Barinder Saluja, Chandigarh,April 13 : The office bearers of RTI Activists Federation of Punjab, in their emergency meeting held at Press Club, Chandigarh today, passed a resolution condemning Harpal Kaur , District Education Officer (Elementary) Ludhiana for filing a false and frivolous FIR against RTI Activist and Social Studies Master (Gursharan Singh) at Government High School, Bhadla (near-Khanna) as a counter-blast against his activities in exposing corruption at various levels in the District.
Office bearers condemned the gross mis-use of powers by Harpal Kaur, as DEO (Elementary), Ludhiana (as stated by Adv. HC Arora) in misusing the provisions of “Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act” and alleging in the FIR that Gursharan Singh had a telephonic conversation with some Manjit Singh, during which “Castiest words against Harpal Kaur” have been used. The modus operandi adopted by Harpal Kaur is that (i) firstly the mobile phone set of Gursharan Singh was got stolen by some body close to her; (ii) then the conversation between Gursharan Singh and Manjit Singh, another teacher , as recorded in the said mobile set, was used for filing FIR against both of them.Gursharan Singh has clarified to H.C. Arora, State President of RTI Activists Federation Punjab, over telephone today that “Not a single word in the recorded conversation has been uttered by him using any castiest word against any body, much less against Harpal Kaur”
said Gursharan Singh, as told by H.C.Arora
The RTI Activists Federation, therefore, demands from the Punjab Government/Home Secretary to intervene into this matter, and direct the DEO (Elementary) Ludhiana to withdraw the FIR, and also issue instructions to all authorities in Punjab not to file such FIRs without permission from the Chief Secretary, Punjab.
They Also Released a Book which contains 100 Strange and Shocking Orders passed by the State Information Commission, Punjab. The object of publishing this book is said H C Arora, that “We have brought out this booklet to enable you to understand one of the problems faced by the RTI Activists of Punjab in implementing their resolve to expose corruption through the RTI Act.”
He also Added that “The State CIC of Punjab has been openly clamoring for powers under Contempt of Courts Act; For what purpose? It appears the sole motive is to stifle the voice of RTI Activists. The position in other State Information Commissions may be totally different from Punjab; Many Information Commissioners in Punjab are virtually enjoying paid holidays on most of the working days, as they don’t have sufficient work to keep them busy. The Information Commissioners get same salary as is paid to Hon’ble Judges of the High Courts; However, they donot have to burn mid-night oil at their residence for going through the paper books of cases. The Country expects much better orders from the Information Commissioners. However, there have been good orders also occasionally coming from many of them; One such good order is published at serial No. 2 in this booklet; They deserve our compliments. By and large, however, the position appears to be far from satisfactory in the Punjab State Information Commission. At the same time, we are of the considered view that any number of good orders cannot mitigates the pain of those who have suffered hundreds of strange and shocking orders. We, therefore, reiterate our conviction and appeal to all of you to exert your influence at your respective places so that at least 50% of the Information Commissioners should be selected from amongst Retired Judges and prominent RTI Experts/ activists of unimpeachable integrity; only such persons can carry the RTI movement forward in consonance with the letter and spirit of the RTI Act.”
OUR DEMAND AND NECESSITY OF LAUNCHING A MASS MOVEMENT BY RTI ACTIVISTS IN PUNJAB
Atleast 50% of the Information Commissioners should be selected from amongst Retired Judges and prominent RTI Experts/ activists of unimpeachable integrity; Only such persons can carry the RTI movement forward in consonance with the letter and spirit of the RTI Act.”
Section 12 and 15 of the RTI Act, 2005 lay down that “The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management,
journalism, mass media or administration and governance.”
As there are 10 posts of State Information Commissioners, and one post of State Chief Information Commissioner in Punjab, therefore, we demand that 5 posts of Information Commissioners be filled up from amongst retired Judges and RTI Activists, and the State CIC should only be a retired Judge (i.e., the persons of eminence with back ground of law and social service).
At present, 4 posts of Information Commissioners are vacant, and two posts are to fall vacant on 16.5.2011. We, therefore, demand that 5 out of these 6 vacant posts be filled up from amongst retired Judges and prominent RTI Activists of unimpeachable integrity.
(2) ACTIONS SO FAR TAKEN BY THE RTI ACTIVISTS FEDERATION.
During last one month, more than 1000 memorandums have been sent by RTI Activists from all over Punjab to Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab (S. Sukhbir Singh Badal) through e-mail and fax. All those memorandums have been “just forwarded” by the office of Deputy C.M. to the Information & Technology Department for necessary action. Thus, in a way, more than 1000 memorandums have been “thrown into dust-bins” by the Punjab Government.
(3) NOW, THEREFORE, WE HAVE NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE EXCEPT LAUNCHING A POWERFUL MASS MOVEMENT IN SUPPORT OF OUR SOLITARY DEMAND AS ABOVE.