JUSTICE CORPS

Action group for judicial transparency, justice reforms and human rights.

Archive for January, 2007

DailyIndia.com reports JC’s letter to CJI

Posted by justicecorps on January 18, 2007

The letter written by Justice Corps to the Chief Justice of India criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision to exclude itself from Right to Information Act, 2005, was reported by DailyIndia.com on their website.

Also, it is being circulated by Associated News India (ANI) which implies that it would reach numerous media groups officially.

Although this may be a small acknowledgement of our work, we hope to initiate a wider debate on this issue and demand that the Supreme Court recognizes and adopts RTI, keeping in mind the principles with which this Act was implemented.

See letter:
https://justicecorps.wordpress.com/2007/01/10/sc-must-acknowledge-rti/

 

Article:

‘Justice Corps’ criticizes SC for seeking exemption from RTI Act

New Delhi, Jan 16 (ANI): An action group for judicial transparency, justice reforms and human rights– Justice Corps– has criticised the Supreme Court for seeking exemption from the Right to Information Act (RTI Act).

In a letter sent today to Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, the judges of the Supreme Court and all the High Courts, the group said that the apex court should not adopt “double standards” by passing numerous judgments upholding citizens’ right to information on the one hand and “shying away” from the RTI Act on the other.

“We learn through media reports that the Supreme Court is not receptive to the Right to Information Act and the SC wants to be exempted from the RTI Act for any information which, in the opinion of the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, may “adversely affect or interfere or tend to interfere with the independence of the judiciary or administration of justice”. In addition, the SC has recommended that a decision by the CJI under the Act should not be subjected to further appeal before the CIC,” said the letter.

“We are of the opinion that the above hostility towards the RTI Act of the Supreme Court amounts to double standards adopted by the SC, of late…We therefore condemn this irresponsible attitude of the Supreme Court towards the Right to Information Act. We want to remind the judges that they are not Lords provided with any special exemptions. They are public servants meant to serve the public and are very much accountable to the people,” it added.

They went on to say that the Judges owe much more accountability to the people because “at least corrupt, derelict, inefficient, uncouth politicians can be thrown out by the people every five years during election time, but corrupt, derelict, inefficient, uncouth public servants like IAS, IPS, and Judges rule over the public for more than 25-30 years”.

“The judiciary must know that it too is being watched by the public and it too is accountable to the public, being one major pillar of democracy. Like bureaucrats who wanted to escape file notings, if the courts prefer to escape the Right to Information Act, then all the judgments of various HCs and the SC on right to information will be nothing but mere pontifications,” they said. (ANI)

Accessed on: 17th January, 2007
Circulated on:
‘Hum Janenge’ Yahoo Groups

Article link:
Justice Corps Criticises Sc for seeking exemption from RTI Act

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Posted in Media and us | Leave a Comment »

feedback to the open letter: SC not exempt from RTI

Posted by justicecorps on January 15, 2007

The responses that we got from common citizens, activists and people working in the judicial system have only reaffirmed our faith in the path that we have chosen. We are grateful and hope that this contentious issue would be debated at a broader level. The SC must take cognisance of the peoples voice, with immediate effect.

 

See letter:
https://justicecorps.wordpress.com/2007/01/10/sc-must-acknowledge-rti/

Some of the responses are as follows:

 

I am in agreement with your letter. Please send us more information about your organization and working.

Rajesh Tyagi
Advocate, Supreme Court of India
rajeshtyagi66@rediffmail.com

Contact: 9810081383


International Human Rights Organization too condemns the SC attitude towards the RTI Act.

D S Gill
Chair IHRO

ihro.india@gmail.com

 

 

 

Superb

I really liked it? I respect you guys and wonder some time weather you are the same guys who were studying with me.

I always thought you are doing some thing but never ever expected such work with great foresight and dedication.

Please let me know if I can contribute some how. Again congratulate you for all your work

Take care and all the best
Bye. Take care and keep me in loop

Sachetan

 

I sincerely wish that the media publish your above letter which I doubt. Due to reasons not known the media is
not seen supporting RTI fully. They are not giving adequate coverage in support of RTI

With warm regards

Col N R Kurup
colnrkurup@gmail.com

 

Compliments for the bold and candid as well important and timely stand taken on SC shying away from RTI. I fully support your point.

Jugal Rathi

I find your petition to be unjustified in light of the constitutional separation of powers. The Supreme Court is the highest authority in terms of interpreting the laws of the country. If you want a decision of the Supreme Court to be appeal able by the CIC you are rewriting the constitution.

The CJI’s comments are within the purview of the constitution. If you want a decision of the CJI of he SC to be appeal able to the CIC, where then shall an appeal from the CIC lie?

This just results in unnecessary bureaucracy that results in burdening a legal system where justice is always delayed. Cheers!!

Prashant Kamalapuram

kamalapuram@hotmail.com

 

REPLY

Dear Mr. Prashant,

I think you have read the letter in a hurry and have also missed the news reports that have appeared in the press about SC recommending to the government to amend the RTI Act so as to exempt the SC from it partially.

Additionally the SC has suggested that an amendment be made so that the decision under RTI being taken by it should not be appeal able to CIC.

We are not saying that the judicial decisions should be appeal able to CIC. Please understand the difference between judicial decisions by SC and RTI decisions by SC. Judicial decisions by SC are taken by SC judges, whereas RTI decisions are taken by the Public Information Officers and there is vast difference in the same.

Best regards

Ronald L. Rebello

 

Very interesting. Thanks. you are most welcome to post directly on the “Hum Janenge” board that concerns the transparency law.

Regards

Prakash Kardaley

 

 

Dear Sir,

I strongly support the view and acknowledge my support. RTI is a major major tool for bringing accountability and reducing scope of subjectivity and baises in the public offices.

Keep me informed.

With warm regards,

Subhash C. Vashishth
subhashvashishth@yahoo.com

Advocate
Delhi High Court

 

 

Dear Sir,

Greetings!

Thanks for your mail and valuable campaign information. I appreciate for your action. We must condemn the double speaking of the Supreme Courts on RTI Act. Obviously judges are not Lords provided with any special exemptions. They are public servants meant to serve the public and are very much accountable to the people.

Thanks. Regards.

Gladson Dungdung

gladsonekta@yahoo.com

General Secretary
National Coalition for Human Rights
Kokar, Khorha Toli, Mission Colonly,
Kokar, Ranchi – 834001 (Jharkhand)

 

 

The language is harsh.

There also appears to be some misunderstanding. It is not clear as to what you mean by “SC has recommended that a decision by CJI under the Act should not be subjected to further appeal before the CIC” . Under the scheme of the RTI Act, CJI cannot take any decision under the Act at all. Presuming that an aggrieved appellant files a petition before the SC against the order of the CIC, decision of the SC therein has to be final and cannot certainly be a subject of appeal before the CIC again!

Regards,

Sandeep Thakur,
Mumbai.

REPLY

We do not think our language is harsh, though striking.

I think you have read the letter in a hurry and have also missed the news reports that have appeared in the press about SC recommending to the government to amend the RTI Act so as to exempt the SC from it partially. Additionally the SC has suggested that an amendment be made so that the decision under RTI being taken by it should not be appeal able to CIC.

We are not saying that the judicial decisions should be appeal able to CIC. Please understand the difference between judicial decisions by SC and RTI decisions by SC. Judicial decisions by SC are taken by SC judges, whereas RTI decisions are taken by the Public Information Officers and there is vast difference in the same.

Best regards

Ronald L. Rebello

Posted in judiciary and RTI, Our Activities | Leave a Comment »

Minutes of the fourth official meeting

Posted by justicecorps on January 15, 2007

MINUTES OF THE FOURTH OFFICIAL MEETING OF JUSTICE CORPS

Day: Saturday  

Date: 6th January, 2007

Time: 12 noon to 2:25 pm.

Place: Rationing Kruti Samiti office, Mumbai Central

Members present: Sanket Kashid, Ganesh Sodaye and Ronald L. Rebello,

* Hemant was indisposed; Shabana had gone to Delhi and hence could not come. Ramesh cannot come on a Saturday.

Agenda of the meeting:

  1. Review of previous meetings’ minutes
  2. Action to be taken during the month
  3. Whether to hold a massive demonstration on judicial reforms?
  4. RTI applications to be made
  5. Networks established
  6. Updates on Proposal submitted to funding agency.
  7. Exposure visit to Raigad/ Sarvahara Jan Andolan

 

1… Today’s agenda was decided as soon as the meeting began. There was no pre-decided agenda. Previous meetings’ minutes were reviewed. Enquiries about a bank account for Justice Corps are still going on. In the meanwhile, Hemant has prepared an excellent website on www.justicecorps.wordpress.com. The group is very grateful to him.  

2… Re: Action to be taken during the month by JC:

a) Supreme Court has hosted its annual report (2005-06) on its website. This needs to be printed and studied as it contains important details about disposal of cases, E-petition procedure introduced during the year etc. Ganesh has taken responsibility to print the same from TISS.

b) It was suggested by Ronald that since the SC has also put up the SC holiday calendar on the SC website, this must be studied, analysed and a letter (appropriately an appeal) to all SC judges must be drafted bringing to their notice the futility of long summer and winter vacations and requesting them to give it up voluntarily. Instead of commenting on the court calendar at the end of the year, we must do it in advance. Ronald will draft the said letter. Sanket will similarly find out details of Bombay HC calendar.

c) Re: Bom HC and RTI: Sanket will acquire the HC and District court RTI rules from Govt. Press and hand over to Ronald. Ronald will then draft a protest letter to CJ of Bom HC regarding the rules framed under RTI Act. This is to be done quickly as rules were made in November 2006 and still we haven’t been able to comment on it. Earlier JC’s campaign was against the non-implementation of RTI Act by the Judiciary in Maharashtra, but now it is against the obstacles in the rules framed. Some of the rules that create obstacles in accessing information are:

– Charging applicant Rs. 10 per Xerox copy when central rules keep it to a reasonable Rs. 2,

– Not providing info if it already exists on website, therefore making it difficult for computer-internet illiterate applicants to acquire information, etc.

3… It was suggested by Ronald that JC should have a demonstration at Azad Maidan in June to demand for various judicial reforms. Unless we come out publicly in large numbers, just by writing letters and appeals, we are not going to get the desired results. The group therefore unanimously decided to take up a morcha/public demonstration at Azad Maidan. The date decided was June 04, 2007 as we also need to have enough time for preparation, information gathering through RTI applications and study, mobilization of various groups and student volunteers etc. The basic minimum reforms that JC will demand during this demonstration are:

      • Two shifts in all lower courts in Maharashtra, especially criminal courts.
      • Increase in the strength of number of judges
      • Family Courts in all districts of Maharashtra
      • Computerisation of district courts
      • Citizens Charter for judiciary
      • Proper seating arrangements for litigants in courts
      • Witness Protection Programme
      • Abolishing unnecessary Court holidays
      • Proper and reasonable implementation of RTI Act by courts
      • Information about laws should be disseminated in very simple language on rickshaws, busses etc.

The team also identified probable partners who can be contacted for support. These are Sarvahara Jan Andolan, National Alliance of People’s Movement, Huku-ke-Niswa, Nirbhay Bano Andolan, Apnalaya, Kashtakari Sanghatna, Nav Maharashtra Yuva Morcha, Mahilla Rajsatta Andolan, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights. It was also suggested that some MLAs/MPs should also be contacted for support. Neelam Gore, Shiv Sena MLC who has worked on women’s issues, Mrinal Gore, Dr. S. P. Sathe, Principal of Indian Law School etc. can be invited to speak to the masses and express support.

Ganesh bought to the notice of the team that PUCL of Rajasthan had conducted a Jan Sunvai (Public hearing) on delayed justice. He said that we also need to study their report on the same to learn from it. Ganesh and Ronald will attempt to acquire the same.

Ronald suggested that we write to the Governor, Chief Justice, Secretary of Law and Judiciary Department and Home Department giving them notice of the demonstration and requesting them to give an audience to the group and partners.

We also need to send letters to all social movements in Maharashtra requesting them to identify people in their areas who have been victims of justice and mobilize such groups to come and speak during the demonstration.

4… In order to press for our demands strongly during the June demonstration and in order to study judicial reforms, we need to have sufficient data in our hands. One of the methods of acquiring this could be through various RTI applications. It was decided by the group that following RTI applications will be made to appropriate authorities:

a) Application to Law and Judiciary dept on number of family cases pending all over Maharashtra.

b) Application to Law and Judiciary dept. on whether there is a witness protection programme/ policy of the state.

c) Application to appropriate dept on policy on computerisation of courts.

Ronald will prepare drafts of above all applications and circulate to groups before sending the same to the relevant authorities.

Ganesh also bought up the issue of studying and analyzing the budget for judiciary, legal education and legal aid to poor. Team requested him to acquire info on the same through RTI and other means. Ganesh has agreed to follow-up the same.

Sanket, informed the team that he already has two applications pending before the Bombay HC on number of cases pending in Maharashtra.

5… Re:- Networks: Ronald informed the team that Yusuf Meherally Yuva Biradari after conferring on him the Sane Guruji Yuva Puraskar had co-opted him on their legal committee and also expressed support to Justice Corps. Yusuf Meherally Yuva Biradari has extended support for use of their office resources such as printing, posting, Xerox etc to Justice Corps after Ronald bought to their attention that JC has no funds. Therefore JC members will be able to have access to their office. Ronald will try and arrange the next team meeting of JC over there, including with some team members of Yusuf Meherally Biradri.

6… Project Proposal has been submitted by Sangeeta to Sir Dorabjee Tata Trust. Ronald and Sangeeta will soon follow-up the same and report back to the group. Project proposal copy is sent to team members by email.

 

7… The team was informed about an exposure visit to Adivasi hamlet, Keladh organized by students of Nirmala Niketan in association with Sarvahara Jan Andolan. TISS students, NN students will participate in the same and one of the resource persons will be Ronald who will speak on RTI, letter-writing, judicial transparency and right to food. The exposure visit will be held from Jan 11 to Jan 13. JC team members are also welcome to participate in the same. During this time, it may be also possible for JC team members to identify some students to act as volunteers for the JC team. Sanket said he will try to come. Ganesh confirmed his participation in the meeting itself. Hemant will be informed by Ronald.

 

8… Afternoon was dedicated to field visits in the court. Ganesh and Sanket after meeting went to visit the courts.

 

Minutes written by Ronald Rebello

Hosted on Website by: Hemant Morajkar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Minutes | Leave a Comment »

SC must acknowledge RTI

Posted by justicecorps on January 10, 2007

We condemn the Supreme Courts attitude toward the Right to Information Act,2005. The SC must acknowledge the importance of RTI in a vibrant functioning democracy like India and imbibe the values that it deems to uphold.

An open letter

 

JUSTICE CORPS

(Action group for Judicial Transparency, Justice Reforms and Human Rights)

C/o Add: 28 Sunrise (552), Samta Nagar, Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101

Mob: 9869 828 619. Email: justicecorps@gmail.com


“Nothing rankles more in the human heart than a brooding sense of injustice. Illness we can put up with, but injustice makes us want to pull things down”.

– Justice Brenan

 


To

The Chief Justice and all Judges, January 10, 2007.
Supreme Court of
India
New Delhi.

Subject: Supreme Court should not adopt double standards – on one hand passing numerous judgments upholding citizens’ right to information and on the other hand shying away from the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Dear Sirs,

We learn through media reports that the Supreme Court is not receptive to the Right to Information Act and the SC wants to be exempted from the RTI Act for any information which, in the opinion of the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, may “adversely affect or interfere or tend to interfere with the independence of the judiciary or administration of justice”. In addition, the SC has recommended that a decision by the CJI under the Act should not be subjected to further appeal before the CIC.

We are of the opinion that the above hostility towards the RTI Act of the Supreme Court amounts to double standards adopted by the SC, of late. In the past on numerous occasions, the SC has delivered many landmark judgments upholding citizens’ right to information and has even stated that the right to life as enshrined in Article 21 includes the right to information.

We therefore condemn this irresponsible attitude of the Supreme Court towards the Right to Information Act. We want to remind the judges that they are not Lords provided with any special exemptions. They are public servants meant to serve the public and are very much accountable to the people. In fact they owe much more accountability to the people because at least corrupt, derelict, inefficient, uncouth politicians can be thrown out by the people every five years during election time, but corrupt, derelict, inefficient, uncouth public servants like IAS, IPS, and Judges rule over the public for more than 25-30 years.

The judiciary must know that it too is being watched by the public and it too is accountable to the public, being one major pillar of democracy. Like bureaucrats who wanted to escape file notings, if the courts prefer to escape the Right to Information Act, then all the judgments of various HCs and the SC on right to information will be nothing but mere pontifications.

The present Chief Justice of India, Mr. Y. K Sabharwal and the incoming Chief Justice of India, Mr. K. G Balakrishnan, both have been supporters of the Right to Information Act. Mr. Sabharwal, in fact delivered a full speech on impact of the Right to Information Act on Administrative efficiency, Public Accountability and Constitutional Governance, in December 2005. Therefore, the present stand by the SC vis-à-vis RTI Act smacks of inconsistency and sends a wrong message to other Govt. institutions. For example, the UPSC and CBI and Delhi Metro too, for specious reasons want themselves out of the ambit of RTI. At this rate the good law itself will be defeated and it will be status quo ante deluvian.

The Right to Information Act is a tool to ensure transparency in every public functionary. Mere transparency in the functioning of the judiciary cannot compromise its independence and the SC should not feel insecure about it.

Stated frankly and Pro Bono Publico

 

Ronald Rebello Sanket Kashid Ganesh Sodaye Hemant Morajkar

Founder Co-Founder Member Member

9869 828 619 98699 46890 24032751 9819 4121 33

 

 

Copies to:

Minister of Law and Justice, Govt. of India

Dept. of Public Grievances, Govt. of India

Central Information Commission, New Delhi

All High Courts

University Professors and Students

Print and Electronic Media

 

Posted in judiciary and RTI, Our Activities | 2 Comments »

Documentaion done by JC

Posted by justicecorps on January 9, 2007

The organisation has already done preliminary documentation on topics such as: 

§         Judicial delays and number of pending cases

§         Judges (Inquiry / Misconduct / Strikes)

§         Vigilance over Judges and Judiciary (National Judicial Commission and Special Investigation Department of HCs)

§         Legal Aid, access to courts (ie SC, HC benches) and Lok Adalats

§         Contempt of Court

§         Law Colleges / Law students / Law courses / Law internships

§         Lawyers/ lawyers’ strikes, Bar councils, foreign lawyers/ Law Clerks

§         Language of the law, of lawyers and the courts

§         Witnesses and whistle blowers

§         Family Courts

§         Personal laws

§         Judiciary – Executive tussle

§         Constitution of India

§         Women and Criminal Justice System (Rape, dowry etc)

§         Judicial system and forensic science

§         Caste and Judiciary / Reservation in Judiciary

§         National and state human rights commissions / SC ST Commissions / Women’s Commissions / Minority Commissions.

§         Prison, Prisoners and Courts

§         Modern Procedures, information technology in Judiciary (video conferencing, E-petitions etc).

§         Public Interest Litigation / Judicial Activism.

§         International Judicial Bodies (ICJ, ICC, European Court of Human Rights etc).

§         Electoral and political law.

§         Police encounters / Extra-judicial killings.

§         Draconian laws.

§         Police and Citizens.

§         Right to information (General).

§         Judiciary and Right to Information.

§         Corruption / Anti Corruption Bureau / Central Vigilance Commission

§         Lokayukta / Lokpal.

§         Judgespeak (Public interviews and lectures by judges).

§         Criminal Procedure (General).

§         Delayed Justice (Cases / stories).

§         Chapter Cases / Externment.

 

APPEAL: Justice Corps doesnot have funds for documentation. Contributions are needed for documentation such as 45 box-files, paper, gum, newspapers, magazines etc. This would come to around Rs. 8,000 annually.

We would appreciate if anyone can sponsor the same.

Posted in documentation | Leave a Comment »

Impact:MHRC appointments

Posted by justicecorps on January 9, 2007

– Letter was issued to CM

– Copies of these letters were also sent to Bombay High Court, National Human Rights Commission etc.

– In the meanwhile, Vidharba Jan Andolan Samiti, an organisation taking up the cause of farmers’ suicides, in its PIL on farmers’ suicides, took up also the laxity of the govt. in appointing members of MHRC. HC took cognizance of the same and directed the state  government to fill vacancies.

– Hence there was no need for Justice Corps to further file another PIL.

– Neverhtless, JC contacted Vidharba Jan Andolan Samiti and sent it a copy of the notice if it required the same.

Posted in Notice to Maharashtra CM | Leave a Comment »

Impact: RTI implementation campaign

Posted by justicecorps on January 9, 2007

– Many organisations were concerned and supported the campaign. We were able to garner support of 36 organisations working in the social sector.

– Many individuals appreciated the idea on various E-lists

– Husein Dalwai, former law minister of Maharashtra who was approached to take up the issue personally, did not sign. But only praised the initiative.

– It is a regular practice in law, that first a notice or letter has to be issued to the appropriate authority before any action is taken against it. JC planned to take up a PIL, but considered it proper to issue notice and have campaign first to alert the Judiciary. However, even before JC could get response from judiciary or from State Information Commissioner, an individual already filed a PIL in the Bombay HC demanding implementation of the Act.

– JC’s letter alerted the judiciary and sent to it a clear message that it too is accountable and being watched by the public.

Posted in Signature Campaign for RTI | 1 Comment »

Notice to Maharastra Chief Minister

Posted by justicecorps on January 4, 2007

We learnt that the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission was running without a Chairperson since last four years (upto 2006) and that the term of three members of the Commission ended in March last year. Therefore, the MHRC had only one member instead of the needed five. Now therefore, as the Chairperson of the Committee responsible for recommending the names for the position of the State Human Rights Commission the CM ws asked to take note of this dire situation and immediate action to fill the vacancies was the demand made by Jutice Corps.

The letter sent to the CM follows:

 

JUSTICE CORPS
(Action group for judicial transparency and justice reforms)
C/o: 28 Sunrise, Samta Nagar, Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101
Mob: 9869 650 870, Email: justicecorps@gmail.com


NOTICE

To

Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh 25th July, 2006.

Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra.

As Chairperson of Committee under section 22(1) of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Dereliction in the appointment of members of the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission. Take notice that we shall take up a writ petition in the Bombay High Court, if the Chairperson and members of MHRC are not appointed within 1 month of this notice.

Dear Sir,

We learn that the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission has been running without a Chairperson since last four years and that the term of three members of the Commission ended in March this year. Therefore, at present the MHRC has only one member instead of the needed five. Now therefore, as the Chairperson of the Committee responsible for recommending the names for the position of the State Human Rights Commission, please take note:

1.. That, the objective of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 is to provide for the constitution of National and State Human Rights Commissions “for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

2.. That, as per section 2(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, “Human Rights” mean the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by Courts in India.

3.. That, Human Rights are guaranteed to the individual by the Constitution of India and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and every effort must be made to address violations.

4.. That, under section 22(1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, the Chairperson and members of the State Human Rights Commission shall be appointed by the Governor, provided that every appointment shall be made after obtaining the recommendation of a Committee consisting of

a) Chief Minister Chairperson

b) Speaker of Legislative Assembly Member

c) Home Minister Member

d) Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Member

e) Chairperson of Legislative Council Member

f) Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Member.

5.. That, as Chairperson of the above mentioned committee, to our knowledge, you have failed to initiate any dialogue in the matter and have not taken necessary steps to appoint the members of the State Human Rights Commission. Mr. Ramdas Kadam, member of the very recommending committee has slammed your governments nonchalance in a news-report dated 29th April, 2006 by stating “This shows us how inefficient the government is. Apart from not appointing a Chairman, the authorities have not even allocated more funds to the Commission”.

6.. That, the number of cases of human rights violations are increasing day by day and explains the sorry state of affairs in Maharashtra. The number of cases has increased from 840 cases in 2001 to 5,570 cases in 2005.

7.. That, in the absence of sufficient members of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, human rights violations cases will pile up leading to delayed justice, thereby giving a free hand to authorities accused of violations to continue their violations.

8.. That, in the absence of the members of the Commission, it is not possible to fulfill the avowed aim of the Act and this defeats the very purpose of the Protection of the Human Rights Act, 1993.

9.. That, as an action group with concern for judicial transparency, justice reforms and human rights we bring to your notice, that we shall be constrained to take up a writ petition in the Bombay High Court in case your government fails to appoint the Chairperson and members of the State Human Rights Commission within one month of the receipt of this notice.

Awaiting your early action and acknowledgement.

Yours faithfully,

Ronald L. Rebello

Social Activist and Founder, Justice Corps

Copy to:

1.. Mr. S. M Krishna, Governor of Maharashtra and authority under section 22(1) of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

2.. Mr. R. R Patil, Home Minister.

3.. Mr. Arun Gujrathi, Speaker of Legislative Assembly.

4.. Mr. Ramdas Kadam, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly.

5.. Chairman of Legislative Council.

6.. Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council.

7.. Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, for necessary follow up.

8.. Chief Justice, Bombay High Court, requesting suo moto action on the issue.

9.. Print and electronic media.

 

Posted in Notice to Maharashtra CM, Our Activities | Leave a Comment »

Signature Campaign for RTI

Posted by justicecorps on January 4, 2007

A signature campaign was undertaken in July 2006 to demand the implementation of The Right to Information Act,2005 by the Mumbai High Court. The letter drafted to demand the same received support of 36 organisations.

The content of the letter is as follows:

JUSTICE CORPS

(Action group for judicial transparency and justice reforms)
C/o: 28
Sunrise, Samta Nagar, Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101
Mob: 9869 828 619, Email: justicecorps@gmail.com

To

The Hon’ble Chief Justice July 19, 2006.
Bombay High Court
Fort, Mumbai.

Dereliction by Bombay High Court in implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Circular issued by Registrar General, Bombay High Court is ultra vires to the Information Act.

Sir,

This is an official complaint and your attention is invited against the excessive circular of the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court. The said administrative circular issued on February 15, 2006 directs all courts to withhold information asked under the RTI Act till further communication is received from the High Court. The Circular states that the matter of supplying information under the Act is under active consideration by the Supreme Court as well as the Bombay High Court. The complainants rely on the information provided in the news report of the Times of India, attached as Annexure I.

Now therefore, such a circular of the Registrar General is ultra vires to the Right to Information Act 2005; is excessive and unjustified on following grounds:

1.. The Right to Information Act contains a clear provision making it obligatory for the public authorities to appoint Public Information Officers within one hundred days of the enactment of the Act as per section 5, and to publish detailed information about its working within 120 days, as per section 4. This sufficient period of 120 days expired on October 19, 2005, the day the Act came into force.

2.. Under section 2(h)(a) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 the Bombay High Court is a public authority and under section 2(e)(iii) the Chief Justice is the competent authority, both who are enjoined to implement the Act. Even after eight-and-half months since the day the Act came into force, the Act remains unimplemented by the Bombay High Court. No provision in the RTI Act excuses the public authority or you as the competent authority by giving extension in period to implement the Act.

3.. No time-frame for implementation of the Act has been given by you as a competent authority and the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court. Infact, the Registrar had initially stated in an interview to the Times of India in November 02, 2005 that the process of implementation of the Act was likely to resume after November 14, 2005 (Please see TOI report as Annexure II). Five months later in April 2006, inspite of a notice issued by activists to the then Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to implement the Act, no response was received from the Bombay High Court. The Registrar General in a response to the Press, repeated that the HC was yet to decide to what extent the Act should be made applicable to the judiciary. (Please see Annexure III).

4.. The circular of the Registrar General does not fit in any provision or rule made under the Right to Information Act and is inconsistent with the same. The circular is an administrative order, non-judicial in nature and is excessive.

5.. The circular amounts to circumventing a central legislation, which is Constitutionally sound and remains unchallenged so far in any court of law.

6.. The Judiciary does not come within the purview of the 18 intelligence and security organizations that are exempt from the RTI Act.

7.. That, other than the regular practice of obtaining copies of judgements, there is enough scope to seek information under the RTI Act from the Judiciary and hence there is certainly a need to appoint Public Information Officers for the purpose. Please refer to Annexure IV, a letter to the editor of Times of India on the scope of using the Act vis-à-vis judiciary.

8.. That, as the competent authority, you are empowered under section 28 of the Act to make rules in terms of cost of the medium or print cost price of materials to be disseminated, the fee payable for providing information. Therefore, the duration in deciding the costs and fees payable for providing information is too long. The so-called “active consideration” as cited by the Registrar General of the court is nothing but an excuse and amounts to dereliction of duty.

Now therefore, in the interests of justice and transparency, the following reliefs are sought:

i.. That, as the competent authority, you direct the Registrar General to revoke the said circular forthwith.

ii.. That, information under section 4 of the Act is published immediately.

iii.. That, Public Information Officers under section 5 of the Act be appointed forthwith.

iv.. That, rules under section 28 of the Act should be framed forthwith.

The Supreme Court has in various judgments held in the past that the citizens enjoy the fundamental right to information. The Right to Information Act, 2005 was enacted “to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority”. It is therefore hoped, that as the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and competent authority appointed under the Act, you would take immediate cognizance of this letter and pass the necessary directives.

Yours faithfully,

Sd/- Sd/-

Ronald L. Rebello Sanket Kashid

Social Activist and Founder, Justice Corps Co-founder, Justice Corps

Sd/-

Ganesh Sodaye

Member, Justice Corps

Copy by email to:

1.. Central Information Commission, New Delhi

2.. Registrar General, Bombay High Court

3.. Organisations and individuals working on the right to information.

4.. Print and electronic media.

In solidarity with the above assertions and demands:

No Name Designation and Organisation

1.. Dr. Leo Rebello President, All India (Press) Letter Writers Association & Litigants Welfare Forum

2.. Mrs. Prabha Tirmare Sr. Lecturer, College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan

3.. Dr. J. Adsule Member, HC Legal Aid Committee, Mumbai

4.. Ms. Ulka Mahajan Sarvahara Jan Andolan

5.. Mrs. Farida Lambay Vice-Principal, College of Social Work

6.. Mr. Datta Balsaraf NavMaharashtra Yuva Abhiyan, Y. B Chavan Centre

7.. Ms. Medha Kulkarni Trustee, Sampark, Mumbai

8.. Mr. Ramesh Kadam General Secretary, Police-Janta Parivartan Dal

9.. Mr. Shuddodan Kathade President, Janvikas

10. Mr. John D’souza Director, Centre for Education & Documentation

11.. Mrs. Leena Joshi Director, Apnalaya

12.. Ms. Seema Pawaskar Systems Elite to Endeavor Development

13.. Mr. Vijay Najaraj Tata Institute of Social Sciences

14.. Mr. Allyn D’Silva Justice & Peace Commission

15.. Ms. Juliet Maben Documentation Research & Training Centre

16.. Mrs. Pamela Fernandes ACCP, Hotline

17.. Ms. Patsy Khan President, Institute of Social Service

18.. Ms. Philomina Vaz Anubhav Mumbai

19.. Mr. Pravin More State Secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

20.. Mr. Sanjay Lokhande Executive Secretary, Konkan Vikas Samanvaya Vyaspith

21.. Mr. Mohan Surve Executive Director, Vikas Sahyog Pratishthan

22.. Mr. Lalit Babar Dr. Ambedkar Setivikas Sanstha.

23.. Mr. Anil Borkar Gramin Vikas Pragati Mandal, Bhandara

24.. Mr. Datta Patil S. G. V. M

25.. Mr. Sachin Jakhi Sahil Sanstha, Ratnagiri

26.. Mr. Anant Kadam Lokadhikar Andolan

27.. Mr. Devidas Kumbhar Somling Gram Vikas

28.. Mr. Ashok Bhosale Samajik Nyay Pratisthan

29.. Mr. Gajanan Bhoir Sakav, Raigad

30.. Mr. Ajit Karde Vikalp, Satara

31.. Mr. Sachin M. Constructive Catalyst, Pune

32.. Mr. Ramesh Sagare Human Resource Development Corporation

33.. Mr. Suresh Sawant Co-ordinator, Rationing Kruti Samiti

34.. Mrs. Asunta D’souza Social Worker, Salokha

35.. Ms. Sneha Khandekar Social Activist

36.. Mr. Prasad Manjrekar Action Aid International, India office

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Minutes of third official meeting

Posted by justicecorps on January 4, 2007

Day: Thursday

Date: 28th December, 2006.

Time: 11 am to 5:20 pm

Place: Rationing Kruti Samiti office, Mumbai Central

Members present : Ronald L. Rebello, Sanket Kashid, Hemant Morajkar, Ramesh Kadam.

 

1.. Ronald first made a detailed presentation on the problems affecting the justice system of the country as of today, the dynamics involved, the problems of citizens in accessing justice, the recent trends of judiciary, the visits of Sanket and Ronald as team members of JC to various courts and their observations, the judicial reforms demanded by Justice Corps and need for the same etc. Additionally, an idea of the activities of Justice Corps during the year (2006) were discussed such as campaign by JC to get the RTI Act, 2005 implemented by Bombay High Court, responses of various people to it and notice to Maharashtra CM calling him to fill up the vacancies in MHRC, letters to the Editor on judicial reforms etc.

3.. Similarly, the various topics of documentation done by Ronald and Sanket were also presented. So far JC has been able to do documentation on around 40 issues concerning justice reforms, judicial transparency, law and human rights. It was emphasized that systematic documentation has come to a halt since October 31st, 2006 as Ronald has resigned as an employee from Rationing Kruti Samiti. This is because when he was in RKS while doing RKS documentation, he used to also do documentation on judicial reform. Nevertheless, while now newspaper cuttings are being collected on the same, there are absolutely no resources or funds for gum to paste the clippings, for paper, box-files to maintain these clippings etc.

4.. After this presentation, the inclusion of new members in the team was discussed. Hemant Morajkar a budding young journalist and a graduate in Bio-technology has decided to join the Justice Corps team as a core committee member. Shabana Shaikh of Women’s Research and Action Group (WRAG) and a third year student of law has also consented to be a team member, telephonically. She could not make it to the meeting as she had an illness in the family to attend. Ramesh Kadam, involved as a full-timer with Rationing Kruti Samiti and associated with various movements and Unions, in the afternoon session of the meeting said that he would be interested in becoming a member, though he would not be able to participate fully into it and suggested that decisions should be conveyed directly to him. Therefore, as of today, the team strength of Justice Corps is a total of 6 members, namely, Ronald Rebello (Founder), Sanket Kashid (Co-founder), Ganesh Sodaye (Member), Hemant Morajkar (Member), Shabana Shaikh (Member), Ramesh Kadam (Member). The team felt that it is of significance to have one more lady member in order to have a balanced team.

5.. So far there has been no progress on the front of having a bank account for Justice Corps. Sanket and Ronald made enquiries with two-three banks – HDFC, New India Co-operative Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce. None of these banks are ready to open an account for Justice Corps as it is an unregistered organization. It was decided to further make enquires on the same and not give up hope. Ramesh informed the group that Bank of Maharashtra permits opening a “current bank account” for even unregistered organizations. Hence, Sanket and Ronald have decided to make further enquires. Sanket will follow-up the issue of a bank account for Justice Corps. It was emphasized that in order to get even a small amount of funding, a bank account is very much essential.

6.. Justice Corps in order to make its presence known to a wider audience, needs to have a website and an E-group on which essential messages can be disseminated. Hemant, a regular blogger has taken the responsibility of designing, monitoring and updating a website for JC. The content is to be provided to him and he would host it on one of the free blogs available on the internet. Hemant would host the material on www.justicecorps.wordpress.com.

7.. It was brought to the notice of the team that since its inception in March 2006, Justice Corps has met officially only thrice. (Though Ronald and Sanket have met on numerous occasions and have discussed issues unofficially). This is because the team members have not been able to match their schedules. Therefore, it was decided that in the year of 2007, a fixed date should be decided for the entire year, so as to dedicate time to JC. The team decided that the first Saturday of every month will be a JC meeting day come what may. The meeting will be a full day meeting beginning 11 am sharp and should end by around 5 pm. Meeting will be held in the RKS office at Bombay Central till such time as it is permitted by RKS. This was decided in the morning. Ramesh who participated in the meeting in the afternoon expressed his inability to take part in this meeting as he has already pre-booked this day in the month for RKS activities, which cannot be altered. Ganesh Sodaye and Shabana have agreed telephonically to the said schedule.

8.. Sanket bought up the issue of visiting cards. It was discussed that in the course of networking with other activists, organizations and representing JC, there is no identification or contact details that can be given. Hence, it was decided that each one of us would print our visiting cards for JC, for which each of us would bear our own expenses since there are no funds. It was decided that a model visiting card would be designed by Ronald and will be sent to team members via email.

9.. Regarding the activities for JC, it was discussed that each one of the team members need to identify sensitive lawyers connected with various courts and streams of law, who would help us in understanding the problems of those particular courts. For instance, a labour court lawyer to advice on problems of labour courts/laws, a criminal court lawyer on criminal matters/courts and so on. Similarly, we much identify litigants in each court and document their cases in case study formats.

Lectures in various colleges on different topics such as right to information, judicial reform, and public interest litigation too can be organized to mobilize opinion. NSS, student units, principals and faculties of these colleges can be contacted for the same.

To make entry into the slums, it was decided that printing of RTI pamphlets in Hindi and Marathi should be distributed with JC details on it.

Ronald mooted before the group the idea of sending circulars to various colleges inviting students for internship with Justice Corps. This will give an opportunity for JC to mobilize the student community on the issue and also the shortage of human power for documentation will not be felt. These students can indulge in an array of activities at various levels depending on their skills. Ronald has taken the responsibility of co-ordinating the same and following it up. Sarvahara Jan Andolan (Raigad), Kashtakari Sanghatna (Dhanu-Talasari), Rationing Kruti Samiti (Mumbai) are the three organizations where students can be placed for internship in addition to doing JC work.

Ramesh came up with the idea that the organization needs to be membership-based rather than a federation of networks. This idea was supported by all. Ramesh averred that he can collect over 1,000 members within three months. However, the team was clear that the members of JC need to be empowered and concerned individuals and not any Tom, Dick and Harry should be part of it for their personal gain.

Sanket suggested that JC members should get co-opted in All India Press Letter Writers Association (AILWA), a 26 year old registered body of letter writers from the country. The object of joining the association is that JC can be run through AILWA, in particular to obtain funding for JC activities as at present JC is unregistered and no funding agency may provide funds. More appropriately many issues are in common with AILWA such as the recognition of the right to information, judicial transparency and reform and good governance. Besides AILWA members are in the mood of retiring after serving 25 years and want young people to run it. It was proposed by Ronald that Hemant and Sanket, both who are also letter-writers may join AILWA. Unfortunately, the idea of taking costly membership of Rs. 1,000 acts as a deterrent and makes the organization appear elitist. Sanket and Hemant will take their own decisions in this regard.

A short break of an hour was taken during the day to read pending newspapers in RKS office so as to acquire clippings on Justice Reforms. It was decided that such activity would be continued every time and in this way clippings on food security would also be culled out for RKS team, mutually benefiting both organizations.

The meeting completed at 5:20 pm.

 Minutes written by Ronald and Sanket.

 

 

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