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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chennai RTI protesters spend a day in police detention

V Madhav, Gopalakrishnan and Siva Elango were picked up this morning for protesting against Non-transparent Appointment of Chief Info Commissioner, were released at 5 pm without any charges. Photos of the trio after arrest:

Chennai, 1 September, 2010: Three RTI Activists -- Gopalakrishnan, Siva Elango (Makkal Sakthi Katchi) and Madhav Vishnubhatta (Association for India's Development) -- were picked up Chennai Police at about 11.20 this morning in front of the Raj Bhavan and taken to Guindy police station, detained all day and released in the evening.

“We were originally to have been produced before the magistrate at Saidapet Court and remanded by the police under ‘preventive detention’ provisions of CrPC Section 151 and also Criminal Law amendment (CLA) 71A,” said V Madhav (also known as Madhav Vishnubhatta), a leading campaigner for proper implementation of the RTI Act. “However, after being detained at Guindy and Velachery police stations, we were released in the evening.

The three activists were demonstrating against the unlawful swearing-in of former Chief Secretary K S Sripathy as Tamil Nadu’s Chief Information Commissioner without an open and transparent process. They stood at the entrance to the Raj Bhavan wearing black blindfolds and holding placards that read "Save RTI", "No transparency in Appointments", "Non-transparent appointment to uphold transparency??"

The DMK Government had convened a meeting of the Selection Committee under RTI on 23 August, 2010. RTI activists, including Madhav, met Ms. Jayalalithaa, who is both leader of the opposition and a part of the 3-person selection committee, to highlight the lack of transparency in the selection process. The selection process was not preceded by a call for applications from eligible candidates, and Mr. Sripathy's name was revealed even before the Committee could meet. Ms Jayalalithaa's request for information regarding the various candidates was also not honoured. Mr. Sripathy, who is known to be close to the Chief Minister Karunanidhi, is also known for his non-transparent stance. On one occasion, he appealed a decision of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission directing his office to reveal the details regarding names of IAS officers who had disclosed their assets and those who had not. During his tenure as Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Mr. Sripathy had facilitated the exemption of the Directorate of Vigilance and anti-Corruption from the purview of the RTI Act.

Even the invitation for swearing in of the Chief Information Commissioner sent to the Press and others did not even mention the name of the person being sworn in to uphold the RTI Act, which seeks to enforce transparent and accountable governance. Activists believe that this was done to thwart any attempt to bring a stay order against the appointment. See invitation:

"How can there be a non-transparent process to appoint the keeper of the Right to Information Act. This is cronyism at its worst and spells ill for the RTI Act's implementation in Tamilnadu," says Madhav.

For details & enquiries:

· Activist Nityanand Jayaraman 9444082401 (Chennai)

· Activist Vijay 9840618948 (Chennai)

· Activist Krishnaraj Rao (Mumbai) 98215 88114

· Activist Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi)

· Director General of Police, TN 094440 77553

· Commissioner of Police, Chennai, 095009 83832

· Mr Adayar, Deputy Commissioner of Police 94450 20990

· Governor Surjit Singh Barnala Raj Bhavan-Chennai. Phone: +91-44-22351313 Fax : +91-44-22350570 E-mail : governor @

· Chief Minister Dr M Karunanidhi Office 91-44-25672345 Fax 91-44-25671441 E-Mail:

Recent hi-res photos of V Madhav at a national-level consultation of RTI activists and bureaucrats that he organized at IIPA in Delhi on 4th August 2010, concerning due procedures to be followed for selection of Information Commissioners:

Background Material
Related recent media coverage:
1. Over the past several months, V Madhav has been spearheading a national level campaign for transparent appointment of State Information Commissioners. See this web link:

2. Madhav had unearthed a racket of some top-level bureaucrats in Tamil Nadu who had virtually selected themselves for the post of State Information commissioners. See details here:

3. Madhav had led a delegation of activists on 12th Feb 2010 from around the country to hold a meeting with DoPT Officials about transparent CIC selections. Brief report: The delegation had formally submitted a representation to DoPT in this regard:

Krishnaraj Rao

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