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Sunday, September 28, 2008

CIC Directs AMU to Open UP MBBS OMR Sheets

RTI Group, Aligarh: In a landmark judgment, the Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, has directed Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to open up its MBBS/BDS All India Entrance Test OMR Sheets to the candidates. The case was heard by the bench of Chief Information Commissioner Mr Wajahat Habibullah on 19th Sept 2008 and the 19 page judegement delivered on 23rd Sept 2008. It should be noted that the matter was vigorously pursued by the RTI Group.

By an application of 2.6.08 Ms. Shema, R/O Nazir Ahmed Road, Aligar
h Muslim University, Aligarh, applied to the Registrar/CPIO, AMU seeking the Correct Answers Key to the question booklet given to her daughter Roll No. 249946 during her entrance examination of MBBS/BDS 2008 held on 26.5.2008 and result declared on 1.6.08. Again by an application of 20.6.08 Ms. Asma Anjum, R/O Nazir Ahmed Road, AMU, Aligarh and daughter of Ms Shema applied to the Registrar / CPIO AMU seeking the information on several counts: “Photo copy of both sides of OMR filled and submitted by me (Name: Asma Anjum, Roll No. 249946) in my entrance examination of M.B.B.S./B.D.S. 2008 held on 26.5.08 and result already declared.” This was followed by a similar application of 21.6.08 in which information sought was as follows: “Photocopies from both sides of all the pages of the question paper given to me (Name: Asma Anjum, Roll No. 249946) in my entrance examination of M.B.B.S. / B.D.S. 2008 held on 26.5.08 and result already declared.”

To this she received a reply on 7.7.08 from CPIO and Asstt. Controller (Admissions), Office of Controller of Examinations. “We cannot provide this document without approval of the academic bodies of the University. Your application is being sent to the Registrar under Section 5 of the RTI Act.”

The complaint was heard by the CIC on 19.9.08. During the hearing before the bench of Chief Information Commissioner Mr Wajahat Habibullah, Dr. Tariq Islam, General Secretary, RTI Group, arguing for disclosure of sought information also cited the decision of CIC dated 23.4.07, we had held, with regard to OMR sheets in cases Complaint No. CIC/WB/C/2006/00223, Appeal Nos. CIC/WB/A/2006/00469 & 00394, & Appeal Nos. CIC/OK/A/2006/00266/00058/00066/00315

In its judgment CIC pointed out that in its ruling in decision of 23.4.07 it has already found that the disclosure of evaluated answer sheets in such cases as the present one is unlikely to render the system unworkable. The CIC observed that “We have in fact held that our decision in case of application of exemption in most examinations will mutatis mutandis apply in the case of an examination conducted with Optical Marking System. But the category in which we have placed the Universities would also fall within the category of exemption from disclosure under the above decision. However, we may, at this stage, clarify that the decision above with regard to Universities was with reference to University examinations and not examinations governing admissions. In such cases, the principle that we have applied to the departmental examinations will also apply in this case since the In the present case no argument has been brought before us to state that such a disclosure would render the system unworkable. The decision of this Commission cited by respondents is in itself in favour of disclosure. The plea taken is only that such disclosures have not yet been approved by the Academic Council. The Academic Council of a University falls squarely under the law insofar as the RTI Act is concerned. The information sought by appellant in the present case is, therefore, not exempt from disclosure, as per our ruling in the Complaint No. CIC/WB/C/2006/00223, Appeal Nos. CIC/WB/A/2006/00469 & 00394 and Appeal Nos. CIC/OK/A/2006/00266/00058/00066/00315 dated 23.4.2007. In this matter since we find that the information is disclosable, we have not discussed the ruling of the Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta, in W.P. NO. 22176 of 2007, even though we have quoted from it extensively, since in our view it is not of direct bearing to the present complaint. The appeal is therefore allowed. The information sought in all three categories will be supplied to appellant Ms Anjum within ten working days of receipt of the Decision Notice Reserved in the hearing, this decision is announced in the open Court on 23rd September, 2008. Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.”

According to Dr Tariq Islam, the decision of the CIC in the instant case is an important first step in the opening up of the admission process of the universities in general and AMU in particular which otherwise was shrouded in secrecy. He further added that this decision would usher in an era of transparency and accountability, thereby instilling confidence in the minds of the hard working students and help in further raising the academic standards of AMU.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

AMU Admits Candidate Who Failed in Class XI Admission Test!

RTI query filed by Mr Mushtaq Ahmed has brought to light a case where a candidate has been admitted to Class XI (PCB) during the current Session i.e. Session 2008-09 without being selected in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Admission Test.
For details please visit the section on Aligarh Muslim University/Admissions & Examinations on

Senior Secondary School (Boys)
Roll List of Class XI (PCB)
Session 2008-09
Section – E-1
S.No. Roll No EN. No. Name Hall
40 750 GD-9900 Mohd Faisal Qureshi AI

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

AMU Controller of Exams Admits Lakhs Paid Without Rules!

Sept 9, 2008: RTI query by Dr Tariq Islam has brought to light a very interesting case where the Controller of Examinations (COE) of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) paid lakhs of rupees to an Assistant in the Controller's Office over and above his salary and Extra Duty Allowance (EDA) even though there are no rules! The COE while being fully aware that there are no rules under which such huge payments can be made, has this year (2008) too recommended similar huge payments. This is apparent from the comment (given below) that the RTI Group has received through its messaging facility on its website

The question that naturally arises is that how was and are the illegal payments being recommended by the Controller' Office and then being cleared by the Finance Office.

For details of Right to Information (RTI) query and subsequent correspondence, please visit the section on Aligarh Muslim University/Finance on the website Please also your give your response through our "Messaging" facility on the website.

Comments by a Visitor Who Prefers to Remain Anonymous

1. Let us appreciate the controller for admitting the irregularity in the payment to one assistant in the examinations. But it is contemptuas and braizen this regard to law for making heavy payment to Dy. Controllers. It also be scruitinised that how can the finance officer make the payment if rules does not exist. To me it is a missuse of a public fund, how can a person be paid for performing duties, heavy amount, to the tune of 1.5 lakhs approximately to each of the two Dy. controllers besides his regular salaries and EDA amounting to rupees 40-45000 rupees.

2. It is a talk of the town that the present Finance officer who does not possess any degree in accounts has some how got two thousand heads of accounts re-appropriated by the Vice-chancellor which is a mockery of the Finance Rules.

3. Let me bring to notice of RTI group that Professor M. M. Khalid has publically narrated that one Assistant Finance Officer has very angrilly communicated to the finance officer that the office is not going to co-operate any more with you in the matters related to purchase etc.

CIC turning into ‘parking slot’ for retired babus

Publication: Times Of India Delhi; Date: Sep 9, 2008; Section: Times Nation; Page: 11


New Delhi: With an IAS and IPS officer each taking oath as commissioner, along with a late diplomat’s wife, the Central Information Commission has assumed an overwhelming bureaucratic character.

CIC now has three former IAS officers on board, including chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, and among the remaining are one each from IPS, Indian Information Service and Indian Postal Service.

The two non-bureaucrats are former national security adviser J N Dixit’s wife Annapurna Dixit and educationist M M Ansari. The commission, set up under the Right to Information Act, can have a maximum of 10 commissioners, besides the CIC.

As per rules, they should be “persons of eminence in public life” from fields as varied as law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.

The two bureaucrat commissioners are personnel secretary Satyananda Mishra and CBI special director M L Sharma, who went on leave after he was superseded by Ashwani Kumar to be CBI director. Incidentally, another commissioner, A N Tiwari, was also personnel secretary before he was appointed. The responsibility for implementing the RTI Act lies with the personnel ministry.

The CIC and information commissioners are appointed for a term of five years or till they turn 65 (whichever is earlier). This has made the information commission a lucrative post-retirement assignment.

But the appointments have to be approved by a committee headed by the PM with the Leader of Opposition as its member, along with a Cabinet minister. Since every name must have consensus, getting the coveted assignment is not easy.

The situation in the states is no different since state information commissions (SICs) have turned out to be a major rehabilitation avenue for serving or retired bureaucrats.

A recent study of SICs showed that 31 (or 58%) information commissioners in 20 states were from “administration and governance” background and 27 of them were retired IAS officers.

The study, conducted by PRIA (Society for Participatory Research in Asia) for April-October 2007, revealed that 15 SICs were headed by former IAS officers and one ( Assam) by a retired IPS officer. Only four of these 20 panels — Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh — had non-IAS chief commissioners, all from legal background. Since then, the situation could have marginally changed. Leading RTI activist Aruna Roy, who played a crucial role in the enactment of the information law, has maintained that at the central level, Department of Personnel and Training should not have been made the supervising body of RTI Act as it was also the cadre controlling authority of IAS and certain other services. Roy favoured the creation of an independent and wide-based council for shortlisting probable information commissioners.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

RTI Warrior Shailesh Gandhi Appointed CIC

RTI warrior Shailesh Gandhi, who has recently been appointed member of Central Information Commission (CIC), will now ensure others like him will have less trouble prying information out of tight-fisted bureaucrats. Gandhi has been rewarded for his tireless crusade for transparency and accountability in governance. He has been appointed as a member of the Central Information Commissioner (CIC). Up to now, these posts have gone to former bureaucrats, something that Gandhi has openly criticised.

“I was informed on phone about the new assignment on Friday morning by an officer from the Central government. A notification has also been issued,” an excited Gandhi told Mumbai Mirror. The formal letter of appointment by the President of India will be dispatched in due course.

He quit his business in 2003 to devote himself fully to his cause because of the time and effort required to pry information from government agencies, it won’t come as a surprise that his priority is to reduce time taken to deliver judgements and cut down the backlog of appeals.

Over 16,000 appeals are pending in Maharashtra while up to 8,500 are pending before the CIC. Gandhi says it takes up to a year-and-a-half for an appeal to be heard by the state information commission and up to over eight months by the CIC.

“At this rate, the common man would lose faith in the system. I have decided that appeals should be disposed off within three months from the date they are filed. In exceptional cases, it should not go beyond six months,” he says.

When told that the post of the CIC has the status of the Supreme Court judge, Gandhi says, “Work is more important than the status. I want to set certain ideals in the course of discharging my duties in the constitutional post. My commitment would be to the laws of the nation and the President of India, who has appointed me, says Gandhi. I would prefer to add quality to RTI judgements with transparency as the soul. I would always welcome suggestions on making this happen,” he says.

He has already set a precedent with his decision ‘to accept only a token amount of Re 1 as compensation’. Besides that, “I have also decided not to use the official car,” he says.

An IIT-Powai graduate, 59-yearold Shailesh Gandhi’s first tryst with RTI Act was in September 2003 when he approached the police commissioner of Mumbai and public information officer for names of politicians who had recommended the transfer of some policemen.

When his plea was turned down, he invoked the RTI Act. “After some months, I was able to get the names of all the people, including some ministers, who were responsible for the illegal transfers,” he says.

His persistence resulted in action being taken against the police officers concerned and turned him into an RTI warrior. Despite the RTI Act, it took considerable time and effort to get information from the government. Hence, he sold his successful business to devote himself fully to ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.

He now sustains himself on the interest that comes from his savings, which is about Rs 60,000 per month. Of this amount, he spends a third on RTI Act cases.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Make prelim cutoffs public: HC to UPSC

Publication: Times Of India Delhi; Date:2008 Sep 04; Section:Times Nation; Page Number 7
New Delhi: In a boost to transparency seekers, the Delhi high court on Wednesday upheld the decision of Central Information Commission that UPSC examination candidates had a right to know the marks obtained by them in the preliminary test of civil services examination.
A division bench comprising Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to make public the cutoff marks obtained by candidates in preliminary test of the civil services examination which was held in the year 2006. This has opened the path for students who appeared in subsequent years to also press for similar disclosure of marks.
‘‘We observed that the documents submitted by UPSC in a sealed cover, are not of such nature that can be characterised as secret, or of a type the disclosure of which would not be in public interest,’’ observed a Division Bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar in a judgment, upholding the April 17, 2007 order passed by a single judge favouring the CIC’s decision which had held that disclosure of information pertaining to cut-off marks would not harm the interest of UPSC or any third party. The HC Bench dismissed a petition filed by the Commission against the single judge’s order.
The two judges also dismissed the apprehension of UPSC that by disclosing the working of the scaling methodology for preliminary examination, merit can get compromised and candidates with less merit would be selected and noted ‘‘...We are of the view that the apprehension of UPSC is not well founded.’’ UPSC had approached the HC against the November 13, 2006 order passed by the CIC allowing the pleas of candidates seeking details of the marks obtained by them in preliminary exam and sought separate details of cutoff marks for every subjects. TNN