Skip to main content

Unexpected? Western regional meet objects to Gujarat order 'blacklisting' RTI applicants

Aruna Roy, Shailesh Gandhi
By Our Representative
Speaking at the western region consultation on the Right to Information (RTI) Act, whose two-day virtual session began on Thursday, Aruna Roy, formerly a member of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi-sponsored national advisory panel, has said that governments should recognise RTI has emerged as common citizens’ right to seek answers from authorities instead of seeing RTI pleas with suspicion.
A pioneer of the RTI movement in India, Roy objecting to recent orders of the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) which prohibited citizens from filing applications under the provisions of the RTI Act under the pretext that the applicants had repeatedly used RTI to pressurize government officials, insisting, the RTI Act “cannot be used as a tool for taking revenge”. She added, governments should actually encourage citizens to file RTI pleas.
Others taking part in the discussion also took exception to the GIC order to blacklist citizens, calling it “unexpected and shocking”, pointing out, a commission is expected to strengthen record keeping, digitalization and disclosures so that more and more information is put in the public domain.
Organised by the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), in which RTI users and activists from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat participated, Shailesh Gandhi, speaking at the session, former Central Information Commissioner, criticised a Supreme Court order on Section 8 of the RTI Act (disallowing all government information to be released for public), which he said is “not only harmfully impact the spirit of the law, but also are widely misused by public authorities across the country.”
Among those present at the consultation included Madhya Pradesh information commissioner Rahul Singh, who has been praised for taking up every appeals filed by women applicants on a priority basis, Rajasthan information commissioner Narayan Bareth. Singh underlined the need for a helpline where common citizens could approach for guidance on RTI. Bareth added, information commissions should not forget that citizens have a lot of hope on the commissions to protect and enhance transparency.
Vivek Velankar, an RTI activist from Maharashtra, said his RTI plea before banks to find out defaulters above Rs 100 crore revealed that many of them were defaulters in not one but several banks, and that the amount ran in “thousands of crores.”
Vineet, an RTI activist from Rajasthan, informed the meet that the Rajasthan Suchna portal carries information on 68 departments and over 130 schemes, including on MGNREGA, PDS, mining, pension, compensation, Covid-19 relief measures etc., and all information is provided in “real time.”
Santoshsinh Rathod, RTI activist from Ahmedabad, said, his fight for two years for disclosure of local area development funds by corporators finally ended fruitfully. It has resulted in Ahmedabad and Surat Municipal Corporations disclosing details on how much have corporators spent and where on the respective websites of the local bodies.

Comments

TRENDING

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.