Right to Information
Pune RTI activists start filing complaints against political parties for defying CIC order to appoint PIOs
The deadline of 16th July is over and political parties are trying devious means to be out of the RTI ambit. Pune activists though have triggered off action by sending a complaint to the CCIC for non-compliance of its order
 
With the political parties defying the Central Information Commission’s orders to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs), Appellate Authorities (AAs) and implement voluntary disclosure of information under Section 4 of the RTI Act, by 15th July, RTI activists from Pune have lodged a complaint with the Chief Central Information Commissioner (CCIC) for non-compliance of the Commission’s order.
 
The complaint signed by several RTI activists like  Major General SCN Jatar (retd), Vijay Kumbhar,Vivek Velankar, Jugal Rathi and others including this writer, has requested CCIC Satyananda Mishra to “take necessary action and order them (political parties) to appoint PIOs, Appellate Authorities & disclose details of their working.”
 
The letter which has been sent on 16th July states: “This is to complain regarding non-compliance of your order dt 3 June 2013 that political parties—Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPM—should appoint PIOs, Appellate Authorities and disclose all the details of their working in six weeks i.e. 15 July 2013. We have visited and thoroughly browsed the respective websites of all the political parties mentioned in your said order. We did not find any action taken in compliance of your order.”
 
Earlier, the CIC had made it clear that it does not have any authority to suo motu direct the political parties to abide by the order. However, in case of complaints by the citizens of non-implementation of the same, the CIC can begin the process once again.
 
The signatories include Vivek Velankar, Jugal Rathi and  V Sahasrabuddhe of Sajag Nagrik Manch,Pune; Maj Gen(Retd) Sudhir Jatar of Nagrik Chetna Manch; Vijay Kumbhar of Surajya Sangharsh Samiti; Dr Shriram Pande, RTI Forum,Pimpri Chinchwad, Vinita Deshmukh of
RTI Forum for Instant Information and Vihar Durve.
 
Delhi-based RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd) has brought to the notice of the government, of its own press release issued on 8 July 2008 which states the government will not make any amendments to RTI without consultations with civil society. The press release reads thus: “The government proposes to strengthen right to information by suitably amending the laws to provide for disclosure by government in all non-strategic areas. In this regard, it is proposed to review the number of organizations in the second schedule to the Right to Information Act, 2005, and make rules for more disclosure of information by public authorities. 
 
"Government has received representations expressing doubts about the proposed amendments. Non-governmental organisations and social activists will be consulted on the proposed amendments. However, no time frame can be fixed for completion of the process. This information was given by minister of state in the ministry of personnel, public grievances & pensions, Prithviraj Chavan in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha."
 
Batra has shot off a letter to president Pranab Mukherjee stating that political parties should seek legal intervention if they do not want to be under RTI Act and not circumvent illegally as it amounts to contempt of assurance given in the Parliament. He states, “Sir, there are media reports that the government is contemplating to counter the decision of the CIC declaring six political parties as public authorities which are subject to the Right to Information Act by amending the RTI Act, 2005. The representatives of all political parties have stated that they believe the CIC decision is unsound legally and hence they are opposing it. If they are being truthful, they can certainly go in a writ to the courts. In the past CIC decisions have been quashed by the courts. In the instant case I cannot see any reason which justifies any amendment to the RTI Act, 2005, by the government and that too without consulting all the stakeholders/citizens at large that include non-governmental organisations and social activists.”
 
Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Agrawal states that, “if the Union government and political parties are so sure about a full-bench verdict from the Central Information Commission (CIC) for bringing political parties under the RTI Act to be contrary to the law, they should challenge the CIC verdict in the courts rather than adopting short cut route of ordinance or legislation instead of breaking the solemn assurance given by Union government to people of this nation in the Parliament. President of India in his dual capacity as Head of the nation and the Parliament should honour assurance given in this regard by his government in the Parliament in this regard.”
 
Agrawal along with Anil Bahirwal had filed a RTI application to all six major political parties seeking information on funding they received from various sources. Communist Party of India (CPI) was the only party which provided a detailed reply. States Agrawal, “CPI should be complimented for being the first and the only political party for disclosing funding made to it by various sources even though it did not approve of CIC-verdict bringing political parties under ambit of RTI Act.”
Agrawal says it is important that political parties should be under RTI as besides funding, “important aspects of poll-reforms can also be queried from political parties through properly drafted RTI petitions which can practically provide nation and its public purity in poll and political system.”
 
However, with political parties united, when it comes to defending their alleged financial misappropriations, it is unlikely that transparency in this area will come so fast. For, earlier the government had planned to bring in an ordinance to keep political parties out of RTI ambit, before 15th July (the time within which political parties had to appoint PIOs and AAs). However, due to the furore of the civil society, now it has decided to bring the amendment in the form of a bill in the Monsoon session of the Parliament. Guess, even the UPA’s die-hard enemy in the Parliament will not oppose it. Such is the tragedy of our democracy.
 
(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 and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
 

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COMMENTS

Jagmohan S

3 years ago

Congrass ki Nihat kharab hai, because unki party mein bauat GAPLAY Hai ....

RTI

3 years ago

RTI Foundation of India
Goa vigilance department demanded to be put beyond the purview of the RTI Act

Read more at: http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/goa-...#.UfpzldJHJcg
RTI Foundation of India

sonia

3 years ago

To selectively borrow from a message printed on the bills of a Mumbai eatery that fell victim to recent Youth Congress vindictiveness in Mumbai: As per UPA Govt, eating money (2G, Coal, CWG Scam), collecting donations from the public for dubious ‘relief’ funds, putting the interests of ‘top businessmen’ and foreign investors before the people of India, having the latter’s every thought, word and action policed by agencies that have repeatedly been used by the Congress to perpetrate atrocities against innocent citizens (e.g. States of Emergency, ’84 Pogrom etc) for which the guilty have repeatedly got away…All those are considered necessities. But, public scrutiny of UPA party-funding, now THAT is an outrage!
Any political party that refuses to allow public scrutiny of its funding should be barred, by Election Commission of India, from contesting elections.

Jagmohan S

3 years ago

we should start campaign against it...
Jagmohan Gill
Social Activist
Punjab

Sethi

3 years ago

Vinita , the people of India have long memories . Let us see which political party supports the legislation to keep parties out of the ambit of the RTI Act in the monsoon session of Parliament . 2014 is not far away . The politicians will get their answer .

Raja JohnBunch

3 years ago

I had filed 4 RTIs with Political parties. 1 Party reply was due on 10th. No reply ,have filed Complaint with CIC on 11/7/13.
2 complaints due tomm. Will do so.
Rgds
Raja John Bunch
Borivali W
9969972283

sathyacumaran

3 years ago

sathya cumaran i wanted to know what is procedure to get information about non complaicne of duty by sebi nse bse can i approach rti for not taking my case i need your help reply


sathyacumaran
09444021822

Govt relaxes FDI caps on investment in key sectors
In the contentious insurance sector, it was decided to raise the sectoral FDI cap from 26% to 49% under automatic route under which companies investing do not require prior government approval
 
Opening the doors to shore up foreign investments, the government on Tuesday liberalised FDI limits in a dozen sectors, including allowing 100% in telecom and higher limits in “state-of-the-art” defence manufacturing, to boost the sagging economy. 
 
The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap for civil aviation was, however, left unchanged at 49%.
 
While the FDI cap in defence sector remained unchanged at 26%, higher limits of foreign investments in “state-of-the-art” technology manufacturing will be considered by the Cabinet Committee on Security, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said. 
 
In the contentious insurance sector, it was decided to raise the sectoral FDI cap from 26% to 49% under automatic route under which companies investing do not require prior government approval. A Bill to raise FDI cap in the sector is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
 
‘Consensus’ on raising FDI limits in some sectors and relaxing the route in others was arrived at a meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took with his key ministers, Sharma said.
 
It was decided to allow 49% FDI in single brand retail under the automatic route and beyond through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
 
Besides civil aviation, Sharma said, no view was taken on relaxing FDI caps in airports, media, brownfield pharma and multi-brand retail.
 
In case of PSU oil refineries, commodity bourses, power exchanges, stock exchanges and clearing corporations, FDI will be allowed up to 49% under automatic route as against current routing of the investment through FIPB. 
 
The decisions taken were based on recommendations of Mayaram Committee which had suggested relaxing investment caps in about 20 sectors, but the meeting approved only in 12.
 
In basic and cellular services, FDI was raised to 100% from current 74%. Of this, up to 49% will be allowed under automatic route and the remaining through FIPB approval.
 
A similar dispensation would be allowed for asset reconstruction companies and tea plantations.
 
FDI of up to 100% was allowed in courier services under automatic route.
 
Earlier, similar amount of investment was allowed through FIPB route. In credit information firms 74% FDI under automatic route would be allowed.

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Why you should care about the drugs your doctor prescribes
Patients currently have to rely on trust that their doctors prescribe them the right drugs. ProPublica’s new tool, Prescriber Check-up, for the first time allows patients to see how health care providers stack up with peers
 
This article was co-published in the Op-Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times. 
 
Your doctor hands you a prescription for a blood pressure drug. But is it the right one for you? 
 
You’re searching for a new primary care physician or a specialist. Is there a way you can know whether the doctor is more partial to expensive, brand-name drugs than his peers? 
 
Or say you’ve got to find a nursing home for a loved one. Wouldn’t you want to know if the staff doctor regularly prescribes drugs known to be risky for seniors or overuses psychiatric drugs to sedate residents? 
 
For most of us, evaluating a doctor’s prescribing habits is just about impossible. Even doctors themselves have little way of knowing whether their drug choices fall in line with those of their peers. 
 
Once they graduate from medical schools, physicians often have a tough time keeping up with the latest clinical trials and sorting through the hype on new drugs. Seldom are they monitored to see if they are prescribing appropriately — and there isn't even universal agreement on what good prescribing is. 
 
This dearth of knowledge and insight matters for both patients and doctors. Drugs are complicated. Most come with side effects and risk-benefit calculations. What may work for one person may be absolutely inappropriate, or even harmful, for someone else. 
 
Antipsychotics, for example, are invaluable to treat severe psychiatric conditions. But they are too often used to sedate older patients suffering from dementia — despite a “black-box” warning accompanying the drugs that they increase the risk of death in such patients. 
 
The American Geriatrics Society has labeled dozens of other drugs risky for elderly patients, too, because they increase the risk of dizziness, fainting and falling among other things. In most cases, safer alternatives exist. Yet the more dangerous drugs continue to be prescribed to millions of older patients. 
 
And, as has been well-documented by the Los Angeles Times and others, powerful painkillers are often misused and overprescribed – with sometimes deadly consequences. 
 
As reporters who have long investigated health care and exposed frightening variations in quality, we wondered why so much secrecy shrouds the prescribing habits of doctors. 
 
The information certainly isn’t secret to drug companies. They spend millions of dollars buying prescription records from companies that purchase them from pharmacies. The drugmakers then use the data to target their pitches and measure success. 
 
But when we tried to purchase the records from the companies that supply them to drug manufacturers, we were told we couldn't have them — at any price. 
 
We next turned to Medicare, a public program that provides drug coverage to 32 million seniors and the disabled and accounts for one out of every four prescriptions written annually. 
 
We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for prescribing data. After months of negotiation with officials, we were given a list of the drugs prescribed by every health professional to enrollees in Medicare’s prescription drug program, known as Part D. 

What we found was disturbing. Although we didn’t have access to patient names or medical records, it was clear that hundreds of physicians across the country were prescribing large numbers of dangerous, inappropriate or unnecessary drugs. And Medicare had done little, if anything, about it. 
 
One Miami psychiatrist, for example, wrote 8,900 prescriptions in 2010 for powerful antipsychotics to patients older than 65, including many with dementia. The doctor said in an interview that he’d never been contacted by Medicare. 
 
A rural Oklahoma doctor regularly prescribed the Alzheimer's drug Namenda for patients under 65 who did not have the disease. He told us it was because the drug helped calm the symptoms of autism and other developmental disabilities, but there is scant scientific support for this practice. 
 
Among the top prescribers of the most-abused painkillers, we found many who had been charged with crimes, convicted, disciplined by their state medical boards or terminated from state Medicaid programs for the poor. But nearly all remained eligible to prescribe to Medicare patients. 
 
If you or a loved one were a patient of one of these doctors, wouldn’t you want to know this? 
 
We have now taken the data and put it into an online database that allows anyone to look up a doctor's prescribing patterns and see how they compare with those of other doctors. 
 
This information is just a start. It can't tell you if your doctor is doing something wrong, but it can give information that allows you to ask important questions
 
For instance, why is your doctor choosing a drug that his peers seldom do? Does your doctor favor expensive brand-name drugs when cheaper generics are available? Has your doctor been paid to give promotional talks for drug makers? 
 
And we’d like to see the day when all prescribing by all health professionals – not just in Medicare – is a matter of public record. 
 
It’s not only patients who benefit when medicine is more transparent. Doctors too can gain by comparing themselves to their peers and to those they admire. Clinics can see how their staffs stack up. And researchers can track patterns and examine why doctors prescribe the way they do. 
 
One doctor told us that after studying our online database, he cornered his colleagues and peppered them with questions about their prescribing. Most, he said, were surprised when he told them their drug tallies. 
 
Many aspects of doctors’ practices remain private. The number of tests they order and procedures they perform. The number of times they make mistakes. These data could help inform the public, too. 
 
In the meantime, arming yourself with prescribing information allows you to be more active in your health care or that of an aging or disabled loved one. 
 
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org
 

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COMMENTS

Sudhindra

3 years ago

Do we have any similar website for India?

Ramesh Iyer

3 years ago

It's a pity this once-noble profession of medical practice has become so commercialized that even General Physicians routinely prescribe expensive antibiotics and such, when they could avoid prescribing them (considering their side-effects). Besides, referring to specialists and having a dozen tests done at a "designated" pathological lab has become a flourishing business. Much like the education sector, the healthcare sector is dominated by businessmen rather than those with passion for these professions. Such a shame !

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