New Delhi: From a
sports teacher to widow of a slain cop, five people from various
walks of life were felicitated here Thursday for effective use of
the Right to Information Act.
The winners, including Vinita Kamte, widow of Mumbai Police
officer Ashok Kamte who was killed in the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai
terrorist attack, were shortlisted from 726 applications received
by the jury appointed by non-governmental organisation Public
Cause Research Foundation, set up by RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.
The jury included Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy,
former chief justice of India J.S. Verma, former chief election
commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh and journalist Madhu Trehan.
Manoj Kumar Karwasra, a sports teacher in Hisar district of
Haryana, filed several RTI applications to expose how government
land had been encroached by the panchayat members themselves.
"I have great feeling now. It will boost my morale," Karwasra told
Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, a helpline service for RTI queries
which was launched in May 2006 and claims that it has received
more than 60,000 calls till now, was one of the winners.
Sadhna Pandya, coordinator of helpline, said the award will
increase their responsibility.
"We receive calls from across the country in various languages,"
Athar Shamsi, an advocate from Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh, was also
honoured for fighting for the rights of the beedi workers who were
not being paid their full wages by factory owners.
The workers were allegedly paid just Rs.27-34 per thousand beedis
made, as against the minimum wage of Rs.60.
The other winners of the Best RTI Citizen award were Ramesh Kumar
Verma from Haryana and Rajan Savlo Ghate from Goa. The Best RTI
Journalist award went to Saikat Dutta of Outlook for exposing a
Rs.2,500 crore-scam in rice exports.
Pradeep Kumar from Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh received the Best
Public Information Officer award.