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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Maharashtra Citizens, take this Weapon and start Fighting Corruption

Dear fellow citizens,

Tagore wrote, “You can't cross a sea merely by standing and staring into the water”. In the battle against corruption, don’t you want to go beyond facebooking, twittering and sloganeering? Don’t you really want to have a movement? Guys, most of us have only talked the talk. If you want to walk the talk, then take this weapon and get moving. Like the Jan Lokpal Bill, this too is Anna Hazare’s brainchild; rest assured it’s not a rival product.

Since February 2011, Maharashtra has instituted a high-level Corruption Eradication Committees at Taluka, District and Divisional level. These committees are waiting to receive complaints and oral submissions from you. Bhavesh Patel, Anna Hazare’s man on one of these committees, informs us that In Mumbai, they now hold monthly meetings around noon on the first Monday of every month.

These are high-level committees chaired by the quasi-judicial officers at three levels -- Divisional Commissioners, District Collectors (a.k.a. District Magistrates with powers under Criminal Procedure Code) and Tahsildars (a.k.a. Tahsil Magistrates), and they have Anti-Corruption Bureau Superintendent of Police and Deputy Superintendent of Police as their members. Besides, chiefs of various government departments are the members.

This complaint mechanism can be used to target corruption by the smallest State Govt. chaprasi (peon), karmachari (worker) and karkhoon (clerk) to the most powerful State Govt. officer and Babu (bureaucrat).

It cannot be directly used to target corruption by netas (political leaders and elected representatives), mantris (ministers), constitutional appointees (such as Information Commissioners, Human Rights Commissioners etc), and private entities (such as individuals, cooperative societies, companies). This is because if, after investigation, the charges are found to have substance, they can recommend departmental enquiry and disciplinary action. Netas, mantris, constitutional appointees and private entities cannot be subjected to departmental enquiry and disciplinary action.

With all its limitations, this mechanism is still very powerful, because in the course of a departmental enquiry, the role of elected representatives and ministers is likely to come out, and the evidence gathered thereby has a good chance of landing with the Anti-Corruption Bureau and/or resulting in prosecution against all concerned – ministers and private parties also. The public servant is thus the weakest link in the chain of corruption, and it must be broken through our concerted action.

Click here to download Ready-to-use Complaint Format

Where to send complaint, whom to send, where to go for meeting?

Venues /contact phone nos. of these monthly meetings, where they receive complaints:

1) Mumbai City & North Mumbai (Suburbs)

2) Thane, Navi Mumbai, Ulhasnagar, Ambernath, etc.

3) Pune

4) Rest of Maharashtra

You can send your complaint to The Divisional Headquarters, District Collectorate or Taluka indicated in the above addresses.

Who do you address your complaints to?

Keeping in mind the jurisdiction, you have options and alternatives. You can address it to:

1) Divisional Commissioner, in his capacity as Chairman of Divisional Corruption Eradication Committee of one of the six divisions of Maharashtra, viz. Nagpur, Amravati, Aurangabad, Konkan, Nashik and Pune Division. You can also address it to Deputy Commissioner (Revenue), in his capacity as Secretary. This committee sits at Divisional Headquarters.

2) District Collector, in his capacity as Chairman of District Corruption Eradication Committee of one of the 31 districts of Maharashtra. You can also address it to the Resident Deputy Collector, who is the Secretary. This committee sits at District Collectorate.

3) Deputy Collector in his capacity as Chairman of the Tehsil Corruption Eradication Committee. Or you can address it to the Tehsildar in his capacity as Secretary. This committee sits at Taluka/Tehsildar office.

4) You can also address it to the Chief of the Vigilance Squad in your district, and send it to the District Collectorate.

Who they are, what are their powers, duties & obligations:

· The officers who are ex-officio on these high-level committees, click here:

English Marathi

· The action that they are required to take on your complaint, click here:

English Marathi

· To read about Vigilance Squads & its Duties, click here:

English Marathi

What you need for filing Complaint:

1) Specific knowledge to expose a wrongdoing and/or a corrupt government employee/employees.


2) RTI documents as evidence of delaying tactics, non-acceptance of complaints, and inaction amounting to deliberate dereliction of duty, negligence etc.


3) Evidence of Disproportionate Assets, information from reliable sources etc.

4) Your complaint need not necessarily be against any individual. You can point out wrongdoings of a department as a whole if you have knowledge of how a certain scam works.

Note: It is not necessary for you to have conclusive proof of the wrongdoing. Remember, you are only a well-meaning citizen, not an investigating agency or private detective. Information that can establish prima facie guilt is sufficient for you to trigger the statewide mechanism ofVigilance Squads, which will independently investigate based on your complaint, and report to the respective Corruption Eradication Committee.

Examples of such information or evidence:

a) RTI documents that show undue favours and abuse of discretionary authority

b) Correspondence that indicates unwillingness to perform their official duties as per the law

c) Photographs or recordings of soliciting/accepting bribes

d) A video-recording of touts in and around offices such as RTO, Octroi collection checkposts etc.

e) Knowledge of disproportionate assets owned by government servants

Optional reading: Read about the recent GR that mandates the formation of Corruption Eradication Committees and enables the citizens to action against corruption. RTI activists will find it quite easy to take action as they would already have large amounts of evidence of wrongdoings at their disposal, and because they are used to doing paperwork.

Warm Regards,


98215 88114 (replace .AT. with @)

PS: This document contains over a dozen web links and downloads. If you cannot see the download links in this email, please open the attached word file.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Maharashtra, Celebrate! This recent Anti-Corrupt GR gives RTI activists huge powers


My fellow activists often ask in despair, “After RTI, what? Even if you get documents to expose a corrupt official, what can you do with this information? Who will entertain your complaint?” This is a key question. A Right to Information application will at best reveal the documents that show that a corrupt officer or employee is unduly favouring someone, breaking rules, deliberately delaying matters etc. But what will you do with those papers? Who will take action on a complaint from an RTI activist?

True, one can try for departmental enquiry and disciplinary action, but everybody knows what an uphill task that is. We all have experienced the obstacles that the administration puts in our path – even if we have clear black-and-white evidence.

And so the one and only solution is the Jan-Lokpal Bill, right? And until this comes along, we just have to wait and watch, right?


There is now a mechanism available to people all over Maharashtra. If we use it, it will put the fear of God into hundreds of corrupt government servants, both big and small. Read about the detailed mechanism brought into existence by this Government Resolution (GR), which was passed on 4th February 2011.

· Download Marathi GR from here:

Or from here:

· Download the English Translation:

[The yellow highlighted parts in this file are notes from me to you. Otherwise, this file contains a nearly exact translation.]

Whom should we thank for this excellent and progressive piece of rule-making. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is, Prithviraj Chavan and Anna Hazare. So, three cheers for Prithviraj Chavan and Anna Hazare: Hip-hip-hurray! Jai Maharashtra! Jai Hind!

Look at this GR’s marvelous features:

1) Can punish the smallest government servant to the most powerful IAS officer & top-cop. This GR makes no exceptions for anybody. Corruption, undue delays and dereliction of duty will be punished, no matter who commits it. It confers sweeping powers on the common man, who can submit written complaints as well as oral submissions before the Corruption Eradication Committees.

2) Creates multi-layered anti-corruption structure geographically & administratively spread throughout Maharashtra. This GR mandates the establishment of Committees and Vigilance Squads for Eradication of corruption at Divisional, District and Taluka levels. It sets up a multi-layered Corruption Control-cum-Grievance Redressal mechanism that is geographically dispersed in rural and urban Maharashtra, and spread over different levels of the State administration -- from the Taluka level up to Mantralaya.

3) Consolidation of many anti-corruption & anti-delay GRs. This GR consolidates ten anti-corruption and delay prevention government circulars (GRs) issued between 1996 and 2009. Those 10 old GRs are now cancelled, having been given effect in this one single GR.

4) Accessible & friendly for common man. It establishes a mechanism for accepting written complaints and hearing oral submissions at places that are reasonably close to accessible for the common man i.e. Taluka headquarters, District headquarters and Divisional headquarters. Also, it is supposed to hear not only allegations of corruption, but also those concerning undue delay, irregularities, favouritism etc.

5) Not top-heavy; Spreads the onus for action evenly throughout the administration. It spreads out authority on several ex-officio heads of department such as Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Superintendent of Police Anti-Corruption Bureau and Chief Engineer PWD. These people bring domain knowledge of the specific field concerning the complaint. They understand the ground realities, and, unlike judges sitting in High Courts, Vigilance Commissions or Lokayukta’s offices, they can go to the spot. It also introduces 5 to 10 civil society watchdog members in each committee. Thus, it is not top-heavy. (One badly-selected Information Commissioner can jam up the RTI system for five years because he has no pressure to perform. But one badly-selected member of Corruption Eradication Committee cannot do the same, because this GR puts pressure on him to perform, like a gun to his head! If he fails to act in 90 days, the complainant can escalate the matter to the next level, and disciplinary proceedings will be recommended against the delaying member of the Corruption Eradication Committee or Vigilance Squad!)

6) System for taking cognizance of Information received under RTI, or from whistleblowers.Specific mention of Right to Information is made in point no. 7. However, it also gives scope for administration insiders to blow the whistle on negligent or corrupt superiors and colleagues.

7) Culminates in Departmental Enquiry & Disciplinary Action. Wherever guilt is established – not only for corruption, but even for undue delay and other kinds of breach of Maharashtra Civil Service Rules -- the case lands in the lap of the Competent Authority for that particular officer. This is the government authority empowered to hold departmental enquiries and initiate disciplinary action. Thus, the punishment (unlike an RTI penalty) will have a lasting impact on the career of officers found guilty.

8) Ample internal checks & balances. The GR puts the onus of investigation and evidence-collection on Vigilance Squads, which consists of A group and B group officers at each district level. These officers are supposed to work under the supervision of the concerned Corruption Eradication Committee. If Vigilance Squad members don’t function properly, or if they become corrupt or drag their feet on some cases, etc., the GR defines 90-day deadlines for investigation and reporting. If deadlines are crossed, the complaint can automatically get escalated to the next higher level, making the corrupt squad members, and also corrupt committee members, eligible for departmental enquiry and disciplinary action.

9) Gives teeth to all existing Rules & Laws (State & Central), and thereby gives teeth to the common man. Maharashtra’s Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act [Read: ] is specifically mentioned in the GR. So is theMaharashtra Civil Services Rules 1979 (Amended 2008) . However, there are many other rules, laws and guidelines – too numerous to name here. This GR implicitly gives the citizen power to invoke any of these while making a complaint and oral submission!

10) Includes feedback mechanism for complainant. This GR contains provisions that make it necessary for the Committee or Squad to get back to the complainant with its findings and reports – whether guilty or not-guilty.

11) No time limits! People, bring out your old RTI documents showing corruption, undue delays, irregularities, frauds etc. This GR mandates that the Committees and Squads must entertain them, even if one or two years have passed. Because no time-limits are specified for your complaint.

It goes without saying that We, the People of Maharashtra, will have to exercise our ownership of this Corruption Eradication GR in the same way as we have done for the Right to Information Act. Our participation is like the blood running through the veins of all legislations; if we don’t exercise the many rights that this GR gives us, then this system will not come to life. On the other hand, I am fully hopeful if we wake up to this opportunity, and start filing complaints with the relevant Corruption Eradication Committee, we can enliven this system and make it respond to the valid concerns of every citizen.

Personally, I believe that this GR has the potential to add tremendous power to the RTI Act in Maharashtra, clean up the administration and serve as a role-model for the rest of India.

Warm Regards,


98215 88114

Important Footnotes:

I. In Marathi, this GR refers to the Corruption Eradication Committees at various levels as “Bhrashtachar Nirmoolan Samiti”. A simple google search shows that there are two or three older organizations with the same name or similar names. See these:




However, the term “Bhrashtrachar Nirmoolan Samiti” that this GR refers are not the above mentioned. They will be entirely different committees where the responsibility will be shouldered by government officers, and citizens will play the role of watchdogs.

II. There at other GRs enabling the people of Maharashtra to have government officers punished for corruption, dereliction of duty and negligence. See these.



Both these GRs (and others also) continue to be in force. They are more specific and targeted, and very good in their own way. Let us use them.

III. This translation was done at the initiative and expense of my colleague G R Vora. At 50 paise per word, he spent over Rs 1,400 for this one GR alone. Towards this and other GRs, he has spent Rs 2,750. See . In the last 12 months, Vora has spent at least Rs 30,000 out of pocket to support us … and he is supporting many other activists like us! So it will be nice if some kind soul out there helps this brave man shoulder this burden. We badly need to translate many more documents to empower citizens, as Maharashtra government’s GRs in Marathi will otherwise remain an area of ignorance for large numbers of citizens.

IV. I have tried my best to remove all errors in translation. Still, some may have escaped me. (My knowledge of Marathi is patchy, so forgive me.) If you are fluent in Marathi and English, please download this word file and correct the mistakes. Kindly colour-highlight the corrections and email the file to us, so that we can promptly update the internet copy of this file.


Friday, April 15, 2011

PIO Hits Back, Files RTI on Activist!

RTI Activist Mr Tapil Kumar, Resident of Shahpur-Qutub, District Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, got the shock of his life when the Mr Surendra Pal Singh, Public Information Officer (PIO), Nagar Panchayat, Harduaganj, retaliated and filed an RTI on him by sending a postal order of Rs 10 along with six questions!
Mr Kumar had posed queries related to assets of the husband of Chairman of the Nagar Panchayat and this did not go down well with the PIO.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seven Aids to Using Right to Information

1. Bilingual versions of RTI Act 2005:

(by Dr.Chandrakant Pulkundwar)

a) English-Hindi:

b) English-Marathi:

2. Key Judgments of various High Courts on RTI (Case Law Digest)

(By YASHADA’s RTI Cell led by Prahlad Kachare)

3. PIO’s Guide to RTI Act:

(By Shailesh Gandhi, Central Information Commissioner)

4. RTI Act with notes for interpretation of various sections:

(By Shailesh Gandhi, Central Information Commissioner)

5. RTI Act Simplified & Abridged:

(RTI Act in English, simplified and reduced from 10,800 words to 4,300 words)

6. Tips & Tricks on filing good RTI applications:

(Four articles with points to guide RTI activists and applicants)

7. RTI Application Formats:

(By Shailesh Gandhi, Central Information Commissioner)

Warm Regards,


98215 88114