.
After the detailed hearing, where Agrawal and ADR demanded imposition of penalty on the political parties and compensation, the commission reserved the order.
Jain also said that CIC should use its power of civil court to summon these parties and seek explanation for non-implementation of its directives.
Agrawal demanded maximum penalty under provision of RTI act and providing exemplary compensation under provision of RTI act. He also urged CIC to recommend to the central government, election commission, central board of direct taxes (CBDT) and others concerned, abolition of direct and indirect financing by Union and state governments to the political parties.
"No further government-accommodations may be allotted to any political party. Existing ones may be vacated say within three years...Political parties may be made to submit their complete fiscal details including incoming and outgoing funds to election commission for making these public through website," he said.
The ADR said this is a clear case of open defiance of a statutory authority by the six political parties and is not conducive to the functioning of a democratic society. Describing the non-compliance as "open defiance" by political parties ADR's Jagdeep Chhokar said that the compensation should be exemplary and meaningful. ADR has demanded a compensation of Rs 44.10 crore from all 6 political parties calculated at 5% of the party's annual income.
The CIC on June 3 last year had declared Congress, BJP, CPI, CPI(M), NCP and BSP as public authorities answerable under RTI act and given them six weeks to comply with the mandatory requirements under the law for the processing of information seeking applications. But none of the parties followed the directives.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Can hospitals be more transparent by showing patient survival data?

Moneylife: Pune: Friday, 21 November 2014.
The time is ripe to make data of patient survival rates transparent as the UK has just done.
The health department of UK has just launched ‘My National Health Service (MyNHS)’, which has brought in increased transparency including patients’ right to be provided data on health care services including survival rates for cancer and other ailments. This also has opened up a huge possibility for India, which has the second strongest transparency law in the world.
Quoting the UK health secretary, The Telegraph newspaper states that all hospital (in UK) have been ordered to publish their cancer survival rates ‘as part of plans to give patients a legal right to information comparing standards across the country’. The report adds that the new transparency drive of ‘online publication of GP practices, individual surgeons, and hospitals, will mean the NHS publishes more comparative information for patients than any country in the world.”
Indian patients and their families go though a lot of agony because they are kept in the dark regarding treatment. Only a few have used RTI Act to procure information which is so hard to get, although it is the patients’ right to get such information. The UK set up a Committee to go into the issue of death of patients and other criteria of patient care, following which has launched a formal campaign on Wednesday.
The website link has all the information the public needs to know how the MyNHS campaign is going to empower them, as patients, from today. The press statement says, “This is a new site on NHS Choices where people can compare the performance of their local NHS hospital, their care services and their local authority with up-to-date information. The launch comes 1 year after the government’s response to the Francis Inquiry on Mid Staffordshire. It is the first time such a wide range of performance indicators has been made available to the public in this way.
As per the website, from early December, patients would be able to see the Care Quality Commission’s individual risk rating for GP practices. And thereafter, details of one year and five year cancer survival rates would also be made available, online. MyNHS also includes simple, searchable data on: food quality; staffing; patient safety; mental health along with many other areas of care, the uploading of which has begun from September.
UK’s first tryst with medical transparency began a decade ago when noted heart specialist, Sir Bruce Keogh and heart surgery colleagues achieved dramatic improvements in performance, not through new targets, but by publishing results for individual cardiac surgeons for the first time. The press note by the health secretary states, “Transparency is about patient outcomes not process targets. It uses the power of a learning culture and of peer review, not blame. The NHS is now blazing a trail across the world as the first major health economy to adopt this kind of culture.”
The committee’s findings and recommendations are available on this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/formal-launch-of-mynhs
There is an urgent need for the present government to get its health department into launching a similar campaign. While the RTI Act is in place for the government to begin the move, it should appoint a committee to submit a study and recommendation report. Do give your feedback on this vital issue.

RTI नियम : शिकायतों पर सुनवाई करेगा CIC

Webdunia: New Delhi: Friday, 21 November 2014.
केंद्रीय सूचना आयोग (सीआईसी) की पूर्ण पीठ बुधवार को 6 राजनीतिक दलों के  खिलाफ उसके उस आदेश का पालन नहीं करने के मामले की सुनवाई करेगी जिसमें यह कहा गया  था कि वे (राजनीतिक दल) आरटीआई के दायरे में आते हैं और इस कानून के तहत सभी जरूरी  बातों का पालन करना अनिवार्य है।
आयोग ने पिछले वर्ष 3 जून को घोषित कांग्रेस, भाजपा, भाकपा, राकांपा, माकपा और बसपा को  सार्वजनिक प्राधिकार घोषित किया था और उन्हें सूचना के अधिकार कानून के तहत जवाबदेह बताया  था। आयोग ने इन्हें कानून के तहत सूचना मांगने से जुड़े आवेदन के संदर्भ में जरूरी बातों का  पालन करने के लिए 6 सप्ताह का समय दिया था।
लेकिन किसी राजनीतिक दल ने इस अर्धन्यायिक निकाय के निर्देशों का पालन नहीं किया था, जो  आरटीआई कानून के तहत तब तक बाध्यकारी है, जब तक रिट याचिका के जरिए इसके प्रतिकूल  आदेश उच्च न्यायालय से नहीं आ जाता है।
राजनीतिक दलों ने न तो उच्च न्यायालय से संपर्क करके उस आदेश को चुनौती दी और न ही कानून में बदलाव के लिए संसद में कोई संशोधन पेश किया।

Governor unaware of who is supporting Maharashtra CM: RTI query

Mid-Day: Mumbai: Friday, 21 November 2014.
In a startling revelation, an RTI query has revealed that the BJP failed to provide a list of legislators supporting it when the party staked claim with the governor to form a minority government in Maharashtra.
"This has now been revealed through a reply by the governor's secretariat to my query under RTI, in which I sought information about the strength of MLAs who supported (Chief Minister Devendra) Fadnavis when he staked claim to form the government," Right to Information (RTI) activist Anil Galgali said.
In response to his RTI query, an official said Oct 28, 2014, around 6.40 p.m., a letter signed by Fadnavis, senior BJP leaders Eknathrao Khadse-Patil, Vinod Tawde, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Pankaja Munde-Palwe, was submitted to Governor C.V. Rao.
"In the letter, the governor was informed that 'the BJP being the single-largest party, we request your honour to give us the opportunity to form the government', without the list of the legislators," Galgali told IANS.
Later, Rao invited Fadnavis to form the government which was sworn-in Oct 31 and Fadnavis was directed to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly within 15 days.
Galgali said it was very apparent now that Fadnavis chose voice vote - the easiest but the most vague option to clear the vote of confidence - but what was more shocking is the BJP did not even enclose list of its own MLAs and other MLAs who were supporting with the letter to the governor.
"Without disclosing its strength, neither providing any list of supporting MLAs, the Fadnavis government proved its majority on the floor of the house by a voice vote - it displays the smartness of this government," Galgali added.
Since the people of Maharashtra are still unclear about the actual strength of the government, Galgali said it was the "moral duty" of Fadnavis to declare the list of legislators who supported him in the floor test.

Depts ignoring DoPT rules in RTI matters

I Government: New Delhi: Friday, 21 November 2014.
Even nine years after enactment of the Right to Information Act, officials have been found to be rejecting applications with fee drawn in favour of 'Accounts Officer' as mandated by the Central Government.
Taking a stern view against the practice, the Central Information Commission recently issued a show-cause notice to the Delhi Government for rejecting an RTI application on the grounds it was drawn in favour of "Accounts Officer" and not in favour of "Executive Engineer" as per their internal rules.
This is not the only case where application has been rejected. In a number of cases, public authorities like Army and Indian Air Force demand fee drawn as per their rules and do not follow the DoPT norms.
The application sought details of MPLAD funds and their expenses during the last five years on flood control measures. It was returned by the Irrigation Department claiming that name of the payee was wrong on the fee submitted by the applicant.
 "The Commission directs Rajesh Singh, Executive Engineer: Civil Division:IV to show cause as to why penalty u/s 20 should not be imposed upon him for not accepting the IPO in the name of the Accounts Officer despite clear instructions from DoPT.
"He is directed to submit his response so as to reach the Commission within three weeks of receipt of this order," Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
If the officer fails to explain the reason for rejecting the application, the Commission may penalise him at the rate of Rs 250 per day from the day the application was filed subject to a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000.
He also directed the PIO to ensure that while responding to the RTI application, the PIO should ensure that reference date is mentioned so that appellants do not find it difficult to link it to their RTI application.
"Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has repeatedly reminded public authorities to accept all payments under RTI Act made in 'Accounts Officer'. But difficulties are being faced by RTI petitioners because of public authorities not complying with DoPT circulars," RTI applicant Subhash Agrawal said.

CIC to seek 6 parties’ replies on defying its order on RTI

Times of India: New Delhi: Friday, 21 November 2014.
The central information commission (CIC) on Friday will seek responses from the six national political parties on complaints of non-compliance of its order that they come within the ambit of RTI Act.
The non-compliance notice comes 17 months after blatant violation of the commission's order that recognized all political parties as public authorities and directed them to put in place mechanisms to address RTI queries. The issue gains urgency with a bill exempting political parties from RTI pending before Parliament.
On June 3, 2013 CIC had declared Congress, BJP, CPI, CPM, NCP and BSP as public authorities answerable under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and given them six weeks to comply with the mandatory requirements under the law for the processing of information seeking applications. But none of the political parties followed the directives of the quasi-judicial body.
Following the non-compliance activists Subhash Agrawal, R K Jain and NGO Association for Democratic Reforms filed complaints with the CIC.
"It's been more than 17 months since the CIC's order and till now none of the six political parties has complied with the CIC's order ... This is a clear case of open defiance of a statutory authority by the six political parties and is not conducive to the functioning of a democratic society," ADR said in a statement.
It further said that this non-compliance has a "very serious detrimental effect on the state of democracy in the country at large".
A bench of Vijai Sharma, Manjula Parashar and Sharat Sabharwal will hear the complaint.
The complainants said the non-compliance has created an impression in the minds of the people that the rule of law exists only for common persons, and all institutions and people who enjoy some authority, formal or informal, and political parties in particular, are above the law.
"If political parties and Union government were not agreeable to CIC-verdict, they should have challenged the CIC-verdict in court. Even legislation to amend RTI Act for the purpose was deferred despite parliamentary committee's recommendations perhaps because the then attorney general opined against such legislation," Agrawal said.
While declaring the political parties answerable to public under the RTI Act, CIC, had held that they have been substantially financed by the central government bringing them under the RTI Act.