Right to Information
NCPRI, RTI activists to boycott CIC’s Annual Convention
NCPRI says the National RTI convention organised by the CIC on 16th and 17th of October 2015 has become an exclusive affair, which is being restricted by the central government under frivolous ‘security’ concerns
 
The National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) and several activists has decided to boycott the annual convention organised by the Central Information Commission (CIC). The NCPRI also said, the CIC has invited only a few selected RTI activists to the Convention to be held on 16th and 17th of October 2015.
 
Here is press statement released by NCPRI… 
 
Press Release and Resolution Adopted at the National Public Hearing organised on 15 October. 2015
The Central Information Commission is holding its annual convention on the 16th and 17th of October 2015. This year marks a decade of the Right to Information law in India. However, at this significant juncture, civil society participation has been severely restricted and only seven people from the RTI movement have been invited to attend the convention. The Right to Information law came from the experiences of ordinary people, and it was a grassroots struggle that led to the articulation of the demand for information. Sustained public action by large numbers of the rural poor and the involvement of civil society led to the framing of this fundamental law. The contribution of civil society has been publically acknowledged, including by several Information Commissioners.  
In an unprecedented move, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) undertook background checks and verification of RTI activists across the country. Many were sent an email that they were not being invited to the convention due to “security reasons”. Every year since 2006, the Prime Minister of the day has addressed the convention and there have never been these kinds of restrictive measures. In every single convention (barring last year when no convention was held) activists and RTI users from across the country have had the chance to participate and engage with government to further strengthen the RTI Act. We do not understand why this year these intelligence and security checks were felt to be necessary and were further used as justifications to restrict civil society participation.  
Reportedly, the CIC wanted to invite activists and users from around the country but was prevented from doing so by the government. If the reports are correct, this interference of the government severely hampers the independence and freedom of the CIC to engage with people at large. To protest against the arbitrary and undemocratic measures attempting to restrict people’s participation and to shut down an important forum of engagement between people, the commissions, and the government, we the undersigned have decided to boycott the Prime Minister’s address at the convention. Some of us who have been invited to speak at technical sessions will participate in these as we appreciate the CIC’s initiative to engage with civil society and people’s movements to improve transparency and accountability in the government.  
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Amrita Johri, Venkatesh Nayak, Shekhar Singh, Lokesh Batra 
At the national level public hearing organized by the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) in Delhi on 15 October, 2015 to celebrate ten years of the RTI law and discuss the challenges and future direction, the following was resolved unanimously by the hundreds of people attending the public hearing: 
“The NCPRI is deeply distressed to learn that the National RTI convention to be organised by the Central Information Commission on the 16th and 17th of October 2015 has become an exclusive affair which is being restricted by the central government under frivolous “security” concerns.
 
We strongly believe that the RTI convention should set an example of openness and participation. Even for this convention, the NCPRI was asked to participate, to provide names of activists from different states and contribute to an exhibition. We were being encouraged to include as many people and experiences as possible. However, we have come to learn that as the Prime Minister has decided to attend, the number of participants have been severely restricted. Some people who were invited have been informed that they will not be allowed into the inaugural session. Even the names recommended by the State Information Commissions have been rejected reportedly because of so-called “security concerns”. Our contribution to the exhibition has not been taken.
With the clear understanding that this process runs counter to transparency, accountability and participation, and threatens the independence and mandate of the CIC. We have resolved that the members of the NCPRI who have received invitations (and have not as yet been uninvited) will not attend the inaugural session. The NCPRI will use the RTI to probe the sequence of events and will fight to establish the independence and pro-people democratic mandate of the CIC. The RTI is a people’s law and we will use RTI to save RTI.
We want to make it clear that we do this to establish engagement with a democratically elected government and hope that the central government will reach out to engage with the millions of RTI users who are playing an unpaid and vital role of establishing transparency and accountability and strengthening India’s democratic character.”

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COMMENTS

M K TYAGI

1 year ago

Despite diary no 165750(165450) dated 06-10-2015 2ND APPEAL as old as CIC/MA/A/2006/00159 has not been heard after reconstruction of file based on CIC certified copies of the file. Simlarly review has not been completed despite diary no 119035 dated 24-03-2015 in decision no 1338/IC/(A)/2007 dated 22-10-2007.
CIC which is a constitutional body should not become disfunctional.

B Pugazhendhi

1 year ago

If in deed 'security concerns' are the real reason, how come these very same leaders mingle with thousands of unknown people while undertaking election tours, rallies and public meetings? Transparency caged in bullet proof enclosure?!

RTI activists cry foul over CIC’s trick to bring down pendency
CIC’s trick to reject second appeals and complaints on flimsy grounds to bring down pending RTI cases to 10% has been exposed
 
Vijai Kumar, took over as the Central Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) in June 2015. Suddenly, the pendency of complaints and second appeals in his office alone, which used to be between 500 and 1,000 per month, on an average, plummeted to  mere 86 in August, 20 in September and 13 in October (the month is yet to complete). Similarly, the pendency in the offices of other Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC) in Delhi, also plummeted in a similar way. 
 
 
Impressive? Not quite, as revealed by the documents uploaded now on the CIC website, www.cic.gov.in, and studied by noted Delhi based Right to Information (RTI) activist, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd). Curious to understand why there has been a plunge, he invoked RTI and found out that, at the entry level itself, the CIC office has taken the liberty of rejecting second appeals and complaints, indiscriminately. By not maintaining a central registry of second appeals and complaints received and rejected, the CIC has quite literally murdered transparency.
 
Cmde Batra says, “My RTI in the Commission revealed that Central Registry does not maintain record of total cases (Appeal and Complaints) received. It also returns bulk of cases to the appellants under various clauses of RTI Rules, but maintain no such record. Since April 2015, my repeated submission to the Senior Officers of the Commission, including a meeting with the Chief Information Commissioner, to ensure transparency by displaying on website complete data of cases received, returned and registered, has not fructified so far. This gives an impression that the Commission is trying to hide factual data of cases.”
 
“In my perception, sharp decline in registration of cases since mid-June, appears to be a deliberate attempt to give false impression to the citizens about reduction in pendency. What is intriguing is Commissions refusal to maintain data of cases transparently. This completely defeats the purpose of RTI. CIC is the final appellate authority, which an applicant turns to for accessing his right to information,” Cmde Batra says.
 
The anger is reflected in the online petition steered by US-based RTI activist, Vishal Kudchadkar and addressed the CIC Vijai Kumar. The signed petitions have crossed 1,155 numbers until 1pm Thursday and is growing. Kudchadkar says, “We are overwhelmed by the support the petition has received. The petition will bring to CIC Chief Mr Vijai Sharma’s attention, the CIC registry’s malpractice. We plan to follow up with calling campaigns. We hope that the concerns highlighted by active citizens with media support would encourage Mr Sharma to set the CIC registry in order.”
 
In the meanwhile, several RTI activists and organisations have decided to boycott some part of the National Convention on RTI to be held on 16th and 17 October 2015, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had excused himself ealier, has decided to address it.
 
The Petition – `Central  Information Commission – don’t kill the RTI Act
 
You can sign it too, here

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COMMENTS

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

1 year ago

RTI Activists, please attend 16 & 17 Oct, 2015 RTI Conference, even if it is attended by Finance Minister, instead of PM.
After you have attended it, know us what has taken place in that RTI Conference at Delhi, from Moneylife's portal.

skdking

1 year ago

Moneylife persists in opposing the very idea of Aadhar.

You do not find any possible merit in Aadhar?

It may be more convincing if you point to its shortcomings and also suggest measures to overcome these.

Dance bars get a breather in Maharashtra
The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the operation of Maharashtra Police Act that prohibited dance performances at eating places, beer bars and restaurants.
 
Noting that the said provision was brought back in the Maharashtra Police Act in 2014 after being held ultra vires in 2013 by the top court, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant said that it is "appropriate to stay the provision" that prohibits the dance performances.
 
However, the court made it clear that the dance performances should not be remotely explicit of any kind of obscenity.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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