Tag Archives: Bimal Julka

PM lays emphasis on use of IT in CIC hearings

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka in New Delhi, Saturday, 21 March 2020

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised that efforts should be made for the use of Information Technology (IT) in the Central Information Commission (CIC) hearings and turn it into an opportunity in the present challenging times.

The Prime Minister underscored the importance of IT and it’s use in CIC hearings during a meeting with Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka on Saturday, 21 March 2020.

Bimal Julka takes oath as Chief Information Commissioner

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President of India Ram Nath Kovind administering the oath of office of the Chief Information Commissioner to Bimal Julka at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 6 March 2020.

New Delhi: President of India Ram Nath Kovind today, 6 March 2020, administered the oath of office to Bimal Julka, who now takes over as the new Chief Information Commissioner of India

Bimal Julka will take oath as Chief Information Commissioner on March 6

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New Delhi: Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka will be administered the oath of office as Chief Information Commissioner by President Ramnath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Friday 5 March 2020.

Julka is widely respected for his dedication and commitment to the public cause.

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Before joining as Information Commissioner, Julka was Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

In his long and illustrious career as an IAS officer borne on the Madhya Pradesh cadre, Julka has held many important posts, including the posts of Director, Department of Industrial Development, Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Commissioner, Public Relations, Government of Madhya Pradesh; Director, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India; Commissioner, Gwalior Division, Madhya Pradesh; Joint Secretary (G/Air), Ministry of Defence, Government of India; Resident Commissioner, Government of Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi; Additional Secretary and Director General (Currency), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India; Additional Secretary/Special Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

Should we do away with the I&B Ministry

Bimal Julka

 

It is indeed a great opportunity for the leadership in the I&B Ministry to prepare, plan, articulate its thinking and evolve a media strategy to be skilfully executed in a proactive manner through various media platforms across its rich, diverse, socio-geographical boundaries. There is a vast pool of rich talent in the Ministry to execute and effectively implement the objectives of the Ministry.

The Ministry of I&B is an apex body of GOI for formulation and administration of the Rules and Regulations and laws relating to information, broadcasting policy and administration as enshrined in the transaction of business rules. We are all aware that there is a tremendous growth of private media in all forms including television, FM radio, web portals, web magazines, blogs, twitter, print media, social media, facebook etc. With so much of proliferation in the media world of private players, the government through the Ministry of I & B with its vast information and broadcasting infrastructure should ensure its optimal utilization and engagement with all the stakeholders. The government’s role in making  information available to the people in strategic and inaccessible areas continues to remain paramount. Developing mutually beneficial media relationships is often a key component to the success and implementation of public policy. As the media and entertainment industry widens its reach, it plays a critical role in creating awareness on issues affecting channelling the energy of and building aspirations among India’s millions. The transformation is not just from handouts and government schemes but transformation stemming from ambition and aspiration of the people of the country. We are all aware that social media has become an integral part of our life. 24×7 news channels, expanded citizen consciousness and digital revolution are some of the factors that are impacting our day to day life. Not only does news break and spread on social media, the social media wars that are often dismissed as puerile chatter, shape the action on TV screens, news paper pages, dinner tables, streets and thus the minds and hearts of the citizen, the protest in the wake of any gang rape incident are examples of social media action on the streets. Therefore, the challenges the social media poses to Government are huge, so are the opportunities,. Public perception, public order and national security are very closely interlinked.

The Government needs to shape public perceptions so that they reflect reality and amplify governance effectiveness. Sensationlisation with motives of particular vested interests towards news item and socio-economic issues beyond a point may prove to be counterproductive. Consistently, the role of the Ministry of I&B had been examined and evaluated by Standing Committee on Information Technology and certain very useful recommendations made in respect of its functioning. Presently, the issues engaging the attention of the Ministry relate to, the outreach of All India
Radio and Doordarshan, manpower planning, budgetary requirements, issues relating to Cable TV Network Regulation Amendment Bill, 2011, cross media ownership/cross media monopoly in various segments, the role of DAVP and its spread amongst small, medium and regional language newspapers, FTTI Pune as a centre of excellence in filming, expansion of FM radio network, the spread of community radio services in the country, policy for introduction of mobile television, rationalization of spectrum  requirements for various broadcasting services, conversion of IIMC into International Media University, coordination issues with cable and satellite channels, liaising with IBF, NBSA and BCCC to integrate issues in TV programming and time bands to name a few. Fostering effective and positive media relationship is an integral and intertwined element posing great challenge to the leadership of the Ministry of I&B. Needless to say that for a country like India, the media needs to be more responsible and self-regulated considering the vast sensitivities involved therein. The lessons learnt from 26/11, the interviews by various individuals in the aftermath of hanging of Yakub Memon, other issues relating to portrayal of crime against women and children etc. cannot be silently ignored. Although the press enjoys the legacy of series of judicial pronouncements for supporting economic viability of the press as fundamental to its intellectual freedom, the regulatory inclination of the government keeps in mind these realities while considering any intrusive initiatives. Invasion of page-3 culture, TRP driven displays in newspapers, sensationalism in electronic media on socially irrelevant issues and aesthetically offensive treatment often cross norms acceptable to Indian society.

Thus, considering the vast multitude of issues engaging the attention of the masses and to develop holistic and integrated approach, it is indeed a great opportunity for the leadership in the I&B Ministry to prepare, plan, articulate its thinking and evolve a media strategy to be skilfully executed in a proactive manner through various media platforms across its rich, diverse, socio-geographical boundaries. Let me add here that there is a vast pool of rich talent in the Ministry to execute and effectively implement the objectives of the Ministry. However, there is an urgent need to devise an appropriate scheme to improve professionalism in the IIS Cadre. The apparent inefficiencies should not dominate and override the stated objectives of the Ministry.Thus, considering the vast multitude of issues engaging the attention of the masses and to develop holistic and integrated approach, it is indeed a great opportunity for the leadership in the I&B Ministry to prepare, plan, articulate its thinking and evolve a media strategy to be skilfully executed in a proactive manner through various media platforms across its rich, diverse, socio-geographical boundaries. Let me add here that there is a vast pool of rich talent in the Ministry to execute and effectively implement the objectives of the Ministry. However, there is an urgent need to devise an appropriate scheme to improve professionalism in the IIS Cadre. The apparent inefficiencies should not dominate and override the stated objectives of the Ministry.


The author, Bimal Julka (Former Secretary I&B) is presently Central Information Commissioner, CIC
(The views expressed are personal)

Universities should suo-motu put in public domain the guidelines for revaluation of the answer-sheets in larger public interest

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An open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realised only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms. Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information suo-motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including the Internet, so that the public need not resort to the use of RTI Act. – CIC for proactive disclosure norms

New Delhi: Central information Commission has responded to a series of Complaints and Appeals on revaluation of the answer-sheets and related matters, by advising the Secretary, Department of Higher Education (MHRD), to instruct all the Vice Chancellors and Registrars of the Universities falling within its purview to suo-motu putout the guidelines for revaluation of the answer-sheets detailing the procedure prescribed for this purpose for the benefit of the larger student community impacted by such decisions and in the larger public interest involved in the matter.

The above advise is part of the operative portion of an order passed by Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka today in response to an appeal by Avneesh Kumar Pandey, a resident of Varanasi. Under the Right to Information, the appellant had sought information on four points relating to inspection of answer sheet and its revaluation, details of authority that can be approached by an applicant for seeking his answer sheet and its revaluation after its denial by the competent authority and related issues.

The CIC has instructed the respondent, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Banaras Hindu University, to collect and collate the guidelines for revaluation of the answersheets of the students and the detailed procedure should be put out on its website for information of all the stakeholders to obviate the necessity of the student seeking recourse to the RTI mechanism for redressal of grievance. This has to be implemented not later than 30 days time period from the date of receipt of this order.

The CPIO, Banaras Hindu University, through his letter of 24 September 2016, had transferred the RTI application to the Faculty in Charge, Faculty of Performing Arts, Banaras Hindu University. Dissatisfied by the response of the CPIO, the Appellant had approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). Subsequently, the CPIO, Faculty of Performing Arts, Banaras Hindu University furnished a point wise response to the Appellant on 9 November 2016.

The CIC has brought on record the Appellant’s contention that a cryptic reply had been received by him. It was complained that clear cut guidelines regarding the mechanism for revaluation of the answer-sheet etc was not transparent or available on any public platform to enable the applicant to seek information in this regard. It was also argued that the First Appeal was also answered by the CPIO instead of the FAA and that there was total disrespect and disregard to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 in the University. The Respondent replied that a suitable response had been provided by the CPIO.

The Commission has observed that the issues raised in the RTI application dealt with the larger public issue and large number of student community was impacted by similar such problems faced by them on a day to day basis.

The Commission observed that voluntary disclosure of all information in the public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek (requiring further) information should be an exception. An open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realised only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms. Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information suo-motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including the Internet, so that the public need not resort to the use of RTI Act.

The CIC has quoted from decisions of the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India while emphasising that the Commission has felt that issues of Larger Public Interest affecting selection of meritorious candidates through a fair and transparent selection process were raised by the Appellant during the course of hearing, hence disclosure of information was warranted.

RTI query on caste reservation in Education: CIC takes serious note of casual reply by MHRD

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New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has taken serious note of a routine and casual reply furnished by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in reponse to an RTI application seeking information on three queries seeking details of the provision of caste reservation, if any in the education sector under the Constitution of India, any amendments carried out, if any, relating to the abovementioned query and other related matters.

Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, issued an order today directing Secretaries MHRD (D/o Higher Education and D/o Elementary Education) and Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to personally address the RTI queries and submit a reply through their authorized representative within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of the order. The Secretary, D/o Higher Education (MHRD) has been instructed to coordinate the action taken in this matter.

The CIC order categorically states that that the appellant, C. P. Gupta, had raised a pertinent issue in respect of the reservation in education under the Constitution of India and amendments made therein, if any.

The Respondent, on 19 March 2018, had stated that the RTI application had been forwarded to the concerned Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 7 November 2016. The first appeal had also been transferred to the concerned department on 2 January 2017. Subsequently, the notice for hearing before the Commission was also forwarded to the concerned department for further action.

The Central Informtion Commission order says: “It is therefore, evident that the CPIO, MHRD had not understood the relevance and significance of the RTI query raised by the Appellant and therefore, a routine and casual reply had been furnished by the Ministry in normal course. In the written submission of 19 March 2018, it was submitted by MHRD that the subject matter was referred to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India. Needless to add that the Respondent had not addressed the RTI queries appropriately.”

Interim Decision

The Commission, in its interim order has instructed the Secretaries of MHRD to convene periodic conferences and seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

The Dy. Registrar of the Commission also has been instructed to schedule another short date for hearing in the matter wherein the representative of Secretary D/o Higher Education and Secretary, D/o Elementary Education and Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have been instructed to be present.

The CPIO, Department of Higher Education, MHRD through its reply on 8 November 2016 stated that the information sought did not pertain to their department, therefore, no information could be provided to him. Subsequently, the CPIO, US, (Policy Decision-1 Section) Department of Higher Education, MHRD, also stated that the information sought did not pertain to their department. Furthermore, the CPIO, Under Secretary (Administration) had stated on dated 16 November 2016 that the information sought was not their subject matter. Subsequently, CPIO, D/o Higher Education, through its reply on 15 November 2016 stated that the information sought by the Appellant did not pertain to their section therefore, the same should be considered as NIL. Dissatisfied with the response, the Appellant approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). The order of the FAA is not on record of the Commission.