Right to Information
Why is there no action against officer trapped by ACB in Nashik Information Commission?
The prime objective of the Right to Information (RTI) Act is to bring in transparency and thereby root out corruption. However, the Maharashtra State Information Commission office at Nashik has the dubious distinction of its desk officer seeking a bribe of Rs15,000 to dispose of an appeal in favour of the appellant, with an assurance that there would be no penalty against her school. 
 
The complainant in this case was a headmistress of a school in Dhule who was slapped with a Rs25,000 penalty by the Nashik Information Commissioner for not providing information under RTI, in a 2015 case. Ravindra S Sonar, the Desk Officer at the Commission, demanded a bribe of Rs15,000 from the headmistress to settle the issue by disposing of the appeal in her favour and not levying the penalty. Finally, he agreed for Rs10,000. The headmistress approached the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). ACB officers laid a trap on 7 May 2017 at the entrance of the Nashik Information Commission office, where the headmistress would hand over the bribe to Sonar. Sonar was arrested by the police while accepting the bribe. 
 
While RTI activists across Maharashtra are agitated over the issue, no stern action against Sonar has been taken and he continues to be the Desk Officer at the Nashik Information Commission. RTI activists feel that the very arm of transparency and the last hope of citizens is under threat, as this case could be just the beginning. 
Vijay Kumbhar, a leading RTI activist from Pune, says, “Inaction by the State government in not taking stern action immediately after ACB nabbed Sonar, highlights the double standard of the Chief Minister, as his rhetoric time and again to weed out corruption comes a cropper by this inaction. Also, the state government has never been serious about providing good quality staff to information commissions – generally deadwood are posted here. Similarly, several retired bureaucrats with tainted records have adorned the role of Information Commissioners. So, how can one expect a corruption-free information commission?”
 
Indeed, this incident is a blot on the reputation of information commissions.
 
Another leading RTI activist, Major General Sudhir Jatar (retd), feels that this must be happening in many cases, where Information Commissioners do not fine defaulters.
 
Mumbai based RTI Activist Afzal Mohammed rues, “It is indeed a sorry state of affairs that an esteemed institution like the Information Commission, which is supposed to deliver truth to the common man, gets trapped in this fashion. I personally believe there are a few rotten eggs in all baskets, but we cannot generalise.”
 
According to Karnataka-based RTI activist N Vikram Simha, this incident is unfortunate but it is believed it happens also in the Karnataka Information Commission. “It is unfortunate that Maharashtra, which is a leading state in pioneering RTI, should be so tainted,” he says.
 
RTI activist Manoj Pai says, “Most offices of Information Commissioners do not have any sanctioned staff. The Commission has to make do with staff from other departments on deputation. It is believed that all such Information Commission offices, across the country, are a kind of dumping ground for unwanted or inefficient staff. Some staff get themselves posted there to escape punishment for pending cases against them in their parent department. The list is long. Unless improvement is done in the quality of staff in the information commissions, this sorry state of affairs will continue.”
 
Section 15 (6) of the RTI Act, which deals with State Commissions, states:
 
“The State Government shall provide the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners with such officers and employees as may be necessary for the efficient performance of their functions under this Act, and the salaries and allowances payable to and the terms and conditions of service of the officers and other employees appointed for the purpose of this Act shall be such as may be prescribed.”
 
However, this is time and again violated. 
 
So, besides the huge list of pending appeals, corruption now is another factor that is denying the common man his right to seek information.
 
Bhaskar Prabhu, Convener, Mahiti Adhikar Manch, has called for an investigation by all commissioners on such practices. He says "The recent incident of a desk clerk of the Nasik bench of SIC accepting a bribe to reduce the penalty is very deplorable. It calls for an Investigation by all Commissioners about the practices being followed in their offices as to how desk officers can waive or reduce penalties, as this will put into question the credibility of the orders passed and also raise doubts about the possible involvement of the IC in such arrangements. This also raises the issue of non-compliance of orders in cases where penalties are imposed. As there is no serious follow up, there are cases where the PIO has retired without the recovery of the penalty and the enquiries thereafter are just manipulated.''
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, which she won twice in 1998 and 2005, and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book, “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte”, with Vinita Kamte, and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.) 
 

 

User

COMMENTS

Vaibhav Dhoka

2 months ago

This has become routine to delay complaint, suit, appeal etc at courts regulators or any quasi judicial organisation.To top it governments protection to such corrupts low our heads in shame.

Ashok Waykole

2 months ago

Than who is now responsible for unnessary delay to gave same judgement of earlier given. Whether delaying of all such serious is session is your transparency ! Will definitely write to PM & CM .

The challenges of being a father in the scientific age (The Funny Side)
One of my children asked me whether ham came from hamsters. "Of course," I said. "Just like jelly comes from jellyfish." I added that our family's favourite dessert, Nutella mousse, was a gland secretion from "a brown elk from Canada called the chocolate moose".
 
Kids expect dads to be the font of all knowledge, and it's easy to rise to the challenge if you have a good imagination and a plausible manner.
 
But then came a harder question from the offspring: "If junk food is bad for kids, why do dads eat it all the time?
 
The real reason, of course, is that the main activity of fathers is telling off children for sins that we still do ourselves, right?
 
But instead I put on my Scientific Thinker persona and explained that foods have different effects on different people. Luckily there was a perfect example in the latest New Scientist magazine. Tribes who live in the Atacama Desert in Chile have evolved the ability to consume the deadly arsenic poison without harm, it said. "Kids there probably go to fast food shops and order poison and french fries," I explained. "Bit like everywhere else."
 
Seeking further examples of bizarre tribes eating weird things, I googled "Do Singaporeans really eat turtles?". Instead, I found a turtle-related newsflash from Science Alert: "Researchers in Korea are developing a technology that will allow humans to control turtles through thought alone." A human wears a helmet that beams brainwaves to an apparatus worn by the turtle.
 
Just imagine what unscrupulous Singaporeans could do with this. "Hello, turtles, we bought you some cute hats!" Later: "You are under my control. Lightly season yourselves with soy sauce and come to me."
 
What puzzles me is why the South Koreans have not made remote brain control devices for children. Or for wives to use on husbands. "You are under my control. Put down that beer, lightly season yourself with soy sauce and come to me."
 
The report said that the Turtle Brain Control System could "give the user a sense of oneness with the controlled animal". Who wants a feeling of oneness with a turtle? Be better to achieve oneness with the Buddha. Or maybe Scarlett Johansson.
 
But the most worrying recent report on the science page was the news that Facebook has a team of 60 people working on a device that reads your brainwaves and types out the words. When this gets launched, all males are going to be in deep trouble.
 
A colleague told me that academics from the University of Zurich have proposed the creation of a Mental Privacy law that makes it illegal to read someone's mind. It sounds good in theory, but a) we won't be able to tell, and b) who's going to confess? "Oops, sorry, I read your mind, you're one sick dude, arrest me now."
 
Incidentally, I do realise that one day my child will come home from school saying: "Dad, my teacher says ham does not come from hamsters. It comes from pigs." I have my response prepared: "Yes, I've heard that theory too, but fathers who are Scientific Thinkers always keep an open mind."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

User

COMMENTS

Hanumant Phadtare

2 months ago

Sebi should file fir against pcl and it's directors with acb, eow,etc so that matter get resolved earliest and also these people will not dare to start such cis again.

Hanumant Phadtare

2 months ago

Sebi should file fir against pcl and it's directors with acb, eow,etc so that matter get resolved earliest and also these people will not dare to start such cis again.

Delhi HC clears decks for IT assessment into National Herald case
The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to entertain a plea by Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI), of which Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi are the main stakeholders, challenging Income Tax notices served to the company -- clearing the decks for an IT probe.
 
The case stems from a complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had alleged "cheating" in the acquisition of Associated Journal Limited (AJL), the publisher of National Herald, by YI -- a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each have a 38 per cent stake.
 
Swamy had alleged that the Congress gave an unsecured loan to YI to acquire AJL.
 
The company withdrew the plea after a division bench of Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Chander Shekhar asked it to approach the concerned Income Tax assessing officer. 
 
The bench dismissed the plea as it was withdrawn.
 
The plea had sought quashing of two Income Tax notices sent to YI in January and March with regard to the assessment year 2011-12. The plea also urged the court to give a direction to the IT Department to not take further action against it on the basis of these notices.
 
Besides the Gandhis, Congress leaders Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and YI are accused in the case.
 
Swamy had accused them of allegedly conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh, by which YI obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which AJL owed to the Congress.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

User

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)