Being denied of information and humiliated during the hearing of his case on 10th January at the State Information Commission office, Sanskrit scholar and RTI activist Dr Subedar Surinder Sharma turned to the State Human Rights Commission to get justice
Jammu-based soldier, Subedar Surinder Sharma was filled with grief when his sister, in her thirties, died under mysterious circumstances on 29 January 2011. Agitated over the fact that the police recorded the case as ‘suicide’ and not ‘murder’ despite alleged proof in the forensic laboratory’s autopsy report, Sharma invoked the RTI (Right to Information) Act. He asked for inspection of documents of all records pertaining to autopsy as well as “chain of custody” of autopsy samples from the Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu. He had also requested permission of assistance of his friend Deepak Sharma to be present during inspection as he is not well versed with English—this soldier though is a Sanskrit scholar having done his PhD in it.
The public information officer (PIO) declined information stating he does not have the copy of the autopsy report. Sharma then filed the first appeal but was informed by the First Appellate Authority that they indeed have the copy of the autopsy report but cannot allow inspection as records of other patients would also be revealed. Surinder Sharma, appealed to the FAA that he was only interested in his sister’s report but was denied information.
Hence, he appealed to the State Information Commissioner where his case was pending until he was asked to be present for hearing on 4 January 2013 at the Chief State Information Commission’s office where the case was to be heard.
His friend, Deepak Sharma also filed a separate RTI application on 29 April 2011 asking for the “crime scene observation report” of Surinder Sharma’s sister, from the PIO of the Office of Forensic Laboratory, Jammu. On 26 May 2011, he was denied information under the pretext of Section 8. He filed an appeal with the FAA on 12 July 2011 but was denied information. Deepak Sharma then filed a complaint with the State Information Commission but by a decision on 4 January 2012, the Information Commissioner dismissed the petition stating that the applicant has already received the information from the PIO. States Deepak Sharma, “the Information Commissioner without giving me a notice or hearing my side, gave such an order.” Aggrieved at this “lie, as I had never received the information”, he asked for a review application. Very strangely, the SIC sent back the application to the FAA who once again turned down his request. Finally, Surinder Sharma under media glare, wrote a RTI application with his own blood on 12 October 2012 and submitted it to the PIO. It was then that the SIC took it seriously and the PIO was compelled to give a copy of report.
However, Deepak Sharma’s hearing at the Chief State Information Commissioner’s office on 10 January last week turned ugly. Both the RTI applicants are crying foul over the humiliation meted to them by GR Sufi, Chief State Information Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir. States Surinder Sharma, “when we sat on the chairs, Mr Sufi asked us to vacate our chairs, saying it is not meant for people like us. He also humiliated us and threatened us that no appeal of ours would be entertained and that any case can be filed against us. He also took objection to my presence to assist Mr Surendra. He said that I am not an advocate. When I brought to his notice that the RTI Act allows assistance from any citizen, not necessarily a lawyer, he was very rude. Shocked at the arrogance we have made a petition to the State Human Rights Commission, to conduct a probe against Mr Sufi for his behavior.”
Chandigarh-based Surendera M. Bhanot, coordinator RTIFED who is campaigning against the arrogance of various information commissioners writes in Humjanenge blog, “Such behaviour of the Information Commissioners has brought the institution of Information Commissions to disrepute. This has opened a new front for the information seeker to approach the Central/State Human Right Commissions. Exactly so, one information seeker has really invoked this right.”
Lately, the information commissioners have come under ire for killing the RTI Act through their insipid orders. Now, it is a bit more serious as one of their fraternity members is alleged of misconduct towards RTI applicants.
Copy of the letter addressed to the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission
Surinder Sharma & Deepak Sharma, R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C, Jeevan Nagar, Jammu (Complainants)
Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information
Commission, Wazarat Road, Jammu (Respondent)
Sub: Complaint of human rights violation and serious breach of constitutional right of the complainants by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.
It is submitted with deep grief and pain that the complainants were humiliated, harassed, threatened to be implicated in false cases and the fundamental rights of Right to Equality before law, Right to Information, Right to a fair and transparent trial in the court of law, Right to life and liberty, Right to live with human dignity, Right to freedom of speech and expression and Right to enter in any public office were violated by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.
The complainants would also like to bring in to the kind notice of Hon’ble Chief Minister Sahib that the complainant no. 2 had already submitted a written request to the J&K State Information Commission, dated 30 March 2012, receipt no. 2912, requesting for the videography of his cases pending for trial at J&K State Information Commission, for a fair and transparent trial. But unfortunately, for the reasons best known to the State Information Commission, the Commission remained insensitive and even did not bother to reply the complainant of his request.
The complainants would also like to bring this in to the kind notice of the Hon’ble State Human Rights Commission that the respondent had even himself violated the provisions of the state RTI Act and put the life of the appellants/information seekers on risk. The section 6(2) of the state RTI Act prohibits any personal question, motive and the purpose and use for seeking information, but the respondent had in utter violation of this provision of the Act in his decision no. 45 of SIC/J/Comp., dated 31/10/2011directed the information seeker to apprise him of the purpose of seeking and use of sought information.
The details of the present complaint case and circumstances are as follows:
That a case titled “Surinder Sharma Vs GMC” was listed for hearing in the open court of Hon’ble Chief State Information Commissioner, Sh. GRSufi on 10/01/2013 at 11am. The applicant along with his duly authorized representative, Sh. Deepak Sharma (Complainant no. 2) approached to the State Information commission office on 10/01/13 at 10.45am.
That both the complainants after showing their presence to the private secretary of the State Chief Information Commissioner , entered in to the open court of State Chief Information Commissioner , Sh. GR Sufi , where the case was listed for hearing.
That both the complainants humbly wished the Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner and took their seats. The officials from the GMC, Jammu were already seating on the chairs.
That the State Chief Information Commissioner , Sh.GR Sufi suddenly in a very rude manner ordered the complainants to vacate the chairs immediately , stating the reasons that the complainants have no right and capacity to sit on chairs before him . He also remarked that the complainants and some others like the people of Jammu region do not deserve to sit on chairs before him and only senior officials/ bureaucrats like the officials from GMC, deserve to sit on the chairs before him.
That both the complainants as ordered by the State Chief Information Commissioner immediately vacated their chairs and in standing position requested to start the trial. The complainant no. 1 (Sh. Surinder Sharma ) requested to the Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner , that the complainant no. 2 ( Sh. Deepak Sharma) would present the case on his behalf. (This request of the complainant No. 1 was under the provisions laid down in the J&K RTI Act, 2009).
That the State Chief Information Commissioner, while violating the provisions laid down in the J&K RTI Act, 2009, rejected the request of the complainant no. 1 to present complainant no. 2 as his representative, citing the reasons that only an advocate with valid licence can only represent an applicant in the open courts of the Information Commission and since the complainant no. 2 (Sh.Deepak Sharma) is not an advocate , hence the complainant no. 2 could not be allowed to represent the case of complainant no. 1( Sh. Surinder Sharma).
That the complainant no. 2 (Sh.Deepak Sharma) humbly requested to the State Chief Information Commissioner that the J&K RTI Act, 2009 , permits even a non-advocate to represent an applicant and no where in the Act it is mentioned that a non-advocate cannot represent an applicant in the case.
That the State Chief Information Commissioner in a fit of anger ordered the complainants not to speak in front of him, ordered to get out of his court immediately and also warned the complainants not to file any appeal/complaint in the J&K State Information Commission in future . The Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner even threatened to implicate the complainants in to false cases and also threatened to teach them a suitable lesson if the complainants approach to any forum against this conduct of the State Chief Information Commissioner and also ordered the complainants not to enter in to the premises of open courts of the Commission and even in the office of J&K state Information Commission.
That the complainants were even not allowed to mark their attendance on the attendance register. That the State Chief Information Commissioner also stated that in future the complainants/appeal under the J&K RTI Act, 2009, from the complainants would not be accepted/entertained by the State Chief Information Commissioner.
Prayer: Through this prayer, the complainants most humbly request to the Hon’ble State Human Rights Commission to conduct an independent probe in this matter, direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to honor the fundamental rights of the complainants ,direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to restrain from filling any false case against the complainants, direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to acknowledge and accept the appeals/complaints filed by the complainants under the provisions of the J&K RTI Act, 2009, direct the J&K State Information Commission to conduct the videography of all the cases of the complainants for a fair and transparent trail, direct State Chief Information Commissioner, Sh.GR Sufi not to restrict the entry of the complainants in open courts of the commission, not to restrain the entry of the complainants in the premises of J&K State Information Commission both in Jammu and Srinagar office, the State Chief Information Commissioner may also be directed not to infringe the rights of the complaints to seek information under J&K RTI Act from state public authorities, the State Chief Information Commissioner may also be directed not to violate Section 6(2) of the state RTI Act and not to put the lives of innocent information seekers on the radar of the corrupt elements by asking about the use of sought information, or to award any other suitable relief to the complainants as this commission may deemed appropriate.
Surinder Sharma (complainant no. 1)
Deepak Sharma (Complainant no. 2)
R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C,
Jeevan Nagar, Jammu – 180010
Notwithstanding expectations of interest rate cut by the RBI in its quarterly monetary policy on 29th January on back of declining inflation, RBI governor D Subbarao said, “Inflation has come down, (it is) still high”
Lucknow: Ahead of its third quarterly policy, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that inflation was still high and there was no room for fiscal or monetary stimulus to boost growth in slowing economy, reports PTI.
“When growth is slowing down you can stimulate the economy either by monetary easing or by fiscal stimulus, but both monetary and fiscal side have no room for stimulus. So that is the big concern,” RBI governor D Subbarao said while addressing Indian Institute of Management (IIM) students on Tuesday evening in the capital of north Indian state Uttar Pradesh.
Notwithstanding expectations of interest rate cut by the RBI in its quarterly monetary policy on 29th January on back of declining inflation, Subbarao said, “Inflation has come down, (it is) still high”.
Although inflation, based on movement in wholesale prices, touched the three-year low of 7.18% in December, retail inflation continued to remain in double digit at 10.56%. It only indicates that easing Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was not providing any relief to the consumers from spiralling prices.
The WPI inflation at 7.18% was also much above the central bank’s comfort level of 4%-5%. The inflation has not declined to the expected levels despite tight monetary stance pursued by the RBI to check price rise.
With industrial output contracting by 0.1% in November, the industry has stepped up its demand for interest rate cut by the RBI in its forthcoming policy.
The economic growth, which slipped to nine-year low of 6.5% in 2011-12, is expected to decline further to 5.7%-5.9% in the current fiscal.
Kingfisher CEO met DGCA but again failed to provide any details on its funding or about any commitment by the airline’s parent company, UB Group, on financing the carrier’s revival plan
New Delhi: Vijay Mallya’s grounded Kingfisher Airlines on Wednesday made another attempt to convince Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on its revival plans, but failed to provide any details on its funding which the aviation regulator wanted, reports PTI.
Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Agarwal met DGCA Arun Mishra for 45 minutes to apprise him of the prevailing scenario facing the airline, but sources said he gave no information about any commitment by the airline’s parent company, UB Group, on financing the revival plan.
The sources said Agarwal told the regulator that the airline would be ready to resume operations from the Summer Schedule, which begins in April.
The Kingfisher chief said the airline has not received no-objection certificates from any of the airport operators, including the Airports Authority of India (AAI), though he claimed that some of the oil companies and aircraft leasing companies have given it a go-ahead.
Today’s meeting comes days ahead of a crucial meeting of a consortium of bankers that have lent over Rs7,500 crore to the now defunct airline.
The consortium has been refusing to lend any more money to the airline till the promoters bring in more funds. The airline suspended operations on 11th October last year and its operating licence lapsed on 31st December.
In the recent past, civil aviation ministry officials had made it clear that they were not satisfied by Kingfisher’s plans to invest Rs650 crore as it might not guarantee efficient and reliable services.
“The revival plan, which was submitted by the airline, had lot of issues regarding lenders and staff payment which we felt may not lead to reliable services,” a senior officer had said, adding it had no provision for payment to airport operators.
Salaries and allowances of the staff have also been pending for over eight months now, while the airline owes money to airport operators, oil companies and other vendors.