Letter of 26.12.2005.
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.
Mr Vishwa Mohan Bansal, Principal Commissioner cum Secretary,
DDA, Vikas Sadan, New Delhi - 110023
Sub: RTI in DDA: Request for clarifications for the petition you said I could file
Ref: CIC hearing on 23.12.05
Dear Mr Bansal,
I was present as observer at CIC hearing on 23.12.05 with permission of the Registrar. I had sought permission in context of my representation of 20.12.05 to DDA Chairman (in continuation of that of 25/26.10.05) and to CIC about holding s.6 of RTI Act in abeyance in DDA till implementation of s.4(1).
In your team, DDA VC and the 3 planning officials recognize me and also Ms Neemo Dhar and Mr BN Singh have some idea of my efforts in support of development according to Plan (sole object of DDA u/s.6 of DD Act). The Complainant also knows me (as do many others interested in MPD-2021, as I have nearly accomplished unprecedented independent and comprehensive professional engaging on a Plan revision from start to end and my work is freely available and open to discussion on the internet, on my planning & professional practice portal in independent international inter-network for dedicated architectural discourse). You, too, might have recalled me from hearing on 30.05.05 by Lok Sabha Standing Committee that was examining DDA (pursuant to CBI exposing in 2003 a tout-scam implicating top DDA officials and also a then sitting judge of Delhi High Court).
I found your objection and remark about a separate petition that prevented me from making a submission (on suggestion made, I believe out of courtesy due to a lady and planner, by the Complainant and allowed by the Commission) perplexing.
I was going to submit that for further reply to CIC you might want to consider suggestions I have made to DDA regarding RTI Act and, regarding Public Notice process, also my application u/s.41(3) of DD Act about MPD-2021 and my writ petition apropos s.11A that I cited when invited by Standing Committee to comment on your denial of another witness's contention that the Authority disregards Plan processes. I wanted to submit this in view of anomalies in your submissions making for obfuscation to mar first CIC hearing and also of the adversarial tenor, a concern I have repeatedly raised with reference to matters in courts, commissions and s.11A / s.41(3) proceedings. I am constrained to remind you that at Standing Committee hearing you had dismissed this concern with suggestion of courts and the Committee has "firmly recommended" you devise "with a positive perspective in mind" a mechanism "for timely and quick redress" to minimise resort to courts and media (para 6.50, 80th report, 2005).
I think your petition remark for me runs contrary to Standing Committee's recommendation for you and substantiates my apprehensions in representation of 20.12.05 rather than your claims of open-ness, etc, at hearing on 23.12.05.
Nevertheless, I accept it as decision of the Authority conveyed through its Secretary at appropriate forum because you made it authoritatively with support of DDA VC, DDA Nodal Officer for RTI and others with whom my requests / representations are pending.
I need now the following clarifications to be able to petition. I will be sending this letter to you by eml as well as by courier. Since emls from your id do bounce back (as also mentioned by the Complainant on 23.12.05) and couriered letters have also come back in the past, I will also be sending it by eml to other PIOs/AAs and Nodal Officer, also in continuation of my eml of 26.10.05, with request that they forward it to you. I hope that shall suffice and request reply from you / under your instruction.
- In my representation of 20.12.05 to Authority Chairman, I had sought advice for making a case in support of DDA in respect of RTI Act. Please confirm that your objection / petition suggestion of 23.12.05 amounts to refusal on behalf of the Authority / Chairman of my request for advice and that offer of support.
- My request of 05.12.05 for information under s.4(1)(d) about Authority decision to reconstitute Board of Enquiry & Hearing for MPD-2021 was made to Ms Neemo Dhar (who had said she is PIO looking after Authority meetings). She forwarded it to Mr BN Singh and Mr Mahashabdey who were helpful but did not have the information. I reverted to Ms Dhar, also spelling out my broader concern to convey to you and DDA VC. She advised I approach Mr AK Jain (Appellate Authority of Mr Mahashabdey) and I did. All the above were present at hearing on 23.12.05, where you (Appellate Authority of Ms Dhar) emphatically submitted, with reference to your reply dated 21.11.05 to CIC, that reasons for Authority decisions need not be disclosed, specifically mentioning reconstitution of the Board. I wonder why Ms Dhar did not refuse my request of 15.12.05 in view of your reply of 21.11.05 and, indeed, why none of the above informed me, in ambit of s.4(1)(d) of RTI Act as affected party in view of my requests / representations pending before them, of the instant proceedings / hearing on 23.12.05. Please confirm that your remark that I file a petition also meant I need not approach you in Appeal about my RTI requests about Authority decisions since you cannot allow them without retracting your submission to CIC.
- In preliminary submissions on 23.12.05 you said RTI Act is for information, not redress. I submit RTI Act is for transparency, with which CIC is primarily concerned, for accountability that is anyway responsibility of authorities. I do not understand, and you did not explain, why DDA VC (Board Chairman) and Commissioner Planning (Board Convenor-Secretary) were present to assist you at your hearing on 23.12.05 even as they had no role in the RTI Complaint. I do not mean to cast aspersions but it did seem that, regardless of the outcome of the instant proceedings, the Complainant might not receive unprejudiced consideration from the Board any more. Please confirm to me that as Secretary of the Authority you acknowledge a responsibility to ensure my rights under s.11A and s.41(3) of DD Act are not jeopardised by proceedings in the RTI petition that you said I could file.
- I submit that CIC is also not a forum for settling disputes over interpretation of DD Act. For your information, I will be challenging the submissions made on behalf of the Authority at your hearing on 23.12.05 in respect of at least two areas of DD Act interpretation:
- (a) You emphatically submitted with reference to DDA website that s.4(1) of RTI Act has been adequately implemented. I will be challenging this with reliance on RTI Act, disclosure requirements of DD Act, matters in which claims of adequacy based on PR-style website and stand-alone achievement-statistics have been successfully assailed in court, CVC, etc.
- (b) You and DDA VC made several submissions about Public Notice process on which you have been directed to file further reply. I am going to challenge nearly all these submissions with reliance on my systematic Public Notice engagements since 2002, including on public notice of 2003 inviting comment on MPD-2021 guidelines released by then Authority Chairman and since Authority decision of January 2005 to initiate Public Notice for MPD-2021.
- Please confirm that you appreciate that I am suggesting (and will be alleging with ample evidence in the petition that you have said I could file) that there was misrepresentation and suppression of facts in respect of the above in your hearing before CIC on 23.12.05.
I reiterate, Sir, that I am qualified planner, researcher and trainer, bound and empowered by my professional duty of care to support planning authorities to uphold their mandates and safeguard sanctity and integrity of processes of planned development in widest public interest. From my position as planner I offered support and from your position in the Authority of DDA you asked for a petition, which I think after some reflection I can file in continuing support, ideally before your next hearing. Accordingly, I thank you for this opportunity. At the same time, I hope you appreciate your remark was too general and I do need the above clarifications before investing time and effort in another petition. I request and look forward to your reply at the earliest.
With seasons and New Year greetings,
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner
cc (by eml): PIOs/AAs with eml ids known to be working (in continuation of eml of 26.10.05, etc, and with request to forward to Mr Bansal and other PIOs/AA if and as needed)
cc (by courier): for favour of information wrt representation of 20.12.05
- Hon'ble LG / DDA Chairman & Competent Authority for RTI
- Hon'ble Chief Information Commissioner, CIC