Delhi Development Authority (RTI Risks), 2005-06 - Test case for preliminary hypothesis about implications of structural weaknesses in Right to Information Act, 2005, for structural weaknesses in organisations and consequent issues of accountability and information politics.

Authority meeting: Communications of 25/26.10.2005

From: Gita Dewan Verma <[email protected]> Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005 00:58:05 -0700 (PDT)

To: All DDA officers designated PIO/Appellate Authority for purpose of RTI Act, 20051

Sub: Request for guidelines for exercising RTI u/s.6 pending sufficient publication u/s.4 and for review of PIO jurisdictions so as to to cover the whole Authority and Offer of support for streamlining initiatives u/s.26(1); OR, alternatively, Request for assistance u/s.5(3) to frame asRTI requests doubts about the agenda of Authority meeting of 19.10.05 (wrt to letter to LG, endorsed to you, text included in this message)

Kindly refer to the preamble of Right To Information Act, 2005 (articulating intent of setting out practical regime for RTI to harmonise likely conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, etc) and, in this context, to s.4(1)(b) (requiring information as per sub-clauses (i) to (xvii) to have been published with a view, as per s.4(2), to provide information suo motu so that people have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain it). Kindly refer also to s.4(1)(a) (requiring records to be in a manner and form which facilitatesRTI and appropriate records to be, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised to facilitate access) and, in this context, also to DDA Budget 2005-06 outlay of Rs.18.92 Crs for system up-gradation, etc. Kindly refer, in context of the foregoing, to DDA website and please note that: (1) RTI Act is mentioned neither on home-page nor in site-map but in About-Us section  (2) link labelled “Right Information Act 2005” (please note inaccuracy in label) is to a page that contains only three links and does not serve RTI facilitating / minimising objectives.  (3) link labelled “Principal Information Officers and Appellate Authority” (please note inaccuracy in label) is to a pdf file providing details of as many as 40PIOs, with jurisdictions that are not readily relate-able to information otherwise available on the website (in 6 sections, viz, Planning, Housing, Land, Heritage, Sports, Greens)

I request, firstly, publishing on DDA website guidelines for responsibly exercising RTI (u/s.6) pending sufficient suo motu publication (u/s.4) to facilitate / minimize it. 

Further, kindly refer to Delhi Development Act, 1957, Chapter-II, section-3 (pertaining to the Authority itself), section-5 (pertaining to Advisory Council constituted by the Authority), section-5A (pertaining to Committees constituted by the Authority) and section-4 (pertaining to Staff of the Authority, including s.4(1) pertaining to Secretary and Chief Accounts Officer and s.4(2) pertaining to other officers and employees). In this context, please note that neither suo motu information on DDAwebsite nor jurisdictions of designated PIOs, etc, cover the Authority, its Advisory Council, Committees or Secretary, ie, only the portion of DDAcreated by s.4(2) seems to have been brought into the purview of RTI Act. This is patently counter-productive, as: (a) using RTI for transparency at level of employees (who are accountable to the Authority) while leaving out the Authority (which is accountable to the people) is ultimately pointless and also likely to exacerbate conflicts, which is contrary to RTIAct purpose.  (b) preoccupation with transparency at level of employees may well be at cost of oversight of drift from statutory mandate at level of the Authority (such as suggested by news reports of Authority meeting on 19.10.05), which is deleterious in terms of DD Act imperatives.

I urge review of PIO jurisdictions so as to cover the whole Authority for consistency with RTI Act purpose and harmony with DD Act imperatives.

If DoPT, involved in general modalities for RTI Act, is not running agency-specific programs u/s.26(1) and/or DDA officials who qualified DoPT Training-of-Trainers are inclined to conduct one, I would like to offer support. Please note I am not short of work and am making this offer because I consider it my responsibility in view of my unusual qualifications and experience. I qualified both DTS and DoT programs of DoPT and have ample DoT (Design of Training) experience. As a qualified researcher I am interested in use and politics of information and currently exploring the architecture of RTI Act. As a qualified planner engaging on Delhi Master Plan issues I have a thorough understanding of DD Act. 

If DDA has any use of my support for streamlining initiatives u/s.26(1), it is on offer for purposes of DD Act to which I am wholeheartedly committed as a planner.

In case you find all of the above unworthy of your consideration, then please provide me reasonable assistance u/s.5(3) of RTI Act to frame as requests u/s.6, in a manner consistent with your responsibilities under RTIAct and DD Act, my doubts about the agenda of the Authority meeting on 19.10.05, expressed in my letter to LG endorsed to you, text of which is below. JEEBESH

Yours sincerely Gita Dewan Verma, Planner 
1356, DI Vasant Kunj, New Delhi - 110070 
email: [email protected]

cc: Hon’ble LG (DDA Chairman & Competent Authority for RTI Act, 2005)

cc: [email protected]

 

=== letter dated & dispatched by courier on 24/10/05 ===

Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor of NCT Delhi
(DDA Chairman & Competent authority for RTI Act, 2005)

Sub: DMP-2021 Public Notice & implementation of RTI Act, 2005, in DDA Ref: News reports of Authority meeting on 19.10.05

Respected Sir,

From news reports it appears DMP2021 Public Notice process (in which hearings on objections/suggestions started on 03.10.05) and Right To Information Act, 2005 (which came fully in force on 12.10.05) were not on agenda of the Authority meeting on 19.10.05. 

  1. Apropos DMP2021 Public Notice, permit me to urge that at the moment this is the prime responsibility of the Authority that exists only for purposes of DD Act (s.3) with sole object of promoting and securing development of Delhi according to plan (s.6). Further, Rules require consideration / disposal of responses by a Board of Enquiry and Hearing drawn exclusively from the Authority and its Advisory Council. This does prevent the Authority from considering / deciding the same issues on its own. Regrettably, all three major agenda items reportedly considered / decided on 19.10.05 - viz, further land acquisition for Games Village on the riverbed, private participation in housing approved in principle in July, and disposal policy/rates for institutional land and schools - relate to DMP2021 proposals and are pending disposal of its Public Notice. (I am aggrieved by all three on account also of pending court matters, other s.11A public notices and s.41(3) applications and can submit details if necessary). Under these odd circumstances: (a) I appeal to you u/s.41(3) of DD Act to call for records of DMP2021 and other pending Public Notices, pending applications u/s.41(3) and pending court matters related to agenda items for Authority meeting of 19.10.05 and to satisfy yourself of legality and propriety of its agenda and business, in their context. (b) I seek urgent disposal of my application u/s.41(3) about DMP2021 Public Notice process (dispatched on 01.10.05, hand-delivered on 03.10.05 with my complaint to Police Commissioner against NGO protest against the Authority over illegal demand to be on the Board). The board that heard me on 03.10.05 was not as per Rules and details of IT Park Public Notice in Additional Affidavit of 18.10.05 on behalf of the Authority in my WP 6500/2005 point to non-conforming practice.
  2. Apropos Right To Information, the Authority seems to have exempted itself from the RTI Act, 2005. On the website of theDDA is a list of as many as 40 PIOs, none of whom have jurisdiction over the business of the Authority, its Advisory Council, Committees constituted by it, its Secretary. Nor is any information about the Authority, its Advisory Council, etc, available suo-motu on the website. RTI is, thus, exercisable only vis-à-vis employees of the Authority (who are accountable to the Authority) and not the Authority (which is accountable to the people). This is a diabolical situation (distressingly underscored by press reports that make much of the Authority’s “displeasure” with DDA, as if the two are separate, while media/NGO campaigns urge indiscriminate use of RTI). And the matters that the Authority considered / decided (and did not consider / resolve) in the week of RTI Act coming fully into force make a poignant comment on expectations of accountability. I seek your intervention and am enclosing for your perusal my note to DDA officers designated as PIOs / Appellate Authorities.

Yours sincerely  sd/- Gita Dewan Verma, Planner

cc: DDA officers designated PIO/Appellate Authority via e-mail to ids on
http://www.ddadelhi.com/about_us/pop_ups/appelateauthority.pdf

CIC visit to DDA

20/12/2005

Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor of NCT Delhi

(DDA Chairman & Competent Authority for RTI Act, 2005)

Sub: Implementation of Right to Information Act, 2005, in DDA

Ref: My letter of 24.10.05 and subsequent developments (enclosed)

Respected Sir,

In my letter / note under reference I had drawn attention to non-convergence of accountability guarantees provided by RTI Act, 2005, and by Delhi Development Act, 1957 (notably s.11A for Plan modification process and s.41(3) allowing application to GoI) and to the anomaly of only staff being covered by suo motu information / PIO jurisdictions, even as it is the Authority (with its Council and Committees) that is accountable to the people.

With reference to news reports of Authority meeting of 19.10.05 I had also pointed to apparent disregard of other accountability guarantees as in consideration / decision of matters pending in courts or under s.11A / s.41(3) (and urged review of the same) and apparent omission of any discussion on implementation of RTI Act that came fully in force on 13.10.05 or on draft Master Plan 2021 Public Notice hearings that commenced on 03.10.05 (and sought urgent disposal of my s.41(3) application about Board for Enquiry & Hearing).

In light of subsequent developments, I believe I have a prima-facie case to request that s.6 of RTI Act (and consequent provisions thereto) be held in abeyance till such time as s.4(1) of RTI Act is fully implemented in DDA - so that resort to s.6 is facilitated (s.4(1)(a)) and minimised (s.4(2)) (in line with harmonising purpose of the RTI Act), the Authority is brought fully into the purview of the Act (by a-priori disclosure under relevant clauses of s.4(1)(b) and by framing procedures for s.4(1)(c) and their relation to media/PR policy) and other accountability guarantees of citizens are protected (eg, by framing procedures for s.4(1)(d)) against mischievous / adversarial abuse of s.6 by vested interests - on the premise that responsible resort to s.6 before implementation of s.4(1) is neither possible nor contemplated in RTI Act and that allowing resort to s.6 in isolation is contrary to RTI purpose and tantamount to allowing its abuse to subvert accountability guarantees of DD Act and, thereby, the DD Act itself.

It is not my intention to make out my case in this representation, by which I only seek information / advice as to how to proceed to make this request, as I am unable to locate provisions to guide me. To indicate the nature of my apprehensions, I am enclosing an annotated list of relevant communications since my letter under reference.

I am making this representation to you because you are custodian of the DD Act as ex-officio Chairman of the DDA and, from what I can make out, also Competent Authority for, inter alia, making rules (s.28) to carry out the provisions of RTI Act, 2005 (including in respect of s.4(4) pertaining to dissemination of information under s.4(1)).

I am also copying this for favour of information and for guidance to Chief Information Commissioner in view of news reports of the visit by CIC to DDA on 15.12.05, especially the reference therein to CIC explaining s.4 (and s.8, s.25 and s.26) to DDA officials.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely

sd/-
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner

  • 1. via eml to ids available at: http://www.ddadelhi.com/about_us/pop_ups/appelateauthority.pdf