RTI ACT DOES HELP: AN EXPERIENCE


RTI ACT DOES HELP: AN EXPERIENCE

Shri JR Lal is an active member of Citizens Alliance for Promotion of Responsive Governance. This is his personal experience.

“I needed to get a small modification made in our family Ration Card.

The prescribed application form duly completed was submitted to Food & Supplies department’s Circle Office along with Ration Card and a fee of Rs. 25/-. For having received those documents and the fee, an acknowledgement was given. The concerned official then directed to return after one month to collect the modified Ration Card.”

What choice or voice does a citizen have in the kingdom of mighty Babus?

“After a month, the Circle Office was visited once again by my son to collect the modified Ration Card. The man in the ration office demanded the return of the acknowledgement for Rs 25/-and refused to hand over the amended ration card. Since the cash receipt was not readily available my son was shooed away with instructions to bring the receipt or a parchi from the police.”

What choice or voice does a citizen have in the kingdom of Mighty Babus?
Proper use of RTI.

It may be of interest for all of us to know that it is absolutely against the rules to ask for the return of any receipt, acknowledgement, etc. issued against a payment made to the Govt. department. Therefore an application under RTI Act was sent by courier to the concerned Public Information Officer viz the Asst. Commissioner of the zone on 01.08.2007 asking information on the following points :-

Whether it is compulsory to return the said acknowledgement to get the corrected Ration Card;

If original acknowledgement is returned, will the department issue a separate receipt to show that amount of Rs. 25/- was paid to the department; and

In the event of failure to return the original acknowledgement, what formality will have to be complied with to get the corrected Ration Card.?

Believe it or not

“Can you imagine what happened next?”

“Within two hours of the delivery of the courier to the Asst. Commissioner of the zone, Food Inspector from Circle Office landed at my residence to hand over the modified Ration Card without any fuss and without asking return of the acknowledgment in question”.

– JR LAL

Selective righteousness in the face of religious fanaticism.


Taslima & the soft underbelly of Liberalism

 Bigotry Is Bigotry, Even If It’s By Minority  Jug Suraiya  


   Where have all the liberals gone, now that Taslima Nasreen, the outspoken Bangladeshi novelist living in exile in India, has come under attack from Islamic fundamentalists? The writer was physically attacked at a public function in Hyderabad (held, ironically enough, in the local Press club, stomping ground of supposedly liberal media representatives and opinion-makers) and has subsequently been threatened with beheading by an MLA from Andhra. 


   This paper carried a strong editorial denouncing the shameful episode. Barkha Dutt and a few other media people have questioned the scant protest the incident has provoked among the country’s liberalati who are, rightly, very vocal in condemning any flexing of Hindu fundamentalist muscle. This is not an isolated case. Time and again, acts of violence and intimidation by Hindu zealots have been pilloried while similar instances of Islamic bigotry and intolerance have been received with an embarrassed silence and an averting of eyes on the part of self-professed champions of freedom of expression.

   All this, of course, is gleeful grist to Hindu fundamentalists who point to this blatant example of double-standards to show up the hypocrisy of what they call ‘pseudo secularism’. And they’re right. Bigotry is bigotry, whether it comes from the majority or a minority community. So what’s the liberal justification of its selective righteousness in the face  of religious fanaticism?


   The answer seems to be based on a specious calculus of liberalism whereby weightage in terms of moral indignation is given in direct proportion to numeric strength. Since the majority community is per se larger (and putatively stronger) than a minority community, any display of aggressive intolerance on its part must be inveighed against in measure proportionate to its size.  Conversely, similar transgressions by minorities should be underplayed, or even ignored, out of consideration of that community’s smaller size and hence, supposedly greater vulnerability. This attitude is dangerously flawed. It is unconscionably patronising to minorities; a condescending paternalism which encourages infantile misbehaviour (You’re a naughty little boy, but I’ll forgive you because you’re little). 

   True liberalism is all about individuals, their rights as well as their responsibilities. Protection of individual rights becomes meaningless without recognition of individual responsibilities. A violent fanatic must be treated as the unruly lawbreaker that he is and cannot be condoned on the grounds of belonging to an abstraction called a ‘minority community’. In a truly liberal context, the only irreducible minority is the individual, not an aggregate formed by faith or other common denominator.

   The men who attacked Nasreen, and the man who has called for her decapitation, ought to be charged and arrested not because they’re Muslim, or Hindus, or Holy Rollers, but because they are individuals who have broken the law. Let’s forget the M-word, and the H-word, and focus on the I-word — which can stand both for Indian and individual.

Dadagiri with Police Support


Beat this! Police slap case on Taslima, attackers roam free 

 TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

 Hyderabad:

In a stunning follow-up to the attack on Taslima Nasreen by Muslim activists, the Hyderabad police on Saturday booked the exiled Bangladeshi author for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language — a charge that can get her two years in prison, if proven. The attackers are roaming freely, charged with minor misdemeanours.
   The move by cops, who had dragged their feet on complaints against the goons of a city-based political group, the Majlis-Ittehadul Muslimeen, booked Taslima under section 153 (a) of the IPC after a complaint by MIM’s floor leader in the AP assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi.
   The MIM leader, who had warned Taslima would be killed if she stepped into Hyderabad again, alleged the novelist had hurt sentiments of the Muslim community with her writings and her speeches against Islam. The case against Taslima was filed at Hyderabad’s Punjagutta police station.
   Why the police filed a case against Taslima by taking MIM’s contention seriously appears to be politically driven — the ruling Congress needs the Muslim group’s support. And as for MIM, the group, which once backed the Nizam’s rule and opposed joining the Indian union, was under pressure from the city’s Urdu press for letting the feisty author off ‘lightly’.
   The largest selling Urdu paper in its Saturday edition published a picture of MIM legislators throwing a bouquet at Taslima and chided the party for throwing flowers at the author. The daily poured scorn on MIM legislators for “not even throwing chappals and shoes” at the Bangladeshi novelist, who was in the city for the release of the Telugu translation of her book ‘Shodh’.
   ‘‘Passions are being aroused in the old city with the Urdu dailies and the MIM competing with each other for the sake of religion. There was no other way for the MIM but to file a case against Taslima to demonstrate that they are doing enough,’’ a political analyst said.

Deficit Of Governance


A deficit of governance  TIMES INSIGHT GROUP  

New Delhi: Indians are proud of their country but far from satisfied with the quality of governance. That’s the clear message from an online poll done on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence. 

   The survey conducted by AC Nielsen reveals that an overwhelming 89% would opt to be reborn Indian, if they had such a choice. Clearly, they are quite happy with the country per se. They are also happy with the progress in the last 60 years in areas like business and science and technology.

   But they are clearly unhappy with our politicians, the quality of politics in the country, and the lack of governance as manifest in the country’s poor record in poverty eradication, law & order, social equality and infrastructure.

   The respondents pointed out that India has made the least progress in these areas. This reflects the Lead India campaign launched by TOI today seeking to throw up for the country a new leadership, which, in turn, would deliver better governance. 

   Areas where the country is seen to have made major progress are those in which the government has little or no role. For instance, science and technology. This for most Indians today is synonymous with IT, which has grown in spite of government. It is seen by respondents as a success area. In contrast, where the government has a monopoly — such as law & order — or where it has a dominant position, India is seen to be lagging behind. 


   It’s not surprising that under the circumstances, one-sixth of young people, those in the age group 15-25 years, feel politics is the key area in which India must progress if it is to become a developed nation. Again, this is at the core of the Lead India initiative. (TOI’s initiative was conceptualised and executed long before the poll, which reached us on Monday evening.)

  

Study of North Delhi Traffic


     A team from CAPRG will study the chaotic trafic conditions in North Delhi and suggest remedial measures.

First vist of the area by team members took place on 28 July.

The Team

Shri JR LAL

Shri Shashikant Arora

Shri Gursewak Singh

          Members of the study group are  also members of the traffic committee. More members are expected to join the team.

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IT Returns


 PAN card and Filing of Nil Returns

     Repeated announcements were made at the center for receiving IT returns that PAN card holders need not file returns for the year if their tax payable is Nil.
    This was a welcome news to the many harassed persons who had come to deposit forms even though no tax was to be paid.

    Will this be applicable next year also? Who knows?

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NO PENALTY FOR SALARIED PERSONS
You can file tax returns till March 31
New Delhi: Forgot to file your income-tax (I-T) returns by July 31. Not to worry. You can file eturn till March 31, 2008, without attracting any penalty.
   However, those, who will file return after July 31, will have to pay interest at the rate of 1% per month on the outstanding tax liability. This means, a salaried person, whose tax has already been deducted from his salary, will not have to worry at all as his outstanding tax liability is zero and, so the interest amount will also be nil.
   But, if he has any other income, including interest from savings account, he will have to pay the interest at the rate of 1% per month on the interest income earned in 2006-07.
   So, if you have not paid any tax, you will have to pay the interest on the tax liability. But, if it is capital gains income, the interest will be charged from the quarter in which the income is generated. But, the interest charge will remain at 1% of the tax liability per month.
   The code for the tax returns filed after July 31, will be 12. The code for those who filed the return before July 31 was 11.
 TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Andher Nagari : Income Tax Department


      The Income Tax department that lives up to its notoriety to make lives of honest law abiding citizens as difficult as possible in every which way does not even spare its own. It will not even allow its own officers who have passed away  to  rest in peace.

Dead officers move up in I-T department 

     Mumbai: On June 29 this year, as news of promotions and transfers poured into the corridors of the Income Tax department, officer DGK Murthy’s seniors were stunned. ‘‘Murthy was promoted as assistant commissioner and transferred to Nagpur,’’ said a dumbstruck Shanti Kumar in Hyderabad. Problem was, Murthy had died in January 2006.
        Says Kumar, president of the Income Tax Gazetted Officers Association (ITGOA), ‘‘The incident highlights the callous attitude at the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).” CBDT is the apex administrative body of the IT department that inducts officers either by direct recruitment or by promotions.
       It wasn’t an isolated case. In May this year, GV Chinnadurai, an officer in the department who died in 2004 was promoted and transferred to Mumbai. Usually, when an officer dies, the CBDT is informed by the local headquarters where he is based.

Manju Menon | TNN