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Monday, August 31, 2009

AMU Teachers' Association Unequivocally Condemns Suspension of RTI Crusader Dr Tariq Islam

Unanimous Resolution has been passed by the Executive Committee of the AMU Teachers' Association on 28th August 2009 on the issue of suspension of RTI crusader Dr tariq Islam by the AMU Vice Chancellor Dr P K Abdul Azis on unspecified allegations of gross misconduct.

The resolution noted that the timing and manner of suspension of Dr Tariq smacks of witch-hunting and victimization of persons who are gathering evidence to assist the ongoing AMU Fact Finding Inquiry Committee ordered by the Hon'ble President of India in her capacity as the Visitor of AMU. This is likely to dampen the spirit of the enquiry, thus adversely influencing the course it is likely to take, besides stifling democratic norms of dissent and opposition to persons in power.

If a teacher can be suspended on the mere contemplation of enquiry, why no action has been taken against the officers who are facing serious charges of corruption which is being already investigated. The resolution further demands that the AMU administration should immediately revoke the suspension of Dr Tariq Islam and warns of convening a General Body meeting of the association early next week to decide on future course of action in case the suspension is not revoked.

Friday, August 28, 2009

AMU V-C hits back, suspends reader

Publication: Times Of India Lucknow; Date: Aug 28, 2009; Section: Front Page; Page: 1

Manjari Mishra, TNN 28 August 2009, 05:19am IST: LUCKNOW: As the fact-finding committee, appointed by the Centre visited Aligarh Muslim University last week to probe charges of financial and procedural irregularities committed during the tenure of the vice chancellor PK Abdul Azis, another high drama unfolded in the campus.

On Wednesday, Azis suspended --his first suspension incidentally --Tariq Islam, a reader in the department of philosophy and a noted RTI activist who played a lead role in collecting incriminating evidence which finally landed Azis in a spot. And even as the university authorities deny any link, Islam cries foul and terms the action an arm-twisting tactic by the VC, hell bent on settling scores.

Interestingly a 27-year-old case of suspected fake marksheet has come back to haunt Islam. The VC office claims Islam misrepresented his marks obtained in the graduation course in 1982 at the London Metropolitan University, and must pay for the fraud.

Talking to TOI, Dr Rahat Abrar, university’s PRO, said that the reader got merely 47 percent marks and claimed his percentage to be 56. The fraud was discovered when Peter Fisher, the records and compliance officer of London Metropolitan University, clarified the matter on 16-2-2009 upon an inquiry made by the VC’s office, he said.

Islam calls "this sudden burst of over enthusiasm by the VC’s office" nothing but a plot to nail him for having dared an influential lobby. The issue had surfaced twice earlier, once in 1984 and then in 1999, when selection committees refused to regularise my appointment, he told TOI. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court which finally applied the doctrine of estoppled and put the controversy to rest for all times to come, he claimed.

Unearthing the issue once again, therefore, reeks of vile motive, he complained. Significantly, the university approached London Metropolitan University in February 2009 when members of the university executive council had raised the banner of revolt against the VC for his alleged malpractice. The allegations ranged from payment of his annual income tax from the university funds to refurnishing his now fully air conditioned house, again at the university’s expense and also ordering his daily breakfast, lunch and dinner from the university guest house. That the rebel group of seven EC members relied heavily on Islam for the information, is a well-known fact. It is not diffcult to put two and two together, he said.

Islam also calls the suspension order extremely vague and totally illegal, It was neither preceded by any show cause notice nor was he given any opportunity to plead his case. The three-page letter merely announced the VC’s decision to put him under suspension for gross irregularities, without actually spelling out the details. "So I am still waiting to be enlightened about what actually went wrong," he said.

So what accounted for the renewed interest in the fake marksheet case. Abrar claimed the VC’s office had been receiving repeated complaints about Islam’s illegal appointment. He failed to name any specific complainant when questioned. The PRO hotly denied that Islam was paying for locking horns with Azis. It is just an administrative action, he stresed.

The development has led to much tension on the campus as both camps are busy lobbying support and the students are forced to watch senior faculty members washing the dirty linen in public.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

AMU faculty member and RTI Crusader suspended for 'gross misconduct'

Dr Tariq Islam, famous RTI crusader and senior faculty member at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has been suspended for allegedly "tampering" with his marksheet while submitting job application form over 20 years ago.

Dr Tariq Islam, Reader in Philosophy Department of AMU, who is also the General Secretary of RTI Group ( has been charged with "gross misconduct", and directed not to leave the city without obtaining permission of the Vice-Chancellor Prof P K Abdul Azis.

The suspension notice issued yesterday states that "disciplinary proceedings, pending inquiry are being initiated with immediate effect."

Interestingly, Dr Islam was not served any show cause notice before suspension.

Since the enactment of the RTI Act in 2005, Dr Islam has been leading a crusade against nepotism at various levels in AMU and other central universities. It is being said that information obtained under RTI has played a critical role in exposing the alleged irregularities, which reportedly played an important role in providing "incriminating evidence" against some of the top university officials.

It should be kept in mind that during the last one year, AMU, headed by Prof P K Azis has been mired in controversies leading to the setting up of Fact Finding Inquiry into the affairs at AMU. A leading daily reported that out of 121 pages that make up the representation submitted by eight (08) members of the Executive Council of AMU (including the nominees of the Visitor herself, Rector (Governor of UP) and elected representatives from AMU Staff to the Hon'ble President of India in her capacity as Visitor of AMU, 119 pages have been obtained under RTI from Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD, University Grants Commission (UGC), AMU and Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) where Prof Azis previously served as VC and other offices of Government of Kerala.

On 24th August 2009, Dr Islam had filed RTI application with the MHRD inquiring details of personal assets of VCs of Central universities at the time of their joining office and as on date i.e. 24th Aug 2009. There are rumours that this may have further miffed the authorities at AMU who are facing the heat of Fact Finding Inquiry ordered by the Hon'ble President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil in her capacity as Visitor of AMU.

Earlier (January, 2009) Dr Islam, in his capacity as the General Secretary of RTI Group had submitted a memorandum to the Hon'ble President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil in her capacity as Visitor of AMU regarding the setting up of a Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Proceedings for the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities.

Details of Memorandum are given below
At a meeting of the RTI Group the members directed the General Secretary to address a memorandum to the President of India, in the capacity as Visitor of Central Universities, with a request to establish a Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Proceedings for the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities.

D. no. 257/RTIG/FAD January 20, 2009


Hon'ble Smt. Pratibha Patil
The President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi 110001

Your Excellency,

The RTI Group is a voluntary organisation of committed citizens of India working towards making Central Universities, premier educational
institutes of our Country, corruption free, efficient, accountable and transparent. Over the years, as also notified by the President of
India from time to time, the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities have in practice abandoned democratic institutions and corollary the
rule of law breeding corruption and inefficiency helped by the unaccountability implicit in the absence of rules enforcing transparency.

2. Among its other efforts the RTI Group filed an application under Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) seeking information on certain
illegal appointments of retired non-teaching staff by circumventing procedures at the Aligarh Muslim University. On the basis of the
information the Group appealed for instituting an Inquiry to fix responsibility for such blatant ......................

4. The Group filed an application under RTI with Aligarh Muslim University to provide a copy of the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Proceedings for the Vice Chancellor. The reply stated that the University Rules do not indicate these and for the desired information the applicant may approach the President in his capacity as the Visitor of the University, the appointing authority of the Vice Chancellor. The Group then filed RTI applications with the Banaras Hindu University, Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia, and Jawahar Lal Nehru University and received similar replies. An RTI application was also filed with the Secretariat of the President of India to which vide No. F.19-20/2006-Desk(U) dated December 12, 2007, Mr. RD Sahay, Director and CPIO, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, replied:

"…the Act/Statutes neither provide the code of conduct of the Vice Chancellor nor lay down the procedure for conducting disciplinary proceedings for committing financial/administrative irregularities, including violation of explicit University rules etc…"

In case you are interested in reading more on the issue, please visit for complete Memorandum.

In case anyone wishes to contact Dr Tariq Islam, General Secretary, RTI Group, (Reader, Department of Philosophy, Aligarh Muslim University) his phone no is 09997020528 and his email ID is given below:

Various news items published in connection with the suspension of Dr Islam are given below:

Supreme Court judges decide to make personal assets public

Supreme Court judges decide to make personal assets public

Zeenews Bureau August 26, 2009

New Delhi: The row over declaration of assets by judges appeared to
have been resolved on Wednesday evening as the judges of the apex
court decided to declare their personal assets on Internet.

The twenty-five member judges’ collegium of Supreme Court of India
took the decision of declaring their personal assets, their net worth
etc on the official website of SC.

The decision was taken unanimously at the end of a two-three hour
meeting in Delhi over the contentious issue that has threatened to rip
Indian judiciary from the centre. Some High Court judges, including
Karnataka HC judge Justice DV Shylendra Kumar, declared his assets and
liabilities in defiance of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan’s opinion on
the matter.

The CJI has maintained till now that his office is beyond the purview
of RTI applications, one of which had demanded to know whether the
judges were declaring their assets.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee welcomed the move and said it
would go a long way in raising the profile of Indian judges.

Ambiguity however remains over whether High Court judges are on-board
with this decision. “There is no problem with the judges declaring
their assets,” he told reporters here today. But there should be a
consensus on the issue, he added.

Balakrishnan had said on Monday he would want a consensus on the
issue. The decision by the collegium will go in that direction now.

“If the judges want to declare their assets, no one can prevent
(them). How can I prevent. If the law comes everybody has to declare,”
he had said on Sunday.

Govt keen to bring in pvt firms to help in RTI info dissemination

Govt keen to bring in pvt firms to help in RTI info dissemination

Vishwa Mohan, TNN 26 August 2009, 01:53am IST

NEW DELHI: The government is keen to bring in private firms as partners to help in dissemination of information under different ministries under the Right to Information Act.

The selected company will also suggest additional categories of information which can be "proactively" disclosed by different agencies and a number of multinational companies (MNCs) like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and Grant Thornton are already in a queue to try and bag this prized assignment.

The ministry of personnel recently invited them along with three others -- JPS Associates, PRIA and Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad -- to explain what their exact role would be as "knowledge partner" of the government. The six companies have been shortlisted as potential "knowledge partners".

Once selected for the job, the private firm will help the government in assessing the functioning of different ministries regarding dissemination of information under the RTI Act.

Sources in the ministry said the selected company will also conduct a detailed study on proactive disclosure, besides finding out how the different State Information Commissions (SICs) are doing their work under centrally sponsored schemes.

"The consultant is also required to analyse the quantitative as well as qualitative disclosure under Section 4 of a public authority and accordingly suggest methods, tools and policy interventions required for better implementation of statutory requirements. They may also suggest further categories of information which can be proactively disclosed," said a senior official.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Strongly-worded GR strengthens RTI appellants

A recent GR issued by various departments of Maharashtra Government support the stand taken by RTI appellants and activists that:

(i)First and Second Appellate Authorities must insist on Public Information Officer justifying denial in writing, citing various subsections of RTI Act Section 8 and 9. This is as specified u/s 19(5) and 20(1) last paragraph.

(ii)Penalty, disciplinary action and strictures passed against PIO must be noted in his Annual Confidential Record and Service Book.

Courtesy: Krishnaraj Rao, 98215 88114


Text of the GR is Given Below

Time bound action on Applications received under Right to Information Act 2005

Maharashtra Government,
Village Development & Irrigation Department,
Administrative Resolution no. MAA 2009 / Serial No 73 / Equity Office,
Mantralaya, Mumbai 32.

Date:10 August 2009.


1.The RTI Act 2005 was enacted with a view to bring in the utmost transparency and accountability in every public administrative work and to set the procedures for giving the citizens their right to information. In a democracy, to create an informed citizenry, to bring about transparency in dealings, to make government administrative machinery answerable to citizens – these are some of the objectives of the Act. It would fulfill the usefulness of this Act in a better way, if the Public Information Officer and the Appellate Authority were to discharge their responsibilities meticulously (literal meaning: “strictly in accordance with law”), and it would give great assurance to the public, and help in solving their queries.

2. For this reason, the below information is given again:

1)The Public Information Officer (PIO) must carefully read and understand the meaning of the RTI applications received by him, and try to give information to the applicant. Wherever he feels that any points need clarification, he should contact the applicant on phone or by letter and get those points clarified. It is important that this work should be done within five days of receipt of the application. If the application, or any part of it, is related to some other public authority, then the application or part thereof should be sent to the relevant PIO within these five days, and the applicant should immediately be given intimation of the same.

2)If any item of information is not available with the PIO, then the same must be clearly communicated to the applicant. If the information requested is voluminous, then the applicant should definitely be called for a discussion. Through discussion or mutual understanding, and with the full acceptance of the applicant, or by allowing him inspection of files, all efforts should be made to satisfy his need for information on that particular point.

3)If the PIO says that any of the items or documents requested in an RTI application is not available, he has to give a detailed explanation for the same. Whenever information is denied, reason for denial has to be clearly stated, quoting relevant sub-section of section 8 or section 9.

4)When the PIO gives information to the RTI applicant, his letter should also clearly contain his name, designation, phone and fax numbers and other such information. Similarly, it should also clearly mention the name, designation and complete official address of the First Appellate Authority (FAA), as well as the number of days (time limit) within which First Appeal may be filed.

5)It is necessary to give a hearing to the appellant at the First Appeal stage. Only if all the grounds of appeal are upheld is it acceptable to not hold a hearing. Otherwise, let it be known to all appellate authorities that giving a hearing to the appellant is a must. The FAA’s order must contain the name and address of the Second Appellate Authority, and also the number of days within which the Second Appeal may be filed.

6)Where the FAA feels that the PIO has not fulfilled his duty, FAA must send to Information Commission the copies of the original RTI Application, First Appeal, detailed justification given by the PIO, and FAA’s opinion, order and recommendations and all such papers.

7)At the time of the FAA’s hearing, the PIO should be made to give detailed explanation for denial of information. All efforts should be made to give this detailed explanation to the appellant three days ahead of the hearing in order to give him full opportunity to study it and properly present his arguments at the hearing. If this is not possible, or if the appellant says that he has not received copy of the PIO’s explanation, then it should definitely be given to him at the time of the hearing.

8)If it comes to the FAA’s notice that the PIO has failed in his duties, then the same should be noted in FAA’s Order. This Order, along with his recommendations for action against the PIO, should be sent to the Information Commission. In this way, the work of each PIO with regard to each RTI Application will be evaluated, and the effectiveness of the RTI Act will be enhanced. Disciplinary action taken or strictures passed in the course of departmental enquiry against the PIO will be entered in his Annual Confidential Record and Service Book.

9)If PIO and FAA face obstacles in performing their duty in their department, then the head of their department must try to remove such obstacles.

10) All PIOs and FAAs must obey all provisions of this Law. To ensure the timeliness and quality of information, the Information Commission has adopted extremely high standards.

3.The above information is for circulation among you, in your office and for giving directions to all PIOs and FAAs regarding giving information, and for administrative activities for doing so.

4. In this connection, the letter from the Chief State Information Commissioner, Maharashtra, Mumbai, sent to this administration on 24/02/2009 is attached for your information and appropriate action.

This GR is published on the website of Maharashtra Government at serial number 20090811141542001.

As per the instruction of Maharashtra’s Governor,

R G Syed,
Deputy Secretary,

Attached letter: Chief Information Commissioner’s letter dated 24/2/2009

Copy to:

i)Information Commissioner Konkan Division / Nashik Division / Pune Division / Aurangabad Division / Nagpur Division / Amravati Division

ii)Deputy Commissioner in the offices of Konkan Division / Nashik Division / Pune Division / Aurangabad Division / Nagpur Division / Amravati Division

iii) All main administrative authorities, District Parishad

iv) All Additional Secretaries / Deputy Secretaries, Village Development and Irrigation Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai 32.

v) Other officers and assistants of this department.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Babus spin a web to keep RTI activist spinning

Expressindia » Story
Mohd Arshi Rafique
Posted: Aug 19, 2009 at 0435 hrs IST

For the last five months, various state departments have been refusing to give information under the Right to Information Act about the land of an institution, which the BSP government wants to take over for setting up a university in the memory of party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra’s mother.

All the departments — Chief Minister’s secretariat, Uttar Pradesh Technical University (UPTU), Social Welfare Department, Handicapped Welfare Department and Urban Development Department — have been passing the buck by saying they do not have the information.

The matter is now before the State Information Commission (SIC), which has scheduled a hearing on August 31. A notice in this regard has been sent to all the departments.

The proposed university for the handicapped — Dr Shakuntala Mishra Rehabilitation University — is coming up at Mohan Road in Lucknow. Adjacent to it is Rajkiya Gobind Ballabh Pant Polytechnic, where 70 per cent seats are reserved for SC/ST students, 25 per cent for OBCs and only five per cent for students of the general category. The government wants to take over a part of the polytechnic’s land for the university.

On March 16, RTI activist Urvashi Sharma had sought information related to the details of the February 25 meeting regarding the transfer of polytechnic institute’s land from the Social Welfare Department to the new university. The meeting was presided over by the secretary of the Urban Development Department.

Instead of replying to Sharma, the CM secretariat on March 20 instructed the UPTU to answer the queries of the applicant.

On April 15, the UPTU passed the buck to Social Welfare Department saying the institute’s administrative responsibilities are handled by it. The Social Welfare Department, in turn, wrote to the Urban Development Department stating that since the meeting was held under its secretary, they must be better equipped to answer the queries.

Even after Sharma filed the first appeal with the CM’s Secretariat on April 16, the departments continued with their game of passing the buck. Sharma wanted to know whether the interests of the polytechnic institute will be protected in the bid to transfer its land.

On May 4, the PIO of the CM secretariat issued a letter jointly addressed to the principal secretaries of all the four departments, asking them to file the reply. A day after Sharma approached the SIC, the government on May 21 asked the registrar of Dr Shakuntala Mishra Handicapped University to provide the information sought by the applicant, but the university replied that since the polytechnic institute’s land is yet to be transferred, it can give no information.

On June 8, the Handicapped Welfare Department, which owns the land, wrote to the principal secretary of the Urban Development Department sating that since the meeting was presided over by its secretary therefore it should provide the information.

On July 27, the Urban Development Department refused to reply saying that its involvement in the issue was only to the extent that the two departments — Urban Development and Social Welfare — had the same official as their secretary at the time of the meeting.

The SIC will now hear the matter on August 31.