‘Police Manual’ is public document and should be provided under RTI, rules Bombay HC
Strange things can happen when information is sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Mumbai police told an RTI applicant that the Bombay Police Manual can be purchased from the market but cannot be provided under the RTI Act.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the police approached the Bombay High Court to ‘protect’ its manual and avoid providing it to an RTI application. Finally, four years after the RTI was filed, the High Court declared that the Police Manual is a public document and asked the Department to provide a copy of it to the applicant and he will hopefully get it. 
 
Here is what happened. 
 
On 23 October 2012, Kaustubh Gharat of Praja Foundation asked the Mumbai police for copies of Police Manual in English and Marathi under the RTI Act. However, on 5 November 2012, the Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information on the grounds that the ‘Police manual is a public document and is available in the market. Thus, the necessary information cannot be provided.’
 
After failing to procure the Police Manual from well-known publishers and libraries in and around Mumbai, Mr Gharat filed a first appeal on 12 December 2012. 
 
During the hearing before the First Appellate Authority (FAA) on 28 December 2012, Mr Gharat was shown a copy of the Bombay Police Manual. The copy mentioned that this was a “Confidential Publication for Departmental use only” along with the instruction -- “The publishing, reproduction or translation of this book cannot be done without the permission of Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra. For any queries or suggestions regarding the same, contact the DGP office, Maharashtra, Mumbai.” 
 
The FAA directed Mr Gharat to contact DGP Office as per instructions mentioned on the Manual and dismissed his appeal. 
 
Aggrieved by the decision of FAA, Mr Gharat filed a second appeal before the State Information Commission (SIC) on 28 January 2013. The State Chief Information Commissioner said that denial of manual does not fit any exemptions of RTI Act and ordered the PIO to provide copies of the Police Manual as sought by Mr Gharat before 16 April 2013 and to provide it free of cost owing to the delay. The State Chief Information Commissioner also directed Director General of Police for Maharashtra to publish the Police Manual and other important related booklets under section 4(1)(b)(5) of RTI Act within a month of this order. 
However, on 16 November 2013, the Police Department filed a writ petition in Bombay High Court challenging the SIC order. 
 
Meanwhile Mr Gharat was provided the Marathi version of volume I and volume II out of the three volumes of the manual, but not the English version, since it was “the original copies of police manual.”
 
 After hearing both sides, the High Court in Writ Petition 10731/2013 ruled in favour of Mr Gharat. In its order, the Bombay HC uphold that the Police Manual is not a confidential document and thus should be provided under RTI to Mr Gharat.
 
Here is the link to order from the Bombay HC.
 
   
 
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    #RTIBachao: Municipal Corporations in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Mira Bhayandar agree to upload online RTI queries and replies
    After the strenuous and persistent efforts taken by several leading Right to Information (RTI) activists, the #RTIBachao campaign has started yielding concrete results. The Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation is the latest municipal corporation to join Navi Mumbai Municipal Corp (NMMC) and Thane Municipal Corp (TMC) in agreeing to comply with the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act and upload online all queries asked by citizens and replies provided to them by public information officers (PIOs) under the Act.
     
    Pune Municipal Corp (PMC) was the first to have initiated this move a couple of years ago, but it has not bothered to keep the information up-to-date. This only means that activists will need to keep a constant vigil to ensure that the intentions of the municipal bodies are turned into action and that uploading of information continues over time.
     
    RTI activists led by Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, have argued that the issue of people using RTI to blackmail municipal officials gets nullified when legitimate information is posted on the municipal websites – after all, it is public information and nobody can be blackmailed for doing the right thing. This happened when several municipal corporations, including Mumbai had begun to allege that RTI activists were using information obtained under the Act to blackmail officers and builders. What they failed to say was that blackmail was only possible when something illegal occurred and was sought to be hidden.
     
    The #RTIBachao campaign was initiated at Moneylife Foundation on 7 February 2018 under leadership of Mr Gandhi along with scores of RTI activists and concerned citizens. Activists such as Vijay Kumbhar, Navin Agarwal, Sunil Ahya, Krishna Gupta and Mahesh Bangera took it forward by campaigning for disclosure of information.
     
    “The focus of #RTIBachao campaign was to seek respect towards RTI users and activists in getting the RTI queries and responses displayed on the website under Section 4 of RTI Act,” Mr Gandhi had said.
    According to him, the whole idea for this campaign was to set an example in society of ’how the democracy works. He says, “Citizens elect the government in a democracy and the government ought to maintain transparency and remain accountable to its citizens.”
     
    And as it is evident that the objective of working this experiment of democracy by contacting elected representatives and convincing them is actually working.
    Navi Mumbai Municipal Corp became the first to implement the requests made under the #RTIBachao campaign. NMMC chief Dr N Ramaswami agreed to implement the solution provided under the campaign and issued appropriate order (See link below):
     
     
    Thane Municipal Corporation soon followed the path and its Commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal also joined in strengthening of implementation of RTI Act.
     
     
    Thane Police also joined the campaign. Thane’s Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP-administration wing) Makarand Ranade issued a circular asking PIOS to show courtesy while dealing with RTI users. 
     
     
    Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corp also accepted the demands of #RTIBachao campaign and has issued a circular to upload details of RTI applications and replies on its website. 
     
     
    The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on the other end has taken few steps towards transparency, but still needs to make some improvisations. Noted civic and RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar from Pune says, “PMC uploads RTI first appeals on their website. However, there is no uploading of RTI applications and even the uploading of RTI appeals is not regularly done. It is just that, only after a proper follow-up is made, then they upload the appeals. There are some technical glitches also involved like, at certain times, a particular web page will open whereas at times, it won’t.” (See link below):
     
     
    Mr Gandhi says, “We should aim to spread this to other municipal bodies in Maharashtra and this is the first step towards active citizenship in working of democracy. We will now monitor the implementation of these directives by vigilance, commitment and polite reminders and even request others to join or support us in this campaign.”
     
    As the campaign is now gaining momentum, we expect that the civic bodies make suo-motu disclosure of information under Sec. 4 of RTI Act and also the citizens support this initiative to bring transparency and accountability in governance. 
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    COMMENTS

    Ashok Senniappan

    2 years ago

    A very good initiative by the The Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation ,Navi Mumbai Municipal Corp (NMMC) and Thane Municipal Corp (TMC) in to comply with the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI information officers (PIOs) under the Act. All the otherMunicipal corporations should follow them without exception.Congrats to all who have worked tirelessly this freat work.

    Silloo Marker

    2 years ago

    A big hand to all RTI activists who are fighting the good fight to insist on transparency in a democratic set-up. The benefits will be felt by all citizens so it would be our duty to support these efforts by not only using the RTI as much as possible but also monitoring that your own application and its reply is posted online by your own civil body.

    Krishna Jhajharia

    2 years ago

    Why BMC is reluctant to upload the queries they don't want to be exposed of their unscrupulous corrupt practices BMC Commissioner and the Asst Commissioner's of the Wards claim that RTI Applicants are blackmailers. They should have the guts to file police complaint or file petition in the High Court against them. They are all corrupt. Action should be taken against them as per law of the land, which are prevailing and being implemented. The general public is suffering. The Law and order has gone to dogs.

    A NOBODY KNOWS GOVERNMENT !!

    Nobody Knows Anything in New India and Nobody can be held accountable for anything going wrong.

    Nobody knows who suggested and planned Demonetization ?

    Nobody knows how much Old Currency was Deposited in the Banks ?

    Nobody knows how much Black Money was Recovered post Demonetization ?

    Nobody knows how many Indians went Cashless after Demonetization ?

    Nobody knows what the exact GDP figures are ?

    Nobody knows how Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi all escaped ?

    Nobody knows how Nirav Modi accompanied the PM to Davos?

    Nobody knows how Rs.58,000 Crore extra payment was made in Rafale deal ?

    Nobody knows how judge Loya died ?

    Nobody knows where Mahesh Shah disappeared from TV Studios after alleging that he had Rs.14,000 Crores of some prominent Gujarati politicians.

    Nobody knows how Jay Shah converts Rs. 50,000 to Rs.80,00,00,000 crores and then closes his business just days before demonetization ?

    Nobody knows how Adhaar data leaked and the privacy was compromised ?

    Nobody knows how SSC and CBSE exam papers leaked for the very 1st time ?

    Nobody knows who drank 18, 591 cups of tea daily in Mumbai secretariat?

    Nobody knows who counted 3.19 lakh rats in 7 days ?

    Nobody knows who purchased chikkis for Rs 206 crores and ate them all up ?

    Nobody knows who ordered and ate ayurvedic biscuits for 5 crores?

    Nobody knows who ordered to lathicharge protesting students ?

    Nobody knows where is Najeeb ?

    Nobody knows who killed Akhlaq, Pehlu, Junaid, Afrazul and many others ?

    Nobody knows who killed Gauri Lankesh, Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi ?

    Nobody know how Media Freedom has been scuttled and 2017 was the most violent year for India’s journalists with 11 murdered journalists, 46 cases of attacks and 27 cases of police action including arrest and cases filed.

    Now Nobody knows WHO FIRED ON THE PROTESTING FARMERS ?

    #NobodyKnowsAnything
    Is this the government we elected or nobody knows who elected this government too?

    A BANERJEE

    2 years ago

    It would be interesting to see if the three MCDs of Delhi follows this example and puts this in practice. What is relevant here is that the e-mail IDs of any MCD commissioners/officers are not available anywhere and the authorities do not appear to be interested in any semblance of transparency.

    Dr Ananthanarayanan

    2 years ago

    Very much essential for transparency and accountability in governance.Must become mandatory for all depts . I

    BCCI should come under RTI: Law Commission
    In what can be termed as a victory of democracy and transparency, plus a humiliating defeat for the arrogant, corrupt and opaque Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) and all the influential men, who are parasites on this country’s wealth and clout, the Law Commission Report has strongly recommended that the Cricket Board has all the reasons to come under the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI) Act, as it is  “substantially funded” by the government over the last so many decades.
     
    The Law Commission, which works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law & Justice – in its report nails the BCCI, which has been dodging to come under the RTI. The Commission observes, “If the government is foregoing a significant amount of money (in the form of tax or other levy), which otherwise would have been deposited in the national or state exchequer, and would have been public money’, it would qualify as indirect “substantial funding” by the government. And, it would follow that the body/entity receiving such benefits would be a ‘public authority’, even though it may be a private, non-statutory or non-government body, thereby putting such a body squarely within the purview of the RTI Act.”
     
    Chairman of this report, Justice Dr BS Chauhan has categorically recommended that since all other sports bodies under the National Sports Federation (NSF) are listed under the RTI Act,“it is inconceivable as to why BCCI should be an exception.”
     
    What the Report studied
     
    The scope of the study of this report as directed by the Supreme Court was: whether BCCI would qualify to be a `public authority’ so as to fall under the purview of the RTI Act; what would be the ambit of the terms `substantially financed; and `directly or indirectly’ financed/funded as mentioned in Section 2 (h) (d) (ii) of the RTI Act and; whether tax exemptions to the tune of thousands of crores and provision of land at highly discounted rates/nominal value, by the Central and state governments, for the construction of cricket stadiums amount to indirect `substantial funding’ by the government?
     
    The report, quoting various court decisions, nationally and internationally, reiterates, “even if BCCI is continued to be regarded as a private body, but owing to its monopolistic character coupled with the public nature of its functions and the ‘substantial financing’ it has received from appropriate governments over the years (in the form of tax exemptions, land grants et al) it can, within the existing legal framework, still be termed as a ‘public authority’ and be brought within the purview of the RTI Act.”
     
    The Report also states that, the BCCI by its own admission (in its Memorandum of Association) says it is committed to laying down policies of the game of cricket in India and selecting teams to represent India at international fora. Thus, it qualifies to come under the RTI Act.
     
    Other Vital Reasons for BCCI to come under RTI Act:
     
    The Report points out that, `there are certain other relevant factors that ought to be taken into consideration that qualify BCCI to come under the under the RTI Act. They are:
     
    1. The uniform of the players of the Indian team (as selected by BCCI) contains the national colours and their helmets display the Ashok Chakra.
     
    2. BCCI, though not a NSF, nominates cricketers for the Arjuna Awards etc.
     
    3. The Parliament and the State Legislatures chose not to enact a legislation to govern the sport of cricket, reflecting tacit recognition on the issue afforded to BCCI. 
     
    4. Recently, the apex court reaffirmed that BCCI is the “approved” national level body holding virtually monopoly rights to organize cricketing events in the country.
     
    5. ICC recognises BCCI as the ‘official’ body representing India.
     
    6. BCCI practically enjoys a monopolistic status in controlling and regulating the game of cricket in India. BCCI controls the policy formulation related to cricket and its implementation, affecting the country at large, which is essentially a State function.
     
    7. BCCI and its actions/activities, directly and indirectly, affect the fundamental rights of citizens, players, and other functionaries.
     
    BCCI is `monopolistic’ but its work is that of `public functions’: …the monopolistic nature of the power exercised by BCCI, the de facto recognition afforded by the government, the impact of the Board’s actions/decisions on the fundamental rights of the players, umpires and the citizenry in general, entail that the nature and character of functions performed by BCCI are those of public functions.
     
    Any NSF receiving a government grant of Rs10 lakh comes under RTI: In reply to an unstarred question, on 27 March 2012, the then Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, in the Lok Sabha, Ajay Maken, stated that the Government in April 2010, declared that all the National Sports Federations (NSFs) receiving a grant of Rs10 lakh or more would be treated as ‘public authority’ under section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Thus, RTI Act is applicable to all such NSFs being deemed ‘public authorities’.
     
    Maken reiterated that, so far as BCCI is concerned, the government of India has been treating it as an NSF and has been approving its proposals for holding events in India and participating in international events abroad.
    Again on 27 July 2016 to the Lok Sabha, Vijay Goel, the then Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports reiterated the same opinion as that of Maken. The Report observed, “The answer of the Minister clearly shows that the government of India has been treating BCCI as a NSF, and therefore it should also be treated as a ‘public authority’ in terms of section 2(h) of the RTI Act.”
     
    BCCI is “substantially financed” indirectly:  “It may be accurate to say that the Central government does not extend any direct financial assistance to BCCI, but it is also on record that it has been giving financial assistance in other forms and manner such as:
     
    • Granting concessions in income tax, customs duty etc.
    • Providing land at excessively subsidised rates, among others.
    • State governments have also provided land at subsidised rates, at many places to cricket associations (for example: The State of Himachal Pradesh allocated about fifty-thousand square metres land to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association on a ninety-nine-year lease at Re. one per month)
    • BCCI has enjoyed tax exemptions of thousands of crores of rupees. To be precise, between 1997- 2007, the total tax exemption amounted to INR 21,683,237,489/- (INR Twenty-one billion six hundred eighty-three million two hundred thirty-seven thousand four hundred eighty-nine)
    • It may also be noted here that from 2007-2008 onwards, the registration of BCCI under section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, as a Charitable Trust, was withdrawn.
    • It is worth mentioning here that the government, Central as well as the States, allowing the use of their infrastructure by BCCI, regularly at the time of events or even otherwise also tantamount to ‘substantial financing’
    • It may be noted that the amount of revenue that can alternatively be generated by the government from making available such infrastructure to any third party, on payment basis, makes the level of this financing particularly ‘substantial’.
    • The Central as well as the state governments allowing the BCCI to have a monopoly in the game of cricket, impliedly authorising BCCI to raise funds/generate resources from numerous other sources, funds and resources, which otherwise could have been directed to the national/ state exchequer, also amounts to ‘substantial financing’
    • As the Board controls the profession of cricketers, its actions are required to be judged and viewed by higher standards…keeping in view the public good as also the welfare of the sport of cricket. It is, therefore, wholly undesirable that a body in-charge of controlling the sport of cricket should involve in litigations completely losing sight of the objectives of the society.
     
    Earlier in 2016, the Lodha Committee Report had made the following key recommendations:
     
    • The Legislature must “seriously consider” bringing BCCI under the purview of the RTI Act.
    • There should be a steering committee headed by former home secretary G.K. Pillai with former national cricketers, Mohinder Amarnath, Diana Edulji and Anil Kumble as members.
    • The term of an office bearer of BCCI shall not be of more than 3 years.
    • An office bearer can have a maximum of three terms in all.
    • No office bearer shall have consecutive terms. There shall be a cooling-off period at the end of each term.
    • There should be a separate governing body for the IPL.
    • Players and BCCI officials should disclose their assets to the Board as a measure to ensure they do not bet.
    • In the interest of democratic representations of states, it proposed ‘One State – One Member – One Vote’. Also, no proxy voting of individuals should be permitted.
    • No BCCI office-bearer should be a minister or a government servant.
     
    Noted RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who along with Anil Bairwal, National Convener of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) had taken up the matter with the Central Information Commission and the Supreme Court stated, ``Law Commission subsequent to Supreme Court order has recommended Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) to be under Right-To-Information (RTI) Act. Since Supreme Court judges and Law Commission members are in themselves best qualified persons to decide on legal issues, there is no reason that Central government may further defer accepting Law Commission recommendation that too after the Supreme Court verdict in name of making study of the report.’’  Now, it is the turn of Ravi Shankar Prasad, Law Minister to working instantly to bring in BCCI under the RTI Act.
     
     
    (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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    COMMENTS

    Ashok Senniappan

    2 years ago

    Why cant BCCI be more transperent?

    Krishna Jhajharia

    2 years ago

    Why BMC is reluctant to upload the queries they don't want to be exposed of their unscrupulous corrupt practices BMC Commissioner and the Asst Commissioner's of the Wards claim that RTI Applicants are blackmailers. They should have the guts to file police complaint or file petition in the High Court against them. They are all corrupt. Action should be taken against them as per law of the land, which are prevailing and being implemented. The general public is suffering. The Law and order has gone to dogs.

    A NOBODY KNOWS GOVERNMENT !!

    Nobody Knows Anything in New India and Nobody can be held accountable for anything going wrong.

    Nobody knows who suggested and planned Demonetization ?

    Nobody knows how much Old Currency was Deposited in the Banks ?

    Nobody knows how much Black Money was Recovered post Demonetization ?

    Nobody knows how many Indians went Cashless after Demonetization ?

    Nobody knows what the exact GDP figures are ?

    Nobody knows how Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi all escaped ?

    Nobody knows how Nirav Modi accompanied the PM to Davos?

    Nobody knows how Rs.58,000 Crore extra payment was made in Rafale deal ?

    Nobody knows how judge Loya died ?

    Nobody knows where Mahesh Shah disappeared from TV Studios after alleging that he had Rs.14,000 Crores of some prominent Gujarati politicians.

    Nobody knows how Jay Shah converts Rs. 50,000 to Rs.80,00,00,000 crores and then closes his business just days before demonetization ?

    Nobody knows how Adhaar data leaked and the privacy was compromised ?

    Nobody knows how SSC and CBSE exam papers leaked for the very 1st time ?

    Nobody knows who drank 18, 591 cups of tea daily in Mumbai secretariat?

    Nobody knows who counted 3.19 lakh rats in 7 days ?

    Nobody knows who purchased chikkis for Rs 206 crores and ate them all up ?

    Nobody knows who ordered and ate ayurvedic biscuits for 5 crores?

    Nobody knows who ordered to lathicharge protesting students ?

    Nobody knows where is Najeeb ?

    Nobody knows who killed Akhlaq, Pehlu, Junaid, Afrazul and many others ?

    Nobody knows who killed Gauri Lankesh, Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi ?

    Nobody know how Media Freedom has been scuttled and 2017 was the most violent year for India’s journalists with 11 murdered journalists, 46 cases of attacks and 27 cases of police action including arrest and cases filed.

    Now Nobody knows WHO FIRED ON THE PROTESTING FARMERS ?

    #NobodyKnowsAnything
    Is this the government we elected or nobody knows who elected this government too?

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