Unfortunately, recommendations to make Padma awards selection process fair, transparent, and unbiased put forward by Shri Subhash Chandra Agrawal have been rejected by Ministry of Home Affairs.
FIRST APPEAL UNDER SECTION 19(1) OF RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT
Shri RP Nath
Joint secretary (Admn) & Appellate Authority
Union Home Ministry
Room No. 194, North Block
NEW DELHI 110001
I vide my RTI petition dated 25.11.2011 sought information as under together with relevant documents/correspondence/file-
1. Last date for receipt of nominations for Padma Awards 2012
2. Complete and detailed list of nominations for Padma Awards 2012 having reached to Union Home Ministry by the stipulated last date of receiving such nominations mentioning also names of those recommending such nominations, authority through which Union Home Ministry received such nominations and dates on which such nominations reached separately to recommending authorities and to Union Home Ministry
3. Names of members of ‘Search Committee’ formed to recommend for Padma Awards 2012
4. Names considered by ‘Search Committee’ for being recommended before Awards Committee for Padma Awards 2012
5. Names of nominees recommended by ‘Search Committee’ for Padma Awards 2012
6. Days and time-duration on which ‘Search Committee’ met to finalize nominations
7. Minutes of meetings held by ‘Search Committee’
8. Any other related details
9. File-notings on movement of this RTI petition as well
Learned CPIO vide a much-delayed and back-dated response No. 24/19/2012-Public dated 21.01.2012 (received by me on 02.02.2012) demanded a sum of rupees sixty towards copying charges which had to be submitted by me because of urgency to get documents. Since demand having been made much beyond 30 days of receipt of RTI petition at Union Home Ministry, these copying charges are to be waived under section 7(6) of RTI Act. Even last year, your honour was kind enough to provide such documents relating to Padma awards 2011 free-of-cost for similar reasons under section 7(6) of RTI Act. I appeal that learned CPIO may kindly be directed to refund rupees sixty charged as copying charges.
Learned CPIO in response to query (2) has declined to reveal names of recommending persons for nominees of Padma awards 2012 as claimed to be ‘Third Party Information’. But section 11 of RTI Act relating to ‘Third Party Information’ requires a CPIO to invite comments/objections from Third Parties concerned within five days of receipt of RTI petition. Since CPIO failed to comply with provisions of section 11 of RTI Act, she should be directed to provide names of recommending persons but now free-of-cost under section 7(6) of RTI Act. Attention is also invited towards section 8(2) of RTI Act which stipulates that a public-authority may allow access to information if public-interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. In this case public-interest is involved because earlier such responses have revealed that some recommending individuals burden the search-procedure by obliging every one approaching them for recommendations for Padma awards. A Parliamentarian had once recommended as many as 16 names for Padma awards in a single year. There have been controversies about certain Padma awardees in past years, where intentions of recommending persons were also questioned in media. It is beyond understanding that if such similar information was being provided without any reservation till Padma awards 2010, how and why these are denied now! Honourable Mr Justice S Ravindra Bhatt of Delhi High Court in the matter “Bhagat Singh Vs. CIC (W.P.(C) No.3114/2007)” has held that the Right to Information Act being a right based enactment is akin to a welfare measure and as such should receive liberal interpretation. Significantly my suggestions for limiting an individual (except authorities like President, Vice president, Prime Minister, Ministers etc through their respective Secretariats and Ministries) to recommend only one recommendation was turned down by Union Home Ministry. I appeal that learned CPIO may kindly be directed to provide names of recommending persons also because she did not comply with provisions of section 11 relating to ‘Third Party Information’ (as cited by her in her response) in stipulated time-period of five days of receipt of RTI petition. It is prayed accordingly.
SUBHASH CHANDRA AGRAWAL
(Guinness Record Holder & RTI Activist)
1775 Kucha Lattushah
Dariba, Chandni Chowk
DELHI 110006 (India)
Padma awards 2012 recommendations list. Suggestion for fair selection rejected.