रविवार, 31 अगस्त 2008


Ravish Tiwari
An RTI application shows most Cabinet ministers skipped several crucial meetings in the past four years
Since coming to power in 2004, the Prime Minister has convened 217 Cabinet meetings till June-end this year—about one meeting per week—to deliberate over 1,800 proposals. But no Cabinet minister except Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj attended more than 90 per cent of the meetings.
Senior Cabinet ministers such as Textiles Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad attended less than half of all Cabinet meetings in the last four years.
Vaghela, who attended about 35 per cent of the meetings, tops the list of absentees, followed by Nath and Lalu. Only 13 ministers attended more than 70 per cent of the meetings. The Indian Express used the Right to Information to obtain information regarding absenteeism from the Cabinet secretariat.

Many ministers were also absent from meetings where a proposal moved by their ministry was on the agenda. Barring Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Water Resources Minister Saif-ud-din Soz, every other Cabinet minister was absent from a meeting at least once despite a proposal from his or her ministry being listed on the day’s agenda.
Topping the list in this category is HRD Minister Arjun Singh, who was absent on 22 occasions when a matter moved by his ministry was to be discussed, followed by Lalu (21 meetings), Finance Minister P. Chidambaram (19) and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee (19). Ten of Mukherjee’s 19 absences, however, were recorded after he took over the External Affairs portfolio, which requires frequent overseas travel, in 2006

No list of Jallianwala victims with MHA

CHANDIGARH/AMRITSAR:According to information received through the RTI Act, RC Nayak, deputy secretary, ministry of home affairs, FFR division stated vide his letter number 5/35/2008 FF(P) dated August 14 that “FFR division of the ministry does not maintain any list of martyrs of the Jallianwala massacre”। He stated that the freedom fighters and the martyrs of India’s freedom struggle were covered under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980, and their eligible dependents, including widows, widowers, unmarried and unemployeed daughters, etc।, were eligible for pension and some other facilities। Some of the other movements like the Khilafat Movement (1919-1923), Army Samaj Movement in erstwhile Hyderabad state (1947-1948), Royal Indian Navy Mutiny (1946) and Nankana tragedy of February 1920 have been included under this pension scheme। The British government on June 15, 1921, had constituted a committee headed by A Langley, commissioner, Lahore division, which had Diwan Bahadur Raja Narendra Nath, member of legislative council, Maulvi Muharram Ali Chisti andChaudhari Mohammad Amin, advocates in high court and members of legislative council, and Bakshi Tek Chand, advocate in high court, as members of the committee, which was to decide on the compensation to be paid to the families of persons killed and injured and those who had suffered loss of property at Jallianwala। DC KS Pannu, whose office holds the relevant record of that time, stated that the committee had ordered compensation according to age and annual income of the martyr, which ranged from Rs 4000 to Rs 20,000 per family। If the compensation paid to the martyrs was valued in terms of gold, the same came between Rs 20 lakh-Rs 100 lakh, he added.

Minorities are also Human

"The victimization and deionization of Muslims in the guise of investigation of terror offences is having a very serious psychological impact on the minds of not only the families of the victims but also other members of the community," the jury member of the People’s Tribunal made this observation after hearing 40 victims or their family members from across the country deposed before them .
The tribunal has been set up to hear the cases of atrocities, torture, harassment and victimization by the police and intelligence agencies of the members of Muslim community in the name of fight against terrorism, held in Hyderabad from 22 -24 August.
The tribunal, comprising jury members including Justice S.N. Bhargava, former chief justice of the Rajasthan High Court, Justice Sardar Ali Khan, former Chief Justice, Andhra Pradesh High Court and former Chairman of National Minorities Commission, Mr. K.G. Kannabiran, Senior lawyer, Mr. Kingshuk Nag, resident Editor, Times of India, Mr. Lalit Surjan, Group Editor, Deshbandu Hindi Daily, Prof. Ram Punyani, activist-intalectual, Prof. Rooprekha Varma, former V C of Lucknow University, Dr. Asgar Ali Engineer, noted Civil Rights Activist, Mr. Prashant Bhusan, Supreme Court Lawyer-Activist and Prof. Hargopal of Hyderabad University.
After hearing complaints of victims or their family members, of police torture in the name of fight against terrorism, national-level People's Tribunal made following interim observation and recommendations.
Interim Observations

The testimonies showed that a large number of innocent young Muslims have been and are being victimized by the police on the charge of being involved in various terrorist acts across the country. This is particularly so in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, though not limited to these States.

In most of the cases, the persons picked up are not shown to be arrested by the police until many days after their arrest in gross violation of the law. Their families are also not informed about their arrest. In many cases, they have been tortured in Police custody and made to "confess" and sign blank papers. The police has been often humiliating Muslim detenues on the ground of their religion. The testimonies show widespread communalization of the police across states in the country.

In most of these cases, the Courts are routinely allowing police remand and not granting bail, merely on the police statements that they are required for further investigation. They do not examine whether there is any evidence against the accused. Unfortunately, the media too uncritically publicizes the charge and allegations leveled by the police. This has resulted in the destruction of the lives and reputations of a large number of persons so picked up by the police who have later been found to be innocent.

When the police charge sheets the victims, the trials go on almost interminably during which poor victims are virtually defenceless since they are often not even able to get lawyers. In some cases, Bar Associations have been preventing lawyers from appearing on behalf of persons accused by the police of such terror offences. However, though this is gross contempt of Court, the Courts have not taken action against such Bar Associations and lawyers who are coercing other lawyers in this manner.

Even when the victims are acquitted or discharged on being found innocent, they are not compensated for the destruction of their lives and reputations. Even when the case against the victims is found to be totally cooked up, no action is being taken to hold the concerned police officials accountable. This has led to an impunity among the police officials as a result of which they are casually and callously picking up and victimizing innocent persons, particularly Muslims, sometimes to extract money from them.

It was been reported by the victims that those citizens who are picked up by the police officers for interrogation and are subject to repeated harassment and torture, are implicated in false cases even after release or acquittal and are further subjected to mental and physical torture.

Unfortunately, the Courts are going along with this behaviour of the police and are virtually ignoring allegations of torture in police custody. Hardly anyone is being held accountable for the torture and third degree methods that are being routinely practiced in police and even in judicial custody.

Unfortunately, the Human Rights Commissions which should have taken suo moto cognizance of such victimization and violation of human rights of these people have by and large been treating even complaints about this with casual indifference. They either do not take up such cases on the ground that they are the subject matter of court proceedings or just ask for a routine police report without getting any independent investigation done on such serious charges of human right violations.

This victimization and demonisation of Muslims in the guise of investigation of terror offences, is having a very serious psychological impact on the minds of not only the families of the victims but also other members of the community. It is leading to a very strong sense of insecurity and alienation which may lead to frightful consequences for the nation.

Interim Recommendations
1. State Human Rights Commission and National Human Rights Commission and State Minority Commission should take up such matters seriously and should come to independent finding itself and awarding adequate compensation in suitable Cases. It should not wait for somebody to approach the commission but should take action Suo-moto. They should utilize their own agency to find out the truth. The malafide prosecution of innocent persons is also a serious violation of Human Rights which must be vigorously pursued by the Human rights Commissions.
2. The courts must not routinely grant police or judicial custody but must examine at that stage whether there is any credible evidence against the accused. The Courts should keep in mind that no reliance should be placed on the alleged confession of the accused even for consideration of bail/remand.
3. Whenever any person is released by the police for want of evidence against him the Courts should award adequate compensation for the destruction of his life and reputation. In such cases the courts should examine if the prosecution was malafide, and if it is so found, the police officials involved must be held accountable and the compensation payable to the victim must be recovered from the officers concerned.
4. Cr.P.C should be amended to make it obligatory on the Courts to award adequate compensation to the innocent victim who is discharged or acquitted due to lack of evidence or was falsely implicated.
5. There ought to be separate department/wing for investigation who should be given specialized training on modern scientific basis, in line with the recommendations of the National Police Commission, duly endorsed by the Supreme Court. Independent police complaints authorities must be immediately set up at all levels in line with the Supreme Court's judgment in the Police Reforms case.
6. The trial courts are provided with a medical officer who can immediately examine any accused complaining of torture in Police or judicial custody. The courts must immediately, on any complaint being made, order such examination and take stringent action if the allegation is found true. The number of Trial courts must be greatly increased to ensure speedy conclusions of Trials. Investigations must also be concluded within the shortest possible time and extensions of time must not be routinely given. An adequate cadre of competent defence lawyers must be created to defend those accused who cannot afford their own lawyers. An independent statutory office of public prosecutors must be created.
7. The Police during interrogation or investigation cannot get blank papers signed by the accused; Police officers found indulging in such practice must be severely punished. Narco analysis is a psychologically and physically third degree method of investigation which is not even scientifically proven. It must not be allowed on persons particularly without consent.

8. Persons including officials of Bar Associations seeking to prevent lawyers from representing accused persons must be hauled up for Contempt of Court for interfering with the adminstration of Justice.
9. Special sensitization programmes should be organized for the Judiciary and Police regarding Human Rights.
10. The Governments should provide adequate compensation to the relatives of the person who died due to police firing at Mecca Masjid. No discrimination should be made based on religion or caste or place of residence. Employment should also be provided to the dependents of the deceased.
11. The Media, both Print as well Electronic should be very careful not to publicize mere allegations or claims of the police which can irreparably damage reputations of innocent persons without subjecting them to basic scrutiny.
12. In cases where all the bread earners of a family have been arrested by the police, the families of the victims, especially minor children and desolate women are rendered penniless and helpless and are driven to starvation. In such cases, until and unless the accused are convicted by courts, the State must provide regular financial help to the extent that the education of children is not disrupted and the family is not starved.
13. India must immediately sign the International Criminal Court Treaty known as the Rome Statute which has been signed by most countries.

The tribunal's report will be submitted to the Prime Minister, the Union home ministry and International human rights organisations within a month.
The Tribunal was organised by ‘Act Now for Harmony and Democracy’ (ANHAD) and ‘Human Rights Law Network’ (HRLN) in association with several Civil and Human Rights group like PUCL, APCLC, CLMC along with Siyasat Urdu Daily. More than hundred Civil rights activists, academicians, judicial luminaries and media persons participated in the tribunal apart from victims and their family members.
(Mahtab Alam is associated with Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and can be reached at mdmahtabalam@gmail.com)

शनिवार, 30 अगस्त 2008

Maya spends Rs 254.5 cr on Kanshi Ram Memorial

Kajari Bhattacharya,

So much for plugging wastages. Ms Mayawati's newgovernment has decided to tear down the Ambedkar Maidan here and builda Kanshi Ram Memorial in its place at a cost of Rs 254.5 crore,reveals a Right to Information application.In reply to the application filed by state Youth Congress spokespersonMr Abhishek Singh, the Lucknow Development Authority today placedbefore the State Information Commission the details of yet another ofMs Mayawati's costly whims.Rs 135 crore has been sanctioned for the main building of thememorial. Rs 56.3 crore is for a new boundary wall and other permanentstructures. Roads and drains within the memorial will cost Rs 16crore. The architect's fee alone is Rs 3.75 crore. Rs 13.80 lakh hasalready been spent just to tear down the Ambedkar Maidan boundarywall.The Maidan, located on Jail Road, Alambagh, itself had been built bythe Mayawati government in 2003 at a cost of Rs 6.54 crore from thestate infrastructure fund.On 1 August last year, the new Mayawati government decided to "followthe wishes of Dalit leader Kanshi Ram" and thus build memorial statuesof the Bahajan Samaj Party founder and his protégée, Ms Mayawati, allover Lucknow city. One of the many projects was to demolish theAmbedkar Maidan and build the Kanshi Ram Memorial in its place. Thestate housing department was given the charge of developing thisproject.Just a couple of days back, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly passed theFirst Supplementary Budget for the fiscal 2008-09, in which a demandfor an additional Rs 253 crore for the Ambedkar Parivartan Sthal ~which itself had been setup at a cost of more than 1753 crore ~ wastabled by finance minister Mr Lalji Verma. The Assembly also passed ademand for Rs 12 crore for landscaping 13A Mall Avenue, which servesas the residence of Ms Mayawati when she is not chief minister.State information commissioner Mr Gyanendra Sharma has rebuked thestate housing department for its delay in providing information askedfor by the Commission. The housing department has been show-caused forthis delay.

बाढ़ की त्रासदी. यह कहानी पुरानी है

अब्दुल वाहिद आजाद

सा़वन के महीनें में बहुतों को खुली धूप में आकाश में बदरी के उठने, फूर्ती के साथ छा जाने और फिर छमाछम बूंदे गिरने का नज़ारा बड़ा दिलक्श लगता हो लेकिन देश में एक बड़ी आबादी के लिए यह महीना अभिशाप की तरह है.जब सावन की बौछार बाढ़ का रूप धारण करती है तो विशेष कर उत्तर भारत की बड़ी आबादी को घर उजड़ने से लेकर विस्थापन की एक लम्बी त्रास्दी का सामना करना पड़ता है.इस समय इसी त्रासदी से कोसी नदी के नए और पुराने धाराओं के आस पास बसे लोगो का सामना हो रहा है. बिहार के तीन ज़िले अररिया, सुपौल और सहरसा के 20 लाख से ज़्यादा लोग बाढ़ से बुरी तरह प्रभावित हैं.कोसी नदी के उग्र होने से गॉव के गॉव बह गऐ हैं. साप और बिच्छू घर बाहर फैले हुए हैं. जीवन सावन की ठिठोली में भी नरक हना हुआ है. सच है कि तातकालिक त्रास्दी का कारण कोसी नदी का धारा परिवर्तन है लेकिन इस तरह की त्रासदी से उत्तर भारत कि बङी आबादी को हर बरस रुबरु होना पड़ता है. पिछले वर्ष भी उन्हे इसी तरह की त्रासदी से जूझना पड़ता था और सेंकड़ो लोगो को जान गवानी पड़ी थी.लेकिन प्रश्न यह उठता है कि क्या कारण हैं कि भारत में लोगे को प्रत्यक वर्ष ऐसी जानलेवा बाढ़ से जूझना पङता है. जबकि देश के एक बङे भाग में पानी की कमी के कारण सूखा पङना भी आम बात है.जानकार बताते हैं कि गंदी राजनीति और राष्टीय नीति के अभाव के कारण परियोजनाओं के सवरुप तय करने और उसके क्रियानवयन में दिक्कते आती हैं और इस तरह जनता की परेशानी का निदान नही हो पाता है.धीमी धीमी पुरवैया जब चलती हैं काले काले बादलों से आकाश घिरने लगता है. फिर बूंदे शैने शैने रिमझिम रिमझिम धारासार का रुप ले लेती हैं आप का हमारा दिल अमराइयो के झुरमुठ पर झुले बांधने को कहता है लेकिन उस पार त्रासदी की एक आपार गाथा है. और शायद यही सच्चाई भी है.

बुधवार, 27 अगस्त 2008

some cases where RTI has been violated.

1) Dared to ask for information - pay the price

A social activist from Moradabad was in jail for 20 days; reason- use of RTI act

Information came at a price for Salim Begh, who is a president of ‘Manav Vikas Sewa Samiti’. He filed an RTI application in the police department of Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), asking for information concerning the recent recruitment of constables in the department. PIO Kushhar Saurabh (S.P) asked for 52 thousand rupees as cost to provide information. Begh took his case to U P Information Commission who ordered to provide the information and also imposed penalty of 25,000/- on the PIO and a compensation of 6000/- to the applicant that too to be given by the PIO from his salary.
Taking a strong note of this issue the whole police department in the region stood against Salim Begh. Fake FIR was filed against Begh on the issue of ransacking the police station and started harassing him. Due to this fake FIR Beg was jailed for 20 days and he is now on bail. According to Begh, the police personals are threatening to kill him in fake encounter.
Salim has approached Chief Minister; Home Secretary; DIG (Police) of the state but to no avail. Nobody has taken any note of his problem. However the State Information Commissioner has strongly condemned the action of the state police and has directed the DIG (Police) to take stern action against the guilty officials. Still no action taken, Begh is waiting for justice.

2) Want Information? – go to जेल

Anand Mohan of UP is evading his arrest on false allegations levelled against because he used RTI
Another case of paying price for using RTI. Anand Mohan Chaturvedi, A resident of Kushi Nagar, UP filed an RTI application in the BDO office of the Fazilnagar asking for information on Indira Awas Jojana; BPL & distribution of different scholarships. PIO didn’t provided him the information within the stipulated time, instead he started receiving threats to withdraw his RTI application. Because of this he submitted a complaint in the State Information Commission under section 18 of the act. Acting on the complaint SIC sent a notice to the BDO. However the threats didn’t stopped even after the issuance of the notice.

Recently Chaturvedi went to Village Development Officer to get a copy of family register on which the VDO refused to do any of his work. The reason was he was directed by the BDO to do so. When Chaturvedi protested against this, he was physically assaulted by the VDO .More so VDO filed a complaint in the police station against Chaturvedi levelling false charges of physical assault on him and obstructing government functioning. Now police is after Chaturvedi to arrest him. However HC has issued a stay order on his arrest.

3) I’m the boss . . . .

How One of the PIO of Orissa refused to receive the notice send by the State Information Commissioner.

What importance RTI act holds in the eyes of PIO’s is shown by the PIO of Manamuda Police Station which is under Boudh District of Orissa. The case is when Rajinder Kumar Sharma of this district tried to seek information under the RTI act from the above said Police Station related to its functioning like how many cases came to this Police station, how many solved ; how many pending; status of investigation on different unsolved cases etc.
When Rajinder went to the station with an application the PIO of the department refused to receive the application, failing which Rajinder sent his application through registered post which was also not received by the PIO. Due to this attitude of the PIO Rajinder took his complaint to the State Information Commission. Acting on the complaint SIC issued a notice to the PIO and the most serious issue here is that the PIO didn’t even received the notice of the Information Commission. Reacting on this the SIC has directed the SP of the district to ensure PIO’s presence in the next hearing; also the SIC has send a letter to the PIO asking him to state the reason for non acceptance of notice. The next hearing is on 29th October;2008.

4) Threat to life.

Muzibur Rehman, the man who exposed corruption in the name of PM relief fund, is running from pillar to post to get even a copy of chattisgarh SIC order to provide him security.

Most of you must be aware of the case related to the information on Prime Minister Relief fund which was sought by the Mujibur Rehman of Chattisgarh. Due to his RTI application lots of irregularities of the PM Relief Fund came forth. Muzibur rehman is now receiving various threats. Considering the seriousness of the problem CIC ordered to provide him the security. But he didn’t received any security from the government. To know the status of this he filed an RTI application in the General Administration Department. The only information he received from the department was that his file is in Home Ministry. After receiving this reply he filed First Appeal but didn’t received the copy of the order on his hearing for which he tried 2-3 months. After 2-3 months of effort he was told to submit a Rs 25/- non judicial stamp paper to receive the copy of the order which he has submitted for long but still has not received his copy of the order of Chattisgarh State Information commission.

5) SIC’s decision is illegal ……….

HC of Chattisgarh discards SIC order , says it’s is a one member body

On it's decision of 20th August 2008 double bench of Chhattisgarh High Court overruled the order of Chhattisgarh State Information Commission,in which the commission instructed the PIO of Chhattisgarh Electricity Board [CSEB] to provide the information to the applicant Sh.Sahdev Tandi. Tandi was seeking information from CSEB and when he didn't get the information he reported the matter to the SIC. SIC ordered in his favour and asked CSEB to provide him the required information. Instead of giving information CSEB took the case to the High Court of Chhattisgarh and challenged this decison under the section 15(2) of the RTI Act,2005. According to section 15 (2) of the act SIC will consist of 1 CIC and not more than 10 ICs and Chhattisgarh SIC is a single member body therefore it doesn’t fulfil the criteria of the act. This means the commission has no power of hearing appeals.CSEB said that in absence of other members the orders of CIC are illegal.
High Court accepted this fact and in reference to section 15(2),the double bench said that the decision of the Single member SIC is against the provision of the act aand they gave CSEB stay on the order of CIC.

6) Now you are not authorised to get information…….

A unique case where pendency in the CIC divested the Right to Information of a citizen

Nabarun Mazumdar a resident of Delhi filed an RTI application in NTRO ( National Technical Research Organisation) in May 2007 seeking information related to rules followed by the organisation in appointing employees on contractual basis. Not satisfied by the information provided by the organisation he approached CIC in December 2007. However in March 2007 DoPT through a notification amended second schedule of the act which is related to the list of those organisations which are exempted from providing information under RTI act. In this amendment some organisations were added within the purview of second schedule, NTRO was one such organisation. In June when Mazumdar’s case came for hearing before CIC it was dismissed by the CIC on the basis that the body is exempted to provide information under section 24 of the act. Section 24 says, intelligence and security organisations specified in the second schedule do not come under the purview of the act. Had CIC took his case earlier he would have received the required information. Thus how pendency is affecting the peoples right to information.

7) Hearing after hearing but no information in sight………..

Even after nine hearings by the UP SIC, appellant didn’t received the information

Hearings after hearing. In each hearing SIC is asking the PIO/department to provide information but the applicant has not got any information. This is the story of shadashiv who belongs to Madhavpur village of Banda district in UP. He filed an RTI application with the DSO( district supplies officer), in July 2007 asking for information related to the status of BPL card holders in the area and allocation of ration to them. Not satisfied with the information he filed first appeal in the DM’s office . DM also didn’t provide him complete information. In September 2007 he took his case to theUPSIC. SIC asked the concerned department to provide him the information but the department is not providing any information. Sadasiv has attended 9 hearing at UPSIC for this case. He is still devoid of information. This is a clear case of violation of RTI act but instead of penalising the department which is a way to establish its authority, the SIC is lingering on the case making a complete mockery of the law. Due to such inaction many officials have started taken this law non seriously.

8) Hide and seek game in the matter of information on answer sheets.

A recent order of one of the CIC denied the information to the information seeker.

Recently in one of her decision Central Information Commissioner Ms Balasubramanium denied the information to the appellant on the basis of larger public interest. The appellant had asked for information from the All India Institute Medical Sciences (“AIIMS”) requesting for the photostat of various question papers for various entrance examinations and its answer keys. However in its decision the commission held that ‘AIIMS is taking all precautions in conducting examinations in a most satisfactory manner and they have also evolved a foolproof system and it has got several in-built checks and by disclosing such information we will not be able to protect larger public interest’. Now it is up to the commission to explain that by hiding information from the public domain which larger public interest is protected. (Appeal No.2707/ICPB/2008 )

9) No information because you are not a citizen but an organisation…….

CIC refused to provide information to the appellant because by mistake he wrote the name of the organisation he belonged

Hari om Sharma a resident of Mathura UP filed an RTI application in June 2007 in the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. seeking information related to a Gas Agency such as number of gas connection holders and total quota of the particular agency. The company didn’t provided him the information and therefore he took his case to the CIC. The CIC in its decision refused to provide him the information because he had mentioned the name of the organization to which he belongs below his name. IN his decision CIC’s Mr M A Ansari has said that the information is sought by an organization not by a citizen as RTI act is for citizens only. However in similar circumstances Chief Information Commissioner has given decision in favour of the appellant as he considered organizations as citizens. The appellant now has put his case under review attaching copies of Wajahat’s judgement in similar cases. The point here is that different commissioners are interpreting the act in their own way and there is no common guideline to follow.

10) Appeal Unnecessary……….- CIC

An employee wanted to know reasons, as he was not being released for promotion and transfer, CIC Mr Ansari says he is putting pressure on authorities through RTI

P.K.Kailasa Babu filed an RTI application in the Planning Commission as he wanted to know the reason for not relieving him from the services to enable him to join another Ministry on promotion. Being not satisfied with the response he took his case to CIC. The case was taken by M.A.Ansari and his observation in the case is very interesting. His decision, which was in favour of the public body, Ansari observed that ‘Under the service rules there are already adequate provisions for the redressal of the grievance. An employee is, therefore, not expected to question the authority of superior officers under the provisions of the RTI Act, or to put pressure on the authorities through RTI application, which requires that a reply should be given within 30 days. As the PIO has already clarified that “the matter for relieving is under consideration’. The question which arises here is that where it is written that a person cannot sought his personal information from his own department, as the department in his case denied information under section 8(1)(j) of the act. Moreover in place of directing the Department to furnish the information or at least asking it to state the reason for the delay, he blamed the appellant to file an unnecessary delay. With this style of working of CIC god knows how many can impose their trust on it as their saviour.

मंगलवार, 26 अगस्त 2008

Key Note Address on Right to Information

(Milap Choraria)
Respected Luminaries and eminent personalities having come here from far and wide places across the seas, at the initiative of our esteemed friends like Thiru T. P. Radhakrishananji and his all the friends in the 5th Pillar, for discussing on a very important subject i. e. Right to Information as a vehicle to bring democracy at the door steps of every concerned citizen, irrespective of the fact that how high or low one might be.

Before going into the mechanism for the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act, I would like to take this opportunity to urge that it would be in the fitness of things, that if we first try to look into the history of the British Rule in India, which will help us to know as to why the Right to Know has become so essential a tool to translate our democratic system into a reality. There used to be a time, when it was proudly said that the Sun never sets in the British Empire. The Official Secrets Act or some other equivalent to this Act, used to be in vogue in all those colonies, which were governed by the Britishers, with a view firmly root the British Rule and bring the people inhabiting there under strict control, to ward off any imminent danger of unrest, if there might be any. Now, when the Britishers decided to pull out from their prized colonies in the name of giving freedom to them, the Official Secrets Act, in all those colonies turned into sovereign States, including India, was made to stay surreptitiously in the name of protecting the ‘steel frame’ for an efficient administrative machinery. This later on was started to be misused for ulterior ends, and thus got degenerated into an effective tool of corrupt practices for satisfying the easy whims and fancies of the politicians, in league with the bureaucratic machinery as well as those running the monopoly houses and involved in the production of consumer goods. After all what the corruption is? Corruption is nothing, but a form of tribute paid in negotiation of power, which in turn leads to the creation of an inefficient machinery of the implementing and administrative structure, and is protected by the two undemocratic laws i.e. the Officials Secrets Act and ‘without any appropriate rules and guidelines’ withholding of the permission to prosecute the corrupt public servants and now which is going to be extended even to cover the retired bureaucrats as well. Money moves from those, who need some thing, to those who have a momentary advantage. The powerful extract their share of wealth from the system having been conferred with a right to rule.

The Officials Secrets Act provides a stumbling road block in the functioning of a democratic and transparent system, where the real rulers are the citizens. Therefore, it is important that the real rulers be well informed about the functioning of the public authorities to enable them to hold the governments and their instrumentalities, accountable to the citizenry and to contain the practice of corruption through transparent and accountable working of every public authority. After independence, the continuation of the Official Secrets Act, readily provided a handy tool as an inbuilt cover of protection to the wrong doings in the entire system and as a result, day by day, the demon of corruption continued to grow manifold so much so that now it has reduced the democracy and limited it at the level of the elections. We have thus inadvertently converted those who should have been our representatives, into our rulers. We tolerate their whimsicalities and bow and scrape at every pronouncement of theirs’ and give every politician, however lowly, the right to put on a red siren on their Car and holds us up for hours. Thus the people having suffered by the corrupt practices in their day to day dealing with the government functionaries, has led to serious frustrations in their minds up to this level that they have now started rating the British Rule with the present system of the governance which we are calling as democratic system of the governance. People now started calling it as a worst form of the governance. Thus every honest person started crying that a practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of all the public authorities only can save this country, from those having the reins of powers in their hands who are the wrong doers, themselves. It may not be out of context to mention that even the Supreme Court has also given it seal of approval to this concept through its various Judgments.

In this regard, it must be born in mind and should be well understood by every public authority that the Right to Information Act does not create any new right for the citizens. It only operationalises, rather provides an effective mechanism to the already existing fundamental right to free speech and ex-pression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, as held by the Supreme Court of India, through various Judgments, in which the right to know is implicit, subject to the reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India. One could seek information earlier too by filing a writ petition. The Right to Information Act has made a lot of difference, so much so that now a citizen can hopefully proceed expeditiously under a statutory procedure, provided the public authorities as well as the Information Commissioners do not hesitate in showing slackness and or inhibition in performing their onerous functions in right earnest and in the true sprit in the interpretation of the Article 19(1)(a) and 19(2) of the Constitution of India, as laid down by the Supreme Court of India which has ultimately resulted in bringing this Act on the Statute Book.

We have seen and experienced that the most of the distinguished personalities, who have been elevated to take up the responsibility of the office of the Information Commissioners have not been able to shed their preset mindsets ingrained during their long stint of their bureaucratic career. However, it is also important that simultaneously we should also try to go into the mindset of the citizenry to understand as to how and in what manner they in practice are using the provisions of this Right to Information Act. It is important, because by and large and of-course with a few exceptions no doubt, it is the very mindset of our bureaucratic machinery which is there to provide a big hindrance and is not prepared to divulge the requisite information in the initial stages and hence with all the skills at their command gained during their long tenure, they try to take recourse on one plea or the other, to deny the requisite Information, or even under the garb of giving wrong interpretations of the law. For instance, they often misuse the wrong interpretation of the alleged fiduciary relationship to extend the cover of protection of the wrong doings of the office functionaries or even some times they even go to the length of taking recourse to false claims that the documents are not available with them.

Therefore, it is imperative that the prospective Information seekers, are duly equipped by orienting themselves to develop their own understanding with the necessary skills to enable them to get through the hindrances in collecting the information, by outwitting the skills of those who are sitting in Public Authority. Hence, as a first step, it is necessary that they firmly decide upon the nature of the informations that are required by them, and also about the possibility of as to what information could be denied by the Public Authority, on one or the other pretext. Thereafter, the second step would be that they submit the application in such a manner that the public authority has no way to deny the existence of respective information (documents) in their store. Therefore, it is also important that one must be well conversant with the various provisions of the Act along with the various threads of interpretations thereof, so that the same could be challenged, if need be. We should avoid asking for the supply of a host of information in one go. This also provides an easy excuse to public authority for the denial of the Information(s) sought. Therefore, it is advisable that we priortise the information that is needed, one by one and accordingly make the respective applications separately. We should also keep in mind, as stated earlier, that our first attempt should be to get the confirmation of the existence of the documents with the public authority, so that in future they may not be in such a position as to deny the very existence of the same. No doubt, this could be a time taking process as well as a costly one. However, as against giving the scope to the public authority to deny the same on the pretext of being not available with them, the aforesaid procedure would be a positive bargain. Please bear in mind, that once a public authority refuses to supply the Information saying that it is not available with them, then no court can enforce them to contradict their earlier such claim, even though they might have said so falsely.

Friends, whatever I have said is based on the long experiences I have had and with the aforesaid strategy, when I filed about 800 applications under the RTI Act, a majority of them were able to bear positive results. To further explain the same, I seek your very kind permission again for my indulgence in citing some very rare examples, out of my own experiences.

(1) I applied before the Election Commission of India, to supply the photocopy of my Petition dated 20th March, 1996. Any one may wonder, that why I sought information of my own Petition? But this strategy worked. They refused the existence of the same, but after their denial when I supplied the photocopies of the same, as well as of the acknowledgement receipt, the Election Commission was compelled to admit the existence of the my petition, and supplied the photocopy of the same, mentioning the number of the respective file. After having received the respective file number, I filed applications for the file notings and other documents, which the Election Commission had to supply, under the direction of Central Information Commission. Thus the information received from the Election Commission, gave me strength to claim that the Affidavit, requiring the disclosure of information, regarding criminal cases, which is now mandated upon all the intending candidates to submit along with their candidature form, was only the result of my innovative suggestions that were made through the aforesaid Petition dated 20.3.1996 .

(2) Similarly, one Kolkata Land Mafia had encroached upon a large chunk of the Railway Land belonging to the Eastern Railways and grabbed the same by merging it with his own land. In pursuance of the grabbing act, half of the aforesaid Railway Land was used for construction of the multistoried buildings. In order to further seal the grabbing act he subsequently with object to escape from any future action against such illegal use of the Railway land on which the construction was made, he got an agreement illegally executed, in criminal connivance, with the respective senior Railway Officials, without saying anything about the said railway land on which the construction had already taken place. I raised this issue from day one before the Railway, Central Bureau of Investigation and Central Vigilance Commission, but found no action from anywhere, as you know in such cases the Land Mafias have very close Nexus with those who are most powerful in the corridors of power and or in league with such politicians. After the enactment of the Right to Information Act, by taking recourse to the strategy stated above, I could retrieve a large number of the documents from the Eastern Railway, including the photocopies of the respective agreement executed by and between the Railway and the Companies of the said Land Mafia, which is a solid proof of the fact that the said agreement was executed under gratification with the Senior Railway Personnel to protect the aforesaid half of the encroached Railway Land which was used in construction of the multistoried buildings. Even after supplying the aforesaid Information, the Eastern Railway was not prepared to admit the fact that still there is some Railway Land, which is under the possession of the said land Mafia, as encroachment. When I created a pressure by filing a number of applications seeking different informations, which could have justified the above fact, to escape from the responsibility to admit such truth, the Railways took recourse of shelter by asking the State Government to let them know, whether there is any part of the respective Railway Land is under any encroachment or not? However, when the matter reached the Central Information Commission, and the Hon’ble Information Commissioner Shri O. P. Kejriwal during the hearing of the case No.CIC/OK/A/2006/00249 & 00408, on 3rd January, 2007, in the very presence of Shri Parashuram Singh, Chief Engineer and Ex-PIO and Shri S.N. Mukherji, then Additional General Manager & Appellate Authority, directed the Railway ‘to state clearly whether there was any encroachment on the plot of land which is under dispute.’, while the Railways’ response before the Commission was that ‘there was no information concerning this on the file and hence could not supply the relevant information’. The result was that it was natural for the Commission to feel and observe that ‘felt that there was, prima facie, an element of corruption and the role of anti-social elements in the whole case’, and directed the Railways to get the plot of land and the encroachment, if any, measured by any reliable agency and supply this information to me within two months’ time. Accordingly after the survey made by the Railways, it was clear that still a large size of the Railway Land is under encroachment of the said land Mafia.

(3) In 2003, my Writ Petition was refused to be registered by the Supreme Court Registry, by misusing and misquoting the Supreme Court Rules, amended in 1997. I applied for a certified copy of the file noting by which such amendment had taken place. The Supreme Court CPIO denied the supply of the Information claiming that the file noting is exempted under fiduciary relationship between the President of India and the Chief Justice of India. I filed Appeal, on the interalia ground that President of India and Chief Justice of India are constitutional functionaries, and hence the requisite information cannot be deemed to be exempted under the fiduciary relationship between them. I submitted a ‘Note’ detailing definitions, prevailing world wide, regarding the ‘fiduciary relationship’. The Appellate Authority was in full agreement with my arguments and hence I could get the entire file notings from the respective file, justifying that refusal to register my Writ Petition was a matter of criminal misconduct. Now, I have submitted my complaint before the Chief Justice of India that the aforesaid refusal to register my Writ Petition was a matter of criminal misconduct on the part of the respective Supreme Court Employees. The matter is pending before Hon’ble CJI.

(4) I have submitted a large number of complaints before the Income Tax Authorities, CBI and CVC against the use of the power generated through black money, by the Kolkata Land Mafia, but to my utter dismay, I found that it resulted to no-where, since the Land Mafia had very close Nexus with one of the most powerful politicians of the country. Immediately, after the enactment of the RTI Act, taking recourse to the same, I wanted to know that what actions were taken by the Income Tax Authorities, on some of my complaints. And you would be surprised to note that for the first time, the Red and Scarlet Ball was seen emerging in the West, the Income Tax Department was directed by the Central Information Commission to disclose the requisitioned Information. This decision of CIC is cited in the Website of the Income Tax Department and also mentioned in the Books recently published on RTI Act. However, from the information received by me this was evident that in 1996, a raid was conducted by the Income Tax Department, and tentatively black money to tune of Rs.13 Crores was found. However, from the Enquiry Reports this was also evident that the respective enquiry reports were made in consultation and in league with the raided party. As in my complaints, I had simply mentioned about the use of the black money to the tune of around more than Rs.100 Crores, which perhaps turned out to be more than a few thousand Crores, therefore, in league with the raided party, care was taken by the Income Tax Department that important persons of the Group of the Land Mafia, their Companies and relations were spared from the Raids. Most surprisingly, as per the aforesaid enquiry reports, the Sale Prices of the shops of one of the projects were claimed to have been sold between Rs.800 and Rs.1,000 per sft. While according to my information the Sale Price that was actually realized was around Rs.5,000 per sft. The aforesaid Market Project was built upon the Land pertaining to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. As such I also sought the same information from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, and got a list of some 147 Shops whose Sale Price was stated to be somewhere between Rs.2,200 and Rs.3,500. The sales of these shops were made in favour of the Companies of the alleged financiers for the aforesaid project as per Enquiry Report supplied by the Income Tax Department, for which they had already made advance payment, even before the project was started. Logically, from the aforesaid Information, so received, my charges of the Sale Prices of the Shops stood vindicated.

(5) As a matter of the fact, under the RTI Act, the Income Tax Returns are exempted. However, if one is involved activities against the interest of the public at large and or in criminal activities, he/she forfeits the right of the exemption under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. Keeping this in view, I sought Certified Copies of the Income Tax Returns and other enclosures, relating to the members of the aforesaid group of the Land Mafia. The Hon’ble Information Commissioner, Shri A N Tiwari, was pleased to pass analogous order directing 12 Chief Commissioners of the Income Tax and others to revisit and hear the matter through videoconferencing, making a mention of my claims in his order interalia in the language like that: “several press clippings, letters writing and representations made by complainant to several high dignitaries bringing to their notice the improprieties involved in certain transactions which listed therein, considered to be proof positive of the inaction by the several public authorities in acting fast protecting State revenues in spite of being warned by the complainant not once but several times about tax evasion by the 3rd parties. This was sufficient reason to disclose all the requested information in public interest, regardless of it attracting any exemption under Section 8(1) of RTI Act., and that the income tax assessment details in respect of a particular firm by the officers of the public authority, contained prima-facie proof that there was gross dereliction of duty by the officers of the Central Board of Direct Taxes as well as other officers of the Income Tax Department in discharging their function in the matter of income tax assessment of the third parties, who were responsible for dealing in huge volumes of black money.”

In the end, I would like to place on record my full cooperation and assistance, in case any one is interested in the matter of Right to Information. They are always welcome to get in touch with me through “5th Pillar”. I will try to put my head to suggest as to what could be the remedy in the related matter. Sir with this Note, here I close my presentation with my sincere thanks and gratitude for having given me this opportunity to share my views and thoughts with the leading lights in the field of social activism. I feel honored.

Thank you all.

Caveat : Appointment of New Central Information Commissioners

(Milap Choraria)
The leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Shri L K Advani, refused to attend a meeting required under the RTI Act, for appointment of the Information Commissioners, unless a fresh list of names was drawn up for the proposed expansion of the Central Information Commission (CIC). In a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Thursday, Advaniji cited three reasons for declining to attend the meeting that was scheduled to take place on the same evening between these two and the Home Minister Shri Shivraj Patil, who constitute a committee under Section 12(3) of the Act, to select the Information Commissioners proposed to be added to the existing five in the CIC, as referred in the TOI report of August 19, 2008, stating that "public-spirited activists who have been in the forefront of this campaign for transparency in government have taken exception to the fact that government's choice of Information Commissioners is limited to retiring bureaucrats.", stating that the objection of the activists was "justified" as the RTI Act gave the committee "a very wide choice" by laying down that the Information Commissioners shall be "persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism and mass media or administration and governance.", and that the government seems to have sent him the names more for information than for consultation, since the agenda containing the names of five nominees was sent to him just a day before the scheduled meeting, that too without any prior information. "In meetings of this nature where nominations for important positions are to be decided," the "names are invariably discussed with members of the committee informally before they are formally placed before the committee."

The participatory role of the Citizenry in the functioning of the Government to ensure transparent and accountable governance in principal was accorded by the Government, by enacting the Right to Information Act, 2005. If Government is sincere in its implementation, then what is the problem to adopt a transparent procedure in appointment of the Information Commissioners? Therefore, guidelines should be issued that one month advance prior to the meeting of the Appointing Committee, the names of the Penal for appointment as Information Commissioner(s) should be announced, so that if any citizen have any objection he can place the same before the appointing committee for its consideration. In the light of the past experiences of the applicant seekers, this is extremely necessary.

It is reported that some RTI activists suggested the names of respected Shri Anna Hazare, Smt. Aruna Ray, Shri Arvind Kejriwal, and so on for the appointment as the Information Commissioners. I don't think that these people would ever like to reduce themsleves by agreeing to to become part of the group of those members, who constantly seek to move in the corridor's of power as against their present most powerful status of 'Watchdog Activists' in furtherence for the cause of "Right to Know".

शनिवार, 23 अगस्त 2008

आजमगढ़ में सूचना की लड़ाई दिलचस्प मोड़ पर

आजमगढ़-उत्तरप्रदेश: इसे व्यवस्था का नाकारापन कहें या राजनीतिक नेताओं की विश्वसनीयता का संकट, लेकिन एक चीज साफ होती जा रही है कि आम आदमी अब अपने हक की लड़ाई खुद ही लड़ने के मूड में है। इसके लिए उसे सूचना के अधिकार के रूप में एक कारगर हथियार भी मिल गया है। इस हथियार की ताकत को वर्तमान व्यवस्था के पैरोकार बखूबी समझते हैं। यही कारण है कि वे एक ओर जहां इस हथियार को भोथरा और निष्प्रभावी बनाना चाहते हैं, वहीं सूचना मांगने वालों को प्रताड़ित करने की भी हर मुमकिन कोशिश की जाती है।

सूचना मांगने वालों को प्रताड़ित करने की घटनाएं अब आम हो चुकी हैं। पिछले साल 26 दिसंबर को आजमगढ़ जिले के मार्टिनगंज ब्लाक स्थित ग्रामसभा देहदुआर-कैथौली में दो ग्रामीणों को केवल इसलिए जेल में ठूंस दिया गया क्योंकि उन्होंने अपने गांव में आ रहे पैसे का सूचना के अधिकार के तहत हिसाब-किताब मांगा था। उनपर आरोप लगाया गया कि उनकी संस्था पंजीकृत नहीं है। इंद्रसेन सिंह और अंशुधर सिंह नामक जिन दो ग्रामीणों ने अपने गांव में आ रहे पैसे का हिसाब मांगा था, वे दो महीने जेल में बिताने के बाद तब बाहर आ सके जब उच्च न्यायालय ने उन्हें जमानत दी। प्रशासन ने उन्हें जमानत दिए जाने का जिला न्यायालय और उच्च न्यायालय में भरपूर विरोध किया। यद्यपि दोनों ग्रामीण जेल से बाहर हैं, लेकिन उनके खिलाफ अभी भी मुकद्दमा चल रहा है। जिस सूचना के लिए यह सब हुआ, वह सूचना भी उन्हें नहीं मिली। हालात यह है कि एक ओर उन्हें अपने मुकद्दमें की पैरवी के लिए अदालतों के चक्कर लगाने पड़ रहे हैं तो दूसरी ओर सूचना हासिल करने के लिए लखनऊ में सूचना आयोग की परिक्रमा करनी पड़ रही है।

जब सूचना मांगने वाले ग्रामीणों को जेल भेजा गया तो इसकी मीडिया में उस समय खूब चर्चा हुयी। इसी का प्रभाव था कि तत्कालीन जिलाधिकारी विकास गोठलवाल को गांव में हुए विकास कार्यों की बी.डी.ओ. से जांच करवानी पड़ी। बी.डी.ओ ने अपनी जांच में ग्राम प्रधान सहित कुछ अन्य अधिकारियों को राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण रोजगार गारंटी योजना के 77,307 रुपए के गबन का दोषी पाया और आवश्यक कार्रवायी हेतु अपनी रिपोर्ट (पत्रांक संख्या 539 शि.लि.पं./जांच/देहदुआर/07-08 दिनांक 04.02.2008) जिलाधिकारी को सौंप दी। इसी बीच पूर्व जिलाधिकारी का तबादला हो गया। वर्तमान जिलाधिकारी से ग्रामीणों ने कई बार मिलकर बी.डी.ओ. की जांच रिपोर्ट पर कार्रवायी करने का निवेदन किया, लेकिन उन्होंने आरोपियों के खिलाफ कुछ भी करने से मना कर दिया। यह घोर आश्चर्य का विषय है कि प्रशासन ने एक ओर तो दो ग्रामीणों को केवल इसलिए जेल भेज दिया क्योंकि वे एक ऐसी संस्था के तहत गांव के विकास कार्यों की जानकारी मांग रहे थे, जो पंजीकृत नहीं है। वहीं दूसरी ओर उसी गांव के ग्राम प्रधान और अन्य पंचायत कर्मियों को गबन करने का दोषी पाए जाने के के पांच महीने बाद भी कोई कार्रवायी नहीं की गयी।

ग्रामीणों ने जिलाधिकारी पर आवश्यक कार्रवायी के लिए दबाव बनाने के उद्देश्य से जब बसपा के स्थानीय नेताओं से संपर्क किया तो उन्हें एक और कड़वी सच्चाई मालूम हुयी। पता चला कि मायावती के एक अत्यंत निकट सहयोगी जो पड़ोस के बड़गहन गांव के रहने वाले हैं और सरकार में एक जिम्मेदार पद पर आसीन हैं, वो खुद आरोपियों को संरक्षण दे रहे हैं। यहां यह बताना आवश्यक है कि आरोपी ग्रामप्रधान और उसके परिवार के लोग समाजवादी पार्टी के सक्रिय कार्यकर्ता हैं। बसपा और सपा के बीच दुश्मनी की खबरों के बीच ऐसे तथ्य जमीनी स्तर पर एक अलग ही तस्वीर पेश करते हैं।

हालांकि मौजूदा व्यवस्था में अपनी समस्याओं का हल ढूंढने की ग्रामीणों की हर कोशिश अभी तक बेकार ही साबित हुयी है। फिर भी उनका हौसला नहीं टूटा है। सूचना मांगने के जुर्म में दो महीने जेल काट चुके इंद्रसेन सिंह अब अपनी लड़ाई को एक गांव तक सीमित नहीं रखना चाहते। वे इसे पूरे जिले में फैलाना चाहते हैं। उनका प्रयास है कि हर गांव से लोग अपने गांव के पैसे का हिसाब किताब मांगें। उन्होंने अपने साथियों के साथ मिलकर आसपास के गांव वालों को जागरूक करना शुरू कर दिया है। आजमगढ़ शहर, लखनऊ और दिल्ली में काम कर रहे विभिन्न संगठनों से भी संपर्क साधा गया है। परिवर्तन संस्था के अरविंद केजरीवाल, जिन्हें हाल ही में मैग्सैसे पुरस्कार मिला है, उनसे मिलने के लिए वो अपने साथियों के साथ दिल्ली आए। यहां के.एन. गोविन्दाचार्य सहित कई अन्य वरिष्ठ लोगों से भी उनकी मुलाकात हुयी। आजमगढ़ और लखनऊ में भारत रक्षक दल जैसे कई संगठन उनकी मुहिम में शामिल हो चुके हैं।

ग्रामीणों की कोशिश है एक साझा मंच बनाने की। एक ऐसा मंच जो व्यवस्था परिवर्तन की लड़ाई को जंतर-मंतर पर लड़ने की बजाय गांव-देहात में लोगों को साथ लेकर लड़े। वो चाहते हैं कि गांव वालों को यह बताया जाए कि समस्याओं के समाधान के लिए अधिकारियों और नेताओं की चिरौरी करने की बजाय उनकी आंखों में आंख डालकर सवाल पूछने की जरूरत है। इन्ही बातों को ध्यान में रखते हुए आजमगढ़ जिले में सूचना के अधिकार को लेकर एक अभियान चलाया जा रहा है। इस अभियान का पहला मकसद है जनता के बीच नौकरशाही के खौफ को कम करना। इसके लिए लोगों को प्रेरित किया जा रहा है कि वे नौकरशाही के मुखिया यानि जिलाधिकारी से सीधे सवाल पूछें और उनसे काम का ब्यौरा मांगें।

अभियान की शुरुआत करते हुए दिनांक 13 अगस्त, 2008 को आजमगढ़ के कुछ प्रबुध्द नागरिकों और दिल्ली के कुछ पत्रकारों ने जिलाधिकारी से सूचना का अधिकार अधिनियम के तहत सवाल पूछा है कि पिछले चार महीनों में जिलाधिकारी को जनता की ओर से कुल कितने आवेदन प्राप्त हुए? इसी के साथ पूछा गया है कि आवेदन किसकी ओर से और कब दिया गया? आवेदन में क्या मांग की गयी? आवेदन पर जांच करने की जिम्मेदारी किस अधिकारी को और कब दी गयी? अंत में जिलाधिकारी से प्रत्येक आवेदन पर की गयी कार्रवायी का संक्षिप्त विवरण मांगा गया है। इसी तरह जिलाधिकारी को प्राप्त शिकायती पत्रों के बारे में भी जानकारी मांगी गयी है। जिलाधिकारी से सवाल पूछने का यह सिलसिला 29 अगस्त, 2008 तक चलेगा।

आजमगढ़ के कोने-कोने से लोग सूचना के अधिकार के तहत यही सूचना जिलाधिकारी से मांग रहे हैं। सूचना के अधिकार के क्षेत्र में काम कर रहे देश भर के कार्यकर्ताओं ने भी इस अभियान को अपना समर्थन दिया है। 29 अगस्त को श्री अरविन्द केजरीवाल एवं रामबहादुर राय सहित देश भर के कई सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता जिला मुख्यालय में जाकर जिलाधिकारी से वही सवाल पूछेंगे जो सवाल जिले की जनता जिलाधिकारी से इन दिनों पूछ रही है। इससे पहले 28 अगस्त को ये लोग जिले के मार्टिनगंज ब्लाक में भी जाएंगे सूचना के अधिकार के लिए संघर्षरत मार्टिनगंज के कार्यकर्ताओं का हौसला बढ़ाने के लिए उन्हीं के क्षेत्र में एक जनसभा आयोजित की जा रही है।

सूचना मांगने की जो मुहिम आजमगढ़ में शुरू हुयी है, उससे एक ओर जहां जनता में उत्साह है, वहीं भ्रष्टाचारी तत्वों में बेचैनी भी साफ दिखायी दे रही है। वे इस अभियान को रोकने लिए एड़ी चोटी का जोर लगा रहे हैं। भय, प्रलोभन और राजनीतिक दबाव जैसे सारे हथकंडे अपनाए जा रहे हैं। जिले के भ्रष्टाचारी तत्वों और जागरूक जनता के बीच की लड़ाई बड़े नाजुक दौर में है। जिस प्रकार भ्रष्टाचारी तत्व लामबंद हो रहे हैं, उसे देखते हुए जनता के हक की लड़ाई लड़ने वाले भी इकट्ठा हो रहे हैं। ऐसा लगता है कि आजमगढ़ में इस व्यवस्था को सुधारने का एक नया प्रयोग शुरू हो चुका है।

विमल कुमार सिंह
संपादक : भारतीय पक्ष-मासिक पत्रिका
(अभियान के समन्वय का दायित्व)
मोबाइल - 9868303585
ईमेल : vimal.mymail@gmail.com

चिरौरी छोड़ो, सवाल पूछो!

स्वतंत्रता सेनानियों ने अपने अनगिनत बलिदानों से हमें आजादी दिलायी, हमें अपने देश का मालिक बनाया। लेकिन, दुर्भाग्यवश हम अभी भी अपनी गुलाम मानसिकता से उबर नहीं पाए हैं। जो नौकरशाही हमारी सेवा के लिए बनी है, उसे हम साहब बनाकर ढोए जा रहे हैं, उसकी जी हुजुरी में दिन-रात एक किए रहते हैं। इसे क्या आप विडंबना नहीं कहेंगे कि जनता, जो इस देश की मालिक है, अपने कर्मचारियों से पत्राचार करते समय 'सेवा में' लिखती है। यह छोटी सी बात हमारी मानसिकता को उजागर कर देती है। इससे साबित होता है कि मन के किसी कोने में हम खुद को नौकर और सरकारी कर्मचारियों को अपना मालिक माने बैठे हैं।
आज जरूरत इस बात की है कि हम अपने अधिकारों को पहचानें और मालिक की तरह व्यवहार करना सीखें। मालिक बनने की पहली शर्त है कि हम अपने कर्मचारियों के काम पर नजर रखें, उनसे पूछताछ करें। आज की तारीख में नौकरशाही की नकेल कसने के लिए 'सूचना का अधिकार' एक बहुत ही कारगर हथियार है। हमें इसे इस्तेमाल करने की कला अच्छी तरह से सीखनी होगी।
इन्ही बातों को ध्यान में रखते हुए आजमगढ़ जिले में सूचना के अधिकार को लेकर एक अभियान चलाया जा रहा है। इस अभियान का पहला मकसद है जनता के बीच नौकरशाही के खौफ को कम करना। इसके लिए लोगों को प्रेरित किया जा रहा है कि वे नौकरशाही के मुखिया यानि जिलाधिकारी से सीधे सवाल पूछें और उनसे काम का ब्यौरा मांगें। प्रथम चरण में अभियान की योजना इस प्रकार है:

सवाल पूछने का सिलसिला
दिनांक 13 अगस्त, 2008 को आजमगढ़ के कुछ प्रबुध्द नागरिकों और दिल्ली के कुछ पत्रकारों ने जिलाधिकारी से सूचना का अधिकार अधिनियम के तहत सवाल पूछा है कि पिछले चार महीनों में जिलाधिकारी को जनता की ओर से कुल कितने आवेदन प्राप्त हुए? इसी के साथ पूछा गया है कि आवेदन किसकी ओर से और कब दिया गया? आवेदन में क्या मांग की गयी? आवेदन पर जांच करने की जिम्मेदारी किस अधिकारी को और कब दी गयी? अंत में जिलाधिकारी से प्रत्येक आवेदन पर की गयी कार्रवायी का संक्षिप्त विवरण मांगा गया है। इसी तरह जिलाधिकारी को प्राप्त शिकायती पत्रों के बारे में भी जानकारी मांगी गयी है। जिलाधिकारी से सवाल पूछने का यह सिलसिला 29 अगस्त, 2008 तक लगातार चलेगा।
आजमगढ़ के कोने-कोने से लोग सूचना के अधिकार के तहत यही सूचना जिलाधिकारी से मांग रहे हैं। सूचना के अधिकार के क्षेत्र में काम कर रहे देश भर के कार्यकर्ताओं ने भी इस अभियान को अपना समर्थन दिया है। आप भी यही सूचना यदि जिलाधिकारी से मांगेंगे तो हमारे अभियान को बल मिलेगा। हम जिलाधिकारी को यह समझा पाएंगे कि अब उन्हें अपने उच्च अध्किारियों और राजनीतिक आकाओं के साथ-साथ जनता को भी काम का ब्यौरा देना पड़ेगा।

हम नहीं डरते
पिछले दिनों जिले के मार्टिनगंज ब्लाक स्थित ग्रामसभा देहदुआर कैथौली के दो लोगों को केवल इसलिए गिरफ्तार करके जेल भेज दिया गया क्योंकि उन्होंने सूचना के अधिकार के तहत अपने गांव में आने वाले सरकारी पैसे का हिसाब मांगा था। प्रशासन की यह कार्रवायी उसकी हताशा को दर्शाती है। प्रशासन में बैठे लोग नहीं चाहते कि जनता उनसे सवाल पूछे। लेकिन वो भूल जाते हैं कि वे जनता के अधिकार को जितना दबाएंगे, लोगों में उसका उपयोग करने की इच्छा उतनी ही बलवती होती जाएगी।

सूचना के अध्किार के लिए संघर्षरत मार्टिनगंज के कार्यकर्ताओं का हौसला बढ़ाने के लिए उन्हीं के क्षेत्र में एक जनसभा आयोजित की जा रही है। राष्ट्रीय स्वाभिमान आंदोलन, परिवर्तन और भारत रक्षा दल के तत्वावधान में आयोजित इस सभा में स्थानीय जनता को मैगसैसे पुरस्कार विजेता और सूचना के अधिकार को जन-जन तक पहुंचाने वाले श्री अरविन्द केजरीवाल तथा प्रख्यात पत्रकार एवं जे.पी. आदोलन के नायक श्री रामबहादुर राय संबोधित करेंगे।

सभास्थल : जूनियर हाईस्कूल सोहौली (बरदह-मार्टिनगंज रोड पर लल्लूगंज बाजार के पास स्थित)
समय : 28 अगस्त, 2008 सायं 3 बजे से सायं 6 बजे विषय : सूचना का अधिकार और आम आदमी

मुख्यालय में दस्तक
मार्टिनगंज में सभा करने के बाद अगला पड़ाव जिला मुख्यालय होगा। दिनांक 29 अगस्त, 2008 को प्रात: 11 बजे श्री अरविन्द केजरीवाल एवं रामबहादुर राय सहित जिले के कई गणमान्य नागरिक जिला मुख्यालय में जाकर जिलाधिकारी से वही सवाल पूछेंगे जो सवाल जिले की जनता जिलाधिकारी से इन दिनों पूछ रही है। उनका सवाल पूछना प्रशासन के लिए चेतावनी है कि वह जनता के सवाल को अनदेखा करने की भूल न करे, क्योंकि आज सूचना के अधिकार के क्षेत्र में काम कर रहा प्रत्येक कार्यकर्ता आजमगढ़ की जनता के साथ कंधे से कंधा मिलाकर खड़ा है।
पूरे अभियान की दिशा तय करने के लिए अपरान्ह में कलेक्ट्रेट स्थित नेहरू हाल में 'स्वतंत्राता सेनानियों के सपने और वर्तमान विधान' विषय पर एक गोष्ठी का आयोजन किया जाएगा। इसी दौरान केशरीनरायन सिंह द्वारा अनूदित पुस्तक 'अगस्त-सितंबर 1942 में आजमगढ़ के कांग्रेसी विद्रोहियों की कहानी : निबलेट की जुबानी' का लोकार्पण किया जाएगा। ज्ञातव्य हो कि 1939 से लेकर 1942 तक निबलेट आजमगढ़ का डिस्ट्रिक्ट मजिस्ट्रेट था और उस समय के स्वतंत्रता आंदोलन की घटनाओं को उसने अपनी डायरी में विस्तारपूर्वक लिखा है।


पूरे अभियान में आपके सहयोग की हमें हरपल जरूरत है। आपकी उपस्थिति हमारे संकल्प को दृढ़ता प्रदान करेगी। आपके साथ मिलकर हम आजमगढ़ को सूचना के अधिकार की लड़ाई का सबसे खास मोर्चा बनाना चाहते हैं। किसी भी प्रकार की और जानकारी के लिए संपर्क करें :


भारत रक्षा दल, आजमगढ़

जनता कर रही है डी.एम. से जवाब-तलब

अबू सलेम और सिमी आतंकवादियों की जन्मस्थली का कलंक झेल रहे आजमगढ़ के लोगों ने अपने जिले में एक अनोखी पहल की शुरुआत की है। दिनांक 13 अगस्त, 2008 को आजमगढ़ के कुछ नागरिकों ने एक अभियान के तहत डी.एम. अर्थात जिलाधिकारी से सवाल पूछना शुरू किया है कि पिछले चार महीनों में उन्हें जनता की ओर से कुल कितने आवेदन प्राप्त हुए? इसी के साथ पूछा जा रहा है कि आवेदन किसकी ओर से और कब दिया गया? आवेदन में क्या मांग की गयी? आवेदन पर जांच करने की जिम्मेदारी किस अधिकारी को और कब दी गयी? अंत में जिलाधिकारी से प्रत्येक आवेदन पर की गयी कार्रवायी का संक्षिप्त विवरण मांगा गया है। इसी तरह जिलाधिकारी को प्राप्त शिकायती पत्रों के बारे में भी जानकारी मांगी जा रही है।

आजमगढ़ के कोने-कोने से लोग सूचना के अधिकार के तहत यही सूचना जिलाधिकारी से मांग रहे हैं। सूचना के अधिकार के क्षेत्र में काम कर रहे देश भर के कार्यकर्ताओं ने भी इस अभियान को अपना समर्थन दिया है। 29 अगस्त को मैगसैसे पुरस्कार विजेता एवं सूचना के अधिकार को प्रभावी बनाने में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाने वाले श्री अरविन्द केजरीवाल तथा वरिष्ठ पत्रकार श्री रामबहादुर राय सहित देश भर के कई सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता जिला मुख्यालय में जाकर जिलाधिकारी से वही सवाल पूछेंगे जो सवाल जिले की जनता जिलाधिकारी से इन दिनों पूछ रही है। इससे पहले 28 अगस्त को ये लोग जिले के मार्टिनगंज ब्लाक में जाकर वहां के कार्यकर्ताओं का हौसला बढ़ाएंगे।

डी.एम. से ही सवाल-जवाब क्यों, यह पूछे जाने पर अभियान की योजना बनाने वालों में से एक मार्टिनगंज ब्लाक के ही इंद्रसेन सिंह ने बताया कि जिले में नौकरशाही का बहुत खौफ है। सूचना मांगने वालों का परेशान करने की घटनाएं यहां आम हैं। खुद उन्हें गांव में आए पैसे का हिसाब मांगने के कारण ग्रामप्रधान और स्थानीय अधिकारियों के गुस्से का शिकार होना पड़ा। उन्हें एक फर्जी मुकद्दमें में फंसा कर दो महीने जेल के लिए जेल भेज दिया गया। ऐसी स्थिति में जरूरी था कि लोगों का डर दूर करने के लिए सीधे स्थानीय प्रशासन के मुखिया यानि डी.एम. से ही सवाल-जवाब किया जाए और वह भी सामूहिक रूप से। संगठित अभियान होने के कारण जहां नौकरशाही सवाल पूछने वालों को परेशान नहीं कर पाएगी, वहीं लोगों के बीच इस कानून को लेकर जागरूकता भी फैलेगी। इसका परिणाम होगा कि लोग आने वाले समय में बिना डरे इस कानून का इस्तेमाल कर सकेंगे। नौकरशाही को भी साफ संदेश जाएगा कि वे अब अपने उच्च अधिकारियों एवं राजनीतिक आकाओं के साथ-साथ जनता के प्रति भी जवाबदेह है।

विमल कुमार सिंह
संपादक : भारतीय पक्ष-मासिक पत्रिका
(अभियान के समन्वय का दायित्व)
मोबाइल - 9868303585
ईमेल : vimal.mymail@gmail.com

शुक्रवार, 22 अगस्त 2008

आपकी राय का इंतज़ार है.....

क्या राजनीतिक दलों के आय-व्यय का ब्यौरा सार्वजनिक हो..?
सूचना का अधिकार क़ानून की मदद से एक बार फिर यह तथ्य सामने आ गया है कि किस तरह राजनीतिक दल अपनी पारदर्शिता सुनिश्चित कराने से बचते हैं।इसने जहाँ एक ओर राजनीतिक दलों के कामकाज, खर्च और आमदनी के तरीकों और माध्यमों पर सवाल उठते हैं वहीं यह बहस भी खड़ी होती है कि पारदर्शिता और जवाबदेही तय करने के लिए ठोस नियम क्यों नहीं बनाए जाते और अगर बनते हैं तो राजनीतिक दल उसके दायरे से बाहर क्यों हैं.

आपका क्या मानना है। क्यों कतराते हैं राजनीतिक दल खर्च और आमदनी में पारदर्शिता के सवाल पर.क्या राजनीतिक दलों के कामकाज, आमदनी और खर्च में पारदर्शिता होनी चाहिए. इससे क्या फ़ायदे होंगे और अगर नहीं तो क्यों.

क्यों नहीं कारगर हो पाते हैं जवाबदेही तय करने के लिए बने नियम। सरकारें कितनी प्रतिबद्ध या गंभीर हैं राजनीतिक दलों की जवाबदेही के प्रति.

आपकी प्रतिक्रियाओं का हमें इंतज़ार रहेगा. अपनी राय और प्रतिक्रिया से हमें ज़रूर अवगत कराएं.

Secrecy over India party funding

By Panini Anand BBC Hindi service, Delhi
Only a handful of India's political provide details of donations they receive to the Election Commission.
Of the 920 registered parties, only 21 have so far submitted such information. Among the defaulters are several groups which are in the ruling UPA alliance.
According to a 2003 amendment to the election rules, all parties should provide their financial information.
But, as the rule is not enforceable, parties ignore it and the commission is unable to take any action.
Election Commission officials and civil society activists say political parties must be made to submit financial information to the commission to promote transparency and make them accountable to their donors.
At the moment, it is only a moral obligation on the part of a political party to reveal its funding.
Many parties shy away from furnishing an audit of their account as they use the money collected to buy stocks or jewellery, commission officials say.
The commission has been unsuccessfully lobbying with the government to set up an independent audit bureau which will audit the accounts of political parties.
Among the parties which have consistently failed to provide information to the commission are the Rashtriya Janata Dal party of Railway Minister Laloo Yadav and the Bahujan Samaj Party led by low-caste Dalit (formerly untouchable) icon Mayawati.
Mr Yadav's party is a member of India's governing coalition and Ms Mayawati has openly announced her ambition of becoming the prime minister of the country.
The information was revealed by India's election commission in response to a query filed under the country's Right to Information (RTI) legislation.

चंदे का ब्यौरा नहीं दे रहे 900 राजनीतिक दल

पाणिनी आनंद बीबीसी संवाददाता, दिल्ली

भले ही भारत के प्रधानमंत्री और यूपीए सरकार सूचना का अधिकार क़ानून को अपनी उपलब्धियों की सूची में प्रमुखता से शामिल कर रहे हों पर यूपीए के ही कई प्रमुख घटक दल अपनी पारदर्शिता और जवाबदेही तय कराने के नियमों की अनदेखी कर रहे हैं.
चाहे वो रेलमंत्री लालू प्रसाद यादव का राष्ट्रीय जनता दल हो, रामविलास पासवान की लोक जनशक्ति पार्टी हो, करुणानिधि के नेतृत्ववाली डीएमके हो, शिबू सोरेन का झारखंड मुक्ति मोर्चा हो या अन्य प्रमुख राजनीतिक दल हों, इन दलों ने चुनाव आयोग को अपने दानदाताओं के बारे में दिया जाने वाला ब्यौरा उपलब्ध नहीं कराया है.
और तो और, उत्तर प्रदेश की मुख्यमंत्री मायावती की बहुजन समाज पार्टी, राष्ट्रीय लोकदल, आरएसपी, तृणमूल कांग्रेस, पीडीपी, नेशनल कांफ़्रेंस और फ़ॉरवर्ड ब्लॉक की ओर से भी आयोग को जानकारी देने के नियम की लगातार अनदेखी की गई है.
दान या चंदे के रूप में पार्टियों को मिलने वाले पैसे के मामले में पारदर्शिता से पीछे हटनेवाले दलों की तादाद इतनी भर नहीं है.
जानकारी के मुताबिक भारत के चुनाव आयोग के पास पंजीकृत 920 राजनीतिक दलों में से केवल 21 पार्टियाँ ही ऐसी हैं जो अपने चंदे और आमदनी से संबंधित विवरण आयोग को सौंप रहे हैं।

सूचना का अधिकार क़ानून के तहत चुनाव आयोग से यह जानकारी मांगी दिल्ली के एक युवा कार्यकर्ता अफ़रोज़ आलम साहिल ने जिससे पता चला कि पार्टियाँ पारदर्शिता सुनिश्चित करानेवाले इस प्रभावी नियम की किस तरह अनदेखी कर रही हैं।

इस रिपोर्ट पर अपनी प्रतिक्रिया व्यक्त करने के लिए और इस मुद्दे पर अपनी राय व्यक्त करने के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें

वर्ष 2003 में एक संशोधन के तहत यह नियम बनाया गया था कि सभी राजनीतिक दलों को फ़ार्म 24(ए) के माध्यम से चुनाव आयोग को यह जानकारी देनी होगी कि उन्हें हर वित्तीय वर्ष के दौरान किन-किन व्यक्तियों और संस्थानों से कुल कितना चंदा मिला.
हालांकि राजनीतिक दलों को इस नियम के तहत 20 हज़ार से ऊपर के चंदों की ही जानकारी देनी होती है.
पर चुनाव आयोग से मिली जानकारी के मुताबिक वर्ष 2004 से 2007 के दौरान तीन वित्तीय वर्षों में केवल 21 राजनीतिक दल ही यह ब्यौरा आयोग को देते रहे हैं.
वैसे प्रति वर्ष के आधार पर देखें तो केवल 16 पार्टियाँ ही एक वित्तीय वर्ष में चुनाव आयोग का यह ब्यौरा सौंप रही हैं।

'असहाय' आयोग
इस बारे में जब बीबीसी ने भारत के चुनाव आयुक्त एसवाई कुरैशी से बातचीत की तो उन्होंने बताया कि नियम के मुताबिक आयोग के पास पंजीकृत सभी दलों को चंदे से संबंधित जानकारी उपलब्ध करानी चाहिए पर ऐसा कोई प्रावधान नहीं है जिसके तहत राजनीतिक दल यह जानकारी देने के लिए बाध्य हों.
उन्होंने कहा, "राजनीतिक दल यह जानकारी देने के लिए बाध्य नहीं हैं. कुछ दल आयोग को यह ब्यौरा सौंप देते हैं. हमारे पास इनका मूल्यांकन करने या जाँचने के अधिकार नहीं हैं. हम उन्हें केवल एक प्रमाण पत्र जारी कर देते हैं कि इस दल ने यह जानकारी आयोग को दी है. इसका लाभ उन्हें आयकर राहत के रूप में मिलता है."
यानी नियम तो यह कहता है कि राजनीतिक दलों को चंदे का ब्यौरा आयोग में जमा करना है पर ऐसा प्रावधान नहीं बनाया गया जिसके तहत आयोग इस जानकारी का जमा किया जाना सुनिश्चित कर सके.
चुनाव आयुक्त बताते हैं कि राजनीतिक दलों को जो लोग चंदा देते हैं या जो पार्टियां चंदा लेती हैं, उनका इस बात पर तो ध्यान रहता ही है कि इसके बदले उन्हें आयकर में राहत मिले. ऐसे में चंदे के बारे में जानकारी आयोग को देना उनके अपने हित की बात है.
साथ ही चुनाव आयुक्त यह भी स्वीकारते हैं कि आयकर में राहत के लिए ही इस नियम को नहीं देखना चाहिए बल्कि राजनीतिक दलों को अपनी पारदर्शिता तय करने के लिए यह जानकारी आयोग को देनी चाहिए और इस बारे में बना यह नियम राजनीतिक दलों के लिए अनिवार्य होना चाहिए.
उन्होंने बताया कि कुछ दलों की जाँच के दौरान यह भी पाया गया कि कुछ राजनीतिक दल चंदे तो ले रहे हैं पर इसका उपयोग राजनीतिक कार्यों के बजाय शेयर या जेवरात जैसी निजी चीज़ें ख़रीदने में कर रहे हैं. ऐसे में इस बात की जाँच भी ज़रूरी हो जाती है कि राजनीतिक दल किस तरह से चंदे का इस्तेमाल कर रहे हैं.
सवाल और भी हैं. मसलन, राजनीतिक दल अपनी ऑडिट निजी स्तर पर करवाकर आयकर विभाग या आयोग को जानकारी दे देते हैं. इस बारे में आयोग ने केंद्र सरकार से सिफ़ारिश की थी कि ऑडिट के लिए एक संयुक्त जाँचदल बनाया जाए जो राजनीतिक दलों के पैसे की ऑडिट करे.
अगर ऐसा होता तो राजनीतिक दलों के खर्च पर नज़र रख पाना और उसकी जाँच कर पाना संभव हो पाता. इससे पार्टियों की पारदर्शिता तो तय होती ही, साथ ही राजनीतिक दलों के खर्च और उसके तरीके पर भी नियंत्रण क़ायम होता. पर केंद्र सरकार ने इस सिफारिश को फिलहाल ठंडे बस्ते में ही रखा है.
'कठोर क़दम उठाएं'
वरिष्ठ अधिवक्ता प्रशांत भूषण राजनीतिक दलों के जानकारी न देने के क़दम को ग़ैर-ज़िम्मेदाराना बताते हुए कहते हैं कि इससे स्पष्ट हो गया है कि अपनी ख़ुद की पारदर्शिता और जवाबदेही के प्रति ये दल कितने गंभीर है. ऐसे दलों के ख़िलाफ़ भ्रष्टाचार निरोधक क़ानून के तहत कार्यवाही की जानी चाहिए.
प्रशांत भूषण कहते हैं कि ऐसे दलों के ख़िलाफ़ आयोग को न्यायालय में जाना चाहिए और इनकी मान्यता रद्द कर देनी चाहिए. यदि ऐसा आयोग के दायरे में न हो तो न्यायालय के दखल से ऐसा कराना चाहिए.
पर चुनाव आयुक्त बताते हैं कि राजनीतिक दलों के ख़िलाफ़ इस मामले में कोई कार्यवाही करने का अधिकार चुनाव आयोग के पास है ही नहीं.
उन्होंने बताया कि आयोग राजनीतिक दलों के कामकाज, खर्च और पारदर्शिता तय करने के लिए प्रभावी अधिकार दिए जाने की मांग सरकार के सामने रखता रहा है पर कुछ कारणों से यह टाला जाता रहा है.
जानकार मानते हैं कि राजनीतिक दलों की जवाबदेही तय करने के लिए जिस तरह के नियमों और अधिकारों की ज़रूरत है, वे संबंधित विभागों को मिले ही नहीं हैं. विडंबना यह है कि देश के वर्तमान राजनीतिक चरित्र में इसकी गुंजाइश भी कम नज़र आती है.
बहरहाल, व्यवस्था की पारदर्शिता और जवाबदेही तय करने की ज़रूरत पर सैद्धांतिक रूप से सिर हिलाने वाले राजनीतिक दलों को यह सिद्धांत पहले ख़ुद व्यवहार में उतारना होगा। कुछ ने पहल ही है पर अभी कितनों का यह समझना, अपनाना बाक़ी है.

वर्तमान लोकसभा में पहुँचनेवाले उन दलों की सूची जिन्होंने अभी तक चुनाव आयोग को अपने चंदों का ब्यौरा नहीं सौंपा है- राष्ट्रीय जनता दल, बहुजन समाज पार्टी, बीजू जनता दल, नेशनलिस्ट कांग्रेस पार्टी, शिरोमणि अकाली दल, पक्कलि मक्कल काटची, झारखंड मुक्ति मोर्चा, डीएमके, लोक जनशक्ति पार्टी, ऑल इंडिया फ़ॉरवर्ड ब्लॉक, जनता दल (सेक्यूलर), राष्ट्रीय लोकदल, आरएसपी, तेलंगाना राष्ट्र समिति, जम्मू-कश्मीर नेशनल कॉन्फ़्रेंस, केरल कांग्रेस, ऑल इंडिया मजलिस-ए-इत्तेहादुल मुसलमीन, तृणमूल कांग्रेस, भारतीय नवशक्ति पार्टी, पीपुल्स डेमोक्रेटिक पार्टी, मिज़ो नेशनल फ़्रंट, मुस्लिम लीग केरल स्टेट कमेटी, नगालैंड पीपुल्स फ़्रंट, नेशनल लोकतांत्रिक पार्टी, रिपब्लिकन पार्टी ऑफ़ इंडिया, सिक्किम डेमोक्रेटिक पार्टी

अबतक ब्यौरा सौंपने वाले दल
भारतीय जनता पार्टी
भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी
मार्क्सवादी कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी
इंडियन नेशनल कांग्रेस
समाजवादी पार्टी
जनता दल (युनाइटेड)
तेलगू देशम
असम युनाइटेड डेमोक्रेटिक फ़्रंट
मातृभक्त पार्टी
राष्ट्रीय विकास पार्टी
भारतीय विकास पार्टी
मानव जागृति मंच
भारतीय महाशक्ति मोर्चा
समाजवादी युवा दल
सत्य विजय पार्टी
थर्ड व्यु पार्टी
जनमंगल पक्ष
लोकसत्ता पार्टी

गुरुवार, 21 अगस्त 2008

राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण रोज़गार गारंटी कानून....

पिछले दिनों राजस्थान जाने का अवसर प्राप्त हुआ। ये मेरा तीसरा ट्रीप था। लेकिन इस बार कोई सम्मेलन, सेमीनार या सिम्पोज़ियम नहीं बल्कि ‘सोशल ऑडिट (सामाजिक अंकेक्षण) का कार्यक्रम था। जिसका निमंत्रण ब्यावर शहर के ‘राष्ट्रीय युवा सम्मेलन’’ में ही मेरी नानी मतलब मैग्सेसे अवार्ड विजेता ‘अरूणा राय’ ने दे दिया था। ‘सोशल ऑडिट 'शब्द मेरे लिए बिल्कुल नया था। न जाने क्यूँ वहां जाने के प्रति मेरी उत्सुक्ता बढ़ती गई, बल्कि मैने अपने कई दोस्तों को साथ चलने का निमंत्रण तक दे डाला, पर कोई फायदा नहीं हुआ।

आखि़रकार बहुत सारी व्यस्तता के बावजूद देहरादून एक्सप्रेस से कोटा हाज़िर था। फिर वहां से झालावाड़ ज़िले के मनोहर थाना इलाके में जाने के लिए बस में सवार हो चला। राजस्थान के लोगों में अपने अधिकारों के प्रति जागरूकता और पहाड़ों के मनोहर दृश्य मुझे सोचने को मजबूर कर रहे थे।

अब कुछ ही घंटों के बाद ‘हिन्दू राष्ट्र का हिन्दू गांव’ हमारा स्वागत कर रहा था।अब मैं मनोहर थाना के अग्रवाल धर्मशाला में था, जहां गांव के गरीब लोग व सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता बड़े ही निराले अंदाज में ‘राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण रोजगार गारंटी एक्ट’ (नरेगा) के दो वर्ष पूरे होने का जश्न मना रहे थे। फिज़ा में ‘‘आपा! पंचायत में चलह..... बोलो रोज़गार गांरटी की जय...’’ की सदा गुंज रही थी।

दरअसल, गांवों में गरीबों की दयनीय दुर्दशा एक खुला सत्य है। सरकार द्वारा ‘इंडिया शाईनिंग’ की बात तो की जाती रही, लेकिन गांव में बसने वाले ‘भारतीयों’ के लिए कोई ठोस क़दम नहीं उठाया गया। ऐसे समय में जब किसान आत्महत्याएं कर रहे थे, नवजवान भूखमरी के शिकार हो रहे थे, तो एक ‘‘कानून’’ ने देश के इन सबसे गरीब व उपेक्षित लोगों के दिलों में उम्मीद की एक किरन जगाई और वो किरण है ‘एन.आर.ई.जी.ए.’ जिसे प्यार से लोग ‘नरेगा’ कहते हंै।अगर देखा जाए तो ‘रोज़गार गारंटी क़ानून’ की मांग लगातार अकाल से जूझते राजस्थान (जहां लगभग 94 फीसद जनसंख्या गांवों में रहती है) के जनसंगठनों ने ‘‘ हर हाथ को काम और काम का पूरा दाम’’ नारे के ज़रिए उठाई और राष्ट्रीय स्तर तक पहुंचाया। खैर, अब इस क़ानून को देश के लगभग सभी ज़िलों में लागू कर दिया गया है।ये बात सच है कि ग्रामीण भारत की तस्वीर बदलने के लिए पारित यह क़ानून अब तक ग्रामीण भारत की तस्वीर तो न बदल सकी, पर पंचायत के सरपंचों ने अपनी तक़दीर व तस्वीर ज़रूर बदल ली है। झालावाड़ में हुए इस ‘सोशल ऑडिट' द्वारा भ्रष्टाचार के बहुत सारे तत्व उजागर हुए। पहले तो सूचना देने में आनाकानी की गई, धरना दिए जाने पर दबाव में आकर आधी-अधूरी सूचना उपलब्ध कराई गई और फिर उन्हें लगा कि इस सूचना से भी हमारे बहुत सारे घोटाले उजागर हो सकते हैं तो ‘अभियान’ के लोगों को बुरी तरह से पीटकर गांव से भगाने की कवायद अपनाई गई। घोटाले हज़ारों में नहीं बल्कि लाखों व करोड़ों में थे।राजस्थान सरकार द्वारा झालावाड़ जिलें में लगभग सौ करोड़ रूपये खर्च किये जाने के बावजूद लोगों से जाब कार्ड बनाने हेतु 70 से 500 रूपये रिश्वत लिए गए। जातिगत भेदभाव काफी देखने को मिले। दलितों को यहां भी नज़र अंदाज़ किया गया। कहीं भी हो रहे कामों के बोर्ड देखने को नहीं मिले, मरे हुए लोग भी काम में लगे हुए हैं। मास्टर रोल में फर्जी नाम हैं, यहां तक कि मटकियों को खरीदनें में भी घोटाला किया गया, बल्कि सच पूछें तो कहीं भी मटकीयां थी ही नहीं। कराए गए कामों की गुणवत्ता ऐसी थी कि उंगली लगाने मात्र से सिमेंट गिर जाए। यही नहीं, गांवों में कई कच्चे चेकडेम बने, पर अधिकांश चोरी हो गए हैं। सबसे दिलचस्प बात यह है कि एक ही जगह तीन-तीन तालाब खोदे गए और तालाब के नाम पर पेड़ तक काटना मुनासिब समझा गया।लेकिन ये बात भी सच है कि लोगों को काफी काम भी मिला है। कुछ हद तक बेरोज़गारी कम हुई है। गांव से पलायन रूकी है। मजदूरी की रेट बढ़ी है। ब्लाॅक आॅफिस से मिली जानकारी के अनुसार अप्रैल-दिसम्बर 2007 में मनोहर थाना में 39,532 लोगों को जाॅब कार्ड जारी किए गए, जिनमें 65 फीसद महिलाएं है, यानी महिलाओं की भी भगीदारी बढ़ी है। यही नहीं 26 फीसद परिवारों को 100 दिन काम भी मिले। और अब डाकघर व बैंकों में इनके खाते खुल जाने पर बिचैलिए द्वारा पैसा हड़प लेने का मामला भी खत्म हो सकेगा।ऐसे में यह कानून गरीबी हटाने, अपने गांव की विकास और क्षेत्र की अर्थव्यवस्था मजबूत करने के लिए एक जीवदान है। बस जरूरत इस बात की है कि हकों को हासिल करने के लिए जन-निगरानी को लामबन्दी के एक उपकरण के रूप में इस्तेमाल करें। जन नियंत्रण के ऐसे संघर्षो के जरिए भ्रष्टाचार से लड़ना एक प्रबंधकीय’ प्रक्रिया की बजाय, एक ‘राजनीतिक’ प्रक्रिया का अंग हो सकता है ताकि ‘नरेगा’ सच में ग्रामीण भारत में गरीबी सांमतवाद और शोषण से लड़ने के एक साधन के रूप में विकसित हो।
अफरोज़ आलम ‘साहिल’ मो॰ः 9891322178

Centre gave funds, but has no idea who got the homes

by K.P. Narayana Kumar and Rahul Chandran LiveMint

Under the Indira Awas Yojana, launched in 1985, the Union government funds 75% of the cost of construction of a rural home and the states contribute the rest

Under the Indira Awas Yojana, launched in 1985, the Union government funds 75% of the cost of construction of a rural home and the states contribute the rest

New Delhi: The Union ministry of rural development, which spent Rs12,411 crore in the past four years to build around 6.5 million homes for the country's rural poor under a Union government-funded scheme, has said it doesn't maintain a database of the beneficiaries.

Right to shelter: A village in Andhra Pradesh. Many among India's rural poor are yet to benefit from government housing schemes. Photograph: Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
Under the Indira Awas Yojana, or IAY, launched in 1985, the Union government funds 75% of the cost of construction of a rural home and the states contribute the rest. Thus far, it has helped build homes for 18 million so-called below the poverty line, or BPL, families across the country.
The answer to a query by Mint under the Right to Information, or RTI, Act showed that while the ministry had data on the amount spent and the number of homes built in each district, it couldn't provide the details of the beneficiaries in four years.

It, however, pointed out that the names and addresses of IAY beneficiaries are available with district rural development agencies or 'gram sabhas' (village councils) in its reply to the RTI application..
IAY funds are administered by these district development agencies and the Central government releases the money in two tranches.

The first tranche is given at the beginning of every financial year, provided the local agency had claimed funds for the previous year, and the second tranche is released after six months.
While the ministry receives monthly progress reports on the number of homes constructed, it neither maintains a list of beneficiaries nor photographic evidence of houses having been built, said a rural development ministry official who didn't wish to be named.
"Although field inspections are done, a database is necessary to ensure a foolproof system," the official said. "We are now trying to develop a central database, but are yet to identify the right software for the project."
Rural development ministry secretary Rita Sharma was unavailable for comment.

Kerala's finance minister Thomas Isaac said the Central government ought to maintain a database in order to plug leakages. "There are some states that require a stringent monitoring in order to ensure that the money is not misappropriated." He said that Kerala had a sound housing scheme, which used funds from IAY.

A Planning Commission official said maintaining a central database would be difficult because the number of beneficiaries of IAY is huge. "The states don't submit photographic evidence of the houses built and that certainly raises problems of transparency," the official said, requesting anonymity. "The solution, however, is to enhance the (current) system and not to adopt centralized monitoring. After all, there are only a few officers here to monitor the scheme."
RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said housing for the poor should be left entirely to the states to ensure proper monitoring of schemes.
"Developmental works such as housing should be totally left to the states. You cannot have the Central government designing these programmes as they are unable to monitor these programmes properly," he said. "The lag in these programmes is precisely because the money comes from the Centre and the states are expected to monitor (them)."

बुधवार, 20 अगस्त 2008


शनिवार, 16 अगस्त 2008


' परिवर्तन संसार का नियम है। इसी नियम के तहत आज सब कुछ बदल रहा है। पहले जहाँ औरतें अपने अन्डर-गारमेंट्स खुले धुप में सुखाने में भी शर्माती थी, वहीँ आज ये बाज़ार में खुलेआम नज़र आते हैं....... मुस्लिम समाज भी अब परदे से बाहर निकल रही है....... तुम्हारे यहाँ तो मौल्वियो का दबदबा है.......... बात बात पर फतवे जारी कर दिए जाते हैं............. हर काम पर पर रोक लगा दी जाती है.......... यहाँ मत जाओ , वहां मत जाओ ...... यह मत करो, वो मत करो........जहाँ एक तरफ़ मुसलमान आतंकवाद के विरुद्ध एकजुट हो कर उसके समाप्ति की बातें कर रहे हैं, वहीँ बाल ठाकरे साहब की ओर से हिंदू आतंकवाद के बढावा देने की भी बातें हो रही हैं, ....... आदि-अनादी। '

हमलोग इन्ही बातों को लेकर पिछले दिनों चम्पारण की पवित्र धरती 'बेतिया' (जहाँ से गाँधी जी ने सत्याग्रह आन्दोलन की शुरुआत की थी, और आज राजनितिक गतिविधियों एवं अपने कारनामों के कारण पुरे भारत में प्रसिद्द है।) अपने एक मित्र के घर बहस कर रहे थे । दरअसल, हम सब को एक पार्टी में जाना था, इसी कारण एक जगह एकत्रित हुए थे। अभी हमारी बहस जारी थी ही थी कि कानो में पटाखों कि गूंज साहब सुनाई दी, ऐसा लगा ठाकरे कि की फिदाईन दस्ते ने हमारे घरों पर हमले बोल दिए हैं। घबराहट में हम छत की तरफ भागे. अब बैंड बाजों की धुन हमारी कानो को आनंदित कर रही थी. मेरे एक मित्र ने कहा "लगता है, बारात है...." पर हम सब इस सोच में डुबे थे कि बिन लगन यह शहनाई कैसी....? हिन्दू धर्म के लिए तो अभी लगन तो है ही नहीं. हो सकता है किसी मुस्लिम कि शादी होगी. उनके यहाँ तो कोई नेम-टेम होता ही नहीं. बाप भी मर जाये तो भी शादी हो जाती है. लेकिन जैसे ही बारात और नजदीक आई, हमने रथ को देखा जो आमतौर पर हिन्दू धर्म कि शादी में ही देखा जाता है. मुस्लमान दुल्हे तो घोडे या फिर गाडी में बैठना मुनासिब समझते हैं. इस तरह हम सब कन्फर्म हो गए कि कोई हिन्दू शादी ही है.मेरे दोस्त ने चुटकी लेते हुए कहा "देखो हमारे यहाँ भी सब कुछ बदल रहा है, अब तो तुम लोग भी सुधर जाओ." पर यह क्या सिर्फ सौगोलिया ही नज़र आ रहे है. दूल्हा तो कही है ही नहीं. सचमुच दूल्हा था ही नहीं. सिर्फ चार छोटे-छोटे बच्चे दूल्हा बने दिखे. कहीं यह बाल विवाह तो नहीं. पर बाद में मालूम चला कि इन बच्चो की कल मुसलमानी होने वाली है और अज उनका अकीका है,और उसी अकीका की पार्टी में हमें जाना है. फिर वहां जाकर मेरे मित्रो ने जो कुछ देखा,उनकी आँखें खुली की खुली रह गयी. और उनके मुंह से बरबस ही निकला "मुस्लिम समाज में इतना परिवर्तन...?" मैंने मुस्कुराते हुए कहा "जी दोस्त! सब कुछ बदल चूका है,और ये परिवर्तन हमें स्वीकार करना पडेगा."


is required to tackle rampant corruptionsays Dr. Leo Rebello in this well-argued article.

Democracy means “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” and you cannot be for the people and lie to them। “No lying ever” and transparency at every stage has to be the rule of Governance। Transparency is the key word in corruption-proofing।

From time to time I have given several ideas on how to remove corruption which is the root cause of our downfall। Today, I give some more fundamental guidelines that should be able to remove corruption by 90% if these suggestions are implemented properly.

1.. If we are to have a corruption-free Governance, transparency must be foisted from the lowest to the topmost functionary. And any person who cannot stand that kind of heat should “stay out of the kitchen,” as the saying goes. So, at the time of selection of any Govt. servant from Police Constable to Supreme Court Judge, in addition to medical examination, there should be IQ, EQ, MQ, SQ tests.
2.. They should declare their and their families' assets when they join the Govt. service (entry level) and then every 3 or 5 years. And these assets and liabilities should be investigated. If there are assets disproportionate to the known sources of income, then these should be attached immediately and then ipso facto suspension from service should follow and time-bound inquiry be conducted in justice and fairness. It is our experience that inspite of indictment by the court or pending inquiry the govt. servants get promotions and consequently they get more ruthless. I recently got removed one Consumer Court Judge in Mumbai, who was promoted inspite of several well-documentd complaints against him, by writing to various authorities and now I am after two police officers who got promotions inspite of indicment by the Human Rights Court in a serious offense of victimising a cancer woman.
3.. There should be no stamps or fees for every little thing in the Justice delivery system. Because only when administration fails that the litigants have to go knocking at the doors of the courts. Why there should be fee for redressal of wrongs? When redressal mechanism is seen as revenue generation, then the whole justice delivery system turns into a big business and becomes another rotten machine of inefficiency, sloth and corruption. The registrars, assistant registrars, judicial clerks sit with open drawers full of notes and Anti Corruption Bureau does not move in the matter, because at the top of ACBs are corrupt persons installed to guard the fortress. Same is the case with the RTI by and large and if one were to study the functioning of the Lok Ayuktas (barring a couple of exceptions), less said the better of this premier institution. The only Govt. organisation that is above board so far is : Comptroller and Auditor General
4.. All political representatives, top bureaucrats, police and revenue personnel and judges should be wired while performing official duties. If they are caught that should be the end of their credibility and careers. Jim Stark a Canadian explains how this works in his forthcoming book: While on duty all govt functionaries would have to “wear” a voice-activated tape recorder/video camera. All these “while-on-duty” recordings (probably thousands of hours of “tape” every day) would then be copied and permanently archived at two separate physical locations. They would be made digitally available to the public from an independent security service charged with transcribing and posting the spoken/written words on the Internet, as a transcript or in audio form. Transcripts of all recordings should be translated into all major languages on an on-demand basis.
5.. The governmental traditions seem to dictate that everything is to be kept secret unless there is a very good reason to make it public. That is where all the mischief begins. For example, defense budget is not even presented to the august house of Parliament, that is where all the rampant corruption in the defense services begin and if Bofors gun type scandals come out in the open, by mistake, nothing happens as everyone from the top to the bottom are involved. On the contrary various Govt. functionaries have a free trip abroad in the name of investigation. Hence, not for nothing CBI is known as Central Bureau of Idiots. CBI, to be effective, should be directly reporting to the President of India, who will have Vice President, Speaker and the CAG to assist him/her, if required.
6.. Since there is no transparency or accountability, the corrupt persons have become very bold. Take for example, the present CJI's unacceptable rantings. He says he is above RTI, he need not divulge his income, he cannot be prosecuted for corruption, or under the contempt of courts act, he wants all the powers of appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges vested in him (or the so-called SC Collegium) and he can afford to talk gormlessly like this because he is "protected". Now this protection was given to judges so that they are not victimised while performing their duties with conscience. But this "power" has become a shield against rampant corruption in the judiciary. From there emerges arbitrariness, 'envelopmental judgments' and the law is thrown to the winds. The same SCI, however, makes it mandatory even to the contesting candidates to declare their and their families' assets which is not only discriminatory, but it adversely affects the voting pattern. Instead of defeating candidates like Mayawati, Lilawati or Kalawati, they are elected, because persons like Dr. Leo Rebello, no matter how talented, capable, highly qualified, widely travelled, experienced or honest they may be cannot get elected, since they have no "black money or muscle power" decide the voters. And then the false exit surveys or bogus astrologers or betting syndicates and the corrupt fourth estate, by misleading the voters, facilitate the corrupt to get elected. So, instead of a level playing ground, it creates corruption prone setting like in the USA -- where corrupt puppets like George Bush are declared "elected" inspite of half a million less votes, by manipulating Electronic Voting Machines without Vote Audit safety and Manmohan Singh enters the Rajya Sabha eventhough he does not reside there and then takes the nation for a ride. Corruption at its worst.
7.. There must be a new tradition, such that everything is public unless there is a compelling reason as to why it should be kept private, and even in such instances, the reason for privacy must be made public, and there must be a free appeal procedure whereby a decision to conceal information (read corrupt practices) can be overturned. People must insist on transparent functioning of every govt. department. Anything said or done in the public interest must be public and public servant must behave as such. Pramod Mahajan, for example, gave BSES to REL on a platter. How much he or his Govt. made in the process, who killed him etc. would be out in the open in that case. When even under the RTI the corrupt know how to obfuscate public queries or how even Legislative questions are masked, then they work against the national motto -- Satyamev Jayate, truth should prevail.
8.. It is our experience that most public servants give shoddy treatment to the public and even to the elected representatives. Consequently, sections like 186 IPC (obstructing public servant on duty) should go, because these laws were enacted by the insecure Britishers, in 1860, who were afraid of the natives. This particular section has been misused hugely by corrupt government servants to keep activists under control. Even police put false cases against the complainant or activist for creating nuisance at the police station, when they insist on recording the FIR and register counter cases against the complainant by taking money from the accused or known criminals.
9.. Sections 166 to 169, 217 and 218 of the IPC which deal with public servants violating various laws require prior permission for their prosecution, which are rarely given because there is an unwritten code in Govt. deptts, "protect each other" and consequently if you have a corrupt and SC IAS officer who has made a false case u/s 186 of the IPC against a known activist, and there is a corrupt magistrate and APP both of whom belong to SC, then you can well imagine the outcome. Now, in law, these people can be hauled up u/s 219 of the IPC -- public servant in judicial proceeding corruptly making report, etc. contrary to law which carries 7-year jail term or fine or both, but you have to first apply to the CJI and he has to give permission. Under the RTI someone should find out how many thousands of false cases u/s 186 IPC are recorded by the corrupt public servants and as against that how many corrupt public servants have been prosecuted u/s 166 to 169, 217 and 218 and how many corrupt Magistrates have been allowed to be prosecuted u/s 219 by the Chief Justices.
10. The politicians, bureaucrats and above all judges must maintain the highest levels of integrity, and any serious breach of the people’s trust should result in the loss of a career, pension, and, if the offence warrants it, the loss of one’s personal freedom (meaning you go to jail) as per the dictum. No matter how high or mighty you may be the law is ever above you.
11. You simply can’t mislead the folks you are paid to serve says the RTI. Before that in 1986 the Consumer Protection Act talked of 6 or 7 rights of the consumers, three of them being Right to Know and Right to Information and Right to (swift) Redressal. Where is the swift redressal in Consumer Courts or even under the RTI?
12. Staff rotation, whistle-blowing legislation, very strict limitations on employment after retirement could be some more corruption deterrence techniques that could be employed effectively. It is our experience that the top bureaucrats, judges as they near retirement they start compromising, keeping an eye on post retirement postings. And mainly pliable persons get selected as Lok Ayuktas, Information Commissioners, Chairmen of various panels, Governors, or as nominated MPs. If watchdogs become corrupt who will guard the fence? So, once you retire you retire completely and then as per Chaturvarna go into Vanaprastha, that is serve the society absolutely FREE of charge before you go into Vanvas for spiritual evolution. But by wildly apeing the West we have lost our ethos.
13. Citizen policing against corruption: Citizens should be all the time alert against corruption. "Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid", thus spoke Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, at the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
14. Examples how this can be done: You find that a traffic constable inspite of finding excess alcohol beyond the permissible limit in the driver, pockets a bribe and allows the motorist to drive away. If you have seen this, then note his number, location, take his photograph using mobile phone camera and notify the authorities in writing and follow up till the corrupt is brought to book. Even citizen arrest is possible. But the chances are unless you are atleast two persons, knowledgeable and strong, the said traffic constable may put a case of assaulting a public servant on duty as soon as you reach the police station and the duty officer will record his complaint and put you behind bars. Or even if your complaint is recorded, it will be a counter complaint and then you keep going to the courts for the next 10 to 12 years.
15। Corruption at the highest level, like the signing of Indo-US nuclear deal clandestinely, or US attacking Iraq for oil under the guise of Iraq having WMDs, inspite of a clean report by UN arms inspector or inspite of world opinion, or now while the World is enjoying Olympics, American armada heading towards Iran for imminent attack, amounts to humanity committing omnicide. Therefore, it behoves everyone with a brain, a heart or a soul to scream: “Stop, you fools—you’ll kill us all!”. In other words, what is needed today is some solid traction on the ground in the form of a bona fide strategy that gets us onto a path that would save us from imminent damnation. Information is the first handle, but if information is hidden by the Official Secrets Act and that kind of con on democracy, then it is time we said we want FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION - A COMPLETELY OPEN SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE, nothing less, for "We, the People" decide and you are only our public servants not rulers. Period.

Dr. Leo Rebello is Bombay-based medico-social worker, writer and activist.His website : http://www.healthwisdom.org/