With the government mum on the report submitted by the three-member committee appointed by the I&B Ministry, and students now taking the extreme step of fast unto death, RTI activist demands transparency
The 90-day old stir of students from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) demanding ouster of newly appointed chairman, Gajendra Singh and four other members of the Board, took a new turn today, with five students going on hunger strike unto death.
In the meanwhile, a three-member Committee appointed by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry) and headed by AM Khan, Registrar of Newspaper of India, visited the FTII premises on 21 August 2015. The Committee is said to have submitted its report to the government, but the latter is silent over the same.
Some Pune-based journalists, who demanded access to the findings of the report, under Right to Information (RTI) Act, were denied information. RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar has now invoked Section 4 of the RTI Act and intimated to the Director of FTII, that he would like to inspect files under this section, to make matters more transparent, over this contentious issue.
In a letter to the director of FTII, seeking inspection of files, Kumbhar has demanded the following:
a) All the letters shared and communication between the FTII director and I&B Ministry, Registrar and the Ministry, Dean and the Ministry with respect to the strike.
b) The minutes and video recordings of all the discussions held between the SM-Khan led three-member delegation and Director, Registrar, Faculty, students and staff on 21 August 2015, which was recorded by the FTII administration on the day.
c) Details of the report submitted by the SM Khan-led delegation available with the FTII director.
d) All the documents in the file number 29012/2/2015-TS available with the Tutorial Section of the FTII.
Kumbhar says, “The information I have sought comes under Section 4 (1) (c) and 4 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, as the decision concerns and affects the citizens. And also Provision under 4 (1) (b) (v) of the Act incorporates rules, regulation the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions.’’
Kumbhar, in the communication to the FTII Director, has pointed out the following, to inform why all the above information should be in the public domain and be made available on request under RTI. Here is what he wrote:
1. Your kind attention is drawn to Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 under Chapter II on `Right to Information and Obligation of Public Authorities'.
2. As per the provision, it is obligatory for every public authority to publish certain categories of documents so as to make voluntary disclosure of information so that citizens have ‘minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information’.
3. Information covered by Section 4, in fact, should have been published on 12 October 2005 and disseminated widely in such form and manner which is easily accessible to the public and should have been updated at regular intervals later.
4. It is further explained in the provision that "disseminated" means making known or communicated' the information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet or any other means, including inspection of offices of any public authority. I am enclosing here the full text of Section 4 as adopted by the Parliament of India for your reference.
5. Nevertheless, citizens have a right to inspect these documents in the office of the public authority, as explicitly mentioned in the provision under Section 4.
6. It may be noticed that a citizen desiring to inspect the documents containing information covered under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, need not make any formal requisition under Section 6 of the Act because these documents should have already been published by the public authority so that citizens have ‘minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information’.
7. Provision under 4 (1) (b) (v) of the Act incorporates rules, regulation the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions
8. The files come under section 4 (1) (c) and 4 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, as the decision concerns and affects the citizens.
9. Please note that it is not necessary for me under the Act to give such notice before inspection of documents covered under Section 4 of the Act. However, being a responsible citizen, I thought it appropriate to intimate you beforehand.
10. Implementation of this provision of the Act (under Section 4) is the direct responsibility of the head of the public authority. In this specific instance, it is your direct responsibility. Hence this letter is addressed to you and not to any public information officer (PIO) since no formal requisition is needed to be filed.
In the meanwhile, the issue got murkier with the government accusing some students of over-staying and not completing their projects. In 2010, the FTII appointed a Group of Experts (GoE) under former director of National Film Archives of India (NFAI), to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the revitalisation of the Institute, in various areas including delay of students’ projects. The DPR proposed measures to help FTII to become a centre of excellence in the field of cinema and television. However, the report lies in neglect, Here is the link:
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, and also 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”.