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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Shri Rahuljee Gandhi,

You have announced that the Congress party is serious about fighting against corruption in India. The Congress party has brought several legislations and is in favor of bringing more legislation to fight corruption. I humbly bring to your notice that bringing good legislations alone does not help in fighting against corruption. Implementation of legislation is the key to fight corruption.

The Congress party takes credit for enacting the “Right to Information Act” (RTI). However what about its implementation? In Maharashtra, RTI is in a critical condition. Since last many years, more than half the posts of information commissioners are vacant because the Chief Minister has no time. Hence pendency of second appeals has piled up to 26000. People do not want to file RTI applications because they don’t get the information.

Official reports that 95 % RTI applicants get the desired information are cooked up because the scenario at ground level is exactly the opposite i.e. 95 % applicants do not get the information. There is no transparency in appointment of information commissioners. They are chosen arbitrarily.  The decisions of some information commissioners are so bad that the citizens wonder the information commissioners are appointed to implement the RTI properly or to kill it? The scenario all over India is no different.

Take another example of Maharashtra Prevention of Delay in Discharge of official Duties Act 2005. The act came into force in 2006.  However the rules were issued in this December 2013 i.e. seven years later! More to say, clause 8 in these rules says e-mails shall be acknowledged and the e-mails shall be forwarded to the concerned office or Department or Desk if they do not pertain to the addressee. The applicant is to be intimated accordingly by e-mail. However my e-mails to the chief minister and chief secretary of Maharashtra on their official e-mail IDs bounced! Now you imagine what will be the scenario while implementing this legislation.

State Governments all over India keep issuing numerous circulars. They are the same everywhere. Never implemented. It becomes a case of “you tell me the person and I shall tell you the circular”, thus putting into action only those circulars, which benefit the officers or their cronies. Others are thrown in the waste paper basket and none feels bad or sad about it. The circulars are cleverly drafted. If some issue is to be evaded, then the choice of words is so 'creative' as to abash even a litterateur. Perhaps these circulars would pass off as pieces of excellent literary talent.

Here’s how. Consider another the case of Maharashtra. Many circulars were issued from Mantralaya of Maharashtra since 1996 to express commitment to eradicate corruption and illegalities. So far, 11 circulars have been issued for action against those involved in corruption and illegalities. These circulars are well drafted comparable with the masterpieces in literary art! But there has been no action as a result of a single circular. If you query officers about any problem, they immediately draw attention to these thirteen circulars and boast about their commitment to eradicate corruption and illegalities.

Shakuntala Bhagat the first beneficiary in Maharashtra, who received health card for Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana from Smt. Sonia Gandhi, appeared to be a fake. I found major discrepancies in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Urban Poor health scheme and Contributory Health scheme. The Health Minister ordered an inquiry in this case after I reported the matter. However, when the inquiry team went to PMC, it was sent back because the orders for the inquiry came from the Health Minister and not from the Urban Development Department. The Urban development department is with Chief Minister and till today there is no order from the CM in this regard.

In nutshell, while bringing good legislation to fight against corruption succeeds only in fooling the public for some time, proper implementation alone will reveal your real intentions.



Friday, November 22, 2013

An appeal to Maharashtra SIC to Withdraw Order

To,
Ratnakar Giakwad,
State Chief information Commissioner
State Information commission
Mumbai
Dear Sir,
You have issued an order to all public authorities on 26/9/2013 ( mu ma aa/vaastu/imarat/nakashe/2013 . Exact English translation of that order is like this
                              Order
While dealing with the appeals  and complaints received under RTI act , It has been observed that, some public authorities provide information related to   building plans and interior of the buildings while dealing with the application received under RTI regarding public, semi-public offices , hotels , gymnasiums, hospitals, malls, IT buildings , structures of commercial buildings .
As per section 19 (8) ( a ) and section 25 (5) , it is being ordered that , all public authorities , If asked plans / documents of such structures/ buildings, considering security reason such information should not be provided, similarly if asked plans related to private buildings/structures , unless public interest is involved  in it, such plans ( interiors ) etc. should not be provided. These orders are being given to all municipal corporations / municipalities.
Principal secretory, urban development department (1) (2) to inform above orders to all municipal corporations, municipalities as well as special planning authorities

Now I want to bring some points to your notice

1)  As far as RTI act is concerned giving information must be rule and denying must be the exception.

2)  It is clear from your order that you have asked not give any information related to any public semi public building/structure.

3)  Actually information related to all buildings including public – semi public buildings is covered under section 4 (1) (b) (xiii)(     particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by it; ) and 4 (1) (b) (xi) (the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;)

4)  There was no request or demand from any security agency then I don’t understand what prompted you to issue such orders,

5)  As per Section 19 (8) (a) information commissioner surely has authority to require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, but that authority has to be used while hearing second appeal under section 19 .You can not use such authority to order blanket ban on any information

6)  As per section 25 (5) information commissions can recommend certain things to public authority ( not authorities)  he can not order blanket ban on providing information ( If it appears to the Information Commission that the practice of a public authority in relation to the exercise of its functions under this Act does not conform with the provisions or spirit of this Act, it may give to the authority a recommendation specifying the steps which ought in its opinion to be taken for promoting such conformity.)

7)  It is commendable that you have expressed concern about security of public places. However it is highly impossible that terrorist will demand plans of buildings under RTI act then decide their course of action. Why they will take such a long rout when the public places are open to all, all the time.

8)  At one place you have in to bracket used word interior, that means information related to interior of the building also should not be provide. here I want to bring to your notice that even home department also doesn’t think like that. They even allow shooting of films in interior and exterior part of the jails that attract most dangerous security threats. Recently home department has hiked fee for such shootings in and around jails.


I now humbly request you to, taking into consideration all above points please withdraw your orders immediately.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Co operative societies Not out Of ambit of RTI

The way and timing of news appeared about supreme courts (SC) judgement ( CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9017 OF 2013)  about co operative a society (CS) is amazing. In many news papers they have published date of judgement 15 th October. Actually it was given on 7th October. At least people concerned with RTI knew about it but it was not discussed thoroughly. On 9th of October Anna Hazare and and Medha Patkar alleged about rupees 10,000 crore scam in the sale of the co-operative sugar factories purchased by the political leaders across parties in Maharashtra. After that lot of news items published in media. That stunned government as well as cooperative mafias .Then suddenly news appeared in media “Cooperatives out of bounds to RTI, rules Supreme Court”.

 If read carefully it is clear that SC has only decided about who should provide the information, and it has made clear that registrar of cooperatives (RoC) is duty bound to provide the information irrespective of whether CS is substantially financed or not. Before one draw any conclusion let us study some of the paragraphs of the said judgement.

In para 12 SC says We are in these appeals concerned only with the cooperative societies registered or deemed to be registered under the Co-operative Societies Act, which are not owned, controlled or substantially financed by the State or Central Government or formed, established or constituted by law made by Parliament or State Legislature
 It is well evident from the above para that this judgement is not applicable to only societies above mentioned. Then how one can say that due to SC judgement all societies have come out of RTI ambit.

In para 52 SC says Registrar of Cooperative Societies functioning under the Cooperative Societies Act is a public authority within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the Act. As a public authority, Registrar of Co-operative Societies has been conferred with lot of statutory powers under the respective Act under which he is functioning. He is also duty bound to comply with the obligations under the RTI Act and furnish information to a citizen under the RTI Act. Information which he is expected to provide is the information enumerated in Section 2(f) of the RTI Act subject to the limitations provided under Section 8 of the Act. Registrar can also, to the extent law permits, gather information from a Society, on which he has supervisory or administrative control under the Cooperative Societies Act. Consequently, apart from the information as is available to him, under Section 2(f), he can also gather those information from the Society, to the extent permitted by law. Registrar is also not obliged to disclose those information if those information fall under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. No provision has been brought to our knowledge indicating that, under the Cooperative Societies Act, a Registrar can call for the details of the bank accounts maintained by the citizens or members in a cooperative bank. Only those information which a Registrar of Cooperative Societies can have access under the Cooperative Societies Act from a Society could be said to be the information which is “held” or “under the control of public authority”. Even those information, Registrar, as already indicated, is not legally obliged to provide if those information falls under the exempted category mentioned in Section 8(j) of the Act. Apart from the Registrar of Co-operative Societies, there may be other public authorities who can access information from a Cooperative Bank of a private account maintained by a member of Society under law, in the event of which, in a given situation, the society will have to part with that information. But the demand should have statutory backing.

It is clear from above para that whatever information RoC has and can gather from cooperative societies, he /she is duty bound to furnish it to applicant under RTI act , irrespective of that society is substantially financed or not. The only binding on RoC is to take into consideration section 8 of the RTI act . However that burden was already there.

In para 53 SC says , Consequently, an information which has been sought for relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, even if he has got that information, is not bound to furnish the same to an applicant, unless he is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, that too, for reasons to be recorded in writing.

From reading of above para it is well clear that SC has sais that even if information is personal one if there is larger public interest RoC may provide that to applicant.

In para 40 SC says The burden to show that a body is owned, controlled or substantially financed or that a non-government organization is substantially financed directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the appropriate Government is on the applicant who seeks information or the appropriate Government and can be examined by the State Public Information Officer, State Chief Information Officer, State Chief Information Commission, Central Public Information Officer etc., when the question comes up for consideration. A body or NGO is also free to establish that it is not owned, controlled or substantially financed directly or indirectly by the appropriate Government.

And in para 41 SC says Powers have been conferred on the Central Information Commissioner or the State Information Commissioner under Section 18 of the Act to inquire into any complaint received from any person and the reason for the refusal to access to any information requested from a body owned, controlled or substantially financed, or a non-government organization substantially financed directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the appropriate Government.

From reading para 40 and 41 together one can easily draw the conclusion that if Cooperative society or NGO body owned, controlled or substantially financed then PIO, Information commission have powers to decide over that. In other words if they come to conclusion that concerned CS or NGO is owned, controlled or substantially financed directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the appropriate Government they can declare such organization a public authority. Otherwise registrar of cooperatives is duty bound to furnish the information.


In other words Supreme Court in its recent judgment has only decided about who should provide the information under RTI act , is it Registrar of co operative societies or direct societies and also answered that  RoC is duty bound to supply the information in case CS is not substantially financed or ask society to appoint PIO if satisfied .

Saturday, August 17, 2013

University of Pune penalizes students for no fault of theirs.

It seems that University of Pune (UoP) is fond of harassing its students. Times and again it comes with new ideas to do so. Recently there was a big controversy over its circular on obligating students to not to lodge any complaint or make any representation regarding any matter connected with the institution to press or other outside institution/agency etc. without forwarding the same through the Head of the concerned institution. After lot of criticism UoP had to withdraw that.

Now it has come with another Idea of harassing students for no fault of theirs, and that will add lakhs of rupees in UoP’s treasury also. As per circular, last Date for online application for regular convocation was 31stJuly 2013; however Students can fill the online Application for Regular Convocation from 1st August 2013 to 31st August 2013 with late fee charges. The late fee charges for Non-professional course and for professional course are Rs.180 and Rs.245 respectively. These charges are in addition to regulars charges.

Interestingly there are some results that UoP declared after last date of applying for convocation with regular fee.And now it expects students to pay the late fee charges for no fault of theirs. There is lot of anger amongst students over UoP’s this stand. Why should students be penalized for no fault of theirs? Students are not responsible for late results. How come university declared some results including engineering faculty results exactly a day after the last day of applying for convocation with regular fees? Is it a mere coincidence or a deliberate move to collect additional money from students?.


 Thousands of students apply for convocation every year. This year by way of late fee only UoP may collect lakhs and lakhs of rupees. Normally final year students don’t make any complaints because they want their degrees and are in no mood to have any trouble for amount like two or three hundred rupees. But that does not mean UoP should take advantage of students helplessness.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Indian Railway play with words to harass RTI applicants

Indian railways have charged a fee of whopping RS. 1000 per copy of reservation chart Under RTI. An RTI applicant Ravindra Vabale had asked copies of reservation charts . They have also attached copy of concerned circular. But if we go and study earlier circulars it reveals how Babus play with the words to avoid or dodge RTI queries.  The circular issued in 1994 is not available, but 2007 circular clearly shows that the fee of RS. 750 was for verification purpose and not for the copy of reservation chart, and that too was for the government departments.



2010 circular also mentions the uniform fee of Rs. 750/- per PNR for verifying journey details but suddenly in 2011 words “verification of PNR” were  replaced by the words “copy of reservation chart” . and words “government departments” were replaced by words “any person” . This is clear indicates that such was done to avoid or harass RTI requisitions. Reproducing here the extract of all the three concerned circulars.

No.2006FlG-I/20/P/LTC New Delhi, Dated: l0/01/2007
Instructions were issued vide this office letter No.93/TG- I/20/P dated 04/05/1994 on the subject quoted above wherein it was advised that a uniform fee of Rs.750/- per verification should be charged by zonal railway from various Government departments who approach for verification of LTC Travel detail. A clarification has been sought by Northern Railway on this account regarding the fee to be charged from the following agencies in case they approach for verification of LTC Travel
details: -
l) Police/CBI in different types of investigation/criminal cases. 2) Courts 3) Railway Vigilance in various cases. 4) Railway refund offices for deciding refund cases. 5) Various reports of the Railways to dispose off complaint cases. The matter has been reviewed and it has been decided that: -
i. Verification fee may not be charged from Police/CB1/Courts, in connection with investigation/hearing of Civil/Criminal or any other cases. However, verification fee will be charged in case of verification of LTC claims of the staff of these organisations.
ii. No verification fee may be charged in Vigilance, Refund and Complaint cases being investigated by Railways.iii Verification fee may be charged from all other agencies except those mentioned in (i) & (ii) above.
CCMs/CCM (PMs) will, have discretionary powers to waive off the fee in specific cases like requests from different Commissions, Parliament or Legislative Secretariat etc. Necessary instructions may be issued to all concerned and receipt of this letter be acknowledged.

N0. 2006/TG-I/20/P/LTC New Delhi, dated 31.08.2010
Please refer to this oice letter of even number dated 04.05.1994 and l0.0l .2007 (Commercial Circular No. 06 of 2007) intevalia advising therein regarding charging of a uniform fee of Rs 750/- per PNR for LTC verication, and non-charging of this fee from certain agencies as prescribed therein. Now a query has been raised whether these charges are applicable for verifying journey details in other cases also.
2. The matter has been considered at Board’s level and it is claried that Zonal Railways should realise a uniform fee of Rs.750/- per PNR for verifying journey details irrespective of the fact whether it is for LTC verication or otherwise.

No.2006/TG-I/20/P/LTC Pt. New Delhi, dated I3 .12.2011,
The issue has been examined in consultation with Finance Directorate of Board’s ofce and it has been decided that the following fee should be realized for furnishing a copy of reservation chart to any person:~
(i) For furnishing a copy of reservation chart to any person, a fee of Rs. 1,000/- per page should be charged. In this case, party will be provided a printout of the reservation chart taken out from the system Without indicating the status of passenger viz. turning up/non-turning up.

(ii) In case of furnishing of copy of working chart (having indication by TTEs/TCs relating to turning up or non-turning up and other relevant details), a fee of Rs. 750/- per PNR should be charged for all the PNRs indicated on that page.-

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Narayanasamy’s definition of Substantial funding – One more threat for RTI ahead

If accepted,union minister of state for personnel public grievances and pensions V. Narayanasamy’s definition " Substantial funding means above 51 per cent’ "private sharks will grab the entire country in no time. All the Build Operate Transfer (BOT), Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects, Non Government Organisations (NGO) getting crores of rupees as a fund or aid in kind Co Operative societies, will automatically come out of the preview of RTI act.

There are 33.50 lakh NGO’s and around 6.5 lakh cooperative societies working since last decades for welfare of society in India. That means there are around 40 lakh organisation working for 120 crore population, i.e. there is one such organisation per 300 people. If we assume there are only 10 members in such organisations i.e. there is one person per 30 people working for welfare of society since last many decades. Major Job of these organisations is to take government policies, schemes to common person. However what we see the ground reality is, status of the common person is same as was several decades back. Each year government spends crores and crores rupees for welfare of common person , then where did all this money go?. Interesting part of this is , most of all these are directly or indirectly owned or controlled by political entities.  

There are projects like BOT, PPP where government’s major stake is involved in form of direct or indirect funding. In addition as the government has already allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). We have to see the implications of definition of substantial funding keeping in the mind above mentioned factors .


I wonder how anybody can say that “I have taken your rupee but as my stakes are high, I don’t owe any responsibility towards your rupee because it is not substantial funding”.?. Definition of substantial funding can not be and should not be in terms percentage.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

More than three million RTI applicants got Information , Claims SIC Maharashtra

More than 96% of RTI applicants in Maharashtra got information in last seven years .This claim is made by state information commission (SIC) of Maharashtra in its seventh annual report placed before state legislative assembly. If this claim is to be believed then there is already "RAMRAJYA" (Goode Governance) in Maharashtra. The claim is based on information provided by various public authorities in the state. As per report in last seven years i.e. since inception of RTI act Public Authorities (PA) received total 31, 72,114  RTI applications,  out of which only 1,27,357  i.e. only 4% of the applicants filed second appeals , that means 96% i.e. 30, 71, 532 applicants got the desired information.

If this statistics is to believed there is no need of proactive disclosure or any other measures for implementation of RTI act in Maharashtra. However, Ground reality is far more different from this. Surprisingly in this report, it has stated that 80 % of the Public Information Officers (PIO) and First appellate authorities are unaware of procedure to be followed to address RTI queries as per the act. The act has not been propagated and reached to its beneficiaries in true sense. Many public authorities have not complied with section 4 of the act. Status of the documentation or record is not satisfactory in most of the public authorities. It is hard to believe that despite of all these odds 96% of the applicants got the desired information. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this situation is that, the data supplied by public authorities on whom this report is not trust worthy, and SIC cannot verify this data by any means.

Since last three four years SIC reports are just copy paste work. This year is also no exception. There were lot of expectations as state chief information commissioner was a former state chief secretary, has thorough knowledge of administration. When last two annual reports were submitted, he was in chair as a chief secretary. He was supposed to find the ways to tackle hurdles in compliance of suggestions of SIC and implementation of RTI act. However, nothing happened. He has same expectations from government that earlier commissions had.

Vacant posts of commissioners , vacant posts of employees , not supply of franking machines, non compliance of section 4 of the RTI act, non compliance of sic decisions, poor documentation and record keeping, Necessity of training to PIO's, FAA' and citizens all such demands are there since last seven years  but Government did not pay any heed. It was possible for Ratnakar Giakwad to do something for RTI act as a chief secretary, but he did not do anything. Now he expects that governments view must be positive towards supply of necessary facilities to SIC.

The only new suggestions from SIC this year are, syllabus related to  The RTI act , Maharashtra Public Records Act  and  Delay in Discharge of official duties  should be included in Departmental Qualification Examination of employees and scanned documents to RTI applicant should be provided to RTI applicant , it will save time and energy of public authority.


It is almost more than a year that Ratnakar Giakwad assumed charge of chief Information commissioner. There were lot of expectations from him. Getting approved "appeal procedure rules" from government was one of the major task before him, but he could not do so. The only positive thing he did was,  fast disposal of second appeals and bringing pendency his bench to almost zero.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cabinet today cleared the RTI Amendments

In a significant development, the Cabinet today cleared the RTI Amendment Act and proposed that political parties should be kept out of its ambit. But following was the press release by press information bureau on 8 july 2009., when Prithviraj Chavan was Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions. It seems that assurance given by then state minister was  just a eyewash.

Amendment to RTI Act
Lok Sasbha

The Government proposes to strengthen right to information by suitably amending the laws to provide for disclosure by government in all non-strategic areas. In this regard, it is proposed to review the number of organizations in the second schedule to the Right to Information Act, 2005 and make rules for more disclosure of information by public authorities.

Government has received representations expressing doubts about the proposed amendments. Non-Governmental Organisations and Social activists will be consulted on the proposed amendments. However No time frame can be fixed for completion of the process.


This information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Shri Prithviraj Chavan in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today (i.e. 8th july 2009 )

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Oxford of the east goes Taliban way

The way university of Pune (UoP) has imposed several conditions, it seem that UoP has decided to go Taliban way. Henceforth students of this university, whether in campus or anywhere else would not be allowed to enjoy his constitutional rights? In a recent circular, it has imposed as many as 28 conditions on students, whatever of the age he or she may be. The way circular has been drafted, it appears that UoP will soon be introducing its own police force and judicial system.

One of the obligations on the students is, student shall not lodge any complaint or make any representation regarding any matter connected with the institution to press or other outside institution/agency etc. without forwarding the same through the Head of the concerned institution. That means if anything wrong happens to the students he/ she is not allowed to enjoy any constitutional rights available to him /her. Even if student has any grievance about institute or person of institute he / she cannot tell it to parents, for that he/ she has to rout the complaint through Head of the department, because representation to outside institution or agency is not allowed. That means students of the UoP cannot enjoy even rights available to children of this country

Most funny part of this circular is, UoP is going to consider, Possessing or using any firearms, lethal weapons, explosive, or dangerous or corrosive substance on the premises of the Institution. As well as Possessing or consuming any poisonous or stupefying drugs or intoxicant or tobacco or Ghutaka smoking or alcoholic beverage in any form in the Institution a misconduct and /or indiscipline. In addition, if found guilty UoP will penalize student with fine of Rupees five thousand.I guess this will be the welcome news for Underworld. All the institutes affiliated to UoP will become storage place for firearms, lethal weapons, explosives etc.,  with no fear of police , Indian penal Code , investigating agencies or courts. Just pay the fine of 5000 rupees and enjoy.

More over UoP has prohibited Use of mobiles at classrooms/ laboratory/ library and  Use of Hot plates, Electric Iron, Tea/Coffee making machines, Water heating coils , radio, non-academic use of computers & Laptops. As this was not enough all the rules in this circular are applicable to external students also. It has not been made clear in the circular what will be the penalty if external student found watching movie with spouse. Students are also awaiting clarification on whether these rules are applicable to them only or staffs are also covered?
  

 Any way reproducing the said circular for your comments, 

CIRCULAR NO. 177 OF 2013
lt is hereby notified for information of all concerned that the amended Ordinance 157 as regards maintenance of discipline and good conduct by students has come into force with effect from 01.07.2013.

Ordinance 157: Maintenance of Discipline and Good Conduct by Students:

[Under Section 5 Sub Section (6) and (28) of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994].

1. Every student, during term of the course, shall be under disciplinary jurisdiction of the Competent Authority, which shall take appropriate action, in case of indiscipline / misconduct on part of the student. The Ordinance has come into force w.e.f. 01.07.2013.

2. Definitions: In this Ordinance unless the context otherwise requires,
(i) ‘Student’ means and includes a person who is enrolled as such by the University, Afliliated College, or Recognised Institutions for receiving instructions and or qualifying for any degree or diploma or certificates of the University.
Note: This includes External Students also.

(ii) ‘Institution’ means and includes University/Affiliated College/Recognized Institutions, as the case may inclusive of Campus, Hostels, Play-grounds, Laboratory, Libraries, Gymnasium thereof.

(iii)Competent Authority’ for the purposes of the ordinance means and includes Head of the Teaching Department of the University, Principal of the Affiliated College; Head of the Recognized Institution, Chief Rectors of the University Hostels for the concerned students as such other persons, vested with the authority by Vice-Chancellor for external students. Provided in respect of mis-conduct regarding University examination, Executive Council shall only be the Competent Authority.

3. Obligations of the Students: Every student, shall all times,

(i) Conduct him self properly
(ii) Maintain proper behaviour.
(iii) Observe strict discipline both within the campus of the institution, Hostel and also outside, in Buses, Railways Trains or at public places, or at Picnic on Educational Trips arranged by the institution or at Playgrounds.
(iv) Ensure that no act of this consciously or unconsciously bring the institution or any establishment or authority connected with it into disrepute.
(v)Shall not lodge any complaint or make any representation regarding any matter connected with the institution to press or other outside institution/agency etc. without foiwarding the same through the Head of the concerned institution.

4. Any act of a student which is contrary to the provisions of clause (3) shall constitute misconduct and/or indiscipline, which terms shall mean and include, among others, any one or more of the acts jointly or severally, mentioned hereinafter, namely :

(i) Any act that directly or indirectly causes or attempts to cause disturbance in the lawful functioning of the Institution.
(ii)Habitual un-punctuality in attending lectures, practicals, tutorials and other courses as may be prescribed.
(iii)Repeated absence from lectures, tutorials, practical's and other courses as prescribed.
(iv) Canvassing for or accepting contribution or otherwise association himself with raising of any fund or any collections in cash or in kind in pursuance of any object whatsoever without the previous sanction of the Competent Authority.
(v) Occupation of any building such as, hostel room, residential quarter or such other accommodation in the premises owned or hired by the Institution, without prior permission from the Competent Authority.
(vi) Permitting or conniving with any person not authorized to occupy any hostel-room, residential quarter, or any accommodation or any part thereof of the Institution.
(vii) Securing admission in the Institution, to any undergraduate or post-graduate programme or any other course by fabrication or suppression of facts or information.
(viii) Obstruction to any student or group of students in his or their legitimate activities as such, whether in the classroom, laboratories, fields, playgrounds gymnasium or places of social and cultural activity within the campus of the Institution.
(ix) Suppressing material information or supply of false information to the Institution, for seeking any privilege.
(X) Possessing or using any fire arms, lethal weapons explosive, or dangerous or corrosive substance on the premises of the Institution.
(Xi) Possessing or consuming any poisonous or stupifying drugs or intoxicant or tobaco or Ghutaka smoking or alcoholic beverage in any form in the Institution.
(Xii) Ragging, bullying or harassing any student in Institution or outside thereof.
(xiii) indulging in any act as would cause annoyance, embracement to any other student, or member of the authority of the Institution, to staff member or any member of the family of the staff.
(xiv) indulging in any act of violence, assault, intimidation or threatening in the Institution or Hostels or outside thereof.
(Xv) Destroying or attempting to destroy or tamper with any official record or document of the Institution.
(xvi) Conduct, unbecoming of the student, at any meeting or special functions or sports and cultural activities arranged by the Institutions or at any other public place.
(xvii) Stealing or damaging any farm produce or any property belonging to the Institution, staff member of the Institution or any other student.
(xviii)  Instigating violence or participating in any violent demonstrations or violent agitation or violent strike in the Institution.
(xix) Instigating or participating in any gherao of any official or staff member of the Institution.
(xx) Violation of any of the Rules and Regulations of the Institutions or orders of the Competent Authority.
(xxi) Gambling in any form in the Institution.
(xxii) Disorderly behaviour in any form or any act specifically forbidden by the Competent Authority.
(xxii) Refusal to appear to give evidence before Enquiry Officer appointed by the Competent Authority with respect to a charge against hlm.
(xxiv) Any act violating any provision of the Maharashtra Universities Act, I994, Statutes, Ordinances, Rules made thereunder.
(xxv) Conviction, in the Court of Law for criminal offence, involving moral turpitude.
(xxvi) Any other act not specifically mentioned hereto before which, whether by commission or omission, as would in the circumstances of the case be considered by the Competent
Authority as an act of misconduct and / or indiscipline.
(xxvii) Use of mobiles at classrooms/ laboratory/ library.
(xxviii) Use of Hot plates, Electric Iron, Tea/Coffee making machines, Water heating coils , radio, non academic use of computers & Laptops

5. The Competent Authority may impose any one or more of the following punishment/s on the students found guilty or misconduct, indiscipline, in proportion thereof.
(i) Warning/censure/Reprimand.
(ii) Fine not exceeding Rs. 5000/-.
(iii) Cancellation of the scholarship] award / prize/ medal, awarded to the student by the concerned Institution, with prospective effect.
(iv) Expulsion from the concerned Institution.
(v) Debarring from admission to a course or courses of study in the concerned institution. Debarring from appearing for examination or examinations, conducted by the Institution concerned, for a specific period, not exceeding five years.
(vi) Cancellation of the result of the student concerned in the examination of the concerned Institution, in which he has appeared.
(vii) Rustication from the institution for the period not exceeding five years.

6.If the Competent Authority is satisfied that there is a primafacie case for inflicting penalties, mentioned in Clause N0. 5, it may itself or through other person/persons, authorized by it, for this purpose, shall make enquiry, in following manner :
(i) Due notice in writing shall be given to the student concerned about his alleged act of misconduct/indiscipline.
(ii) Student charged shall be required within 15 days of the notice to submit his written representation about such charge] s.
(iii) if the student fails to submit his written representation within specified time limit, the enquiry may be held ex-parte.
(iv) lf oral evidence of the witness against student is recorded by the Enquiry Authority, the student charged shall be given an opportunity to cross examine the witness concerned.
(v)  lf the student charged, desires to soc the relevant documents, such of the documents, are being taken into consideration or are to be relied upon for purposes of proving the charge or charges, may at the discretion of the Enquiry Authority, be shown to him after the notice as provided in sub-clause (I) above is furnished to him.
(vi) The student charged shall be required to produce documents, if any, in support of his defence. The Enquiry Authority may admit relevant evidence, documentary or otherwise at any stage before the final orders are passed.
(vii) Legal practitioner shall not be allowed to appear on behalf of the student charged, in the proceedings before the Enquiry Authority.
(viii) Enquiry Authority shall record findings on each implication of misconduct or indiscipline, and the reasons for such findings and submit the report along with proceedings to the Competent Authority.
(ix) The Competent Authority on the basis of findings, shall pass such orders as it deems fit.

7. Provided procedure prescribed above need not be followed and all or any of its provisions may be waived in the following circumstances :
(i) When the student charged admits the charges in writing.
(ii) When the order of punishment is to be based on facts which have led to the conviction of the student charged, for the offence involving moral turpitude.
(iii) When the student charged has absconded or for any other reasons it is impracticable to communicate with him.
(iV) lf in the opinion of the Competent Authority, a punishment or fine not exceeding Rs. 5000/ - or Reprimand Censure, Warning is sufficient.

8.If  the punishment of rustication is imposed on a student by Principal of the College] Head of the Institution/Head of the Teaching Department or such other person in whom the authority is vested by the Vice- Chancellor for external students, such a student shall be entitled to prefer an appeal to the Vice -Chancellor, if the punishment is imposed by the Vice -Chancellor, student shall be entitled to prefer an appeal to the Management Council of the University within thirty days of the receipt of the notice of the punishment.

9. in respect of such student, Head of the Institution shall maintain record of the punishment.

10.The institution shall, on each occasion of any punishment being imposed on any student, intimate by a letter, to be sent Under a Certificate of Posting, the fact of such imposition to the parent or guardian of such student on the address available in the college records.

11.A copy of these rules shall be supplied to each student at the time of his admission to the institution and a receipt for the same shall be obtained from the student. This receipt shall form a part of the record of admission of the student.

12.If any foreign student is admitted for any course, concerned institution shall send copy of the rules to concerned foreign embassy and department of external affairs.

13.Central Discipline Committee be constituted at University level, Separate discipline committee's for each department & Service unit be constituted under the chairmanship of Head.
14. Discipline Committee be constituted by every affiliated  college/recognized institution under the chairmanship of Principal/Director.
Ref. No. Law/2013/273
Date: 01.07.2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dear Members of Parliament, do not vote for any amendments to the RTI Act please.

Dear Member of Parliament,
I am writing this piece to you to voice my concern about a matter that is very important to me. There are reports in the media, that a bill is likely to be presented in Parliament to amend the RTI Act. The reasons being given publicly are that the CIC order declaring political parties as Public authorities, subject to RTI is bad in law. My understanding is that if an order, which is bad in law, is issued by any statutory authority, the correct process is to challenge it at an appropriate forum. The CIC order can be challenged in a writ in the High Court, and there are many instances of these orders having been quashed in Courts. None of the political parties has filed for a stay of this order, and now expects to amend the law in Parliament to justify and legitimize their defiance of a statutory order. With folded hands, I plead with you not to vote for this. Parliament makes the law. Once it is made, it has to be adjudicated by the appropriate statutory authorities. This is the Constitutional process. Defying a statutory order by anyone sets a wrong example, and leads to breakdown of the rule of law. After considerable discussion spread over months, and reference to a Parliamentary Committee this law was passed. It has been rated as the second best law in the World. Citizens cherish and value it immensely, since it codifies a very important fundamental right of ours.

The law has been used extensively and has uncovered certain arbitrariness and corruption. More importantly, it has empowered the individual sovereign citizen, who is today getting greater respect from many entities. The key principle in defining the bodies to be covered by the RTI Act was based on the movement’s slogan, “ Hamara Paisa, Hamara Hisab.” Hence all Government bodies were covered by the RTI Act and other Institutions which may be ‘substantially funded’ by Government were covered. This was the Act passed by Parliament, based on which the CIC has passed an order. I do concede that there is some reasonable scope for a different opinion on what constitutes ‘substantial funding’ and if the political parties feel that the CIC decision is flawed, they could challenge it in Court. Parties have said that they are being monitored by the Election Commission and the Income Tax department, and hence they need not provide information to Citizens. All Institutions including Parliament are legitimized to be intermediaries on behalf of ‘We the People’. None of these can replace the people of India.

Some worries have been voiced about how the political parties will be able to cope with the RTI queries. I might point out that many small NGOs and aided schools are complying with RTI without a major stress.

Subjecting themselves to Right to Information by citizens has not damaged any Institution in the Country. Some political representatives have claimed that they would not like to be questioned about their processes of decision-making. RTI only gives access to citizens to the records of a Public authority, and does not entitle the citizen to question the merits of the decisions. Besides there are ten exemptions in Section 8 (1) for information that need not be disclosed and these exemptions passed by Parliament have worked well, and not resulted in damaging any Institution since 2005. There is some recognition in most quarters that it is slowly leading to getting some corrections and improvements in Institutions and strengthening the hands of those who work in the spirit of Public service and probity.

It is true that there is a trust deficit between citizens and political leaders. RTI will overcome this, and lead to a better understanding of the working of various political parties. It will lead to citizens making a more informed choice of political parties during elections. Besides, it will promote better and systematic functioning of the political parties, once they subject themselves to monitoring by the people they seek to serve. I am sure you are concerned with the decline in the levels of probity in public service. This is an opportunity to reverse this and start the journey towards a more meaningful service of people. I am sure you are as concerned with the future of politics and your party in a decade from now, as I am. Let us work together for a better political democracy with a long-term vision for a better India. Please do not vote for any amendments to the RTI Act. If your party is not going to vote for amendments to the RTI Act, please state this publicly.

Regards
Vijay Kumbhar


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

PMC officers shy away from their duties

Recently I sent some photographs to some senior Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officers. It was evident from the photographs that some buildings have come up by encroaching upon the nalla in a prime location of Pune city .After sending photographs I called some officers and gave them the exact location of the encroachment. I thought they would act on their own.  However, nothing happened. Then once again, I called one officer and asked about what action they have taken. He said he would send his officers to look in to the matter.

After few days once again I called up that officer and asked what was the situation? . he bluntly said. Sir, please give an application mentioning your complaint so that we could move forward. I said, why should I give the complaint? . Isn't it your responsibility? I have given you photographs and exact location. From photographs it is evident that nalla has been encroached upon. You are duty bound to take action .Then why you need my complaint? . He had no answer.

It is my experience that PMC officers always try to hide behind someone. They don't dare to take action on wrongdoers. Hands in gloves with wrong doers may be the reason behind that. As real estate, prices are escalating sky high. Developers do not bother to encroach upon anything. Property buyers are always ignorant about this. They think that as the authority has given the permission everything must be legal, just, and safe. In addition, officer like in this case put in danger lives of innocent people. 








Tuesday, July 16, 2013

PMC's in camera public meeting

Few days' back there was a news that Pune Municipal commissioner (PMC) had instructed all Head of the departments to not to share any information with news reporters. After that, I had sent a sarcastic letter and requested him to restrict media persons as well as citizens from entering in to Pune Municipal corporation premises. Interestingly commissioner had forwarded that to additional commissioners for ' necessary action' .What action additional commissioners took on that letter nobody knows. However, it seems that commissioner Mahesh Pathak is very serious about keeping media away from all the affairs of Municipal Corporation.

Yesterday he asked media persons to get out from the meeting organized by Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule. The meeting was held to discuss issues pertaining to garbage, riverside road, and water. As meeting was related to civic issues, concerning the citizens Leader of the house in PMC Subhash Jagtap had instructed administration to allow anyone who wanted to attend it. That means meeting was public one. However, it seems that Commissioner wanted introduce new concept of 'in camera public meeting'.


Last time Pathak had clarified that the instructions were given only for policy-related issues and he does not mind officers speaking to the media. This time he has clarified that "In media’s presence, the participants only speak keeping the media in mind rather than discussing the real issues and it serves no purpose. That means only in camera meetings do serve some purpose. However big question is what and whose purpose do they serve? After Draft DP was prepared all the meeting were held in camera. Those meeting definitely did serve some purpose, and punekars know whose purpose they served. 

Last time I had sent following letter to PMC commissioner

 यापुढे कोणत्याही विभागप्रमुखाने आपल्या परवानगी शिवाय पत्रकारांना माहिती देऊ नये. तसेच, पत्रकार परिषद घेऊ नये,’ असे तोंडी आदेशआपण अधिका-यांना दिल्याचे  वर्तमानपत्रात वाचले. आश्चर्य मूळीच वाटले नाही  कारण आतापर्यंत पालिकेतील गोपनीयतेचे अनेक नमूने पुणेकरांनी अनुभवले आहेत. त्यामध्ये बांधकाम व्यावसायिकांना सहजगत्या उपलब्ध असणारा प्रारूप विकास आराखडा नागरिकांसाठी  गोपनीय असणे, काही नामवंताना भाडे कराराने दिलेल्या जागांचे करारनांमे सापडणे , वारंवार देशविदेश दौ-यावर  जाणार्-या अधिकारी आणि पदाधिका-यांच्या  परदेश दौ-यांची  माहिती , त्यांचा खर्च , त्यांचेअभ्यासअहवाल वगैरींची माहिती मिळणे , अनेक बांधकाम प्रकल्पांच्या माहितीचा  आढळ होणे, अनेक फाइली अचानक गायब होणे अशा अनेक प्रकारांचा समावेश होता.

इतकी गोपनीयता बाळगूनही पत्रकारांनी आणि नागरिकांनीही पालिकेतील अनेक गैरप्रकार उघडकीस आणले.अनेकदा त्यासंदर्भात पालिकेने चौकशी समित्याही नेमल्या , परंतु आश्चर्यकारकरित्या या समित्यांना कोणत्याही चौकशीत पालिकेचे अधिकारी दोषी असल्याचे आढळून आले नाही.तसे का व्हायचे ? याचे कारण आता समोर आले आहे. वरीष्ठांचाच आशिर्वाद असल्याने किंवा त्यांच्या सांगण्यावरून  अधिका-यांनी एकमेकांना सांभाळून  घेण्यात धन्यता मानल्याने  कोणीही दोषीआढळले नाही कि कोणालाही शास्ती झाली नाही.त्याचप्रमाणे पालिकेचे अधिकारी उगाचच कोणालाही सांभाळून घेत नाहीत , त्यामागे निश्चित असे एक कारण असते हेही आता सिद्ध झाले आहे.

उदाहरणार्थ कर्वे रस्त्यावरील एका हॉस्पिटलला  आग लागल्यानंतर त्या रुग्णालयातील अग्निशमन यंत्रणा योग्यप्रकारे कार्यान्वित नसल्याचेतसेच इमारतीच्या वापरातही अनेक नियमबाह्य बदल करण्यात आल्याची वस्तुस्थिती समोर आली .त्याचप्रमाणेसंबंधित रुग्णालयाचे डॉक्टर पालिकेतील वरीष्ठ अधिका-याचे  नातेवाईक असल्यामुळेच अनेक आक्षेप असतानाही या रुग्णालयाला नोंदणीपत्र दिल्याचे उघडकीस आले . असे करण्याची बक्षीशी त्या संबधित अधिका-याला  कशा प्रकारे मिळाली हे वेगळे सांगण्याची गरज नाही. अनेक तकरारी  झाल्या , त्या अधिका-याचे  गैरप्रकार उघडकीस आले , अटकही झाली तरी पालिकेने मात्र त्यांच्यावर काही कारवाई केली नाही .

यापूर्वी एका अधिकार्-याने आपल्या नातेवाईकांना नवीन बांधल्या जात असलेल्या एका इमारतीत तीन पार्कींग मोफत द्यावीत म्हणून एका बांधकाम व्यावसायिकावर दबाव आणला होता.त्यासाठी इमारत बांधायला अधिकृत परवानगी दिली असतानाही काहीतरी थातूर मातूर कारण देउन त्याला काम थांबविण्याचे आदेश दिले होते.परंतु बांधकाम व्यावसायिक खमक्या असल्याने तो बधला नाही. अखेर गाजावाजा झाल्याने पुन्हा नकाशे पूर्वी होते तसेच मंजूर करण्यात आले. या अधिका-याची  साधी चौकशीसुद्धा झाली नाही.अर्थात अशी चौकशी करण्यामागेही काहीतरी कारण निश्चितच असणार हे उघड आहे.
गैरकारभाराची अशी शेकडो उदाहरणे देता येतील , त्यातील अनेक प्रकरणांची चौकशी झालीच नाही , अनेक प्रकरणांची चौकशी झाली परंतु त्यातून काही  निष्पन्न झाले नाही , काही प्रकरणात अधिका-यांनीच  संबधितांना न्यायालयात जाण्याचा सल्ला  दिला आणि स्थगिती मिळविण्यास मदत देखील केली .त्यामूळे घोटाळे उघडकीस येउनही पुढे काहीच घडले नाही. त्यामूळे आपण घेतलेला निर्णय अगदी योग्य आहे . घोटाळे उघडकीस येउनही काही कारवाई होणार नसेल किंवा काही करायचे नसेल तर पत्रकारांना किंवा नागरिकांना तरी माहिती द्यायचीच कशासाठी ?,घोटाळ्यांच्या बातम्यांनी वर्तमान पत्राचे रकाने भरण्यासाठी ?

परंतु आपण दिलेल्या आदेशात एकच उणीव जाणवते ती म्हणजे, आपण कोणत्याही विभागप्रमुखाने आपल्या परवानगी शिवाय पत्रकारांना माहिती देऊ नये असे म्हटले आहे. खरेतर मूळात पालिकेने पत्रकारांनाच काय किंवा कोणालाही माहिती द्यायची आवश्यकताच  काय आहे ? त्यांचा पालिकेशी संबध काय असतो ? त्यांनी मुकाट्याने आपला कर भरून बाजूला व्हावे ,नको त्या उचापत्या करण्याची गरज काय आहेत्यामूळे पत्रकारांना त्याचप्रमाणे नागरिकांनाही पालिकेत प्रवेशबंदीच करावी आणि ते शक्य नसल्यास ( कधी कधी काही  कामांची प्रसिद्धी करण्यासाठीही  पत्रकारांची गरज पडतेच.) एका सेन्सॉर बोर्डाची निर्मिती करून पालिकेच्या म्हणण्यापेक्षा अधिका-यांच्या  हिताचीच तेवढी माहिती पत्रकारांना किंवा नागरिकांना देण्याचे काम त्याच्याकडे सोपवावे हि विनंती.

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