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Government Employees of Minority Communities

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The Government has said that the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities provides for giving special consideration to minorities in recruitment of police personnel, Central police forces, Railways, nationalized banks and public sector enterprises and for this purpose, the composition of selection committees should be representative. In pursuance of this, the Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT) has issued Office Memorandum on 8th January, 2007.

The guidelines issued by DOPT include instructions for monitoring the progress in recruitment of minorities in all Central Ministries/ Departments, public sector enterprises, public sector banks and financial institutions. The data of number of persons belonging to the minority communities recruited during the year, is not collected minority community-wise by the DOPT, but for the five minority communities as a whole.

Giving this information in the Rajya Sabha today in a written reply Shri Salman Khurshid, Minister for Minority Affairs, said that the Office Memorandum of 8th January, 2007 issued by the Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT) does not envisage receipt of any information from the State Governments.

Recruitment of Women in Defence Forces

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Women are inducted in the Defence Forces as officers. There is no discernible declining trend in the recruitment of women officers. A number of steps aimed at enhancing recruitment of talented officers (both men and women) in the Armed Forces have been taken. All officers including those in Short Service Commission (SSC) are now eligible to hold substantive rank of Captain, Major and Lieutenant Colonel after 2, 6 and 13 years of reckonable service respectively. The tenure of women SSC officers has also been increased from 10 to 14 years. The Government have approved grant of Permanent Commission to SSC (Women) officers prospectively in Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department and Army Education Corps (AEC) of Army and their corresponding Branch / Cadre in Navy and Air Force, Accounts Branch of the Air Force and Naval Constructor of the Navy.

This information was given by Minister of Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri Syed Shahnawaz Hussain in Lok Sabha today.

DoPT initiatives to strengthen Right to Information Act

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Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has initiated action on a proposal to review the Second Schedule to the RTI Act, 2005 which contains the names of security and intelligence organizations exempt from its purview, with a view to strengthen the RTI Act. It is being examined whether some of the organizations could be deleted from the Schedule. Another proposal under examination of the Department is to add some more categories of information to the list given in section 4 (1) of the Act which all public authorities are required to publish suo motu. This will enable greater proactive disclosures by public authorities.

The law officers of the Government pointed out that there is no provision in the RTI Act enabling the Commission to decide the cases through Benches. So as to ensure that nothing legally wrong is done, the Government advised the Information Commission that decisions on the appeals/complaints should be taken by the Commission and not by the Benches of the Commission. Some parties, without understanding the intricacies of law, have been trying to create an impression that Government is trying to limit the powers of the Commission, which is far from the truth. The only concern of the Government in the matter is that nothing illegal should be done. However, the Government is considering suitable amendments in the Act in order to enable the Commissions to function through Benches.

The Government of India has launched a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in October, 2008 which aims at strengthening of the State Information Commissions by providing funds for their IT enablement and propagation of RTI. Funds have already been released to 19 State Information Commissions so far. The scheme also proposes to impart training to various stake-holders through the Administrative Training Institutes and to create awareness through the Department of Posts, the Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) and the NCERT.

83,000 stakeholders have already been trained under the UNDP funded ‘Capacity Building for Access to Information Programme’ launched in 2005. With the purpose of understanding the weaknesses and strengths of the system of implementing the provisions of the RTI Act, the Government had a study done through an independent private organization. The study recommended measures for enhancing accountability and clarity of role of various stake holders; improving RTI awareness; improving convenience in filing requests; enhancing infrastructure and capacity building; improving efficiency at Information Commissions; institutionalising Third Party audit. Government has already acted upon some of the recommendations made by the study.

The enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2005 is a momentous step towards transparency in the functioning of the Government and the Government is committed to make it a success and strengthen it further. The Department of Personnel & Training has recently clarified through an Office Memorandum that file notings are to be disclosed. The address of the President to the Joint session of the Parliament reiterates the commitment of the Government to initiate action within 100 days for strengthening the right to information by suitably amending the law.

Complaints regarding Schedule Tribes Certificates

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During 2008-09 the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has received references for verification of Scheduled Tribe’s Certificates from different Ministries/Departments/Organizations etc. The Ministry has referred these cases to the concerned State Governments/UT Administrations for appropriate action. The Government of India has issued various circulars from time to time for proper issuance and verification of Scheduled Tribe’s Certificates.

Following the decision of the apex court in the case of Kumari Madhuri Patil & others Vs. State of Maharashtra & others, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has again circulated in June, 2004, the instructions of the Supreme Court to streamline the procedure for the issuance of social status certificates, their scrutiny and their approval to all State Governments/UT Administrations.

This information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs Dr. Tushar A. Chaudhary in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

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