Nation
SpiceJet waives off flight cancellation charge for Bengaluru
Budget passenger carrier SpiceJet on Wednesday said that it has waived off flight cancellation charges for operations from Bengaluru for a limited period of time.
 
"In the wake of the serious disturbance in Bangalore, for all our flights booked on or before 12th September, 2016, and flying to and from the city between 12th and 14th September 2016, in adherence to the IROP policy, SpiceJet will be providing a full refund in case of cancellation," the airline said in a statement.
 
According to the airline, passengers seeking a reschedule will be provided with a move flight within seven days of actual departure.
 
"While for a no show, passengers booked on flights departing from Bangalore, we will be accommodating them on our next available flight on a complimentary basis which will be slated within 7 days from the actual flight departure date though the customer will also have the option of availing a refund on request," the statement said.
 
Most of the domestic airlines on Tuesday waived off flight change penalties for operations from Bengaluru for a limited period of time.
 
In their respective accounts on micro-blogging website Twitter, domestic airlines announced that the step was taken due to the law and order problem that has emerged in Bengaluru. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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Want to apply for Information Commissioner’s post? Deadline is 3rd October
It is time to recruit Information Commissioners once again; and this time, let the vacancies not be filled with former bureaucrats, which according to the “India Rapid Study by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in July 2014” account for 69% of Information Commissioners appointed, across the country. Also, as per the study of 2014, there is a dearth of women information commissioners as 26 of the 29 Central Information Commissioners then were men.
 
In what can be termed as a pleasant change, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has advertised for the post of two Central Information Commissioners, well ahead of two, who would be retiring three to five months down the line. Here is a chance for eminent people from various fields to apply and diluting the concentrated population of ex-bureaucrats.
Hence, conscientious ladies and gentlemen, please come forward to apply for the posts of two Information Commissioner in Delhi. The DoPT in a circular issued on 3 September 2016 has stated that applications are invited also from eminent persons prescribed in the RTI Act as follows. “The Act provides that the Information Commissioner shall be person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass-media or administration and governance.”
 
The DoPT letter explains: “Two of the Information Commissioners in the Commission are due to complete their tenure on 31 December 2016 and 17 February 2017, respectively. Therefore, it is proposed to appoint two new Information Commissioners in the Commission in their place.”
 
The DoPT says, “Persons fulfilling the criteria and interested for appointment to the post of Information Commissioner may send their particulars in the enclosed proforma by post to Under Secretary (RTI), Department of Personnel and Training, North Block, New Delhi or through e-mail to usrti-dopt@nic.in by 3rd October, 2016.”
 
It may be recalled that:
  • In September 2012, in the matter of Namit Sharma vs Union of India, the Supreme Court while disposing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) suit, directed the Governments to ensure that retired judges of the Supreme Court and retired Chief Justices of the High Courts be appointed as Chief Information Commissioners.
  • The Central Government and the State Government of Rajasthan sought a review of this judgement. CHRI and two other parties intervened in the matter resulting in the Hon’ble Supreme Court recalling in September 2013, its earlier judgement. 
  • The Court issued fresh directions one of which requires Governments to make the effort to identify candidates other than retired civil servants for appointment to the Information Commissions. 
  • The Court also directed that only such candidates be appointed who have expertise and experiences in the fields mentioned in Sections 12(5) and 15(5) of the RTI  Act. The order states: ``(iv) We further direct that persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in all the fields mentioned in Sections 12(5) and 15(5) of the Act, namely, law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance, be considered by the Committees under Sections 12(3) and 15(3) of the Act for appointment as Chief Information Commissioner or Information Commissioners.” 
 
So, what is the background of Information Commissioners appointed after September 2013? The Namit Sharma review judgment appears to have increased the chances for journalists more than experts in other fields mentioned in the RTI Act.
 
CHRI’s findings about the background of individuals appointed as Information Commissioners since September 2013. 
 
Main findings of the study: 
  • A majority i.e., about 46%, of the individuals appointed as Information Commissioners, (16 out of 35) post‐Namit Sharma review are retired civil servants mostly from the All India Services, and a few from the State Civil Services. 
  • 10 of the Information Commissioners appointed since September 2013 have a background in journalism. The Namit Sharma review judgment appears to have increased the chances for journalists more than experts in other fields mentioned in the RTI Act. 
  • While in Arunachal Pradesh one individual with a background in sports was appointed Information Commissioner, a retired College Principal with only a graduate degree in Commerce was appointed State Information Commissioner in Gujarat. Both appointments are in clear violation of the provisions of the RTI Act as interpreted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Union of India vs Namit Sharma. Neither individual fits the criteria specified in Section 15(5) of the Central RTI Act.
  • In Arunachal Pradesh the Chief Minister of the Indian National Congress‐led Government chaired the selection committee. In Gujarat the recommendation for appointment was same made by the selection committee chaired by the then Chief Minister of the BJP‐led Government.
 
Judicial Interventions in the Appointment of Information Commissioners 
  • In Madhya Pradesh, Information Commissioners were appointed upon the directions of the Madhya Pradesh High Court thanks to a Writ Application filed by an RTI Activist.
  • While one Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh set aside the appointment of four State Information Commissioners in that State, another Division Bench upheld the appointment of another four Commissioners. Both matters were raised through Public Interest Litigation suits by concerned citizens and activists. The Supreme Court has since stayed the order setting aside the appointments of the Information Commissioners.
 
Background of Chief Information Commissioners
Main findings of the study of 2014:
  • 26 of the 29 Information Commissions are headed by male Chief Information Commissioners. The lone instance of a woman serving currently as Chief Information Commissioner is in Goa. In 2012, none of the Information Commissions had a woman as the Chief. The woman State Information Commissioner in Tripura continues to serve as the acting State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) since 2012. The CIC had a woman Chief Information Commissioner between December 2013 and May 2014
  • 90% of the Information Commissions at the Central and State level continue to be headed by retired civil servants as was the case in 2012. The lone exception is that of Jharkhand which is headed by a retired High Court judge. In 2012 there were 2 Information Commissions headed by retired judges
  • More than 2/3rds (69%) of the Information Commissions across the country are headed by retired IAS officers. In 2012, 75% of these posts were held by retired IAS officers.
  • The field of expertise: “administration and governance” continues to remain synonymous with the term “civil services” even after nine years of implementation of the RTI Act.  
  • Background of Central and State Information Commissioners   Main findings of the study
  • Only 11.8% of the Information Commissioners (11 out of 93) serving across the country are women. This figure has declined by about 3% since 2012 when a little less than 15% of the Information Commissioners appointed were women. Andhra Pradesh has two women Information Commissioners. The Information Commissions in Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have one woman Information Commissioner each. 
  • More than 50% (6 out of 11) of the women Information Commissioners are retired civil servants a majority of whom are from the IAS. Two other women Information Commissioners have a background in social work and mass media while a third is a former member of the Shiromani Akali Dal – a recognized State level Political Party.
  • A little less than a half (49.46%) of the State Information Commissioners are retired civil servants belonging to either the All India Services or the State Civil Services. This proportion has come down from 53% in 2012. J&K State Information Commission is the only multi‐member body without any retired IAS officer on it.  One Central Information Commissioner served as Special Director, Intelligence Bureau during his service as an IPS Officer. 
  • 21% of the Information Commissioners are either lawyers or retired judges or have taught law at a university. This proportion has reduced by a little more than 1% since 2012 although in terms of absolute numbers, this proportion has remained steady at 12.
  • A little more than 14% of the Information Commissioners have a background in journalism and mass media. This proportion has increased from 10% in 2012. 
  • The number of Information Commissioners from the field of social service has increased from 1 to 3 since 2012. One State Information Commissioner in Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir, each, who were career civil servants have a background in Engineering
  • Three of the Information Commissioners are reported to be former members of political parties (CPI, SAD and INC). A similar figure was reported in 2012
  • One Information Commissioner in Arunachal Pradesh is identified only as a former President of the Arunachal Weightlifting Federation. Given the much lighter load of second appeals and complaints filed before the SIC in Arunachal Pradesh as compared to other States, the choice of a weightlifter, disregarding the fields of knowledge and experience listed under Section 15(5) of the RTI Act is difficult to understand. 
  • The State Information Commissions of Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal are filled with only retired IAS officers. 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is 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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