Skip to Content

Information Denial Facilitation Commission

You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
up
157 users have liked.
Governance

Now, it's a celebrated fact that the TTMC's in Bangalore are the biggest case of mis-use of JNNURM funds, as has more or less been established in this blog. I thought I'll check out if they have at least been built in accordance with plans sanctioned by the BBMP, and, if so, also find out the quantum of municipal taxes they are paying, if any. Accordingly, I filed an RTI application with the BBMP PIO as per this, on 8th Nov'10. Receiving no response, I filed an appeal with the Commissioner, BBMP, on 8th Feb'11. Receiving no response from the Commissioner even, I filed an appeal with the Karnataka Information Commission on the 2nd July'11. I noticed that it got registered as Application no: KIC 7116 PTN 2011 dt 11/07/11, from their website.

Even as I had been waiting for the hearing to come up, on the 25th Feb, ie more than 7 months later, I received the letter, accessible here , from the KIC. From a reading of the contents, it is now quite clear that the KIC has transformed itself into what I am calling the Information Denial Facilitation Commission (KIDFC). Very clearly, the BBMP as well as the BMTC do not want to disclose the information asked for, and the KIDFC is facilitating this.

In the first place, the response was in Kannada. I have an issue with that, which matter has been gone into in detail here (please, nobody bring up that issue on this blog!). Since I can't read Kannada, I took it to somebody who could read the language. Generally, from a hearing, I can more or less get a sense of what is being read. But, the language used being of a level which even a 'Kuvempu' will have difficulty with, it took some ten readings between some five different people to get a fair idea of what the KIC (rather, KIDFC) was seeking to convey (rather, cover up).

The letter apparently dismisses my appeal for reasons ticked off in a standard format, very clearly indicating that this has become their routine practice now. This perhaps is the new strategy to "manage" an appellant when he persists past all the older tactics detailed here. In the instant case, the points ticked off are serialled at 2,3,4 & 6. And, the following are what they are supposedly seeking to convey:

2) The appeals have not been filed in triplicate;
3) Postal order copy not enclosed;
4) Proof of receipt of appeals not provided;
6) Complainant has approached the appellate authority directly before approaching the PIO.

At least some five cases of mine have already been disposed off by the KIC in the past, out of close to a hundred odd cases taken up under the RTI, most others closing at earlier stages, a fair number successfully. Never before had they raised such issues. Even if one were to comply with these demands, imagine the quantum of paper that will get wasted in the process. This is even as government organisations, like Railways, are today exhorting the public to travel with just "e-tickets" on mobile phones, with a view to saving over 3 lakh A-4 size sheets everyday. And, it is not as if the opposite party has contested the case on any of these issues. Very clearly, the KIC has, on its own, devised these ways to cover up for its masters in the government, obviously a result of the hijacking of the selection process (of the Commissioners) by the neta-babu combo.

When formulated and notified way back in 2005, the expectation then was that, by now, the governments would have moved to the proactive disclosures phase, as envisaged undrer the Act. In practice however the governments generally have been inventing newer and newer ways to emasculate the rights of the citizens, the latest doings almost completing the process, and converting the Karnataka Commission into a full-fledged KIDFC. Given this scenario, it no longer makes any meaning pursuing the RTI route.

The irony of it all is that this is all happening even as the government, on the other hand, is seeking to enact the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act, 2012 (check this). But, the approach being what it is, one feels skeptical as to where it is all leading.

Perhaps, it's time the Civil Society came together once again to assert the citizen's rights.

Muralidhar Rao

PS: Incidentally, the KIC website displays the yellow and crimson flag. But, according to the minister concerned, the state has no official flag - check this

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

This issue deserves a PIL!

up
98 users have liked.

Murali Sir,

This issues deserves a PIL. If this is left as is will becoem a precedent and the spirit of RTI will be lost. You have my fullest support if you decide to take the next steps either filing the alst appeal before the CIC or PIL in the court.

 

-Syed

sun_n_moon's picture

Great insights Murali

up
95 users have liked.
You are spot on about the desire to obfuscate and be increasingly opaque about letting us know what's our right to know under RTI. Keep at it. More power to your elbow. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
murali772's picture

disposal of RTI cases

up
103 users have liked.

BBMP commissioner M K Shankarlinge Gowda said he had discussed the increasing RTI queries with the information commissioner. - - - “Not all officials know how to dispose of the RTI cases. A workshop for BBMP officials to handle RTI applications will be held,” commissioner said.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

"dispose off" - is one to believe then that the above was the route they decided upon?

Equally interesting are the following excerpts from the report in the New Indian express (click here to access it)

Councillors from various political parties raised their voice against RTI activists and alleged that they are misusing the tool at the BBMP Council meeting on Saturday. Yediyur ward councillor N R Ramesh said that many RTI activists are seeking  information, which will not benefit the public in any manner. Ramesh said RTI activists are seeking information of the building plan of a house built in 20X30 site. “One cannot build a house 100 per cent as per the plan. There will be deviation here and there,” he said. - - - -  Subashnagar Councillor said they are not able to take up projects which exceed `80 lakh at the Gandhinagar assembly constituency, as they are being harassed by RTI applicants. - - - -  Kodigehalli Councillor, Ashwathnarayana Gowda said RTI applicants should produce details of their property before applying for RTI.

Replying to their query, Commissioner said not many officials of BBMP know about RTI appeals. “We will conduct a special workshop in dealing with RTI appeals from an expert for our officials in the Town Hall,” he said.

Well, if it is impractical to build a house conforming to the by-laws, why doesn't the Corporator ask for them to be amended.

Whatever, the Commissioner has stated that he is going to be holding a workshop to educate the Councillors on the provisions of the RTI. But, going by my experience, narrated above, perhaps he, as also the KIC itself, needs a better appreciation of the spirit behind the Act, besides an understanding of how to dispose of queries raised.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Only serving or retired judge to be CIC

up
99 users have liked.

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed that only a serving or retired chief justice of a high court or a judge of the apex court would be appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) to head the panel at the Centre and state level to decide complaints as well as appeal under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.

To read the full text of the report in the Deccan Herald, click here.

Can one hope for changed outlook resulting out of this? - I wonder.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

endorsement from Justice Hegde

up
105 users have liked.

While seeking Justice Santosh Hegde's opinion on the "right to response in English" issue (check here), and the Registrar of Societies issue (check here), I also sought his opinion on the matter of the delusive and duplicitous tactics adopted by the KIC, as brought out here. He stated that these were typical stone-walling tactics adopted by the bureucracy, and the KIC adopting them was totally against the spirit of the RTI Act.

Here, however, since there was no order issued, I expect I'll have to pursue the matter with the National Advisory Council (NAC), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), etc, though my earlier approaches to them did not evoke a response. Will try again now, now that Justice Hgde has endorsed my stance.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

calling the RTI bluff

up
90 users have liked.

His (Rahul Gandhi's) attempt to use RTI as a shield against corruption is understandable since the main blot on the Congress during UPA-II has been corruption. Sadly, Mr Gandhi’s claim that large number of scams were exposed due to the RTI, fails the test of scrutiny. Corruption worsened The first macro and well-accepted evidence of corruption in a country, comes from the Corruption Perception Index – an analysis put out by the world renowned Transparency International. The rankings show that a year after the RTI Act came into effect, India’s ranking amongst 177 countries of the world, has declined from a 2006 position of 70th to 72nd (2007), 85th (2008), and by the end of UPA-I in 2009, 84th. In UPA-II, it fell from 87th in 2010, to 95th (2011), 94th (2012) and has stayed there in 2013. In effect, perception worsened 24 positions down since the RTI Act.

Even countries such as Botswana, Bhutan, Rwanda, Senegal, and Mongolia fare better. Post the RTI Act 2005, corruption has become much worse in the eyes of a global expert organization on corruption, which is both neutral and credible. No scams uncovered The claim by Mr Gandhi that big scams have been uncovered because of the RTI again falls flat when tested against hard facts. India’s biggest scams which have sullied India’s reputation across the world have neither been stopped nor stand exposed due to the RTI.


For the full text of the article by Sri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, in the FirstPost, click here.

The article further goes on to describe how RaGa's "system" has effectively emsculated the RTI. Not surprising that our Corruption Index has worsened considerably since RTI, for all the tall claims made.

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

Buttressing your point!

up
86 users have liked.

Murali,

You seemed to have piggy backed on Rajeev's aversion to RAGA. There is a comment to his blog that tears apart all that RC has written. RC's own lobbying against CDMA carriers has lot more to say about the skeletons in his cupbaord than he wants us to belive.

You seemed to have blindly followed the bandwagon of RC and Congress baiters to prove your point to say RTI is a bluff. Nobody has claimed that RTI is perfect tool and need no corrections. Your grudges should have been trained agianst the state's inability to impelment the RTI regime. As an ordinary citizen I have received reply for ecah oen of my RTI barring RTIs to Railways. This includes PMO, MoEA, MoMA etc. But on same account, I have not received single reply to my RTI's both in BJP and the current congress regime.

You are at liberty to discount each and every claim of RAGA, UPA and Congress. But calling RTI is erranous. The bluff is not in the act, but in people who are supposed to implement.

Here is the rebuttal for RC's blog:

"...To

Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

Dear Sir,

First of all, thank you for your enlightening article. I am taking this opportunity to discuss some of the premise in your article.

Your article suffers from logical fallacy. Let me explain little bit elaborately for the benefit of other readers.

The first big point is that despite the enactment of RTI Act, corruption has worsended. Transparency International publishes two reports -GLOBAL CORRUPTION BAROMETER and Corruption Perceptions Index. You have used the Corruption Perceptions Index to conclude the downward tendency of India in corruption. Now, you will be rather surprised to know that researchers in TI sends some questions to experts working in governance, legal, economics and related matters. The questions try to assess as the report implies "perception" on corruption, rather than actual instance of corruption. The actual instance of corruption is, however, measured by the sister report GLOBAL CORRUPTION BAROMETER published by TI Global and more minutely and detailed level, by TI India. In both these reports, you will be glad to find that citizens find the number of corruption decreasing over the years you have reported.

Now, why there is a perception among the media, researchers, and general public that India is having higher number of corruption. No prize for guessing - constant bombarding of so called 2g,3g, 4g scams by media. BTW, when Rahul Kanwal asked Kapil Sibal other dayin RTH program about the scam of 2g, then Kapil enquired Rahul what is the scam. Rahul could not tell what is the scam.

In Firspost and elsehwhere I often comment this. It is very odd that all corruption taking place in Delhi and rest of India is so damn clean, as far as media goes. Similarly, all corruption seems to have started only from 2005 to 2014 and rest of Indian history does not have any corruption. If that is the case, then India is very safe and sound. Because only answer to this problem is to root out UPA. But this is clearly not the case.

Take an example in our own context to illustrate the point I am trying to make. I work in a big corporate office, with lots of accountants, auditors, supervisors. They not only scrutinise my damn travel bills, they can monitor my in and out time, through biometric. We have a large number of district offices which have lesser number of checks including attendance. The average working time of staffs in our district offices in any given month is 12 hours, whereas my average is 9.5 hours. The local travel bill one person from our district office is more than 10,000 Rs. Now, if somebody tells me state/ country office does more corruption fudging bills and attendance data, I have serious objections to it.

In Delhi, all media houses together with SC and CAG are making noise. But where is such noise in states? Does it mean states are clean?

It is is true all the high ticket "corruption" are not created by RTI. and Rightfully so. RTI can not create which does not exist. Only CAG, SC and MEDIA can do that.

But RTI has uncovered so many small amd medium sized "real" corruption in Delhi and states. What else explains killing of so many RTI activists in last few years?

Therefore, when RG claims RTI as the single biggest weapon against corruption and for accountability, he means it.

I hope you will reconsider your views in the light of this rejoinder.

Sincerely

An ordinary citizen..."

murali772's picture

GoK - the culprit

up
84 users have liked.

@ Syed - Yes, indeed what I have stated is largely on the basis of my experiences with state government agencies, and state information commission. The few queries I raised with Central government agencies, and one with a Kerala government agency, were answered promptly.

Muralidhar Rao

Praja.in comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!



about seo | blog