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Thread: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO

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    Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported by The Hindu on February 1, 2009


    New Delhi (PTI): The PMO has decided to keep the assets of ministers and their relatives under wraps saying information in this regard is exempted from the Right to Information Act.

    In a reply to the application of RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the PMO has termed the information as exempt under the Section 8 of the RTI Act and refused to divulge it for the same.

    The PMO had reportedly provided the details to the cabinet secretariat to facilitate answering of RTI applications in this regard but later took an about turn and denied the information to the applicant.

    Agrawal had filed an RTI application last year seeking seeking details of assets of Union Ministers and their relatives for the last two years from Cabinet Secretariat. The letter was forwarded to Prime Minister's Office for necessary action on the application.

    "In a letter dated May 19, 2008 the PMO provided the details of assets and liabilities of members of Union Council of Ministers to cabinet secretariat to deal with such RTI applications," Agrawal said.

    "But after that I did not get any response from either of the offices. I had even moved an application with the Central Information Commission in this regard," he added.

    After six months, PMO in a letter dated December 17, 2008 told Agrawal that the information sought could not be provided as it was exempt under the RTI Act provisions. The office sought exemption under clauses 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) which relate to immunity granted to "documents fiduciary relationship" and "Cabinet Documents" under the RTI Act, 2005 respectively.

    Source : The Hindu News Update Service



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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported at www.indianexpress.com on February 2, 2009
    PMO U-turn on RTI, won't reveal ministers' assets

    New Delhi: If the Supreme Court is on a refusal mode as far as disclosing the assets of its judges are concerned, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seems to be faring hardly any better.

    In a turn of events drawing parallel to the higher judiciary’s denial to provide information about the declaration of assets, the PMO is reportedly keen to keep the assets of “Union Ministers, their spouses and dependent children” under wraps.

    Worse still, the PMO is alleged to have done a virtual U-turn while acting on a Right to Information (RTI) query by initially forwarding the information on the ministers’ “updated assets till May 14, 2008”, but later backtracking on its response claiming RTI exemption for “documents held in fiduciary relationship” — a star argument earlier made by the Supreme Court for refusing to comply with RTI.

    The turn of events came on an RTI petition filed by Subhash Agarwal, a textile businessman from Delhi, on April 28 last year to the Cabinet Secretariat, seeking details of “assets, wealth, income with Union ministers, spouses and their dependent children for the last two years or as is available”. The Cabinet Secretariat forwarded the request to the PMO on May 5 stating that the information sought was “more closely connected with the functions” of the latter public authority.

    "The PMO had reacted by sending an office memo to the Secretariat on May 19, enclosing an updated list of assets enjoyed by Union ministers till May 14, 2008,” Agarwal said.

    Receiving no communication for the next five months, Agarwal decided to follow up his request by shooting off a letter to the Secretariat on October 4. “The letter was plainly ignored,” he claimed.

    On December 17, the PMO told Agrawal that the information sought could not be provided as it was exempt under the RTI Act provisions. The office sought exemption claiming immunity granted to “documents held in fiduciary relationship” and “Cabinet documents”, respectively.

    “I sent an e-mail to CIC Wajahat Habibullah on January 30, 2009, requesting him to take up the matter, especially the reason behind the U-turn made by the PMO, on an urgent basis,” the RTI applicant said.

    Source: PMO U-turn on RTI, won't reveal ministers' assets

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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    There the provisions of RTI Act under Sec. 8 is being misused.

    It is a known factor that most of the Ministers, Higher officers/Public functionaries amase wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. When the limit exceeds in order to conceal the income, every often Public functionaries used to keep these income in the name of ther kith & kins. In the event of not furnishing the same taking shelter of the Sec. 8 provisions of RTI Act 2005, then surely this is a diluation of the powerful act from the Higher office such as PMO. What is the harm in divulging the information to the information seeker ? If someone is trying to hide in this regard the assets of Ministers, higher officers/public functionaries, then the direction goes on the ohter way that these officials got assets disproportionate to their known source of income, which they held in the names of their close relatives or kith & kin, thus do not want to furnish the same taking shelter under Sec 8 of the RTI Act 2005.

    The CPIO/PIO of the higher offices should not curtail such information if sought by an RTI Applicant rather furnish the same and set a moral to be followed. On the contrary, it will create a precedence and gradually other offices shall not furnish the information citing example from PMO's office, which is very unfortunate. One request - please do not dilute the spirit of the RTI Act by unnecessarily inflicting the provisons of Sec. 8. Rather the spirit of the Act should be used in a judicious way taking the matters in its right perspective.

    MOHANDAS.

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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO



    As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on February 2, 2009
    Assets of ministers, kin exempt from RTI: PMO

    NEW DELHI: At a time when pressure is mounting on the judiciary to disclose its assets, the executive wing of the government has come into the limelight for its attitude towards transparency.

    In a decision that could have a far-reaching impact on administrative accountability, the PMO, widely seen as leading the government towards transparency has decided to withhold information related to assets of ministers and their relatives.

    Responding to a query by applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the PMO termed the information as exempt under clauses 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) which relate to immunity granted to "documents fiduciary relationship" and "Cabinet documents" under the RTI Act.

    Agrawal has now filed an appeal with the Central Information Commission.

    Significantly, the PMO had initially agreed to part with the information. But in a curious U-turn on December 17, 2008, the PMO held that details sought by the applicant were exempt from disclosure. The `no' was repeated on January 27, 2009, when Agrawal persisted with his effort.

    It was last year that Agrawal had filed the RTI application seeking details of assets of Union ministers and their relatives for the last two years from cabinet secretariat. The letter was forwarded to Prime Minister's Office for necessary action.

    In his appeal, Agrawal points to the PMO's reversal of stance. "The PMO was ready to divulge the information but there has been a change in decision," Agrawal said.




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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    As reported by ibnlive.in.com on February 2, 2009

    RTI activist upset with PMO over ministers' assets issue

    New Delhi: RTI petitioner Subhash Chandra Agrawal is upset over the Prime Minister's Office making an U-turn on the issue of ministers declaring their assets.

    "On December 17, 2008, the PMO took an U-turn and sent me a letter that information sought was protected under 81E and J relating to fiduciary and personal information of RTI Act and it cannot be disclosed, In another petition the Union Home Ministry had said that Union Ministers are not government servants," said Agrawal.

    Agrawal was reacting to PMO's decision that information in this regard be kept exempted from the Right to Information Act.

    On May 19, 2008, the PMO had reportedly provided details of assets of ministers to the Cabinet Secretariat, to facilitate answering of RTI applications.

    But in a letter dated December 17, the PMO refused to divulge details sought by Agrawal.

    It termed the information as exempt under the Section 8 of the RTI Act.

    Agrawal had filed an RTI application last year seeking details of assets of Union Ministers and their relatives for the last two years.

    The office sought exemption under clauses 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) which relate to immunity granted to "documents fiduciary relationship" and "Cabinet Documents" under the RTI Act, 2005 respectively

    Source : RTI activist upset with PMO over ministers' assets issue

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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    Bureau report at zeenews.com on February 2, 2009
    Assets of ministers, kins exempted from RTI queries: PMO

    New Delhi, Feb 02: The PMO has decided to keep the assets of ministers and their relatives under wraps saying information in this regard is exempted from the Right to Information Act.

    In a reply to the application of RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the PMO has termed the information as exempt under the Section 8 of the RTI Act and refused to divulge it for the same.

    The PMO had reportedly provided the details to the cabinet secretariat to facilitate answering of RTI applications in this regard but later took an about turn and denied the information to the applicant.

    Agrawal had filed an RTI application last year seeking seeking details of assets of Union ministers and their relatives for the last two years from Cabinet Secretariat. The letter was forwarded to Prime Minister's Office for necessary action on the application.

    "In a letter dated May 19, 2008 the PMO provided the details of assets and liabilities of members of Union Council of Ministers to cabinet secretariat to deal with such RTI applications," Agrawal said.

    "But after that I did not get any response from either of the offices. I had even moved an application with the Central Information Commission in this regard," he added.

    After six months, PMO in a letter dated December 17, 2008 told Agrawal that the information sought could not be provided as it was exempt under the RTI Act provisions.

    The office sought exemption under clauses 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) which relate to immunity granted to "documents fiduciary relationship" and "Cabinet Documents" under the RTI Act, 2005 respectively.

    Source : Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO

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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    An editorial in navhindtimes.com on 03 February 2009:
    Leading by Example: Navhindtimes.com, Goa

    Leading by Example


    AFTER the judiciary refused to comply with an RTI petition to disclose the assets of the judges, it is the turn of the executive to stonewall any such move. Interesting, the move to block the information has come from the PMO that has been swearing by transparency and probity in public life. Though the government had earlier agreed to furnish the information and had even directed the cabinet secretary to provide the applicant detailed information, it made a U-turn and on January 27 it finally declined. This act of the PMO would defeat the purpose and intentions of the RTI Act and turn it irrelevant as a minister is a public figure and he is accountable to the people of the country. Moreover if he can declare his assets at the time of filing his nomination papers what is the harm in making public his assets while he is working as a minister? People have a right to know how their elected representative was using his office. Concealing information is ridiculous as at least five UPA ministers are suspect and one of them the Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad is already involved in a disproportionate assets case which is lying before the Patna High Court. This would expose the ministers to greater public scrutiny. Apparently this action of the PMO is related to the reluctance of the judiciary to part with the information. The time has come for the judiciary too to be more transparent. Significantly, Mr Justice Nirmal Yadav of Punjab and Haryana High Court accused in the cash-in-bag scam had already written to the Supreme Court Chief Justice to probe against all judges facing the allegations. One High Court judge in Kolkata and some UP judges are also under the scanner. The judiciary must lead others by example.

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    Re: Assets of ministers, kin exempted from RTI queries: PMO


    An edit in navbharattimes.indiatimes.com on 02 February 2009:
    ????????? ?? ???? ??????????? ?? ??????? RTI ?? ????? ?? ???? ????? ??? -?????? ??-????? ???-Navbharat Times

    मंत्रियों और उनके रिश्तेदारों की संपत्ति RTI के दायरे से बाहर क्यों हो?

    अब तो सरकार ने खुलेआम कह दिया है कि मंत्रियों की और उनके रिश्तेदारों की संपत्ति का ब्यौरा नहीं देंगे। मतलब साफ है। मंत्री और उनके
    रिश्तेदार जितनी चाहे संपत्ति इकट्ठी करें , इस पर कोई सवाल नहीं उठा सकता। इस सूचना को सूचना के अधिकार से बाहर की बात करार दिया गया है। अब आप पूछ नहीं सकते कि आपके मंत्री के पास कितनी संपत्ति है और क्यों है। उनके रिश्तेदारों के बारे में भी नहीं पूछ सकते।

    दिलचस्प बात यह है कि पीएमओ ने तो मंत्रियों की संपत्ति का ब्यौरा कैबिनिट सचिव को दे दिया था , लेकिन कैबिनिट सचिव ने इसे सार्वजनिक करने से इनकार कर दिया। हाल ही में सूचना आयुक्त वजाहत हबीबुल्लाह ने कहा कि आईएएस अधिकारियों को बाकायदा ट्रेनिंग दी जाती है सूचनाएं छिपाने के लिए। हाल का यह मामला उसी का एक नमूना है। लेकिन यह सवाल सिर्फ एक सूचना का नहीं , हमारे अधिकार का है।

    क्यों ? आखिर क्यों हमें हक नहीं है अपनी ही सरकार के मंत्रियों और रिश्तेदारो के बारे में सवाल पूछने का। वे हमारे प्रतिनिधि हैं , शासक नहीं। उन्हें हमने मंत्री हम पर राज करने के लिए नहीं बनाया है , बल्कि हमारा प्रतिनिधित्व करने के लिए बनाया है। फिर उन्हें किस अधिकार से यह सूचना छिपाने की छूट मिल रही है ? और यही सब करना था , तो सूचना के अधिकार को कानून बनाने का ड्रामा क्यों किया गया ?

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