19th JANUARY 2014

Wife has right to know husband’s salary

Wives of government servants have a “right” to know salary particulars of their husbands and these details should also be made public by their offices as mandated under suo-motodisclosure clause of the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission has held.

Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu said every spouse has a right to information about the salary particulars of the other especially for the purpose of maintenance.

“More so, wife has a right to know the salary particulars of the husband, who is an employee of the public authority,” he said.The commissioner further said that the details about a government employee’s salary is no third party information and these have to be voluntarily disclosed under Section 4(1)(b)(x) of the RTI Act.

He said the salary paid to the public authority is sourced from the tax paid by the people in general and it has to be disclosed mandatorily under the RTI section.

“The information about the salary of employee or an officer of the same public authority cannot be considered as a third party information… Public authorities cannot reject such RTI applications about salary under the pretext of the third party information,” he held.

Acharyulu warned the Home Department of Delhi government that such denial of information will be wrongful and could incur penalty. The warning was in context of an application filed by Jyoti Seherawat seeking salary slip of her husband who is employed at the Home (General) department.The information was denied as her husband gave in written to the department that such an information should not be provided to anyone.

26th DECEMBER 2013

742 eyes donated not used-RTI reply

An RTI reply has revealed that Dr SN Medical College received 1,805 eyes as donations and transplanted only 1,063 of them from 1996 to 2011. The medical college did not mention what happened to the remaining 742 eyes as this information was not sought in the application.

The government has now set up a three-member committee to probe the missing eyes. On the directions of health minister Rajendra Rathore, principal secretary medical education Subodh Agarwal has formed a three-member committee headed by Jodhpur divisional commissioner Hemant Gera and ordered to submit a report within three days. Rathore said based on the report, action will be taken against the person responsible.

 In the RTI reply, the college was silent on the 742 eyes of which there is no record. A section of the media reported on Wednesday that the apathy of medical college officials caused a loss of 742 donated eyes that could have changed the lives of visually impaired people.

Virendra Raj Mehta, a retired government official and RTI activist, had filed the application on November 20 last seeking details of eye donations and use. He had demanded figures from the beginning of college in 1965, but college administration provided year-wise figures from 1996 to 2011. It was found that 742 eyes which would have enabled visually impaired persons to see were not used.

Mehta said, “I don’t know where the rest of the 742 eyes went. I think they were not put to good use.” He added that the college told him verbally that they preserve the unfit eyes for other uses.

The RTI activist did not ask for details of eyes which were not transplanted and the college did not give it. Now the medical college administration was on the backfoot and said the unused eyes were either infected, unfit for a transplant or were used for dissection by postgraduate students.

Dr NK Chhangani, additional principal of the medical college said, “We used more than 95% of the donated eyes during the last five years.” He added that the college transplanted 56 eyes from the 58 it got in 2008, 58 from 60 in 2009, 46 from 48 in 2010 and 20 from 26 in 2011.

He said that proper techniques to preserve eyes for a long time were not available earlier, but now they had them.Dr Chhangani said that following an eye donation, the eye has to be tested in a lab before transplantation. He said, “The technician taking the donated eye takes the cornea and a blood sample of the dead body. After investigation, we decide on transplantation of the donated eye.”

He added that if the deceased is found to be infected with diseases like septicemia, HIV or hepatitis, his or her eyes are not used for a transplant. In such cases, doctors preserve the cornea for use in curing eye injuries and teaching medical students.

 13th NOVEMBER 2013

200 govt officers penalized for improper RTI responses.

Ever since the inception of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 200 Andhra Pradesh government officers have been penalized for giving improper responses to RTI applicants, RTI Commissioner L Tantiya Kumari said here today.Most of the cases pending in the state under RTI are from the departments of higher education and social welfare, she told reporters. She revealed that 1200 cases are pending in higher education and another 400 cases are pending in the social welfare department.She said that government officials should abide by the Act and be responsible to the public. Earlier, she conducted an enquiry on 52 pending cases from Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts.
 20th OCTOBER 2013

It would have remained just a dream for 35-year old Sanjit Kumar Chandra of Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district to become a judge in civil court, had the Right to Information (RTI) Act not been in place today.

He had done well in the recruitment test conducted by the Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC) for the post of Civil Judge in 2008. To his dismay, his name did not figure in the list of successful candidates when the final results were announced in 2010.

Confident of his performance in the test, Chandra filed an application with the JPSC demanding it show his answer sheets under RTI Act. He later got one certified copy of his answer sheets from the Commission only to discover that there were discrepancies in the calculation of the scores obtained by him. He brought this to the notice of the Jharkhand High Court, which ordered for his recruitment in January this year. “Whatever I am going to become, it’s all because of the RTI Act,” Chandra told Deccan herald. Though the Jharkhand government is yet to notify his first posting, he is confident of getting it anytime.

Chandra is not the only one who could make the system work by the judicious use of the RTI Act. The landmark legislation, enacted by Parliament at the initiative of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2005, is helping thousands of people across the country in realising their dues every day. “Undoubtedly, the law has heralded a new era of transparency and accountability in the functioning of the public authorities, leading to the beginning of the much desired process of deepening of participatory democracy,” said Radhakanta Tripathy, a supreme court lawyer and an RTI activist.

 The transparency law continues to stand tall, fulfilling its promises made to the people of the country.  If not so, how a series of scams including irregularities in the allocations of 2G spectrum and the Commonwealth Games (CWG) could have been brought to the fore? The Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai and various cases of corruption in other parts of the country would never have come out in to the open. “RTI Act has done wonders in exposing scandals and irregularities refining the system,” Subhash Chandra Agrawal, a Delhi – based  RTI activist, said.
To make the law more effective, public information officers need to be sensitised as many of them unnecessarily harass applicants by refusing to part with the information on some or other pretext, suggests S K Virmani, RTI activist based in Faridabad. Many others are of the opinion that the ambit of the Act should be further widened by bringing in it the private sector, the non-government organisations and the corporates.
Note: This page is related to the information on RTI ACT user experiences and effectiveness measured in meeting the desired goal.

One thought on “RTI ACT

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