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Centre Directed to Upload All Laws and Amendments on Official Website

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RTI activists have praised the Delhi high court’s ruling of an earlier order directing the Centre to regularly upload all laws and amendments, saying it will improve transparency and access to information for citizens.

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In a landmark ruling that Right to Information activists believe will improve transparency, the Delhi high court has upheld an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the legislative department of the government to upload on its official website all laws enacted and amended by parliament.

In keeping with the CIC’s order, it has further directed the Centre to ensure that the official email addresses of its officials remain functional.

Through the order, the court also sought to clamp down on those government officials who resort to unnecessary judicial challenges. It said it was taking “judicial notice of the fact that in challenging the imposition of costs of Rs. 10,000, the Government of India would have spent more money in filing the present writ petition.” Consequently, it directed that the cost of Rs. 10,000 that the CIC was directed to pay should be recovered from the salaries of the officials who authorised the filing of the petition.

The CIC order

The complaint had first been filed by Vansh Sharad Gupta, a law student from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in July 2012, when he wished to study the Indian Christian Marriage Act 1972 online.

When his email to the Legislative Department bounced back, Vansh approached the CIC stating that as a law student he needed to refer to several bare Acts but the website was not providing any assistance. He demanded that bare Acts be available in PDF format.

The order came over three years later in November 2015, when the CIC observed that “it is the minimum responsibility of the state to provide updated information about amendments, which will go a long way in helping people. The access to law is not just a requirement of Law students and law researchers, but a necessity of all citizens.” In the order, Information Commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu also directed the legislative department to pay Rs. 10,000 to the library of the National Law School of India University under Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act.

The CIC illustrated the necessity of informing people about changes in law through the following example: “Parliament, by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, has amended section 100 of Indian Penal Code, which provides a right of the private defence of the body even to the extent of causing death in case of acid attack. Many men and women are not even aware of the self-defence right – that they can even kill the assailant if the latter is attacking to kill, rape or throw acid, or cause grievous hurt.”

The CIC urged the department to “recognise the urgency and significance of the issue, expedite the process, allocate more funds to employ more personnel and complete the process of updating as soon as possible.”

In view of the complainant’s claim that most of his emails to the government had failed to go through, the CIC also directed the Centre to examine the functionality of the email accounts of officials.

Responses

Rather than taking the order in the right spirit, the Centre decided to challenge it in the Delhi high court, only to draw flak for not being serious about correcting its flaws.

The court categorically stated that it is “not an appellate Court of the CIC.” It reprimanded the Centre for its casual approach. “Technical and procedural arguments cannot be allowed to come in the way of substantial justice. The directions given by the CIC in the impugned order are not only fair and reasonable but also promote the concept of rule of law. It is unfortunate that the petitioner did not take the initiative on its own to upload the latest amended bare Acts,” it ruled.

The judgment has been commended by RTI activists.

Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said that though the student had little use for the information by the time the case was decided, the order remains significant. In his words: “The bureaucratic juggernaut in India reacts slowly or not at all. It is very welcome that the government has now been reminded of its duty to publish laws in their updated form and not piecemeal – the main enactment in one place and later amendments as separate documents.”

Nayak said that the ruling would also tackle the problem of the inaccessibility of rules and regulations made under a legislation, even while the texts of laws enacted by parliament are available on official websites.

 

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Karnataka Police to induct 50 dogs at Rs 2.5 crore

According to the commissioner, the police department will hire the services of Amrut Hiranya, a renowned dog psychologist, popularly known as ‘dog guru’.

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Stray dogs

Bengaluru, May 26 : As many as 50 dogs will be inducted into the police dog squad in Karnataka at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore to strengthen the force, an official said on Tuesday.

“Fifty dogs will be adopted and inducted into the dog squad at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore to strengthen the state police force,” said Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao.

Inaugurating the newly upgraded Dog Activity Park at the CAR (South) in Adugodi near Kormangala in the city, Rao said the dog squad plays an important role in the detection of explosives, drugs and crimes scenes.

He said that best possible training will be imparted to the police dogs to strengthen the existing canine team.

At the Dog Activity Park, the dogs will be trained under the leadership of CAR South and ACP, Ninga Reddy Patil.

According to the commissioner, the police department will hire the services of Amrut Hiranya, a renowned dog psychologist, popularly known as ‘dog guru’.

Rao said the police department is also planning to appoint female constables as dog handlers in the future.

At the inauguration of the Dog Activity Park, the trained canines showcased their skills such as tackling vehicle hijacking, explosives and drugs detection and anti-terrorist and anti-Maoist warfare tactics.

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Parts of Delhi’s Pillanji Village added to containment zone

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covid lockdown delhi

New Delhi, May 26 : The South-East district administration on Tuesday sealed a part of the Pillanji Village in Kotla Mubarakpur here after Covid-19 cases were reported from the area.

In an order issued on Tuesday, the administration directed for containment of the area between house number 1942 and 1945 (Polygon A) and between house number 2027 and 2042, Chopal Wali Gali, (Polygon B) in Pillanji Village, Kotla Mubarakpur, after positive Covid-19 positive were reported from the area.

The South-East District Magistrate also directed all the concerned officials to ensure that basic facilities and necessities are available in the area, and if need arises, the same may be provided to every affected person.

“To restrict public movement within the contained area, sufficient numbers of pickets shall be set up,” the order said.

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Delhi govt orders 28 ventilators, 435 oxygen concentrators

Delhi has 19 COVID Care Centres (CCC) with 5,716-bed capacity. The state has 50,000 PPEs in stock.

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New Delhi, May 26 : Amid rising coronavirus cases, the Delhi Health Department has placed orders for 30,000 PPE kits, 3.5 lakh N-95 masks, 28 ventilators and 435 oxygen concentrators, according to a statement by the Raj Niwas, here on Tuesday.

The Secretary (Health) also presented the ‘situational analysis of Covid-19 in Delhi’ to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.

Up to May 25, there were 14,053 confirmed cases in Delhi. Of this, 6,771 patients recovered or migrated. The case fatality rate in Delhi is 1.96 per cent against the national average of 2.57 per cent.

As on May 25, the Lt Governor was informed, 34 labs were functional for Covid-19 tests. Till date, 1,74,469 cumulative tests had been conducted with the positivity rate as on May 25 being 8.06 per cent.

Adequate supply of medical essentials has been ensured and more ventilators are being procured. At present, 4,462 beds, 429 ICUs, 343 ventilators and 2,632 oxygen supported beds are available in the Covid hospitals.

Delhi has 19 COVID Care Centres (CCC) with 5,716-bed capacity. The state has 50,000 PPEs in stock.

The Secretary also informed Baijal about augmentation of the bed capacity by 25 per cent in private hospitals with 50 plus beds, earmarking of 20 per cent beds for Covid patients in these hospitals, daily health monitoring of the home isolated Covid patients and raising isolation beds in the CCCs.

The Lt. Governor asked the Health Department to review medical infrastructure capacity building and remove bottlenecks immediately. The trend of the past 10-15 days should be analysed for future management, Baijal said and advised monitoring of containment zones on a dynamic basis for focused action.

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