Sunday, April 11, 2021

‘Send 9 IAS officers on compulsory retirement’

The Hindu: Chennai: Sunday, 11 April 2021.
In a rare order, the Tamil Nadu Information Commission has recommended “compulsory retirement” to nine IAS officers in the State, who held the post of Chairman, Teachers’ Recruitment Board, between June 2011 and October 2020.
Asking the Chief Secretary to record in the annual confidential reports of the nine officers that they failed to ensure accountability and transparency while heading the TRB, State Information Commissioner S. Muthuraj recommended that disciplinary action be initiated as per rules and they be sent on “compulsory retirement”.
The case pertains to the recruitment of teachers/assistant professors through competitive examinations conducted by the TRB on various occasions. The contention of some candidates who moved the TNIC was that though they entered correct answers in the multiple choice questions, they were marked wrong, denying them marks and resulting in them not getting the jobs.
Expressing concern that a lack of accountability and transparency had resulted in the same mistakes being repeated in the conduct of competitive examinations, particularly in the TRB, Mr. Muthuraj directed the TRB Chairman to implement the TNIC’s order to provide full and complete information sought by the petitioners (who sought to know why they were not given marks despite entering the correct answers and also the material on the basis of which the answer keys were finalised) and initiate action against those responsible for preparing the wrong answer keys.
He said officials in the TRB not just failed to address the issue despite court and TNIC orders, but they had also not taken steps to make sure such anomalies do not recur. Had the authorities concerned published the relevant study material or books on the basis of which answers were finalised at the time of releasing the tentative answer keys and acted as per the National Litigation Policy or the State Litigation Policy, cases before courts and the TNIC could have been avoided, he said.
Invoking various provisions under the Right to Information Act, 2005, Mr. Muthuraj, after citing various dereliction of duties on the part of the IAS officers who held the post of Chairman, TRB, wrote to the Chief Secretary, recommending that they be sent on “compulsory retirement”.
Questions raised
Civil servants, both serving and retired, dismiss the recommendation as one that does not seem to be sound, and point out that such a recommendation is “not binding” on the government. One of the IAS officers recommended for “compulsory retirement” retired over five years ago.
Pointing out that one of the rules governing the All-India Services relates to effecting compulsory retirement in respect of those who have completed 15 years of qualifying service or 25 years of qualifying service or attain the age of 50, they said the option of “compulsory retirement” could be used in respect of any officer only after carrying out a review of the officer’s performance, and that too, recording adverse observations at least on three occasions. A few of the IAS officers do not get covered under the rule, as they are young.
If “compulsory retirement” is to be given as a mark of punishment, there is a separate disciplinary process to be undertaken, even though there is a divergent opinion with regard to treating compulsory treatment as punishment. However, it is the government that has to decide whether to initiate disciplinary proceedings or not. At best, the TNIC could have recommended to the government to initiate disciplinary action, the civil servants said.

Info panel recommends compulsory retirement to 9 IAS officers

The Times of India: Chennai: Sunday, 11 April 2021.
In an unprecedented order, the state information commission has recommended that the state government compulsorily retire nine IAS officers who had headed the Teachers Recruitment Board (TRB) from 2011 to 2019. This is for "not discharging their duty with accountability and transparency", said an order passed by Information Commissioner S Muthuraj on March 25.
Muthuraj wrote to the state chief secretary recommending action against Surjit K Chaudhary, Vibhu Nayar, Kakarla Usha, D Jagannathan, K Srinivasan, K Nandakumar, S Jayandhi, N Venkatesh and G Latha.
When TOI asked chief secretary Rajeev Ranjan about the order, he said: "We will examine and take appropriate suitable action after getting the recommendations."
However, officials said information commission do not have powers to recommend compulsory retirement of IAS officers. "This is a very, very weird order. It was passed without any application of mind," said Surjit Chaudhary, who was the chairman of TRB from 2011 to 2014. The board has recruited around 40,000 teachers during his tenure and he retired five years ago.
"The information commission can recommend disciplinary action against only the information officers designated as per the RTI act if they do not provide information. Further, they cannot prescribe the punishment as it is the prerogative of the state government. In the case of IAS officers, the disciplinary authority is the Government of India," he said.
"Despite holding powers, the chairmen failed to correct the wrong questions and answer keys and did not provide relief to the candidates. Due to the lack of accountability from the subject experts, professors, and higher officials of TRB, the recruitment exams are cancelled and recruitment could not be completed, thereby wasting the resources of the government," Muthuraj said in his order.
Further, the commission as per the RTI act section 19 (8) (a) (ii) has added the TRB chairman as the public information officer and directed him to provide the information sought by the petitioner within 20 days.

RTI: Goa authority showed green flag to 99.3% felling tree cut requests

The Indian Express: Panaji: Sunday, 11 April 2021.
In the last ten years, the Tree Authority in Goa has allowed 99.3 per cent of the applications it received for felling of trees and rejected 0.3 per cent, a PIL filed before the High Court of Bombay at Goa has claimed, based on analysis of data received under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
The PIL filed by Living Heritage Foundation, a Goa-based NGO, has also stated that Goa has lost over 77,000 trees as the Tree Authority in the two districts of the state has failed to ensure replantation of the trees by the applicants who were allowed to fell trees. The information that the petitioner received under RTI, also showed that the Tree Authority had overseen the replantation of 13,000 trees but has no data on the survival of the replanted trees.
Earlier this week, the High Court issued notices to the Tree Authority of North Goa and that of South Goa and asked them to file an affidavit giving the court a status report and the number of pending applications for tree felling in the state by April 28.
The PIL also states that between January 2010 and June 2019, the Tree Authority that, as mandated under the Goa Preservation of Trees Act, 1984 should have met 38 times, if it held meetings at least once every three months. However, the Tree Authority had not met even once since 2012, the petitioner contended and alleged that it had been “dormant, non-functioning and failed to discharge its duties”. The High Court has also asked the state government to inform the court whether the tree authorities are functional or not.
Between January 2010 and June 2019, 4041 applications were filed before the state forest department for felling as many as 88,978 trees. Of these 2,537 applications were allowed while 19 were rejected, the PIL states. The remaining 1,444 applications are pending.
The PIL has urged the court to restrain the authority from permitting any further felling of trees for public or private infrastructure projects except in cases in which there is grave danger to life, property or traffic. It has also asked the court to direct the state government to conduct a tree census in Goa and display the information at the Forest Department.

CIC raps Delhi University’s College of Vocational Studies for denying info to RTI applicant

The Indian Express: New Delhi: Sunday, 11 April 2021.
After a Right to Information (RTI) reply was denied to a teacher by the College of Vocational Studies (CVS) regarding the alleged “irregularities” in the purchase of library books, the Central Information Commission (CIC) said the college seemed to be “withholding information” and had “failed to regard the tenets of probity and transparency”.
The Indian Express had reported in September 2020 on how 180 books worth Rs 1 lakh had been bought for the library but never reached it. In March this year, Retd Delhi High Court judge, Justice S N Dhingra, upheld that there had been “irregularities” and indicted the principal for hushing up the matter.
The appellant, Anand Kumar, had filed the RTI in March 2019 seeking details of the date of purchase of the books, their accession numbers, and the exchange rate at which foreign books were purchased among other things, for the period 2010-18.
In response, the CPIO (Central Public Information Officer) said, “It is to be mentioned that the information requested by the applicant is not maintained in the manner requested by the applicant as it is not required to be maintained for the day to day functioning of the college. Compilation of such information exclusively for the applicant would disproportionately divert the resources of the office concerned which is not required under the Act.”
After the first appeal also didn’t yield a response, Kumar then filed the second appeal with the CIC. In her decision on April 5, Information Commissioner Saroj Punhani said that even if the college did not have information in the format that it was asked, CVS should have “offered an inspection of the available and relevant form of records to the Appellant in his original reply itself to uphold the letter and spirit of the RTI Act”.
“The outright refusal of the CPIO to provide the information, even the information about the exchange rate of the books, regarding which a relevant input has been provided by the Respondent only before the hearing, suggests a rather evasive and laboured approach of the Respondent office in withholding the information given the alleged context in which the instant RTI Application has been filed by the Appellant,” she said.
“The Respondent office through its CPIO has failed to regard the tenets of probity and transparency particularly in a matter which has been clearly inviting the ire of the teacher and student community of CVS,” she said.
While Kumar had asked for data for eight years, the CIC said information for 2016-18 should be made available for his inspection on a “mutually decided date and time”.
“The said directions should be complied with by the CPIO within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order and a compliance report to this effect be duly sent to the Commission stipulating the details of the inspection provided and copy of the documents provided thereof,” Punhani said.
The Commission also “advised” the Vice-Chancellor and CVS principal to look into the matter.
While Delhi University Vice-Chancellor P C Joshi could not be reached for comment, Principal Inderjeet Dagar said, “I have directed the CPIO to look into the matter as per the directions of the CIC and the said process is ongoing, and we are also seeking legal recourse on the same. The college has always respected the spirit of the RTI and always provided information even to serial applicants filing as many as 500 RTI applications.”

Eight elephants have died due to train hits

The Hindu: Coimbatore: Sunday, 11 April 2021.
Eight elephants were killed after being hit by trains on the two railway lines, A and B, between Kanjikode and Madukkarai from 2016 to 2021, according to the Palakkad division of the Southern Railway.
In reply to a query under the Right to Information Act, the division said the A and B lines passed through the forest and seven of the eight elephant deaths were reported on the B line.
The division said there was no plan to shift the track on the B line, which passed through a dense forest. It furnished the reply to R. Pandiyaraja of Pavoorchatram, in Tenkasi district, in response to his application under the RTI Act.
According to the division, widening of cutting and cess were done at various places to create sufficient space for elephants to move away on seeing trains.
While ₹2.43 crore was spent on widening of cutting on the sides of the track from track location 513/500 to 519/400 B in 2017, a sum of ₹1.59 crore was awarded for widening of cutting on a 5-km stretch from track location 500 to 505 B in 2020. A tender for further widening of the cutting from track location 510 to 512/500 and 487 to 492 B at a cost of ₹3.1 crore is under finalisation, the division said.
Sign boards to warn loco pilots, clearance of vegetation on the sides of the track, speed restriction on vulnerable sections (65 kmph during daytime and 45 kmph during night), elephant ramps on high embankments, lights to ward off elephants in cuttings, installation of audio alarms in the form of honey bee buzzing and a WhatsApp group of Railways and Forest Department officials were among other the measures taken to avoid elephants being hit by trains, said the division.
“Suspension of traffic on the track on B line during the night and bringing the track on B line to the A line, which passes through considerably smaller patches of forest, are other solutions that can reduce such accidents,” added Mr. Pandiyaraja.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Public institutions to submit annual report to RTI Commission by May 6

News Ghana: Ghana: Saturday, 10 April 2021.
The Right to Information Commission has asked all Public Institutions to submit a written report on their activities as required under Section 77 of the Right to Information Act, Act 989 on or before May 6, 2021.
In a statement signed and issued by Mr Yaw Sarpong Boateng, Executive Secretary of the Right to Information Commission, said any public institution that failed to comply with the directive will suffer penalty thereof.
The statement said the public institutions should include in their report the following:
  1. The number of applications for information during the reporting period, January 2020 to December 2020.
  2. The number of applications approved and the number rejected together with reasons for the rejection.
  3. The number of reviews requested, and the number granted and the number dismissed together with reasons.
  4. The number of applications to the court for judicial review and the results of the reviews, if any.
  5. Such other matters that are worth noting under the Act.
“Public institutions are to note that these reports are to be submitted to the Commission sixty (60) days after the 31st December each year.
“All public institutions are entreated to comply or suffer the penalties thereof,” it said.
Reports can be sent by email: Rico mission or by postal address P.O.BOX YK 1179, Kanda-Accra.

Three held for bomb attack on RTI activist

Times of India: Bhubaneswar: Saturday, 10 April 2021.
Police on Thursday arrested three persons in connection with an attack on RTI activist and BJP leader Sarbeswar Beura in Jajpur district on March 27.
All three had hurled bombs at Beura at Imam Nagar under Dharmasala police station when he was returning home in Jaraka along with an associate in a car. He was first admitted to the community health centre at Dharamsala and then shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, after his condition turned serious.
The motive behind the attack is yet to be established. The men were booked under sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC and sections 3 and 5 of the explosives act. Steps are on to apprehend more persons in this case, said Rahul P R, SP Jajpur.

Health Ministry Refuses to Share Information on Rollout Process of COVID-19 Vaccines : Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

The Wire: New Delhi: Saturday, 10 April 2021.
Under fire over an alleged shortage of vaccines as the COVID-19 case count rises in India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare appears to have deliberately withheld information on its vaccine rollout and pricing process without giving any proper reason.
A number of Right to Information applications were filed by Puducherry-based activist Saurav Das, on how the Centre constituted the Expert Committee on Vaccines, its deliberations, the manner in which it decided that vaccines needed to be first given to 30 crore people on a priority basis and how it ensured the security of the Co-Win app ahead of the roll-out.
But to most of these queries, the health ministry and its concerned departments chose not to reply citing “threat to strategic, scientific, economic interests”.
Talking to The Wire, Das said these responses were grossly illegal as no proper reason was given for denying information under the Right to Information Act. He also said that the Central Information Commission has till date not taken suo motu cognisance of such information, which is of vital interest to the citizens of the country, being denied.
Das said that amid the COVID-19 epidemic last year, then Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Bimal Julka had asked the Union health ministry to “compile all the measures taken by various ministries and list them chronologically on its website.”
However, he said, the ministry didn’t follow the instruction and the current CIC Y.K. Sinha, who looks after the health portfolio, is yet to follow up on the matter.
Das also accused the ministry of giving the same standard replies to nearly all of his queries pertaining to COVID-19 vaccines. He had filed the RTI application on January 19, 2021. His query on how the final price of the COVID-19 vaccine was arrived at sought “the certified true copies for the entire file relating to the fixing of this figure of Rs 206” and “true copies of all the minutes of the meetings since the beginning that were held to decide the final price of the vaccine for procurement”.
However, rather than giving out details on how the final price of the vaccine was determined, the ministry in its response on February 26, 2021, said: “The information sought is exempted under Section 8 (1)(a) of the RTI Act, 2005 as this may prejudicially affect the strategic, scientific and economic interest of the State. As such, no information can be provided.”
Expert group
In his RTI application filed on March 1, 2021, Das had requested details like the “exact dates on which the expert group has met till date,” certified copies of the agenda of these meetings, of the presentations made before the group, minutes of meetings, notification or office order by which the group was formed, name and designation of people in the group, file notes and correspondence related to the formation of the group and of the presentations made before it.”
He had also asked for the details of every meeting in which the matter of the National Health ID was discussed and all the file notes, correspondence, internal communications, minutes and memos related to these.
However, in its reply on March 9, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare gave a standard answer to all the nine points raised in the application – that “information sought is exempted under Section 8 (1)(a) of the RTI Act, 2005 as this may prejudicially affect the strategic, scientific and economic interest of the State”.
“As such no information can be provided.”
Safety and clearance
In another RTI application that he filed with the Central Drug Standards Control Organisation, under the “threat to life and liberty” clause on January 3, 2021, he raised the issues of safety and clearances for vaccines.
In its response on January 21, the CDSCO stated that information on eight of the points was exempted under Section 8(1)(d) and (e) of the RTI Act. It, however, added that “the recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) (COVID) were available in CDSCO website.”
Priority list
Das also said that the ministry had similarly refused to provide information citing Section 8(1)(a, on how “the exact figure of 30 crore people to be vaccinated was arrived at”. He had asked for copies of relevant evidence, material, advice, recommendations and reports in the matter.
To a question about “the exact details of the age-group, type of people that are included in this 30 crore figure”, the ministry responded thus: “The prioritised population group recommended by the National Expert Group on COVID-19 vaccine administration are:
1 crore healthcare workers and those who are working in health care set-ups in both government and private sectors.
2 crore frontline workers (personnel from state and central policy departments, armed forces, home guard and civil defence organisation including disaster management volunteers and municipal workers).
27 crore of people who are above 60 and those between 45 and 60 with associated comorbidities.”
However, to another question seeking “copy of any contract, MoU, signed between the Government of India or any of its offices/attached offices/departments and any entity foreign or national which stipulates the figure of 30 crore people to be vaccinated first”, the ministry only said “the information is not available”.
Co-Win app data
Das, whose RTI applications had revealed shortcomings in data security measures related to the Aarogya Setu app, also tweeted details of how the ministry claimed the same exemption under Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act to deny him any information on the security of data pertain to the Co-Win app.
Das had, on January 22, asked for a copy of the entire file related to the app’s creation with details of “origin of proposal, approval details, companies involved, people and government departments involved”. He had also asked for the file notes, comments, communication between people and government officials and departments involved in the development of the app.
He also requested information on the actions that would be taken once user data is uploaded on the server, if the Intelligence Bureau or any other intelligence, security or law enforcement agency would be able to access user data. The ministry refused to reply to any of these questions saying again that the information sought would “prejudicially affect the strategic, scientific and economic interests of the state”.
Reacting to this reply, Das said, “The ministry is supposed to justify rejection of info on sound grounds. Simply invoking exemptions without giving reasons for doing so is illegal.”

Can’t reveal info of customers, recall RTI order, banks tell SC

Times of India: New Delhi: Saturday, 10 April 2021.
Nearly six years after the Supreme Court ruled that RBI had to reveal information about functioning of banks under the RTI Act, major banks, including SBI and HDFC, on Friday urged the court to recall its order as they cannot reveal confidential information of account holders who may sue them for putting such details in public domain.
The SC had in 2015 directed that RBI can’t refuse to reveal information under the transparency law on financial health of banks under the pretext of ‘fiduciary relations’ with financial institutions and had held that the regulator was supposed to “uphold public interest and not the interest of banks”. Another round of litigation was initiated after RBI didn’t comply with the SC order and the court issued contempt notice. The proceedings were wound up in 2019 with RBI being given the last opportunity to comply to disclose its Annual Financial Inspection report of banks.
With RBI asking the banks to provide information to be disclosed under the RTI Act, third round of litigations has started with all major banks filing fresh applications and petitions seeking quashing or recall of earlier direction. Banks such as SBI, PNB, HDFC, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda made a pitch for re-examining the issue. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta with advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi contended before a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran the banking industry could be affected and the SC order might be misused for corporate rivalry. They said only RBI was heard by the SC and the banks were not parties in the litigation.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Modi govt irked by ‘misuse of RTI to extract news, discredit’ it. Has a plan to counter it

The Print: New Delhi: Friday, 09 April 2021.
Concerned over its growing negative image in the media, especially globally, the Narendra Modi government has chalked out a strategy to “handle the press”, The Print has learnt.
Sources said senior officials will now be informally tasked with responding to Right to Information (RTI) applications “in totality”, and explaining all circumstances in detail, to eliminate the scope of “interpretation”.
The government has cited the case of a BBC correspondent who filed 240 RTI applications about the lockdown to show how the government did not consult departments and key experts before enforcing the lockdown and suggested that all applications will now go through senior officials, sources said.
They added that the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is also irked about the “misuse of RTI to extract news”, and the case of the BBC correspondent has been used to tell all ministries how RTI applications are being filed “with the aim of discrediting the government”.
The Print approached the I&B ministry spokesperson for a comment through text messages, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
What GoM report suggested
In October last year, a nine-member Group of Ministers (GoM) had submitted a report to the government about “media handling” and how to ensure favourable press. As a follow up, the I&B ministry has given instructions to all its field offices to take proactive action.
“Officials were asked to send rejoinders in case of wrong reporting, in a proactive manner. At the same time, all the ministries and departments have been asked to be careful while answering RTI applications, as some people are mischievously filing RTI applications to discredit the government,” a senior government official told ThePrint.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Global opinion about the Indian government has been hit, and especially because of false or mischievous reporting. It is important to look into these aspects and officials were told to be more proactive and explain the stance of the government in a better manner.”
The GoM report also recommended that the government should identify and engage with journalists who have lost their jobs but have been “supportive or neutral” to the Modi government in various ministries, so that “their services can be used to project the government’s image positively”, sources said.
The GoM had also suggested that there should be regular interaction with foreign journalists as part of the government’s global outreach, so that “its perspective” is put out correctly in the international forum.
Sources said the report had also suggested tracking 50 “negative influencers” who “give out false narratives and discredit the government”, and engaging with 50 “positive influencers” who project the government’s work in the “right perspective”.

‘ख़बरें निकालकर उसे बदनाम करने के लिए RTI के दुरुपयोग’ से मोदी सरकार ख़फा. काट के लिए बना रही है योजना

The Print: New Delhi: Friday, 09 April 2021.
दिप्रिंट को पता चला है कि मीडिया में, ख़ासकर विदेशों में बढ़ती, अपनी निगेटिव इमेज से चिंतित होकर, नरेंद्र मोदी सरकार ने ‘प्रेस को हैंडल’ करने के लिए एक योजना बनाई है.
सूत्रों ने कहा कि अब वरिष्ठ अधिकारियों से, अनौपचारिक रूप से कहा जाएग, कि सूचना के अधिकार (आरटीआई) के तहत, आवेदनों का ‘समग्रता’ के साथ जवाब दें, और परिस्थितियों का विस्तार से वर्णन करें ताकि उसमें व्याख्या की गुंजाइश न रहे.
सूत्रों ने बताया कि सरकार ने एक बीबीसी संवाददाता के मामले का हवाला दिया है, जिसने लॉकडाउन को लेकर 240 आवेदन दाख़िल किए- ये दिखाने के लिए कि कैसे लॉकडाउन लागू करने से पहले, सरकार ने विभागों और प्रमुख विशेषज्ञों से परामर्श नहीं किया- और सुझाव दिया है कि आगे से सभी आवेदन, वरिष्ठ अधिकारियों से होकर जाएंगे.
उन्होंने आगे कहा कि सूचना एवं प्रसारण मंत्रालय भी, ‘ख़बरें निकालने के लिए RTI के दुरुपयोग’ से ख़फा है, और बीबीसी संवाददाता के मामले का इस्तेमाल करते हुए, सभी मंत्रालयों को बताया गया है, कि कैसे आरटीआई आवेदन ‘सरकार को बदनाम करने के मक़सद से’ दाख़िल किए जा रहे हैं.
दिप्रिंट ने लिखित संदेशों के ज़रिए, टिप्पणी लेने के लिए आईएंडबी मंत्रालय से संपर्क किया, लेकिन इस ख़बर के छपने तक, कोई जवाब हासिल नहीं हुआ था.
GoM रिपोर्ट ने क्या सुझाया
पिछले साल अक्तूबर में, एक नौ सदस्यीय मंत्री समूह (जीओएम) ने, ‘मीडिया हैंडलिंग’ को लेकर सरकार को एक रिपोर्ट पेश की थी, जिसमें सुझाया गया था कि प्रेस को किस तरह अपने अनुकूल बनाए. उसके बाद ही आईएंडबी मंत्रालय ने अपने तमाम फील्ड अधिकारियों को, सक्रिय कार्रवाई करने के निर्देश जारी किए हैं.
एक वरिष्ठ अधिकारी ने दिप्रिंट से कहा, ‘ग़लत रिपोर्टिंग के मामलों में, अधिकारियों से अपने जवाब भेजने के लिए कहा गया. साथ ही तमाम मंत्रालयों और विभागों से, आरटीआई आवेदनों का जवाब देते समय, सावधानी बरतने को कहा गया है, चूंकि कुछ लोग शरारतपूर्ण ढंग से, सरकार को बदनाम करने के लिए, आरटीआई आवेदन दाख़िल कर रहे हैं’.
अधिकारी ने, जो अज्ञात रहना चाहते थे, कहा: ‘भारत सरकार के बारे में वैश्विक राय प्रभावित हुई है, और इसका कारण ख़ासतौर पर ग़लत या शरारतपूर्ण रिपोर्टिंग है. इन पहलुओं पर ग़ौर करना ज़रूरी है, और अधिकारियों से कहा गया कि वो ज़्यादा सक्रिय रहें, और सरकार के रुख़ की बेहतर ढंग से व्याख्या करें’.
सूत्रों ने कहा कि जीओएम रिपोर्ट में, ये सिफारिश भी की गई, कि सरकार को ऐसे पत्रकारों को चिन्हित करके उनसे संपर्क स्थापित करना चाहिए, जिन्होंने अपनी नौकरियां खो दी हैं, लेकिन जो विभिन्न मंत्रालयों में, मोदी सरकार के ‘समर्थन में या उसके प्रति निष्पक्ष’ रहे हैं, ताकि ‘उनकी सेवाओं का इस्तेमाल करके, सरकार की छवि को सकारात्मक ढंग से पेश किया जा सके’.
मंत्री समूह ने ये भी सुझाया था कि ग्लोबल आउटरीच के तहत, विदेशी पत्रकारों के साथ नियमित रूप से संपर्क बना रहना चाहिए, जिससे कि अंतर्राष्ट्रीय मंच पर ‘सरकार के दृष्टिकोण’ को, सही तरीक़े से रखा जा सके.
सूत्रों ने कहा कि रिपोर्ट में ये भी सुझाया गया था, कि 50 ‘नकारात्मक प्रभाव डालने वालों’ की पहचान की जाए, जो ग़लत ख़बरें फैलाकर सरकार को बदनाम करते हैं. और साथ ही, ऐसे 50 सकारात्मक असर डालने वालों को चिन्हित किया जाए, जो सरकार के काम को ‘सही दृष्टिकोण’ के साथ पेश करते हैं.

45 out of 85 traffic signals in Noida not working, RTI query finds

New Indian Express: Noida: Friday, 09 April 2021.
There are 85 traffic signals in Noida of which 45 are not in working condition at present, the Noida Authority has said in response to a query made under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Also, maintenance contracts have been made only for 40 traffic lights with two firms at a cost of approximately Rs 62 lakh, it stated.
The RTI query was made by city-based rights activist Amit Gupta.
The Noida Authority said it receives inputs about non-functional traffic lights from the Traffic Police and citizens of the city time to time and takes action accordingly.
"At present there are 85 traffic signals in Noida of which 45 are not working currently," it stated.
"The proposal for maintenance of 45 non working traffic signals has been sent for the approval to higher authorities and waiting for the approval," it added.

Tirupati: Seer demands bringing of TTD under RTI purview

The Hans India: Tirupati: Friday, 09 April 2021.
Sri Peetam Peetadhipathi Swamy Paripoornanda on Thursday demanded bringing TTD under the purview of RTI (Right to Information Act) for enhancing transparency in the in the biggest Hindu religious institution administering the famed Tirumala temple.
Speaking to the media here, the Sri Peetam seer criticised the TTD for not implementing RTI and asked why the TTD was opposing RTI. "Is it the fear of RTI would dig out corruption, irregularities and expose the many bigwigs' acts?" he said.
Finding fault with TTD for delay in releasing white paper on TTD properties, covering all aspects including donation of landed properties received, properties sold and the status of the properties with the TTD, he wanted the TTD to release it immediately to keep it assurance on making public the details of TTD properties.
TTD chairman Y V Subba Reddy (who as YSRCP Chittoor district in-charge) is active in the party campaign and Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy (who is scheduled to address a meeting in support of his party candidate on April 14 for the Tirupati Parliamentary byelection), have the right to seek votes if they fulfil the assurance on the release of white paper on TTD properties, he said.
Sharply reacting to the endowments minister's recent disclosure that 375 temples were ruined in the state, he said the responsibility of protecting the temples squarely lies on the shoulders of the government as the temples are under the control of government unlike the other places of worship of Christians and Muslims. He found fault with Jagan for remaining silent on the neglect of temples.
Replying to a question on the encroachment of valuable lands of mutts and Hindu religious institutions in the city, he said there is every need to take up a struggle to save the lands.
On the remarks of Tirumala temple chief priest A V Ramana Deekhitulu eulogising Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy as Maha Vishnu, he said it was very sad and a sin.
Later, in the evening, Paripoornanda participated in a rally in which BJP nominee K Ratna Prabha, leaders, including national secretary Sunil Deodhar and Jana Sena senior leader Dr Hari Prasad participated. The rally which took off from Town Club circle to Vivekananda statue where Swamiji and others addressed a gathering seeking voters to elect the BJP candidate.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Justice NV Ramana ruled CJI comes under RTI act

New Indian Express: New Delhi: Thursday, 08 April 2021.
Justice NV Ramana on Tuesday was appointed the 48th Chief Justice of India by President Ram Nath Kovind. Outgoing CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde, who is retiring on April 23, had recommended Justice Ramana’s name as his successor, which the President duly accepted.
On April 24 the next CJI will be sworn into office and he will have a term till August 26, 2022. Justice Ramana had served as the acting chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court and the chief justice of Delhi High Court, before being elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Through his judgments, Justice Ramana had echoed for the rights of common citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and had ordered lifting of restrictions on internet in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and said that indefinite internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir is not only a violation of the telecom rules but also of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution.
He also directed setting up of fast track courts to conduct speedy trial of legislators in all states. Stressing the need to have transparency, Justice Ramana in one of his rulings said that the office of the CJI comes under RTI.
In another ruling, a bench headed by him said the restriction against grant of bail in a stringent law like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 per-se does not oust the ability of Constitutional Courts to grant bail on grounds of violation of a fundamental right like the right to speedy trial.
A constitution bench headed by him also rejected the curative petitions filed by the convicts in the 2012 December gangrape and murder case, finally paving the way for their execution. In November 2019, a bench led by Justice Ramana had ordered floor test for then Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis to prove his majority in the House saying there is a “possibility of horse trading” in case of delay.
N V Ramana was born in an agricultural family at the Ponnavaram village in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district. Justice Ramana’s focus is also to make law affordable for everyone especially for people coming from poor background.
Restored net in J&K
Through his judgments, Justice Ramana had echoed for the rights of common citizens of J&K and had ordered lifting of restrictions on internet in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Man makes RTI inquiry about panchayat work, assaulted

Times of India: Ahmedabad: Wednesday, 07 April 2021.
A 29-year-old man from a Gandhinagar village on Sunday filed a complaint with police alleging that he was attacked by four persons after he sought information under RTI on funds spent for development work in his village.Haresh Thakor, who runs a mobile phone repair shop in Kalol and lives at Khuniyavas of Santej village, said he has filed various RTI applications seeking details of expenditure on development in his village.
He said his cousin Khodaji Thakor, the sarpanch of the village, was not happy with his RTI pleas and threatened him not to file more applications.
He said Khodaji had on December 24, 2020, parked a vehicle in front of his house and when Haresh asked him on why he parked his vehicle in front of his house, Khodaji began abusing him.
Haresh said Khodaji began asking him why he was harassing him by filing RTI applications and threatened to kill him.
When Haresh protested, Khodaji began thrashing him and shot a video which he later published on social media.
On January 3, Khodaji, with his wife, Chanchi Thakor, and three aides Govindji Thakor, Karan Thakor and Ajay Thakor attacked him with sticks and pipes, leaving him severely injured.
Haresh alleged that the accused broke his mobile phone, and thrashed his wife and broke her phone when she tried to rescue him.
He stated in the FIR that he did not file a complaint against Khodaji and the others as he was scared of the accused persons. He approached Santej police on Sunday and filed a complaint for causing hurt, criminal intimidation and use of abusive words against Khodaji and the four others.