RIGHT TO INFORMATION
BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment July 2021 & Jan 2022
Q 1 What measures have been taken by the Government of India for making the RTI Rules, 2012 more effective?
ANS: The right to information is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution.
In 1976, in the Raj Narain vs the State of Uttar Pradesh case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Right to information will be treated as a fundamental right under article 19.
The Supreme Court held that in Indian democracy, people are the masters and they have the right to know about the working of the government
Thus the government enacted the Right to Information act in 2005 which provides machinery for exercising this fundamental right Significance of the RTI Act The RTI Act,
2005 empowers the citizen to question the secrecy and abuse of power practised in governance.
It is through the information commissions at the central and state levels that access to such information is provided. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
RTI information can be regarded as a public good, for it is relevant to the interests of citizens and is a crucial pillar for the functioning of a transparent and vibrant democracy.
The information obtained not only helps in making government accountable but also useful for other purposes which would serve the overall interests of the society.
Every year, around six million applications are filed under the RTI Act, making it the most extensively used sunshine legislation globally.
These applications seek information on a range of issues, from holding the government accountable for the delivery of basic rights and entitlements to questioning the highest offices of the country.
Using the RTI Act, people have sought information that governments would not like to reveal as it may expose corruption, human rights violations, and wrongdoings by the state.
The access to information about policies, decisions and actions of the government that affect the lives of citizens is an instrument to ensure accountability.
The Supreme Court has, in several judgments, held that the RTI is a fundamental right flowing from Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution, which guarantee to citizens the freedom of speech and expression and the right to life, respectively.
Recent Amendments :
The RTI amendment Bill 2013 removes political parties from the ambit of the definition of public authorities and hence from the purview of the RTI Act.
The draft provision 2017 which provides for closure of case in case of death of applicant can lead to more attacks on the lives of whistleblowers.
The proposed RTI Amendment Act 2018 is aimed at giving the Centre the power to fix the tenures and salaries of state and central information commissioners,
which are statutorily protected under the RTI Act. The move will dilute the autonomy and independence of CIC.
The Act proposes to replace the fixed 5-year tenure with as much prescribed by the government. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Criticism of RTI Act:
One of the major set-back to the act is that poor record-keeping within the bureaucracy results in missing files.
There is a lack of staffing to run the information commissions. The supplementary laws like the Whistle Blower’s Act are diluted, this reduces the effect of RTI law.
Since the government does not proactively publish information in the public domain as envisaged in the act and this leads to an increase in the number of RTI applications.
There have been reports of frivolous RTI applications and also the information obtained have been used to blackmail the government authorities.
Right To Information Act vs Legislations for Non Disclosure of Information Some provisions of the Indian Evidence Act (Sections 123, 124, and 162) provide to hold the disclosure of documents.
Under these provisions. head of department may refuse to provide information on affairs of state and only swearing that it is a state secret will entitle not to disclose the information.
In a similar manner no public officer shall be compelled to disclose communications made to him in official confidence. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
The Atomic Energy Act, 1912 provides that it shall be an offence to disclose information restricted by the Central Government.
The Central Civil Services Act provides a government servant not to communicate or part with any official documents except in accordance with a general or special order of government.
The Official Secrets Act, 1923 provides that any government official can mark a document as confidential so as to prevent its publication.
The Right to Information Act has not achieved its full objectives due to some impediments created due to systematic failures. It was made to achieve social justice, transparency and to make an accountable government.
This law provides us with a priceless opportunity to redesign the processes of governance, articularly at the grassroots level where the citizens’ interface is maximum.
It is well recognized that the right to information is necessary, but not sufficient, to improve governance.
A lot more needs to be done to usher in accountability in governance, including protection of whistleblowers, decentralization of power and fusion of authority with accountability at all levels. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
As observed by Delhi High Court that misuse of the RTI Act has to be appropriately dealt with; otherwise the public would lose faith and confidence in this “sunshine Act”.
Q 2 Analyse the powers and functions of Central Information Commission to receive complaints and impose penalties.
ANS: Central Information Commission (CIC) is not a constitutional body but an independent body, which look into complaints and appeals pertaining to offices, public sector undertakings, financial institutions etc., under the government and the Union territories.
Under the Government of India to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Informatie
Section 18 of RTI Act 2005 “Powers and functions of Information Commissions”
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be the duty of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person, –
(a) who has been unable to submit a request to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may be either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has refused to accept his or her application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified in subsection (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be;
(b) who has been refused access to any information requested under this Act;
(C) who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limit specified under this Act;
(d) who has been required to pay an amount of fee which he or she considers unreasonable;
(e) who believes that he or she has been given incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act;
(f) in respect of any other matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to records under this Act.
(2) Where the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter, it may initiate an inquiry in respect there of.
(3) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall, while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters, namely: –
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things;
(b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavit; BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
(d) requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office;
(e) issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents;
(f) Any other matter which may be prescribed.
(4) Notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other Act of Parliament or State Legislature, as the case may be, the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may, during the inquiry of any complaint under this Act,
examine any record to which this Act applies which is under the control of the public authority,and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds.
Q 3 What is proactive disclosure under the RTI Act, 2005? On what grounds information can be refused under the RTI Act, 2005?
ANS: In order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities, the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI Act 2005) empowers the citizens to have access to information under the control of public authorities.
This website aims to provide all information that the Income Tax Department is required to publish in terms of Section 4 of the RTI Act 2005.
The Income Tax Department functions under supervision and control of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
It has around 60.000 personnel located in more than 500 cities and towns across the country. The field offices are divided into regions, and each region is headed by a Chief Commissioner of Income Tax. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Every region is assigned annual performance targets, such as revenue collections, and is provided with necessary expenditure budget to meet with its operating expenses.
The Income Tax Act 1961 lays down the frame work or the basis of charge and the computation of total income of a person.
It also stipulates the manner in which it is to be brought to tax, defining in detail the exemptions, deductions, rebates and reliefs.
The Act defines Income Tax Authorities, their jurisdiction and powers It also lays down the manner of enforcement of the Act by such authorities through an integrated process of assessments, collection and recovery, appeals and revisions, penalties and prosecutions.
The Act is fast changing and dynamic in nature and undergoes amendments annually through the Finance Act.
In exercise of the powers conferred by section 295 of the Income Tax Act 1961 and Rule 15 of Part A, Rule 11 of Part B and Rule 9 of Part C of the Fourth Schedule to the Act, the CBDT has notified Income Tax Rules 1962.
These Rules lay down limits, conditions, definitions, explanations, and forms of applications and procedures for the uniform application of the Income Tax Act.
Other direct taxes are also governed through similar arrangements. Various offices of the Income Tax department maintain technical and administrative records as specified from time to time by the CBDT.
Circulars are issued from time to time by the CBDT for effective management of assessment and collection of direct taxes. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
The Manual of Office Procedure, in three volumes, deals with the administrative aspects, composition and organization of the Income Tax Department.
The work allocation and such personnel matters as departmental examinations, confidential reports, vigilance, training and the grievance redressal mechanism.
Vol II deals with technical aspects, assessment procedures, widening of tax base, central information branches, refunds, recovery, write off, interest, penalties, prosecution, appeals and revisions.
Vol III deals with miscellaneous subjects such as Authority for Advance Ruling, Settlement Commission, search and seizure, internal audit, revenue audit, inspection and important reports.
Internal Audit Manual contains guidelines relating to conduct of internal audit and is relevant in that, it prescribes checks for detecting leakage of revenue.
The Manual defines the scheme of auditing and lays down the role and functions of various authorities in this regard.
It also prescribes the records/registers to be maintained. Manual of Inspection Guidelines, inter-alia, prescribes the guidelines for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the performance of an officer as well as his staff.
Such inspections are carried out by various supervisory authorities of the organization. Write Off of Tax Arrears Manual provides administrative rules relating to the powers of the authorities to write off and scale down arrear tax demands.
It covers procedures dealing with the write off of Income tax, Wealth-tax and other direct taxes. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements are entered by the Government of India with another country to mitigate the taxation related problems of an entity having income in both the countries.
It enables a person to seek credit for the taxes paid in one country in his assessment of taxable income in another country.
A citizen desirous of obtaining any information under the Right to Information Act shall approach the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) or Central Assistant Public Information Officer (CAPIO) as the case may be, and specify the particulars of the information sought by him or her.
Such request will have to be made in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made and will have to be accompanied with the prescribed fees.
The CPIO or CAPIO as the case may be shall render all reasonable assistance to reduce the oral request in writing.
An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.
In respect of all requests received from the citizens under the RTI Act 2005, the respective CPIO has to provide the information within 30 days of the receipt of the request failing which he is liable to a penalty of maximum upto Rs.25,000/- and possible disciplinary action.
There is appellate mechanism under the RTI Act which can be used by citizens if they are not satisfied with response of CPIO. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Appellate authorities have also been appointed by the Income Tax department
Q 4 Discuss the term of Office and Service conditions of the members of State Information Commission. In this regard what changes have been brought by the RTI (Amendment) Act and Rules of 2019?
ANS: Tenure and Service
The State Chief Information Commissioner and a State Information Commissioner hold office for a term of 5 years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
They are not eligible for reappointment. The State Information Commission will be constituted by the State Government through a Gazette notification.
It will have one State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) and not more than 10 State Information Commissioners (SIC) to be appointed by the Governor.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 provides for the creation of State Information Commission at the State level.
changes have been brought by the RTI (Amendment) Act and Rules of 2019:
The Bill amends Sections 13 and 16 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. Section 13 of the original Act sets the term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at five years (or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier).
The amendment proposes that the appointment will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
Again, Section 13 states that salaries, allowances and other terms of service of “the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner”, and those of an Information Commissioner “shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner”.
The amendment proposes that the salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
Section 16 of the original Act deals with state-level Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners. It sets the term for state-level CICs and ICs at five years (or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier). BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
The amendment proposes that these appointments should be for “such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
And while the original Act prescribes salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the state Chief Information Commissioner as the same as that of an Election Commissioner”, and the salaries and other terms of service of the State Information Commissioners as “the same as that of the Chief Secretary to the State Government”,
the amendment proposes that these “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
Q 5 Explain the innovative practices that may be replicated in other states and measures for conducting effective Social Audit.
ANS: Social Audit is a tool with which government departments can plan, manage
and measure nonfinancial activities and monitor both internal and external consequences of the department/organisations social and commercial operations.
The process of evaluating a firm’s various operations procedures, code of conduct and other factors to determine its effect on a society.
The goal is to identify what, if any, actions of the firm have impacted the society in some way. A social audit may be initiated by a firm that is seeking to improve its cohesiveness or improve its image within the society.
If the results are positive, they may be released to the public. For example, if a factory is believed to have a negative impact, the company may have a social audit conducted to identify actions that actually benefit the society.
The six steps of social auditing are as follows: Preparatory activities. Defining audit boundaries and identifying stakeholders.
Social accounting and book-keeping. Preparing and using social accounts. Social Audit and dissemination. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Feedback and institutionalisation of Social Audit.The first two steps are critical when a department decides to incorporate social accounting, social book-keeping and social auditing.
The department needs to look at its vision, goals, current practices and activities to identify those that are amenable to social auditing purposes.
Small work groups (say, seven persons) are to be formed which would spend about two days each to list down the social vision, core values, social objectives and map stakeholders and their involvement.
Ensure involvement of various functionaries with due representation to gender, while forming small groups.
The small groups should have access to project documents, process documentation, department guidelines and policy notes.
The next activity would be to assign the task of matching the activities with the social objectives and identifying gaps.
This again could be carried out by a small group drawn from the managerial cadre and execution/implementation groups at the field level.
All this information would be then looked into; to develop a plan for Social Auditing, including who would be responsible in the department, monitoring and identifying the resources required. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
This responsibility again could be given to a small group of three individuals.
Stakeholder consultation, involving department functionaries and civil society, would be the forum for sharing the Social Audit plan.
This consultation would clarify the issues important for Social Auditing, role of stakeholders, as well as commitments from them.
The outcome of the consultation would be fed into the process of detailing out the indicators to be monitored; which existing records are to be used and how additional information would be collected.
Q 6 Discuss the origin of right to information in India.
ANS: Many people say that the very foundation of democracy is to be well-acquainted with all the major aspects of the functioning of democracy because every citizen has this right.
The right to know about what is happening in society is really the oxygen of democracy. In ancient Greek city-states people assembled together and discussed the important aspects of state.
Because of changes in various fields the system of direct democracy is practically an impossibility. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
But people have the right to know the major aspects of society and this is the right to know. We can say a tax payer has every right to know for what purpose and in what ways his money collected in the form of taxes is being spent.
The concept of right to information may be viewed still from another perspective. Democracy is the result of collective efforts and the collective efforts will never be possible without the right to information.
People will do their duty on the basis of information they get from society. Behind every act there must be information.
A critic makes the following comment: “The collective efforts are only possible with the access of information to the people of a democratic society”Sharma and Saxena, Right to Information,
We find the following comment in a report of the Government of India: “It is now widely recognised that the openness and accessibility of people to information about the government’s functioning is a vital component of democracy.”
When the citizens are deprived of the right to know about the working of the state that can clearly be stated as the abnegation of democracy.
Q 7 Explain the meaning and concept of transparency and rule of law.
ANS: The rule of law is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “[t]he authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior;
(hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.”
Good governance requires impartial legal structures that are prescribed neutrally. It also requires full defence of human rights, particularly those of minorities.
Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Basically, the rule of law is termed as the institutional process of setting, interpreting and implementing laws and other regulations.
It means that decisions taken by government must be founded in law and that private firms and individuals are protected from arbitrary decisions.
Reliability entails governance that is free from distortionary incentives through corruption, favouritism, patronage or capture by narrow private interest groups; guarantees property and personal rights; and achieves some sort of social stability.
This offers a degree of reliability and predictability that is vital for firms and individuals to take good decisions.
Transparency in Governance: Transparency is broadly accepted as a major principle of good governance (World Bank (2000) the UNDP has perceived that transparency means “sharing information and acting in an open(1997).
Furthermore, transparency allows stakeholders to collect information that may be critical to uncovering abuses and defending their interests.
Transparent systems have flawless procedures for public decision-making and open channels of communication between stakeholders and officials, and make a wide range of information available UNDP (1997).
Transparency represents that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a way that follows rules and regulations.
It also entails that information is easily available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement.
According to Tandon (2002), transparency means that the criteria, process and systems of decision-making are openly known to all in a public manner.
The declaration of Right To Information Act (2015) set the stage for the transparency in the functioning of the government and its various agencies.
Q 8 Highlight the constraints in implementation of the RTI Act at the district level.
ANS: Inevitable delay inflow of information: The Information Commission gets to know about the failure of the Public Authority in providing information within 30-45 days once the complaint is filed due to inadequate measures and processes for an Information Commission to view adherence level to important provisions of the Act.
Lack of Behavioral Training: RTI is an evolving act, resulting in new dimensions being added routinely. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Hence, RTI refresher training or a central knowledge repository needs to be available to the PIOs. Also, the training provided to the PIOs must not be restricted to the RTI Act.
There is a need for an external agency to impart training to the PIOs and APIOs of various states and districts.
Obsolete Record Management Guidelines: Ineffective record management practices and collection of information from field offices leads to delay in processing of RTI applications.
The records are required to be catalogued and indexed in a manner that the entire data is available through a centralized system on all over the country.
Recordkeeping is a problem in Central and State government ministries due to lack of infrastructural facilities (internet connectivity, photocopies, soft copies).
Even if records are stored retrieval of intelligible information cannot be made. It is perhaps because of this situation that there is a tendency to give a huge amounts of unprocessed bulk information rather than relevant and pertinent information.
Lack of monitoring and review mechanism: There is no centralized database of RTI applicants. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
A centralized database of applicants with their information requests and responses from information providers will enable the PIOs to send an accurate and timely compilation under Sec. 25(1).
Issues faced at the Information Commissions: Under the Act, the Information Commissions at the Central/State level are required to take steps to secure the compliance with the provisions of the Act.
However, there have been inadequate processes and records available with the Information Commissions to monitor and review the working of the various Public Authorities and initiate steps to make them comply with the spirit of the Act.
Q 9. Analyse the role of media in facilitating the right to information.
ANS: The Press Council on March 2001, had stated that the Right to Information Legislation as very vital for the media.
It stated that- ” At present, one of the stumbling blocks in the path of investigative, analytical and popular journalism is the difficulty in getting access to the official information. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
The bureaucracy, the police the army, judiciary and even the legislature guard information regarding even the most mundane subjects with astonishing zeal.
Few journalists are able to break this iron curtain of the official non-cooperation.
The right to Information will encourage journalists and society at large to be more questioning about the state of affairs and will be powerful tool to check the unmitigated goings-on in the public realm and will also promoter accountability.
No longer will scribes have to depend on conjecture, rumour, leaks and sources other than knowledgeable sources.
The legislation when enacted will pose an antidote to vested interests which try to conceal or misinterpret information or which try to manipulate media directly or indirectly to plant misinformation.
Through this legislation, transparency in public, professional, social and personal sphere can be achieved.”
It is really surprising that such an accurate evaluation by the Press Council was not give any importance by most of the media.
The media could not even find time to welcome the implementation of the Information Act officially. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
This was just believed to be the matters related to the farmers of Rajasthan and of the people of the slums of Delhi or thought as the matter related to the NGO type people.
Its use was far away from the question. It was completely ignored by the media. While, on the other hand few people who used it as a weapon in journalism had an interesting experience and showed new path as well.
Q10 Discuss the major challenges before Public Authorities
ANS: 1 Community Growth
Our survey showed that the 1 most concerning issue for communities is community growth. Working toward growing and expanding communities is important for a variety of reasons.
Organizing and planning within communities creates opportunities for employment and boosts the economy.
In turn, sound planning also reduces incidences of poverty and suffering within communities.BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Community growth incorporates the community’s goals for their society, economy, culture and environment.
All of these issues help citizens develop well-rounded and healthy lifestyles. About 43% of local government officials lie awake at night thinking about how to grow their communities.
2 Strategic Planning/Council’s Vision
In addition to setting goals, the role of municipal boards is to figure out the best steps for accomplishing them.
Strategic planning provides a roadmap for what steps the community needs to take and when they need to take them to develop the community.
Responsible planning creates a systemic process that anticipates and plans for the future while managing time constraints and the budget.
Fulfilling the council’s vision also helps to balance the demands of all the constituencies within the community. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
About 42% of our survey respondents said that they worried about whether their strategic planning was on target to achieve the desired future for their community.
3 The Budget
While budget wasn’t the #1 concern, as you might expect, it ran close as a top worry for about 42% of local officials who answered our survey.
The budget links to a broad view of the community’s goals and focuses on getting the best outcome-based value.
Well-managed budgets provide government employees with the satisfaction that they’re contributing directly to the community’s overall health and well-being.
4 Community Planning Issues
Municipal boards spend much of their time planning and discussing issues pertaining to the community’s infrastructure.
About 41% of public officials worried extensively about community planning issues such as transportation, parking, the high cost of homeownership in relation to average incomes, and how to maximize technology to gain efficiency.
5 Increasing Citizen Engagement
Increasing citizen engagement was another top concern for public officials, though it ranked very close to the other issues. BPAE 141 Free Solved Assignment
Public input is an important part of the democratic decision-making process and it often influences public decisions that impact the community’s future.
The public provides new ideas and an exchange of information that builds mutual responsibility and accountability for the board and the public.
About 40% of public officials indicated that they were worrying more than they should over how to increase citizen engagement in decision-making.
BPSE 141 FREE SOLVED ASSIGNMENT