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Atul Patankar

Despite RTI, information remains forbidden

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Neha Shukla , TNN at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 15 March 2009


LUCKNOW: RTI is apparently the `road to infinite' wait for common man before he gets in the know of not-so-common knowledge. Meant to assure a peep into the forbidden corridors of power within 30-days time, the Right to Information Act is far from achieving its motive in the state especially when even half-a-dozen hearings held by information commission fail to help the cause.


The case of an applicant, Naresh Dikshit firmly meets the aforesaid. He had sought information about the allocations made from the chief minister's discretionary fund every year over a period between January 1991 and July 2007, people and organisations who had been the beneficiaries and also about the rule book, if any, followed while disbursing money from the fund over the said period.


"After two years, the information that I have got is wrong and incomplete", rued Dikshit. The case has already been heard five times in the state information commission on April 21, July 10, October 20, December 11, 2008, and March 13. The latest hearing has been fixed for May 27, 2009 after the applicant complained that he has been provided with wrong information.


"I had asked for the certified copy but all I have got is a simple paper and I do not know how far to trust the figures printed on it", he added. Though the official figures show the annual budget allocation for the discretionary fund ranging between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 crore from 1991-92 till 2007-08, there is no information on the beneficiaries.


The application requesting a five-point information was made to the Public Information Officer (PIO), chief minister's office, on August 24, 2007. But, information to the applicant has been constantly denied since then. Three months later on November 30, 2007, an appeal was filed with the first appeal authority but even that did not help. The half-baked information could reach him only on December 8 last year.


The PIO has mentioned that there has been no complaint received regarding the misuse of the money disbursed from the discretionary fund. And about the audit of the fund, as was questioned by the applicant, the PIO stated that it is conducted every year by the auditor general, Allahabad. To get the copy of the same, the applicant was told to contact the said official.


On the `rule-book' for disbursement of funds, the information was provided only about November 2006 rule-book. "I have asked them to clarify if it was the common rule-book all through", said the applicant. The next hearing at the commission is the only hope he has.


It is worth mentioning that Lucknow bench of the High Court in its verdict dated July 2008 held that information regarding disbursement and utilisation of CM's discretionary fund can be sought under the RTI Act by people on lawful demand. Being a public fund it comes within the ambit of the Act.


Source: Despite RTI, information remains forbidden-Lucknow-Cities-The Times of India

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can it even be doubted that the PIO has been trying to evade providing the information inspite of the information being available in the above case? and yet, i am sure, no penalty has been imposed on the PIO. not only that, it is evident that even the FAA as well as SIC have been callous in the matter and 'protecting' the information

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