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

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.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

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. 

Palm oil industry 'deceptively using' geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

'Fake encounter': 12 Adivasis killed being dubbed Maoists, says FACAM

Counterview Desk   The civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), even as condemn what it has called "fake encounter" of 12 Adivasi villagers in Gangaloor, has taken strong exception to they being presented by the authorities as Maoists.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9. 

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

Mired in controversy, India's polio jab programme 'led to suffering, misery'

By Vratesh Srivastava*  Following the 1988 World Health Assembly declaration to eradicate polio by the year 2000, to which India was a signatory, India ran intensive pulse polio immunization campaigns since 1995. After 19 years, in 2014, polio was declared officially eradicated in India. India was formally acknowledged by WHO as being free of polio.