Amidst subdued demand, disruption in its export market and cost pressures, Bajaj Auto has reported weak results in the June quarter
The High Court pulled up Jharkhand government for not adhering to its direction and imposed a fine of Rs10,000 each on state chief secretary and welfare department secretary
Ranchi: The Jharkhand High Court on Wednesday pulled up the state government for not adhering to its direction to reply on a case pertaining to Schedule Area Regulation Act and imposed a fine of Rs10,000 each on the chief secretary and the state welfare department secretary, reports PTI.
Slapping the penalties, the division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Jaya Roy observed that remaining silent and not filing reply by the state government was tantamount to contempt of court.
The observation by the bench came in the wake of the state government failing to file a reply on a court's direction in 2010 following three separate PIL by three persons---MA Ahmed, Upendra Mahato and KJ Yadav---which were clubbed together by the court.
According to their writ, some areas were allegedly marked as scheduled even in areas where tribal population was less than 50% and urged to de-notify those schedule areas with no tribal population.
The court directed the government to file reply by 24th July and set 26th July as the next date for hearing.
B Tech student Abhishek Jain lost a plum IT job in Bangalore thanks to Rajasthan Technical University which lost his answer paper. He tenaciously pursued RTI but the university has made things tougher for students
All over India, innumerable students are filing RTI (Right to Information) applications to procure copies of their answer sheets, thanks to the historic Supreme Court judgment in August 2011 which allows students to have them. However, many educational institutions across the country continue to harass applicants or deny information. Here is a case of the Rajasthan Technical University (RTU) which happens to be in the state where the RTI movement was born but ironically is veiling itself from transparency and accountability.
Presently, 23-year old Jaipur-based Abhishek Jain, who holds distinction in B Tech, is in Hyderabad hunting for a job. In 2010, he was selected for a job in an IT firm in Bangalore during his last year of B Tech, when campus placements take place. However, he could not get the offer letter as marks for one of his subjects, mathematics, was pending with the Rajasthan Technical University (RTU). In March 2010 when annual results were declared, his result of this particular subject was held back by the university under “Results Later” (RL) category.
In his first year: 2007-2008, he was declared failed in mathematics, but since this result was declared late by the RTU, he could not give his second attempt as the date for filling examination form was over. Thus, due to RTU’s inefficiency, Abhishek had to lose an entire academic year. In 2010, he attempted the paper, the results of which were declared one year later. In 2011 March, only Abhishek’s result for the ‘mathematics’ subject was held back.
RTU stated that it had misplaced his answer sheet and put the onus on him to submit the photocopy of his attendance sheet to prove that he had indeed appeared for the examination. He had to go back to the examination centre, collect a copy of his attendance sheet. Thereafter, he and his parents submitted 25 copies of this “attendance sheet” at different points of time, to the registrar of the university. Finally, in June 2011, RTU declared him failed. He demanded to see his answer sheet as he was sure he could not have failed but the request was declined. By the time he ended his B Tech course, he had earned distinction and had passed in 41 of the 42 papers.
Since repeated requests to the university for a copy of his answer sheet did not help, he decided to invoke the RTI Act. He took the advice of RTI activists to know how to file the RTI. That he had to finally knock at the door of the state information commission, Chief State Information Commission as well as the high court reflects the obstinacy of the Rajasthan Technical University, in scuttling the Supreme Court order of August 2011, wherein it is mandatory for educational institutions to provide copies of answer sheets to students under the RTI Act. Not only that, he had to file contempt of court as RTU refused to pay heed to even the high court’s and State Information Commission’s order. This entire exercise took him more than a year.
Recently, the story ended with RTU confessing that it has misplaced his answer sheet and literally arm twisting Abhishek to undergo the examination once again in March 2012. He had no choice but to relent. RTU declared his result in 24 hours as ‘passed’ but compelled Abhishek to sign a “Declaration Form” stating that he would never take any legal action or use RTI against the University. In fact, instead of the RTU falling in line, it has made life for students seeking answer sheets even more difficult after Abhishek’s crusade. RTU now charges Rs1,000 for 5-10 minutes of ‘seeing’ the answer sheets. Inspired by Abhishek, nearly 800 students sought inspection of their answer sheets about three weeks back, as nearly 80% of them did not expect to fail. The RTU’s mal-administration was highlighted when some students found that they had been marked as ‘failed’ without several answers in their answer sheets having been corrected and in other cases the counting of the total marks was erroneous.
It is individuals like Abhishek who are keeping the RTI Act alive and compelling large organisations like educational institutions to come down on their knees. This institution may have shown stubbornness but Abhishek’s efforts have made other students courageous to file RTI. So, it should not be too long before the university buckles in abides by the RTI Act.
Here is his inspiring story:
In June 2011, Abhishek filed a RTI Application to RTU but his request was denied quoting an Ordinance of the university which does not allow students to see their answer sheets. This was totally against the spirit of the Supreme Court judgment but RTU brazenly denied this information. Thereafter, Abhishek filed a first appeal with the appellate authority but he got no reply. Thereafter in December 2011, he filed a second appeal with the Rajasthan State Information Commission and simultaneously filed a writ petition in the high court. The high court passed an order asking RTU to allow Abhishek to inspect his answer sheet within one month and gave a stay against destroying his answer sheets.
Thereafter, the Rajasthan State Information Commission (SIC) directed RTU to show his answer sheet in 10 days. Even then, the university did not abide by the order. He knocked the doors of the media which highlighted his case. This brought about awareness but not action from RTU. Abhishek then filed contempt of court in the high court as well as the State Information Commission.
Being aggrieved with non-compliance of SIC Rajasthan and high court order Abhishek filed a contempt petition before the high court and complaint under Section 18 before the Rajasthan Information Commission. States Abhishek, “High court and RIC both asked explanation from RTU for violation against the order passed by Supreme Court and passed order for strong action against Controller of Examination.”
Abhishek states, “After HC and RIC notice on contempt petition, the RTU exam controller called me and invited for a settlement. On 16th March, I and five other petitioners, my classmates, met the Controller of Exam who told them that answer sheets are misplaced and there is no record with university for a copy sheet and so it is unable to provide them inspection”. He compelled them to give the examination that day itself and declared the results the next day. Finally, Abhishek and his friends got their final degree certificate as B Tech graduates but for Abhishek, the fight will go on.
Presently, the contempt case is still pending with the high court. Talking of his future plan, Abhishek states, “I would be soon filing a case in the consumer court for destroying my two precious years; I shall file RTI for laxity by Information Commission in not penalizing PIO and FAA; and I shall file RTIs in each department of university to find out if they are suo moto disclosing information as required under Section 4 under which is mandatory for them to make the exam system transparent.”
Indeed, despite the mandate, it is students who are the sufferers thanks to public authorities violating RTI laws. How unfair!
(Vinita Deshmukh is the 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. She can be reached at [email protected])