right to information (r2i)

For BCAJ February 2017

PART A I DECISION OF CIC

-   CIC directs CPIO of Delhi University to facilitate inspection of relevant register where complete information about result of all students who passed in Bachelor of Arts, in year 1978 (the same year where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to have graduated)

 

RTI applicant Neeraj had sought to know from the DU the total number of students who appeared in bachelor of arts, year 1978, besides result of all students who appeared in the examination along with their roll number, name of the students with father’s name, marks and result pass or failed.

 

The public information officer of the university rejected the information on grounds of privacy and confidentiality as per section 8 (j) of the RTI Act. Pursuant to this rejection, a first appeal was filed by Neeraj with the first appellate officer of Delhi University. But that too resulted in a rejection.

 

It was at this stage that a second appeal was filed before the Central Information Commission, and the matter came before information commissioner Acharyulu, who was the authority in-charge of the HRD ministry. The department of higher education and the University Grants Commission (UGC) both fall under the ambit of the HRD for purposes of the RTI Act.

 

CIC Acharyulu stated that, “The Commission verified official website of Delhi University and found declaration of results of B. A. Honors (Humanities and Social Sciences), Part II (Semester IV)-examination-2016,-Sr.No/SEM/2016/530-available-at http://www.du.ac.in/du/uploads/Examination/Result/2016/UG/03102016_HUMANITIES-IV-SEM.pdf (accessed on 09.12.2016 at 16:44 hrs), which shows the roll no, name of the candidate, marks, passed or failed at a particular centre. This shows the contention of the CPIO is totally wrong as the Delhi University is placing the result of every candidate in public domain so that each student or any citizen can verify the marks/result of students along with their name and roll number. There is a merit in the contention of the appellant that the CPIO invented these contentions only to deny the information in this case and they are totally in conflict with their own practice of publication of results.”

 

He further stated that, “With regard to question whether disclosure of such identification related information causes invasion of privacy, or is that unwarranted invasion of privacy, the PIO has not put forward any evidence or explained possibility to show that disclosure of degree related information infringes the privacy or causes unwarranted invasion of privacy. If name and father’s name, degree obtained, the date or the marks or the roll number are revealed, how can that cause invasion of privacy? The Commission observes that the disclosure of details of educational records of a student, maintained at University in no way infringes his/her right to privacy, hence there cannot be any violation of section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. This is primarily because the matters relating to educational qualifications of a student (former/current) fall under the public domain.

 

Having examined the case, the synonymous legislations and previous decisions, the Commission states that matters relating to education of a student (current/former) fall under the public domain and hence order the relevant public authority to disclose information accordingly.”

 

(Case: Neeraj vs. Delhi University; File No.: CIC/SA/C/2016/900122; Date of decision: 21.12.2016)

 

PART B IRTI ACT, 2005

-   Is Jana Gana Mana our national anthem? Is Vande Mataram our national song? Is Tiger our national animal? Is Peacock our national bird? Is Lotus our national Flower? Is Hockey our national game?

Do you know the Answer?!

 

The apex bodies of administration of the Central Government dealt with this RTI request in such a routine procedural manner with all their red-tape building heaps of files but giving nothing. Besides red tape, shirking the responsibility and washing off hands were the biggest obstructions to access to the information.

 

Deciding on an appeal of a Gurgaon-based RTI activist, the commission has directed the PMO to initiate fresh efforts to find out the historical facts about Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram, and the status accorded to them to place facts before the nation to dispel widespread misnomers about them in larger public interest.

 

The CIC further stated that, “The nonresponse by PMO and MoEF to request for information about national anthem and song is not proper and legal. It is the breach of the Right to information of the people about their national anthem Jana gana mana and national song Vande mataram. Before punishing the people for not standing/respecting the national anthem, they should be informed its greatness.

 

It is imperative for the Government of India, especially the office of PM and MoEF to gather the historical evidences to explain the significance of the national anthem, national song, national animal, bird and 11 flower besides national game. If such information is authentically collected, researched and presented, it will go a long way to restore the respect of the people towards this ‘nationalism’ and remove the misnomers. This will instill real patriotism.”

 

The Commission directed the CPIO of MoEF to provide entire information along with the copies of the files pertaining to conferring national status to animal, bird and flower and remanded the first two questions of the RTI application back to the CPIO of PMO with a direction to initiate fresh efforts to find out the historical facts about these two inspiring songs - Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram and status accorded to them. The Commission further directed the MoEF to transfer the sports part of RTI question to Ministry of Sports, which was directed to inform the appellant about the details of India’s national sport with certified copies of relevant records.

 

All the information to be furnished to the appellant in two months from date of receipt of this order.

 

(Case: Harinder Dhingra vs. PIO, MoEF; File No.: CIC/SA/A/2016/001453; Date of decision: 27.12.2016)

 

 

PART C IINFORMATION ON & AROUND

-   BMC yet to recover Rs. 12 lakh from 5 disqualified corporators

 

A Right To Information query has revealed that Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not recovered the dues of Rs. 12 lakh from five out of 16 disqualified corporators during the last ten years.

 

Earlier, another RTI query had revealed that 16 corporators were disqualified in the last two terms (from 2007 to 2017) for producing wrong credentials, mainly false caste certificates.

 

Out of these 16 disqualified corporators, five have not returned the emoluments and other allowances and benefits received from the civic body, RTI query filed by the activist Anil Galgali.

 

Once disqualified, corporators need to return the emoluments, allowances and other benefits received in the official capacity.

 

(Source: Business Standard, January 27, 2017)

 

-   'How many fake notes? Even RBI doesn't know, RBI has no data on scams in co-op banks post demonetization, reveals RTI inquiry.

 

The Reserve Bank of India has admitted it has no confirmed data of the number or value of fake currencies detected since the demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed.

 

"We presently don't have the confirmed data on this query," said a reply from the RBI's Department of Currency Management (Forged Note Vigilance Division), to prominent activist Anil V Galgali. In a pointed query, Galgali had asked the RBI to provide details of the number or value of the fake currencies detected post-demonetisation, the name of the banks, dates etc between November 8 and December 10, 2016.Further The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has admitted that it has no details of any irregularities or scams in the exchange of the demonetised currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 by the cooperative banks.

 

(Source: Business Standard, January 24, 2017)

 

-   India in red zone on transparency list

 

A major international index of corruption and transparency has placed India on the watch list for its inability to curb mega corruption scandals and petty bribery. The annual index of Transparency International issued for 2016 placed India with Brazil and China in the 40th position. India’s condition showed growth with inequality, it said.

 

“India’s ongoing poor performance with a score of 40 reiterates the state’s inability to effectively deal with petty corruption and large-scale corruption scandals,” said Transparency International. The impact of corruption on poverty, illiteracy and policy brutality showed that not only was the economy growing but so was inequality.

 

India’s current ranking, putting it in the high corruption zone, has drawn critical observations from transparency campaigners.

 

(Source: The Hindu, January 26, 2017)

 

-   PM Modi turns 'Rancho', tells students marksheet is not everything

 

Recently, the Delhi University challenged the Central Information Commission (CIC) order to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi's degree public in the Delhi High Court.

 

Hearing a petition from an AAP supporter, the CIC had, earlier, directed the Delhi University to make Modi's degree public under the Right to Information Act.

 

MANN KI BAAT: WHAT MODI SAID

1.  The exams that you will give are a test of this year not of a lifetime. We sometimes do not see exams in the right perspective. Exams are not a benchmark of your success in life.

 

2.  We have a great example in former president Abdul Kalam. He wasn't able to get into the armed forces. If he would have let it hamper him, we wouldn't have had a great man like him.

 

3.  Do not think about exams as pressure. They should be celebrated as festivals. During exams there should be an environment of festivity, it will turn P for pressure into P for pleasure.

 

4.  When you are relaxed, the recall value will be more. Relaxation is the best tonic for memory. A happy mind is the secret of a good mark sheet.

 

5.  If your mission and ambition are in sync, marks will follow. Only studying for marks will lead to shortcuts and one will limit himself or herself. It is important to study for knowledge.

 

6.  See the example of Sachin Tendulkar. For 20 years he kept breaking his own records hence getting better every time. He kept challenging himself and bettered his own records, which is what is inspiring.

 

7.  You should compete with yourself to see how tomorrow can be made better than yesterday.

 

8.  Parents' expectations are much heavier than the school bags of students. I urge parents to accept rather than expect. Our expectations from our children should not get heavy.

 

9.  Cheating is never beneficial, no one must resort to it. If you do it what will you tell your children?

 

10. Take small breaks, return to books feeling fresh. Try deep breathing, it is very relaxing. P for prepare and P for play, the person who plays, shines.

 

(Source: India Today, January 29, 2017)

 

PART D ISUCCESS STORIES

Mr. Kamlesh Shah, a resident of Darpan Society, Andheri West was receiving heavy bills from MTNL as broadband charges for a discontinued connection. The issue was not resolved on repeated complaints. Mr. Kamlesh then sought the powerful path of RTI and filed an application with the MTNL seeking the name and designation of the officer responsible for preparing the bills and copies of all the arrear bills without any surcharge for non-payment. He received a reply from the Executive Director, MTNL on December 15, 2016 stating the reason for charging the excessive bills and a rebate of the excessive amount was granted. For further queries on RTI and such success stories, please contact us on the dates given below.

 

RTI Clinic in February 2017: 2nd, 3rd, 4th Saturday, i.e. 11th, 18th and 25th 11.00 to 13.00 at BCAS premises