Skip to main content

Disclose RTI info sought by murdered Pune activist, it was about poor civic services, not Modi's trips abroad: CHRI

By Our Representative
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an influential Delhi-based advocacy group, has demanded that the Maharashtra’s Right to Information (RTI) watchdog, State Information Commission, must order disclosure of all information sought by RTI activist Suhas Haldankar of Pimpri-Chichwad, Pune district, murdered on April 2, and put all of it in public domain.
CHRI’s RTI coordinator Venkatesh Nayak says, this is particularly important because “Halkankar did not ask information about purchase of fighter aircrafts or what India was promising the visiting Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Australia. He was highlighting the poor state of the civic administration in his area.”
The second murder of an RTI activist in Maharashtra in 2017 and the third under the present state government, it comes amidst Government of India (GoI) proposing an amendment in the RTI Rules proposed which authorizes the Central Information Commission (CIC) to close a case upon the death of the applicant.
Draft RTI Rule 12 also proposes to allow those seeking information under RTI to withdraw their application, leading RTI activists to wonder whether, taking advantage of this loophole, those seeking to expose corruption or maladministration would be threatened into withdrawing their appeals.
Comments Nayak, “If Haldankar had fallen for the candies they offered or given in to their intimidatory tactics, he might have withdrawn his RTI applications and appeals.”
With 16 such incidents reported since 2010 (including the latest case), Maharashtra tops the list of states with the highest number of citizens murdered for using RTI to demand transparency and accountability in governance. A total of 66 RTI activists have been killed nationwide since the Act came into place in 2005.
According to CHRI, 34 RTI activists in Maharashtra “have survived physical assaults, while at least 38 other incidents of harassment or threats to RTI activists have been reported in the media since October 2005. CHRI has documented attacks on RTI activists on its website, Hall of Shame, mapping each of them on a Google Map.
Sharply criticizing the RTI draft rules, Nayak says, if these are passed, “all RTI applications and appeals that may have filed by Haldankar with Central public authorities would abate automatically on his death.”
Also taking exception to the Union Minister for Personnel and Public Grievances, the nodal Ministry for implementing RTI Act, for seeking to undermine the criticism of the draft rules as "lack of understanding of what the entire issue is all about", Nayak says, “Of course people without formal training in law will not understand the hair-splitting arguments about RTI Rules, Regulations and Guidelines.”
Simultaneously asking the GoI to “stop dragging its feet on implementing the Whistleblower Protection Act”, CHRI in its statement said, it should “include provisions in the law to protecting RTI activists and RTI applicants from harm.”
Also seeking National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) intervention into the gruesome murder of the RTI activist, CHRI said, Haldankar was “battered to death with cement blocks allegedly by a group of 11 persons in the Pimpri-Chinchwad area of Pune.”
At least one of the accused is said to be a former corporator belonging to the Indian National Congress.

Comments

TRENDING

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.