India

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  • 27 August 2015

    Indian Government Opposes Putting Parties Under RTI Act

    The Indian government has told the Supreme Court that political parties should not be covered by the Right to Information Act, as decreed by the Central Information Commission. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) submitted an affidavit saying the CIC erroneously ruled in June 2013 that political parties are public authorities under the RTI […]

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    • 29 July 2015

      India: How we fail our RTI heroes

      By Manu Moudgil This article, reprinted with permission, first appeared July 20 in The Hoot, an independent initiative of the Media Foundation based in New Delhi. Another recent Hoot story, by Geeta Seshu, also addressed the issue and possible solutions. The Indian government recently announced plans to gather more statistics on the deaths of RTI activists. (See previous FreedomInfo.org […]

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        News Archive

        • 29 July 2015

          India: Tardy working of info panels

          By Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri The writers are RTI activists and members of the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information, New Delhi. This article first appeared in The Deccan Herald July 27 and is reprinted with permission. Under the RTI Act, independent Information Commissions (ICs) have been set up at the Centre and […]

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          • 16 July 2015

            India Looks to Encourage More Proactive Disclosure

            The Indian government is pressing agencies to proactively release more of the information repeatedly sought by requesters under the Right to Information Act. The government has asked all departments to do an analysis of information sought often by applicants and suo-motu make such details public, according to media reports such as an article in The New Indian […]

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            • 9 July 2015

              Indians File 4.5 RTI Requests Annually, Study Estimates

              Indians filed more that 4.5 million right to information requests annually in recent years, according to a major nationwide study by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. The report digs deep into frequently incomplete data from national and state information commissions. CHRI makes 30 recommendations, mainly focused on the administration of the act and recordkeeping. In […]

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              • 8 July 2015

                Indian Court Seeks Answers From Political Parties

                The Indian Supreme Court July 6 asked all six national political parties to explain why they should not be covered by the Right to Information Act, as determined by the Central Information Commission, according to media reports such as one in The Hindu. The order by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu came following a plea by […]

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                • 25 June 2015

                  New Commissioner Plans Steps to Cut India’s Backlog

                  Vijai Sharma, India’s new Chief Information Commissioner, says he plans mass hearings, consolidating cases and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to reduce the backlog of 40,000 pending cases. Sharma made his comments in an interview with Nidhi Sharma of The Economic Times published June 19. “Some experimentation will have to be done,” he said, “Some new […]

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                  • 25 June 2015

                    Book Review: Sharma Writes History of Indian RTI Act

                    By Gaia von Hatzfeldt The author obtained her PhD in social anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, where she did research on anti-corruption social movements in India. Sharma, Prashant (2015). Democracy and Transparency in the Indian State: The making of the Right to Information Act. Routledge: Abingdon (225 pages). Access to information around the world […]

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                    • 17 June 2015

                      New Indian CIC Chair to Fight Vexatious Requests

                      The new chairman of the Central Information Commission, Vijai Sharma, has said that fighting the backlog of cases and vexatious requests is his top priority, according to an article in The Hindu. “[What we need to check] is genuine applications getting crowded out by applications which some may prescribe as vexatious or frivolous. This is […]

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                      • 9 June 2015

                        Indian Government Names Singh as CIC Chairman

                        The Modi government June 8 appointed Information Commissioner Vijai Singh as the Chief Information Commissioner, ending a nine-month leadership vacancy at the Central Information Commission. The appointments to CIC are for five years or until the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. Sharma, a who has been serving as an information commissioner since 2012, […]

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                        • 3 June 2015

                          Sharma Picked to Head Indian Info Commission

                          India’s most senior incumbent information commissioner, Vijai Sharma, has been chosen to be the new Chief Information Commissioner, according to media reports. A formal announcement has not taken place, but Sharma’s apparent selection came at a meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had June 1 with the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok […]

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                          • 21 May 2015

                            RTI and the Indian Official Secrets Act

                            By Venkatesh Nayak The author is Coordinator of the Access to Information Programme at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. This post first appeared May 15 in The Hoot. Last week, upon being requested by a section of the family of the leader of the Indian movement for independence, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, to make the […]

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                            • 12 May 2015

                              The RTI Act-Present Status

                              By Shailesh Ghandhi The author is a right to information activist and a former commissioner of the Indian Central Information Commission. This statement was issued May 11. The RTI Act has caught the imagination of people and the way it has spread is being appreciated and admired around the world. A great change has come […]

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                              • 7 May 2015

                                Opposition Party Slams Modi Government on CIC Vacancy

                                Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “blatant U-turn” on the issue of transparency, according to news reports such as one in the Economic Times and another in the Hindustan Times. She said May 6 in Parliament that Modi’s government is “deliberately” not filling the post of Chief Information […]

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                                • 2 April 2015

                                  Slower Growth Rate Seen in Indian RTI Requests

                                  The rate of growth in the number of Right to Information Act requests filed in India is slowing, according to the preliminary findings by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). “So the question to ask is whether RTI fatigue is setting in or will the numbers go up considerably if all public authorities were to report their […]

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                                  • 25 March 2015

                                    Indian Group Criticizes CIC Selection Process

                                    The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has complained about delays in the selection of a new chief information commissioner and the secrecy of the process. The post has been vacant for seven months since Aug. 22, 2014. Activists Aruna Roy, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and the Former CIC Wajahat Habibullah addressed a […]

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                                    • 25 March 2015

                                      RTI Law in Indian State Not Implemented, Critics Say

                                      The six-year old right to information law in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir is not being fully implemented, according to reports on the anniversary of the law. “Six years since the landmark legislation Right to Information Act was implemented in the state, the government itself has failed to adhere to the guidelines of […]

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                                      • 17 March 2015

                                        CIC Concedes Defeat in Political Parties Case

                                        India’s Central Information Commission on March 16 said it can’t enforce its 2013 order that the six major political parties are subject to the Right to Information Act. A three commissioner panel concluded the CIC could not impose penalties or compensatory damages on the parties, or otherwise compel compliance with a decision it defended as still […]

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                                        • 5 March 2015

                                          Only Quarter of Indian Bodies Making Mandatory Disclosures

                                          Only about one quarter of Indian public authorities are posting online information required to be made public under the Right to Information Act, according to the Central Information Commission annual report (text not yet posted on CIC website). Of the 2,276 public authorities, 667 are complying with the mandatory suo-motu (Latin for “on its own […]

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                                          • 5 February 2015

                                            RTI Complaints Not Allowed Under Indian Consumer Law

                                            India’s national consumer commission has ruled that an dissatisfied right to information applicant may not seek recourse through  the Consumer Protection Act, according to the ruling and an article in The Hindustan Times. Sanjay Kumar Mishra of Panchkula had filed a petition challenging the orders of a state RTI commission, claiming to be a consumer […]

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                                            • 15 January 2015

                                              India May Permit Stamps to Be Used for RTI Payments

                                              The Indian Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has invited comment on the idea of letting requesters use postage stamps to pay for the costs of seeking information under the Right to Information Act. The department which administers the act also has set up a committee to discuss the proposal. Comments are due  by Feb. […]

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                                              • 15 January 2015

                                                Indian Panel Moving to Select Next Chief Commissioner

                                                The Indian government is moving to choose a new Central Chief Information Commissioner, a post vacant for almost five months. A search committee created by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has received more than 200 responses to an advertisement. All seven serving information commissioners have applied, as have many current and former high-level […]

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                                                • 8 January 2015

                                                  Indian Commission Considers Penalties in Political Case

                                                  The Indian Central Information Commission has taken a preliminary step to deal with six political parties refusing to obey its order to comply with the right to information law, and a bigger decision is pending. The CIC on Jan. 4 told the Urban Development Ministry to make public all records of land and bungalows allotted […]

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                                                  • 8 January 2015

                                                    Indian RTI Applicant Arrested For Not Standing at Hearing

                                                    An information commissioner in the Indian state of Tamil Nado had RTI activist Siva Elango arrested after he refused to stand while appearing at a commission hearing. Elango was appealing a decision when chief information commissioner K.S. Sripathi insisted that he stand when replying to his questions. Elango replied that there was no rule preventing […]

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                                                    • 1 January 2015

                                                      2014: A Year of Attempts to Strangle the RTI

                                                      By Vinita Deshmukh The author is a prize-winning journalist, a consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. The article was published Dec. 31 in Moneylife. Strapline: Political parties defying summons by CIC, a headless information commission and much more meant a low year for this otherwise strong […]

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                                                      • 12 November 2014

                                                        Indian CIC Schedules Hearing On Nov. 21 for Political Parties

                                                        The Indian Central Information Commission has scheduled a Nov. 21 hearing on non-compliance by six political parties withy a June 3, 2013, order bringing them under the purview of Right to Information Act. The commission has asked the parties to appear before it and produce all relevant documents. One such order was issued Feb. 7. […]

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                                                        • 30 October 2014

                                                          Indian Order Sparks Debate on Disclosing Requester Info

                                                          The recent decision by the Indian government to post online the replies to right to information requests is generating debate over whether requester names should be disclosed. The instruction from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in an Oct. 21 memorandum did not directly address the disclosure of names issue, but those familiar with […]

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                                                          • 23 October 2014

                                                            Indian Ministries Told to Post Replies Online by Oct. 31

                                                            All Indian government agencies have been told to post online their replies to Right to Information Act requests by the end of the month. The ministry overseeing the administration of the Indian RTI Act on Oct. 21 announced a new website feature that will allow placement of replies on the RTI Online system. Agencies were […]

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                                                            • 16 October 2014

                                                              Report Paints Bleak Picture of Indian RTI Law at 10th Year

                                                              A comprehensive and scathing report on the Indian Right to Information documents extensive weaknesses in the system and makes major recommendations for reform. The 150-page examination provides a detailed picture of dysfunction, including “huge” backlogs, an ineffectual appeals process, lack of compliance with orders and penalty awards, and weak records management. The research provides many […]

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                                                              • 1 October 2014

                                                                Indian Court Reverses Ruling on Requester Justifications

                                                                The Madras High Court in India has reversed its ruling that justifications must be supplied for requests, saying that it had overlooked a contrary provision in the law. The Sept. 23 reversal deleted two paragraphs from its Sept. 17 ruling. (See previous Freedominfo.org report.) The court said:         2. In the said […]

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                                                                • 25 September 2014

                                                                  Indian Court in Madras Says Requests Must By Justified

                                                                  The Madras High Court in India has ruled that applicants must give reasons for seeking information under the right to information act. The judgment was delivered by Justices N Paul Vasanthakumar and K Ravichandrababu while hearing a challenge to the Central Information Commission direction to the High Court to provide certain information, according to news articles […]

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                                                                  • 16 September 2014

                                                                    New India Government Disappoints on Transparency

                                                                    By Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri The writers are social activists working on issues of transparency and accountability in governance. This commentary first appeared Sept. 12 in Indian Express. Achhe din, meaning good days, are coming was the slogan of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 Indian general election, coined by BJP’s Prime Ministerial […]

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                                                                    • 4 September 2014

                                                                      Indian Group Asks Modi to Appoint Chief Commissioner

                                                                      The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) has called for an end to the delay in appointing a new chief information commissioner. The new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has postponed a decision “ostensibly because of the deadlock over leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha,” a letter to Modi notes, going […]

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                                                                      • 14 August 2014

                                                                        Indian CIC Backs Disclosure of Whistleblower Complaints

                                                                        India’s Central Information Commission (CIC) has supported the release of information about whistleblowers’ allegations, The decision came in a case in which Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for details of complaints against government servants received under the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers (PIDPI) Resolution, also […]

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                                                                        • 7 August 2014

                                                                          Indian Water Resources Body Denies Access to Material

                                                                          The Water Resources Department in the Indian state of Kerala has ordered that documents and information related to inter-state water issues not be disclosed under the Right to Information Act, according to an article in the Deccan Chronicle and another in the Hindu. A July 22 departmental order cites Section 8 of the RTI Act. […]

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                                                                          • 31 July 2014

                                                                            Indian State Commissioner Imposes Fines on 4 Officials

                                                                            A state information commissioner in Andhra Pradesh is pushing for officials to comply with the Right to Information Act and imposing fines. Commissioner P Vijaya Babu at a press conference July 28 said he has asked the chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh to require that officials respond to the applications, according to a report in […]

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                                                                            • 19 July 2014

                                                                              Indian CIC Decides to Give Priority to Senior Citizens

                                                                              The Indian Central Information Commission has decided to give priority to senior citizens for the resolution of pending right to information cases. The decision made in June was recently reported by Economic Times, without many details. The CIC website does not elaborate. Cases of senior citizens — defined as those being 65 on the date […]

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                                                                              • 7 July 2014

                                                                                Study Details Weaknesses in Indian RTI Implementation

                                                                                Tens of thousands of right to information appeals are pending in India, according to a comprehensive study published by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. More than 66,000 appeals and complaints cases were pending in the only six information commissions where data was available. The Central Information Commission had a total of 21,946 appeals and complaints […]

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                                                                                • 27 June 2014

                                                                                  Kashmir Commissioner Urges Assembly to Follow RTI Law

                                                                                  Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Information Commissioner G R Sufi has complained that the Legislative Assembly  is not following the Right to Information Act, according to a report by a newspaper. The Assembnly has not created a website to make required proactive disclosures, according to a June 8 article in Greater Kashmir by Dr Raja Muzzafar […]

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                                                                                  • 20 June 2014

                                                                                    Indian CIC Extends RTI to Cover Private Schools

                                                                                    India’s Central Information Commission has ruled that the Right to Information Act applies to private schools. The CIC decided that RTI coverage is justified when private schools are governed by laws such as the Delhi Education Act that regulate the schools, including their salaries. The requester was a former school employee. The short decision, Ms. Sadhana Dixit Vs. Directorate […]

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                                                                                    • 13 June 2014

                                                                                      The diminution of RTI Act in Kashmir into ‘Right to Deny Information’ Act

                                                                                      By Irfan Mehraj Mehraj is a staff writer for Authint Mail, where this article was published June 10. Faizan Hassan Khan is a young engineer whose search for truth has led him nowhere. For the last nine years, he has been fighting a lone battle against the University of Kashmir to know the circumstances that […]

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                                                                                      • 5 June 2014

                                                                                        Public Private Partnership Project documents becoming public in India

                                                                                        By Venkatesh Nayak Nayak is Programme Coordinator of the Access to Information Programme at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has taken the progressive step of uploading concession agreements and progress reports about the Pubic Private Partnership projects (PPPs) under its jurisdiction through the Internet. The links to project […]

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                                                                                        • 16 May 2014

                                                                                          FOI Notes: RTI Movie in India, and some other stuff

                                                                                          RTI the Movie: A movie, Angusam, with an RTI theme by a director using one name, Manukannan, has come out in India. One review says that “the seriousness of the issue gets diluted, what with the narration being jumpy and inconsistent, and the screenplay layered with romance, songs and sentiment.” A plot description says: Shiva […]

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                                                                                          • 16 May 2014

                                                                                            Report Backs RTI Exemption for India’s National Banks

                                                                                            The “fragile” condition of India’s public sector banks requires urgent action, according to a new report, including an exemption from the right to information act. The 90-page report by a high-level committee includes numerous recommendations, such as lowering of the government’s holding in the several dozen banks to below 50 percent. The banks face a […]

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                                                                                            • 29 April 2014

                                                                                              Going for a World Record in India

                                                                                              By Venkatesh Nayak Nayak is Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. Last year when the Central Government threatened to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) to keep all political parties out of its ambit completely, many of you joined a nationwide signature campaigns to oppose the move. Thankfully, this […]

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                                                                                              • 12 February 2014

                                                                                                CIC Orders Six Parties to Comply With RTI Act

                                                                                                India’s Central Information Commission Feb. 7 asked the six national parties to explain what they have done to fulfill a June 2013 CIC for them to comply with the Right to Information Act. The Commission asked the parties to provide details of their actions within four weeks, according to media reports such as one in […]

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                                                                                                • 18 December 2013

                                                                                                  Indian Panel Advances Bill to Exempt Political Parties

                                                                                                  A committee of the Indian Parliament Dec. 17 recommended that political parties be exempted from the Right to Information Act. One member dissented as the six major political parties followed through on their plans to overturn the June ruling of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that political parties are covered by the RTI act as “public […]

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                                                                                                  • 14 October 2013

                                                                                                    Eighth Anniversary Prompts Reflections on Indian RTI Act

                                                                                                    The eighth anniversary of India’s Right to Information Act was observed with a mixture of frustration and celebration. Unquestionably, the 2005 sunshine law is being used, with an estimated 4 million people using the Act during 2011-12, the latest year for which all-India data is available, according to a report by the Commonwealth Human Rights […]

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                                                                                                    • 8 October 2013

                                                                                                      Indian Supreme Court Rules in Case Impacting RTI

                                                                                                      The Indian Supreme Court ruled Oct. 3 in case that may have implications for which nongovernmental organizations are “substantially financed’ by public funds and are thus covered by the Right to Information Act, Although analysts are just beginning to sort through the ruling, there are indications it might reduce coverage of the RTI Act and […]

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                                                                                                      • 16 September 2013

                                                                                                        Court Nullifies Appointment of Four AP Commissioners

                                                                                                        An Indian High Court Sept. 15 voided the appointment of four information commissioners in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sen Gupta and Justice K.C. Bhanu ruled in a case filed by civil society activists K. Padmanabhaiah, Rao, V.B.J. Chelikani and N. Padmanabha Reddy. The petitioners challenged the appointment Feb. 6 […]

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                                                                                                        • 5 September 2013

                                                                                                          Indian Court Reverses Qualifications Decision

                                                                                                          The Indian Supreme Court Sept. 3 retracted most of its controversial ruling seeking to dictate the qualifications for membership on information commissions. The court had ruled that only retired judges or those having legal training could be appointed as information commissioners at the Central Information Commission and at the state level. Justices A.K. Patnaik and […]

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                                                                                                          • 5 September 2013

                                                                                                            Indian RTI Amendments Referred to Committee

                                                                                                            Legislation to exempt the political parties from coverage under the Indian Right to Information Act on Sept. 5 referred to a parliamentary standing committee for further consideration.   “The government has decided that there should be more discussion on this Bill. We will bring this Bill in Parliament in the Winter Session,” said V Narayanasamy, […]

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                                                                                                            • 27 August 2013

                                                                                                              Indian Parliamentary Panel to Review RTI Amendment

                                                                                                              A committee of the Indian Parliament will review proposed amendments to exempt political parties from the Right to Information Act. Getting committee consideration was a key demand of opponents of the bill, which is supported by all the major parties. “I have written to Speaker Lok Sabha (Meira Kumar) to refer the RTI Bill to […]

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                                                                                                              • 27 August 2013

                                                                                                                India Expands Scope of Online Request Portal

                                                                                                                India on Aug. 21 made possible the online filing of right to information requests in applications in all central ministries and departments. Previously the rtionline.gov.in portal was available only for 40 ministries, departments and commissions. The government launched the portal earlier this year. “The portal will now be open to entertain questions under the RTI Act […]

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                                                                                                                • 13 August 2013

                                                                                                                  Indian Government Offers Bill to Exempt Parties from RTI

                                                                                                                  Legislation was introduced Aug. 12 in the Indian lower house of parliament (Lok Sabha) by the United Progressive Alliance to exempt political parties from the Right to Information Act. The bill would a June 3, 2013, order of the Central Information Commission deeming India’s six national political parties to be “public authorities” under the RTI […]

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                                                                                                                  • 2 August 2013

                                                                                                                    Indian Cabinet Approves Bill to Exempt Parties from RTI

                                                                                                                    The Indian Cabinet Aug. 1 approved proposed amendments to the Right to Information Act to nullify an order of the Central Information Commission making the six national political parties subject to the RTI law. The draft amendments are expected to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning on Aug. 5. The consensus among […]

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                                                                                                                    • 31 July 2013

                                                                                                                      Colonial Mindset Visible in RTI Responses

                                                                                                                      By Raja Muzaffar Bhat The author is an RTI / Social activist and the founder of J&K RTI movement. Reach him at muzaffar.rti@gmail.com.  This article was originally published July 30 in Greater Kashmir. Background From the last nearly eight years I have been drafting applications under Right to Information Act (RTI) to seek information  from different […]

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                                                                                                                      • 29 July 2013

                                                                                                                        Indian Committee Says RTI Should Cover Cricket Board

                                                                                                                        A special Indian committee constituted by the government has recommended that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should be covered by the Right to Information Act if it wants to field the “Indian” cricket team. Retired Justice Mukul Mudgal, the chairman of a committee constituted to draft the Sports Development Bill 2013, […]

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                                                                                                                        • 26 July 2013

                                                                                                                          Court Blocks CIC Hearing About Indian Cricket Board

                                                                                                                          A court order caused the Indian Central Information Commission to cancel a July 25 hearing on whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India should be declared a public authority subject to the Right to Information Act. The Madras High Court issued the order, according to a report by NDTV and another by ESPN. […]

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                                                                                                                          • 24 July 2013

                                                                                                                            Indian RTI Supporters Object to Planned Amendments

                                                                                                                            A group of eminent citizens has objected to plans by the six major political parties to pass legislation exempting themselves from the Right to Information Act. A joint letter noted that the parties have not gone to court to challenge the June order of the Central Information Commission, but instead are making plans for a […]

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                                                                                                                            • 24 July 2013

                                                                                                                              Indian RTI activist Ends Hunger Strike in Goa

                                                                                                                              Indian RTI activist Rajan Ghate on July 22 ended his six day hunger strike following assurances from Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar over the appointment of state information commissioners. Ghate started his strike to demand that the state government appoint a Chief Information Commissioner as well as State Information Commissioners, posts unfilled for more than […]

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                                                                                                                              • 19 July 2013

                                                                                                                                Indian Activist on Hunger Strike in State of Goa

                                                                                                                                An Indian right to information activist, Rajan Ghate, began a hunger strike July 16 to protest the failure to appoint a chief information commissioner and other commissioners in the state of Goa. Ghate received support July 18 from Vivek Velankar, a Maharashtra RTI activist, who visited him at Azad Maidan, according to an article in […]

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                                                                                                                                • 16 July 2013

                                                                                                                                  Deadline Passes, Indian Parties Resist Compliance

                                                                                                                                  July 15 was the deadline for six Indian political parties to appoint information officers and begin complying with the right to information, but they have not, according to Indian newspapers. The Central Information Commissioner on June 3 gave the parties six-weeks to act, but since then most of the parties have supported the idea of legislation to […]

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                                                                                                                                  • 12 July 2013

                                                                                                                                    Indian Sports Ministry Seeks to Bring Cricket Under RTI

                                                                                                                                    The Indian Sports Ministry has launched a new effort to bring the Indian cricket board (BCCI) under the Right to Information Act. The ministry’s new draft National Sports Bill says only those federations coming under RTI can represent India in international competitions. A panel headed by retired judge Mukul Mudgal drafted the bill. The BCCI, […]

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                                                                                                                                    • 10 July 2013

                                                                                                                                      Indian Gov’t Still Planning to Overturn CIC Order

                                                                                                                                      Instead of filing a court appeal, the Indian government is continuing to consider at a legislative way to overturn a June 3 Central Information Commission ruling making political parties subject to the right to information law, Indian papers continue to report. “Highly-placed sources in the Law Ministry today said that the CIC order would not be challenged by […]

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                                                                                                                                      • 10 July 2013

                                                                                                                                        Indian CIC Rejects Request by Death Row Inmate

                                                                                                                                        The Indian Central Information Commission has held that the Constitution prohibits releasing to a death row convict the reasons for denial of his mercy request. A.G. Perarivalan, a death row convict in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, requested the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers to the president, according to an article in […]

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                                                                                                                                        • 1 July 2013

                                                                                                                                          Indian Parties May Seek Exemption From RTI Act

                                                                                                                                          The leading political parties of India reportedly have agreed to support an amendment that would exempt them from coverage under the right to information law. The political parties appear unified in their desire to overturn a controversial early June ruling by the Central Information Commission bringing them under the purview of the RTI Act. (See […]

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                                                                                                                                          • 7 June 2013

                                                                                                                                            Most Indian Parties Upset Over RTI Purview Ruling

                                                                                                                                            Most Indian political parties have reacted negatively to the Central Information Commission ruling bringing them under the right to information law. Expecting an appeal, one of the two plaintiffs, the Association for Democratic Reforms, June 5 filed in the Delhi High Court to preempt any stay of the CIC order without an opportunity to be […]

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                                                                                                                                            • 3 June 2013

                                                                                                                                              Indian CIC Says Political Parties Covered by RTI Law

                                                                                                                                              India’s Central Information Commission June 3 ruled that political parties are covered by the Right to Information law. The Commission in a 54-page decision said the six national parties receive substantial indirect funding from the central government and perform public functions, thus making them public authorities under the law. Unless overturned by a court, the […]

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                                                                                                                                              • 16 May 2013

                                                                                                                                                Indian Government Seeks Examples of Best Practice

                                                                                                                                                The Indian government has invited “write ups” describing best practices on implementation of Right to Information Act, with prize money. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said it will publish a compendium of best practices on the RTI being adopted by a government department or public authority. “The best 20 write-ups would be selected […]

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                                                                                                                                                • 10 May 2013

                                                                                                                                                  Critics Fault Guidelines for Proactive Disclosure in India

                                                                                                                                                  The Indian government’s recent guidelines on proactive disclosure are diluted, right to information activists said May 7.  Members of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) including Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Venkatesh Nayak said that the government had overlooked other recommendations from the government-sponsored task force that studied the issue. Not included were […]

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                                                                                                                                                  • 3 May 2013

                                                                                                                                                    India Close to Choosing Who Will Do Study of RTI Law

                                                                                                                                                    The Indian government is close to choosing who will conduct a major review of the fight to information law. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has shortlisted 16 organizations for the “360 degree study,” according to a report, with the names, on the website of the RTI Foundation of India. The selected organizations have […]

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                                                                                                                                                    • 26 April 2013

                                                                                                                                                      India Issues Guidance on Doing Proactive Disclosure

                                                                                                                                                      The Indian government has issued guidelines for the proactive disclosure of information, but missed a few key items, according to a leading Indian advocacy group. The guidelines were prepared the Department of Personnel and Training with advice from a task force. The goal was to enhance implementation of the proactive disclosure obligations under Section 4 of […]

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                                                                                                                                                      • 21 April 2013

                                                                                                                                                        Two Indian States to Issue Lists of Prisoners on Trial

                                                                                                                                                        The chief information commissioner of the Indian state of Maharashtra has ordered the disclosure of the names of prisoners awaiting trial, so-called “undertrials,” who have served half or more of the maximum prison term specified for the charges they face. State chief information commissioner (CIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad directed the preparation of such a list under […]

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                                                                                                                                                        • 19 April 2013

                                                                                                                                                          Right to information? You are in queue!

                                                                                                                                                          By Shailesh Gandhi Gandhi is a former commissioner at the central information commission. This article is reprinted with permission from GovernanceNow, where it was first run on April 17. “GovernanceNow is a multi-media initiative for participatory reportage and analyses related to governance of all institutions and processes that are vital to public life in India.” […]

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                                                                                                                                                          • 17 April 2013

                                                                                                                                                            Indian Court Stays Major Parts of Controversial Ruling

                                                                                                                                                            The Indian Supreme Court on April 16 stayed a controversial decision ordering that retired or sitting judges be appointed to lead the Central Information Commission and state commissions. The order by Justices A. K. Patnaik and Arjan K. Sikri also stayed a directive from the Sept. 13, 2012, decision that would have required commissions to […]

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                                                                                                                                                            • 12 April 2013

                                                                                                                                                              Indian Department Opens Portal for RTI Applications

                                                                                                                                                              A key Indian agency has opened a website for the submission of right to information requests and fees. The portal — http://www.rtionline.gov.in/ — has been created by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the agency which leads on the administration of the RTI law. The portal is not for use in filing requests for […]

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                                                                                                                                                              • 7 March 2013

                                                                                                                                                                World Bank Study Focuses on RTI Implementaton Issues

                                                                                                                                                                Right to information laws “will accomplish little” in poor countries, according to the author of new World Bank study, “unless concerted efforts are made to address the broader enabling environment, and appropriate capacity building strategies are devised.”   The report by Anupama Dokeniya is based on individual research studies of implementation in eight countries: Albania, […]

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                                                                                                                                                                • 18 February 2013

                                                                                                                                                                  Indian Women Not Using RTI Act Enough, Activists Say

                                                                                                                                                                  Women in India are not using the Right to Information Act as much as they should, according to persons quoted in an article on the subject by Partha Sarathi Biswas in the Indian Express. One indicator cited is the low registration in training classes sponsored by Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHDA). Former Central […]

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                                                                                                                                                                  • 4 February 2013

                                                                                                                                                                    Court Tells Indian State to Pick Info Commissioners

                                                                                                                                                                    The high court of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has ordered the government to seek applications in order to fill the 10 vacant posts of the State Information Commission, according to articles in the Daily Pioneer and the Jagran Post. Most of the positions have been vacant since August of 2010, resulting in a […]

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                                                                                                                                                                    • 1 February 2013

                                                                                                                                                                      Indian Court Denies State Commission Right to Appeal

                                                                                                                                                                      The Indian Supreme Court on Jan. 18 rejected as “frivolous” a petition from the Karnataka information commissioner challenging a Karnataka High Court order that overturning the commissioner’s decision, according to an article in The Deccan Herald. The order has “serious implications” for the RTI Act, wrote Shailesh Gandhi, who  served as Central Information Commissioner from […]

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                                                                                                                                                                      • 14 December 2012

                                                                                                                                                                        Indian Commission Rules Attorney General Exempt

                                                                                                                                                                        India’s Central Information Commission