Skip to main content

Gujarat govt cites lack of staff, photocopy machines, stationary to refuse information under RTI

By Our Representative
Why do different Gujarat government departments refuse to part information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005? If the information available with Counterview is any indication, the latest ploy of the state officialdom is “lack of staff” and other “administrative difficulties”, including lack of stationary and photocopy machines! This has become clear in replies to recent applications filed under RTI, where the officialdom has doggedly refused to give any legal explanation for refusing information, and instead pointed towards what great difficulties they have been facing while parting any information.
In one of the replies to RTI applications, filed by one Bhavisha Himanshu Oza of Ahmedabad in February 2013 in order to get copies of the answer sheets of the higher secondary examination, a senior government official said, it is “administratively not viable to provide the information sought by the applicant.” The reply, which ran into three long pages, added, there are around “one crore answer sheets” for 9.26 lakh examinees of the 10th standard, 4.35 lakh examinees of general stream of the 12th standard, and 1.14 lakh examinees of the science stream, again, of the 12th standard.
Wondering why did Oza not apply for reassessment of the answers sheets, as provided by the Gujarat Higher Secondary Examination Board (GHSEB), the official said, the “difficulties” in providing information included kicking off the procedure to get the unique identity number of the applicant, followed by searching the answer sheet from the jute sacks in which they were kept, and finally removal of the khaki sticker in order to find out the seat number of the examinee. Suggesting that with the current staff position all this is not possible, the official says, “For all this, it would be necessary to set up a special cell, where trusted officials would have to be posted…”
Finally, the official points towards the real reason: “Currently, the GHSEB is working with just 10 per cent of the required staff for examination-related works. Clearly, there is a severe shortage of staff. Officials and other staffers have to work overtime, even on Saturday and Sunday, apart from holidays, for late hours. It is with great difficulty that schedule for examination is maintained with this skeleton staff.” It added, “Even the procedure to follow reassessment sought within two weeks of the result, provided by the GHSEB, is an extremely difficult exercise”, giving a detailed data of the number of students who requested for reassessment for 10th and 12th standards.
Significantly, the official under the state education department provided this reply despite a Supreme Court ruling, which had said in August 2011 that the students aggrieved with their examination scores — class X and XII, entrance examination for professional courses as well as job recruitment tests — should be allowed to see how answer sheets were evaluated by their examiners by filing RTI applications. Till the order, only re-tabulation of marks was possible.
The order was issued by a bench of Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik, dismissing a bunch of appeals filed by the Central Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), University of Calcutta, West Bengal Central School Services Commission and Assam Public Services Commission.
This is not the only application in which the Gujarat government has refused to give information under RTI citing staff shortage and administrative difficulties. Another case relates to an application filed by senior activist, belonging to the Navsarjan Trust, Kirit Rathod, who had sought information regarding how many special public prosecutors were appointed, which are obligatory to fight cases under Dalit and tribal atrocities in the court of law. Filed before the law department, the state government provided following reasons for not providing information:
· There is lack of photocopy operator and stationary with the state law department
· Two deputy secretaries’ posts are vacant
· Files for appointing special public prosecutors are pending
Rathod said, in a statement, that despite the fact that the state information commission had directed the state law department to provide information regarding appointment of special public prosecutors, the department’s officials have refused to oblige, saying they do not have any “necessary directions” regarding this from the general administration department (GAD), which is supposed to look at all the personnel issues.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.