right to information (r2i)
For BCAJ September 2017
PART A | DECISION OF CIC
- CIC directs Ministry and SAI to put up roster of events on their websites
The refusal to share a schedule of sporting events in the country has got the Ministry of Sports into trouble with the CIC. The apex information commission came down hard on the sports ministry as well as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for not providing the information to the RTI applicant, Deepak Sandhu.
Information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu while directing the Ministry and SAI to provide the information has also directed them to proactively put up the roster of events on their websites. Acharyulu added that such a "proactive disclosure" was mandatory under the Right to Information Act.
The order came on an RTI application by Sandhu, who had sought certified copies of roster of various sporting events, that come under the Ministry, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and their subordinate authorities, conducted in a year. However, public information officer of the Sports Ministry had said the information would be provided by SAI, but failed to transfer the application to SAI with the instruction to furnish the information within a month.
Coming down on the Sports Ministry as well as the Sports Authority of India, Acharyulu in his order noted, "If the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports says that it does not know what is the schedule or roster of sports of the year in the nation, there is nothing more embarrassing than this." He said the ministry is expected to have at least the schedule of various sporting events for the year.
"At least, the Sports Authority of India should have supplied this information. It was the duty of the CPIO of the Ministry to collect the schedule and keep it as part of its record and supplied the same to the applicant," Acharyulu said.
Acharyulu's order goes on to say, "Whether Ministry wants the sports lovers to file an RTI to them? Information sought was very simple. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is expected to have at least the roster or schedule of various sports for the year."
The Commission also directed the ministry and the SAI to update their official websites with the roster and schedules "to avoid the sports lovers from filing RTI requests for such routine information and report compliance to this commission before September 15".
He had also sought sports calendar for 2015-16.
PART C | INFORMATION ON & AROUND
- Right to Information Act can hinder officials giving advice on decisions: Jaitley
The Indian Right to Information (RTI) Act can sometimes inhibit bureaucrats from giving their honest opinion during the process of decision making, Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said.
"Bureaucrats are free to render their advice and opinion during the process of decision making," Jaitley said at an event to release a book written by retired bureaucrat Omesh Saigal about his experiences in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
"However, the Right to Information Act can to some extent create hindrance in this regard, and civil servants may not feel free to do so, fearing that later his or her opinion may become public," he added.
In this regard, the Finance Minister cited former editor B.G Verghese as saying that advice given by public servants during decision making should not be made public.
- Voter has right to question legislators
A voter Vishnu Dev Bhandari asked for the progress of the works undertaken in Khatauna block of Madhubani district, Bihar, and under RTI he was asking for the action taken report. The CPIO and First Appellate Authority did not bother to respond. If not the voter who would ask the representative or agency that executes the works for which representative has allocated funds?
If a voter sought information about his representative in Parliament regarding the progress of works initiated under his MPLADs, it has to be appreciated as proper use of RTI. The voter-appellant wanted to know the progress/status of developments in the Parliamentary constituency of Madhubani under Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme (MPLADS) in Khatauna block of Madhubani district, Bihar. A voter has every right under the RTI to know about selection of works, progress, incomplete works, the delay, reasons thereof and possible time of their completion.
The Commission directed the CPIO of Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, and CPIO of Lok Sabha Secretariat to provide a report on activities on MPLADS in Khatauna block of Madhubani constituency along with details sought by the appellant, besides placing it in their official website, before 7th September 2017.
The Commission directed the CPIO and S. K. Surwade, Director and HOD, who is considered as deemed CPIO, to show cause why penalty should not be imposed against each of them for not responding, which amounts to deemed refusal u/s. 7(2) and will attract section 20 of the RTI Act. The First Appellate Authority is also directed to explain why disciplinary action should not be recommended against him for not taking up the first appeal at all, which amounts to abdication of responsibility under RTI Act.
The Commission directed the PIO/PA or PS of the MP concerned, Honorable Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, to furnish the details of the works recommended by him, the criterion of selection or rejection and progress of the work etc. Last date for responses was 7th September 2017.
Apart from political parties in centre and states, the Commission also invites civil society including NGOs and individual citizens having concern for democracy and transparency to express their opinion/contentions or views on the issue of bringing legislature parties/parliamentary parties under the purview of Right to Information Act, 2005 to provide people access to information, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org before 8th September 2017.(Based on decision in CIC/MOSPI/A/2017/176195 in Vishnu Dev Bhandari vs. PIO, M/o Statistics & Programme Implementation on 18.8.2017)
- Metro car shed: Maharashtra government had marked other plots too, but MMRC insisted on Aarey
Documents accessed through a right-to-information (RTI) query revealed that alternate locations in the city had been identified for the construction of a car shed for the Metro-3 project. However, metro authorities decided to stick to Aarey.
Environmentalists from NGO Vanshakti wrote to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday alleging that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s (MMRC) intention to build a car shed for Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ), spread across 30 hectares at Aarey, was with an intention to open up the area for real estate development.
The NGO submitted two documents — a government resolution (GR) from 2010 that showed that the state had handed over land at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, for the car shed and the 1991 development plan, currently in force, designated reservation of land at Backbay in south Mumbai.
- No centralised data on pending RTI application: Government
The data regarding the number of RTI applications pending department-wise is not centrally maintained, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said.
The Right to Information (RTI) Act allows citizens to seek a time-bound response on governance-related matters from government departments. “The data regarding number of RTI applications pending department-wise and the number of departments having facilitation centres, is not centrally maintained,” he said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
Singh said the government has accepted recommendations of an expert committee on Suo motu disclosure of information by government departments. “All the details of the public authority may be uploaded on its website. Access to information should be made user-friendly for which appropriate information technology infrastructure should be suitably designed, developed and operationalised,” one of the recommendations accepted by the government said.
To reduce the number of RTI applications relating to service matters, information relating to recruitments, promotion and transfers should be brought into public domain promptly, another recommendation said.
- RTI cannot be used to extort advertisements: CIC
The Right to Information (RTI) Act cannot be used for extorting advertisements from an organisation, Central Information Commissioner Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu has held on 28th July.
The order came on a complaint filed by Munna Ahmad, editor of a magazine Alfaaz Daily against the Dargah Khwaja Sahib Ajmer, which he complained had denied him information under the Act. He had sought information on complaints filed against employees of the Dargah and the status report of the inquiry conducted by the Dargah.
RTI Clinic in September 2017: 2nd, 3rd, 4th Saturday, i.e. 9th, 16th, and 23rd 11.00 to 13.00 at BCAS premises ▄