Proceeding in an adjunct matter highlighted the need for certain proactive disclosures by the public authority like the University of Delhi. This is the 188th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) and deputy registrar at the University of Delhi to ensure that details of the Internal Assessment Scheme be put up on the Universities' website in fulfilment with Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While giving the judgement on 17 September 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, "...the discussions revealed that there was some lack of understandings on the part of the respondent (PIO) about the nature of information to be given. This was also coupled with poor record keeping at the public authority. The Bench directs the PIO Jay Chanda to ensure that the details of the Internal Assessment Scheme be put up on the Universities' website in fulfilment of its Section 4 compliance."
New Delhi resident, AN Prasad, on 20 October 2008, sought from the PIO information regarding meetings of Executive Council, Academic Council and internal assessment procedures. Here is the information he sought and the reply provided by the PIO...
1. The certified copy of executive council resolution no. 05 dated 1 May 2003.
PIO's reply—A copy of the Executive Council Resolution No. 5 dated 1 May 2003 had been provided to the appellant. The applicant is required to deposit Rs10 towards the cost of 5 pages being provided to him.
2. The certified copy of the meeting minutes and resolutions passed of the Academic council at its meeting held on the 18 July 2003.
PIO's reply—A copy of the Minutes of the meeting of the Academic Council held on 18 July 2003 had been provided to the appellant. The applicant is required to deposit Rs22 towards the cost of 11 pages being provided to him.
3. The name(s) and designation(s) of the officials of the University Moderation Committee(s) (subject wise) and the process of selection of the members of these Committee(s).
PIO's reply—The information sought by the applicant is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1) (g) of the Act because information sought by the applicant if disclosed would endanger the physical safety of the members of moderation committee(s).
4. The Names of Colleges/department etc. and the Courses, Specific papers/topics wherein the Internal Assessment marks have been moderated in the examinations held in the years 2006, 2007 & 2008 and the decision making process adopted for doing the same.
PIO's reply—The moderation of internal assessment marks is done as per guidelines contained in the Ordinances and EC Resolution etc.
5. Certified copies of complaints/grievances received by the university since the date of implementation till date, with respect to the Internal Assessment scheme, and details of the further action taken on them.
PIO's reply—It has been informed by the Examination Office that complaints have been disposed of as per the decision of Internal Assessment Monitoring Committee (IAMC).
6. Details of any committee(s) constituted for reviewing the internal assessment scheme.
PIO's reply—A Committee was constituted by the Vice Chancellor to look after the grievances of Colleges regarding internal assessment in the year 2007-08. The Committee had representation of various Faculties, Colleges and Academic Council/Executive Council Members.
Not satisfied with the PIO's reply, Prasad filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellant Authority (FAA) said, "The information sought by the appellant was provided but the appellant is not satisfied in respect of information provided against point nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6. After considering the appeal, it is directed that-
Point no. 3: The contention of the appellant cannot be accepted and information sought by the appellant is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1) (g) of the Act.
Point no. 4: Copy of EC Resolution, if any, on the subject of internal assessment may be provided to the appellant.
Point no. 5: The information sought by the appellant is vague as no separate list is maintained of all the complaints/ representations received by the University regarding internal assessment.
Point no. 6: The details regarding the committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor to look into the grievances of colleges regarding internal assessment in the year 2007-08 may be provided to the appellant by 15th January 2009".
Not satisfied with the PIO's reply and order by the FAA, the appellant approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During the hearing on 15 April 2009, the Bench observed that Prasad, the appellant had not been provided following information...
1. Certified copies of complaints received by the University since date of implementation
2. The process of selection of members of the University moderation Committees
3. The Names of Colleges/department etc. and the Courses, Specific papers/topics wherein the Internal Assessment marks have been moderated in the examinations held in the years 2006, 2007 & 2008 and the decision making process adopted for doing the same
4. Details of any committee(s) constituted for reviewing the internal assessment scheme
While allowing the appeal, the Bench directed the PIO to provide the information sought by Prasad before 15 May 2009.
However, the CIC received a letter dated 26 June 2009 from the appellant stating the information had not been provided to him by the PIO.
On 16 July 2009, the Bench held show-cause hearing in this matter for which MM Raheman and Manis Srivastava were present on behalf of deemed PIO Prof Pokhriyal. They stated that partial information had been provided to the appellant on 19 June 2009. They sought time of one month more to provide the information. The CIC rebuked the respondents for their nonchalant approach and scheduled the next hearing on 19 August 2009.
During the next hearing, Dr HC Pokhriyal, dean for exams, Jay Chanda, PIO and RP Singh, deputy registrar for results were present. They informed Mr Gandhi, the then CIC that most of the information has been provided to the appellant.
The discussions revealed that there was some lack of understandings on the part of the PIO about the nature of information to be given. This was coupled with poor record keeping at the public authority, the Bench observed.
Mr Gandhi said, "Some parts of the information are still to be provided and if the appellant receives the information satisfactorily he will give a letter to this effect before 5 September 2009 after which the CIC will take a final decision."
On 7 September 2009, Prasad gave a letter to the CIC acknowledging satisfactory information provided by the PIO. The Bench, however, said this proceeding has highlighted the need for certain proactive disclosures by the public authority.
Mr Gandhi then directed the PIO to ensure that the details of the Internal Assessment scheme be put up on the Universities' website in fulfilment of its Section 4 compliance. "This should be done before 30 October 2009 and a compliance report sent to the Commission before 5 November 2009," the Bench said.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC /SG/A/2009/000181/2745adjunct
Appeal No. CIC/ SG/A/2009/000181
Appellant : AN Prasad
Respondent : Deepak Vats
Dy. Registrar & PIO
University of Delhi New Delhi-110007
What is of greater significance is the slipshod way the onion trade is left in an uncontrolled fashion by the government! The party that can assure and deliver the supply of commodities at fair prices will succeed in the ensuing election
Assembly elections are due in five states, including Delhi. But, the high cost of food and the resultant inflation is likely to play a decisive role, particularly in Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It looks like Kejriwal will have a field day when he takes on Sheila Dikshit to debate on various issues affecting the aam aadmi!
There has been a public outcry as to why export is allowed of the onions where there is so much shortage in the country itself? Export of onions, controlled via NAFED, has been going on for decades and mostly to the Gulf countries, where millions of Indians toil and remit their hard earned foreign exchange back to India. Cutting off the supplies would not only affect them, but will give the opportunity for our competitors to break into the market.
Already, new comers like Australia, USA and China have made supplies to the Gulf market. In a recent survey that Moneylife carried out, it was found that as against the regular Dh3 to Dh4 per kilo price (Dh1 = Rs17.30 now), the brown onions from Australia and USA were being sold at Dh4.95 and Dh6.95 per kilo. Of course, there are variations in the prices, depending upon the location of the super market or the chain that sells them.
The export price was $650 per tonne in August; after the situation began to worsen in the country, the price was revised to $900 and now, finally, the minimum export price has been raised and revised upward to $1,150 per tonne.
Increasing our export price has serious repercussions in the Gulf market. Pakistan has been one of the fiercest competitors for the Indian suppliers, and when the shortage in the country became unbearable, the government even planned to get some quick supplies from Pakistan and China. How much came from these two sources has not been made public so far, but their quality does not match our taste buds in the country!
In any case, as against one million tonnes in the first half of last year, this year, due to lower production, India has not been able to ship more than 700,000 tonnes. With the high jumps in the minimum export price, our final export figures is likely to fall and it would be a difficult task to regain these markets. We cannot open and close the supply taps at will, just because we are unable to domestic market.
The vagaries of rainfall have affected our supplies once again; this time, it has been excess rainfall in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. What is of greater significance is the slipshod way the market is left in an uncontrolled fashion by the government! The growers do not get adequate price for their produce and the maximum benefit is usurped by the middlemen and wholesalers. There is a nexus between the two and it is generally believed that politicians play a vital role in these transactions.
Retail price of onion ranges between Rs60 and Rs100 a kilo. Sadly, the grower does not even get one third of the price.
The party that can assure and deliver the supply of commodities at fair prices will succeed in the ensuing election.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
Moneylife’s consistent campaign since March 2013, has led to a series of customer-friendly initiatives by MEA and TCS; the latest is with mobile technology. The mPassport Seva app provides a wide variety of services such as status tracking, locating a passport office and other general information
No more the arduous trips to your passport office and exasperating interaction with the officials who often make you run round and round. Now, to track your passport application; to find out which is your passport office if you are residing in a small town or overseas; to get the required contact numbers; to find out exactly what are going to be your application fees and; any other general information, all you need is to search it on your smartphone!
Termed as the `mPassport Seva’, this new mobile application enables Indian citizens to access passport related information on their smartphones. This service has been executed in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
It may be recalled that since March 2013 Moneylife succeeded in breaking the TCS’s corporate secrecy, when it took up the passport issue at Pune, which was in utter mess. For more than a fortnight, the TCS officials refused to take note of the constant emails being sent to them regarding the breakdown in services. The writer agitated in front of the Pune’s TCS’s Passport Seva Kendra in Mundhwa, after which TCS officials came out in the open, to discuss the problems. Passport applicants were also encouraged to use Right to Information (RTI) to track status of their passport application.
Thereafter, it was after Moneylife’s managing editor Sucheta Dalal’s intervention through a meeting she organized at the Moneylife Foundation office in Mumbai. This meeting held sometime in April 2013, broke the ice of corporate secrecy. Tanmoy Chakroborty, head of Global operations at TCS, took the lead in making the Pune passport office citizen-friendly through various facilities including online payment along with the online application form. It is heartening to note that this has now resulted in an extra facility that was not envisioned before – that is, the `mPassport Seva.’ Moneylife heartily thanks the TCS and the passport division of the MEA.
See these links for other Moneylife impact stories on passport:
A press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on 5th November, states, “In order to keep pace with the current technology, the Ministry of External Affairs had launched the mPassport Seva mobile app on Android platform, as a pilot, in March 2013. Encouraged by positive public response, the Ministry has now launched this app on Windows and Apple iOS platforms as well.’’
To avail the facilities available on your Smartphone, you would have to download it their respective stores:
Android-based handsets: www.play.google.com/store/apps/
Windows-based mobiles: www.windowsphone.com/en-in/store
Apple iPhones: www.apple.com/itunes
Following are the facilities offered on your smartphone:
In the meanwhile, citizens share their happiness on getting their passports with the guidance of Moneylife. An example:
(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”.)