Nation
Campaigning for Delhi assembly election ends

After the end of the campaign marked by bitter political attacks and allegations and counter allegations, workers of the major parties fanned out on a door-to-door canvassing in 70 constituencies

 

Curtains came down on Thursday on the high-decibel campaign in one of the most-fiercely contested Assembly elections in Delhi where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has staked its all on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image against a resurgent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the 7th February polls.
 
Roadshows by AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal in the prestigious New Delhi constituency and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Sultanpur Majra capped a day of nearly 100 rallies by leaders of various parties including BJP president Amit Shah as campaign ended at 6pm.
 
After the end of the campaign marked by bitter political attacks and allegations and counter allegations, workers of the major parties fanned out on a door-to-door canvassing in 70 constituencies.
 
The BJP, which is out of power in Delhi for the last 16 years, made a gamble by bringing in former Team Anna member Kiran Bedi as its Chief Ministerial candidate, which is said to have triggered discontent among the party leaders and rank and file.
 
The BJP strategy has been countered by Kejriwal-led AAP which has put up a spirited campaign in a bid to stop the Modi juggernaut that has been on a roll ever since the Lok Sabha election victory in May last year.
 
Already BJP leaders Shah and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu have said that the Delhi election is not a referendum on the Modi government's performance, a statement seen by critics as an effort to shield the Prime Minister from any criticism.
 
The Congress which had ruled Delhi for 15 years till December 2013 has been projected way behind AAP and BJP in pre-poll surveys. Some opinion polls have given AAP a clear majority while a few have predicted BJP's win.
 

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Talks between Lt Gov. & Kejriwal can't be disclosed: Delhi HC strikes down CIC order
The High Court has ruled that correspondence between Lt Governor of Delhi and Arvind Kejriwal, the then CM, is privileged
 
On 4th February the Delhi High Court ruled against the Central Information Commission (CIC) order of 31 December 2014, which had directed Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor’s Secretariat to provide information sought by applicant Rakesh Agarwal of correspondence between the Lt Governor and the then Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by 15 January 2015.
 
A report from DNA says, “It has said in the instant case, RTI applicant Rakesh Agarwal has sought information which is ‘advice’ rendered by the Council of Ministers and thus, ‘is barred from any form of judicial scrutiny’.” The LT Governor’s secretariat had gone to the Delhi High Court after the CIC order. The Delhi High Court order has asked the applicant to submit his response on the next date, which is 1st May.
 
Central Information Commissioner Prof M Sridhar Acharyulu, in his order of 31st December (hearing was on 15th December) has clearly stated that correspondence between Governor and CM does not fall in the category of exemption. He writes in his order:
 
“Section 8(1)(c) of the RTI Act says there shall be no obligation to give any citizen information, the   disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature. An example for this could be refusal to give information or document which contains words or sentences expunged by Speaker, which quite legal as per this exemption. A correspondence between Governor and CM would not fall under this category. This exemption is subject to proviso added at the end of Section 8(1) and (2). Except to legislature, the Right to Information Act, 2005 does not accord any privilege to any other authority to deny communication.”
 
CIC has further stated that, “The Correspondence between Executive Head and a Political Leader regarding appointment of Chief Minister is not privileged correspondence as per any provision of the RTI Act or Constitution of India. The Correspondence between the leader of AAP at that time and the Lieutenant Governor is about formation of Government, as sought by the appellant is now the history and the documents are related to a page in that history. The respondent could not adduce any reason to withhold such information. Many past Presidents and prominent persons wrote books wherein the correspondence between the President and Parliamentary Party leaders or coalition group leaders were quoted and discussed. Appointing a Chief Minister of a state is an open public activity.” 
 
Applicant Rakesh Agarwal had filed a RTI application seeking copies of all communication between Lt Governor and Arvind Kejriwal; communication between Lt Governor and the President, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and union Home Minister; and communication between Advocate General or Solicitor General of India. The Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Lt Governor’s Secretariat claimed exemption of information under Section 8 (C) of the RTI Act. Agarwal went into first appeal in April 2014 but the Appellate Authority upheld PIO’s decision not to provide the information. He filed second appeal with the Central Information Commission.
 
The representative of the Lt Governor’s secretariat, Kotharia, argued during the CIC hearing held on 15th December 2014, that providing such information would be ‘breach of privilege’. Agarwal countered that since Kejriwal is no more the CM, it need not be confidential and that ‘request for information has nothing to do with decision making process by the Lt Governor’.
 
The CIC stated in its order, “The Correspondence between Executive Head and a Political Leader regarding appointment of Chief Minister is not privileged correspondence as per any provision of the RTI Act or Constitution of India. It is not information given in fiduciary relationship. Assuming again for a moment that disclosure of such information would cause harm to ‘protected interest’, Section 8(2) comes to the aid of disclosure.
 
Section 8(2) says  
“...a public authority may allow access to information if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests”.
 
The CIC also remarked “Appellant is not seeking to know the advice rendered by Chief Minister to LG or LG's instructions to CM if any, which if sought, the respondent authority might find some reason to raise the questions of privilege. The Correspondence between the leader of AAP at that time and the Lieutenant Governor is about formation of Government, as sought by the appellant is now the history and the documents are related to a page in that history. The respondent could not adduce any reason to withhold such information. Many past Presidents and prominent persons wrote books wherein the correspondence between the President and Parliamentary Party leaders or coalition group leaders were quoted and discussed.
 
"Appointing a Chief Minister of a state is an open public activity. It is also not the case of respondent that the correspondence between Executive Head of State and leader who staked claim to form the Government could not be disclosed when the decision is still in the process. That phase is over. It is no more the context at all. No harm would cause to any interest whether public interest, protected interest or interest in protecting the communication. Respondents did not make any case to show that disclosure of   information would cause breach of privilege of Delhi Legislative Assembly or would affect any public interest."
 
 
The CIC cited certain landmark decisions of the Supreme Court in which `Right to Information was recognized.
 
The order states...
"In case of SP Gupta vs Union of India, AIR 1982 SC 149, the apex Court held that while the exact advice given by the Council of Ministers to the President could not be examined by the court, the material on which such advice was based was not excluded from the judicial purview."
 
"Six judges of a seven member Bench held that no privilege could be claimed with respect to the documents which constituted the material for forming opinion in the case of appointment and transfer of judges. Further immunity against disclosure claimed under the Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act was not a Privilege, which could be waived by the State. It is an immunity, which was granted in order to protect public interest. Therefore, even if the State did not claim such immunity, it was the duty of the court to make sure that no document, the disclosure of which would harm public interest, was disclosed. The Court had to balance public interest in fair administration of justice against the public interest in the confidentiality of certain documents. Judicial discretion would be exercised so as to promote maximum openness and limit secrecy to the minimum.”
 
Right to Information upheld in 1982 by apex court:
"The Supreme Court finally gave a statement which gave life to the 'Right to Information' and removed the curtains of secrecy. ...where a document was withheld, a court could examine it, and only when it was convinced that its disclosure would prejudice public interest, could it allow such action. The Government's privilege to withhold disclosure of documents was considered as subject to the right to information of the individual."
 

As per the Supreme Court's dictum, the executive can claim protection to a document for protecting public interests or in other words, the executive should show public interest in claiming immunity from obligation of disclosure or public interest in not disclosing. There was no such attempt in this case. Thus, the Commission neither finds any justifying nondisclosure of what the appellant sought nor any public interest in protecting it. There is nothing to show that any interest would be protected by nondisclosure or any other protected interest would be harmed by disclosure. Section 8(2) of RTI Act, will come to the rescue of the appellant, as disclosure would not harm any protected interest and in fact, public interest in its disclosure would outweigh the probable harm, if any, to protected (if at all protected) interests."

 
 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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Why Amruta Devendra Fadnavis is different?
Unlike other wives of political leaders, Amruta Fadnavis continues to work as a banker and manages the role of doting mother, wife and homemaker like lakhs of other working women
 
Amruta Fadnavis is setting new, different standards for the wife of a Chief Minister. Amruta, who continues to work for Axis Bank also prefers to move around without any of the hype and fuss that would have been her due as the wife of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. 
 
 
This is best exemplified by a report in the Marathi newspaper in mid-November.  According to the report, she visited the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Nagpur to renew her driving license. Without revealing her identity, she procured the application form from one window, filled it out and got herself a token number. She then waited in the queue for her number to be called out, submitted all the documents, paid the requisite fees and got herself photographed by the web camera.  
 
It was only when she was about the leave the premises that the clerk handling the documents read her name and was shocked. He could not believe that the wife of Maharashtra’s CM stood in the queue like everybody else to and complete the formalities for renewal of her driving license. When he realised who Amruta was, there was the usual rush to call seniors. The chief RTO and deputy chief were not present in the office. So, the next in hierarchy hurried went and met Amruta in the parking lot. He requested her to come to his office and he would make sure to get the renewal done on the spot. Mrs Fadnavis told the officer that she had completed all the formalities and as per the rules, the RTO can send her renewed driving license through speed post.
 
After a transfer to Mumbai, Amruta is posted at Axis Bank’s treasury department at Worli. According to media reports she even refused to occupy a separate enclosure and restricted her security cover to just one protection officer.
  
The Fadnavis family is known for its simplicity in Nagpur and it is wonderful to see Amruta Fadnavis lead by example!
 

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COMMENTS

Mahesh Arte

2 years ago

What else can we except from this. The example she has portrayed is definitely commendable. We the citizen of India have to learn a lot.
I have never heard of any politician or their family member going to govt offices and stand in que. let all the politicians follow this so that the public also do the same.

Shivappa Ramakrishna

2 years ago

we need such examples in Karnataka too. I am under the impression that New CM Mr. Fadnavis is doing extremely well in all aspects of bringing good governance.

Dr.Shivappa Ramakrishna
Mysore

Mukund Rajamannar

2 years ago

Salute to her and our honorable CM. I just hope the current government gets enough time in office to complete the changes.

Sanjeev B

2 years ago

Inspiring. We need this attitudinal change. Its great to see this leadership of action coming from those at the helm. Thank you Moneylife and admiration for Mrs Fadnavis.

Praful Rathi

2 years ago

Such simplicity is appreciable. Even her parents had bought a TATA Nano some 2 years back which was subsequently sold.

Keep It up.

Anil Nirodi

2 years ago

Excellent example to follow by every individual.

Naavi

2 years ago

Excellent. Let her be an example to other kins of politicians.

Bhaskar

2 years ago

Hat's off.

Suketu Shah

2 years ago

Her husband is Maharashtra's best CM ever.

Dr. Rakesh Goyal

2 years ago

Quite unusual for netas and neta-spouses.
Hope, she will not change in due course of time. And let this tribe increase. Keep this up, dear daughter and be inspiration for others.

Narendra Doshi

2 years ago

MDT tks for bringing to the ML viewers knowledge.
Amrutaji is indeed a leader's companion. May be even Devendraji was also unaware of this.

Tarique

2 years ago

impressive this is what we need instead of the obsession of being addressed as royalty. hope people learn from her

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