Along with non-appointment of information commissioners, activists see the move as a stealthy act to undermine RTI. This is a New Year surprise that RTI activists are discovering only now
The Maharashtra government has apparently amended the Right to Information (RTI) Act in January, and made several crucial changes. A circular dated 16th January is circulating via emails and internet RTI forums which show that now applications must be restricted to 150 words and a single topic.
The circular, signed by Nandkumar Jatre, secretary to the state government, says, “A request in writing for information under Section 6 of the Act shall relate to one subject matter and it shall not ordinarily exceed 150 words. If an applicant wishes to seek information on more than one subject matter, he shall make separate applications. Provided that, in case the request made relates to more than one subject matter, the PIO may respond to the request relating to the first subject matter only and may advice the applicant to make a separate application for each of the subject matters.” Moreover, if any citizen goes for inspection of files, he may carry only a pencil and has to deposit all other writing material with the PIO.
Activists have expressed their ire over key posts in the State Information Commission lying vacant, and the news of amendment has naturally not been a good surprise. They are already collecting signatures for a petition, which will be presented to the chief minister on 2nd April.
Krishnaraj Rao, a social activist, says, “We did not even learn this from any government source such as a public notice in the dailies. Nor was it told to any RTI activist—many of whom are in regular touch with the Mantralaya. There should have a public consultation of stakeholders before changing the rules.
Section 4(1)(c) of the RTI Act says, “Every public authority shall publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public.’”
The activists came to know of the amendment when veteran advocate and RTI Union member Vinod Sampat saw this notification in the March edition of a publication he purchased outside City Civil Court. Mr Sampat said, “This is a death knell to the RTI movement in Maharashtra, and bureaucrats will become more powerful. We have received a suggestion to ask the permission of the police commissioner and burn the RTI Act in Mantralaya as a form of protest.”
Strong resistance is pegged in the 5,372-5,385 points range and unless and until this is decisively taken out the bears continue to hold a slight edge. One should persist with the strategy of selling in rallies especially close to the above mentioned area
S&P Nifty close: 5295.55
1. The Nifty closed above the pivot of last week and has formed a ‘hammering’, raising hopes of the bulls of the recovery gaining further ground.
2. Weekly averages still continue to be negatively phased hence a close below these would result in the selling pressure accentuating.
3. Unless and until the 5,372-5,385 points range is taken out in close the bears will hold the egde and a break of the recent low of 5,171 points (in close) would set the cats amongst the pigeons.
Strong resistance is pegged in the 5,372-5,385 points range and unless and until this is decisively taken out the bears continue to hold a slight edge. One should persist with the strategy of selling in rallies especially close to the above mentioned area. We are likely to witness see-saw trading during the course of this week as the bulls and bears fight to take control. The successful testing of the low of 5,171 points has become paramount importance for the bulls to defend this level at all costs to prevent chaos.
(Vidur Pendharkar works as a consultant technical analyst & chief strategist at www.trend4casting.com)
The apex court upholds the Bombay High Court’s decision to stop sale of plots for mass housing project that were merged and sold for Rs7 crore each instead
The Supreme Court no Friday rejected the special leave petition (SLP) filed by Mumbai-based builder Niranjan Hiranandani against the Bombay High Court order that restricted the developer from further construction and sale of flats under the Hiranandani Gardens project at Powai.
Commenting that it is not viable to interfere with the Bombay High Court’s order at this juncture, the apex court asked the developer to withdraw the petition. The next date of hearing in the Bombay High Court is on 12th April.
Mr Hiranandani had signed a tripartite agreement with the Maharashtra government and MMRDA (Maharashtra Metropolitan Region Development Authority) along with the original landowners; by which 240 acres of land in Powai under ‘Pawai (Powai) Area Development Scheme’ was supposed to be used for a mass housing project. These flats were to be of 400 sq ft-800 sq ft in area.
However, Mr Hiranandani built some 70 towers, which house around 4,000 families. The plots were merged to form 4,000 sq ft to 5,000 sq ft units, which were sold at a price as high as Rs7 crore. Around 15%-20% of the land is yet to be developed.
While hearing a PIL filed by Medha Patkar on behalf of Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the Bombay High Court had ruled on 22nd February that all construction on site be stopped and no flats to be sold before allotting homes to weaker sections. The court also ordered the developer to build 3,100 affordable homes of the size mentioned in the tripartite agreement and to offer these flats to lower income customers at Rs135 per sq ft.
Mr Hiranandani filed an SLP in the Supreme Court against the decision of the Bombay High Court. However, the apex court upheld the Bombay High Court order and refused to interfere.
Advocate-activist YP Singh, who had earlier argued the case for NAPM in the Bombay High Court, said that the activist organisation will soon be filing a criminal complaint against the accused persons under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Indian Penal Code, 1860. In the PIL, the state government and the MMRDA are also named as respondents.