RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT- EXPOSING THE IDIOTS AND TRAITORS AMOUNG PUBLIC SERVANTS IN
ARMY HQ (LT COL PRASHANT SAXENA, COL R BALAJI, LT COL RAJIV GULERIA) AND
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS (AMITAVA BHATTACHARYYA & R K MATHUR)
SAVE RIGHT TO INFORMATION. USE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT!
Get information or… expose at least 3 idiots and traitors amoung public servants:
the Public Information Officer, the 1st Appellate Authority (and the head of the public authority if he is not the FAA) and the Information Commissioner!
- Mission Statement, Save Right to Information Campaign.
- An application was submitted, on 28/11/2013, to the PIO of Army HQ seeking the following info:Quote begin
- In a newspaper (Malayala Manorama, Palakkad edition, 17/11/2013) giving details of job opportunities I had noticed one on opportunities for technical graduates in the army. Two bits of information given there in were:
- During training they will get a stipend of Rs 21,000/-
- On completion of training they will be given the arrears of salary of the training period and commissioned in the rank of Lt and the compensation on Cost to Company basis will be Rs 65,000/-.
- In this context you are requested to provide the following information:
- Is this information true?
- What is the difference between the stipend and salary during the training period?
- If the response to 1.1 above is positive, then please provide the figures for Cost to Company for the various ranks of the army, starting from Sepoy to the CoAS, specifying the length of service at which one gets the rank and duration for which it is held. If these figures vary from arm/service to arm/service then the figures for infantry and EME need only be provided.
- If the response to 2.1 (sic) above is negative, will you be issuing any clarification through the media?
- If the response to 2.4 is negative, then it would be misleading the aspirants for the job and what is the action required to be taken by a citizen who comes across such misleading information?
- Are comparable figures available for the civilian counterparts? If yes, please provide the figures, whatever is available.Quote end2. The PIO(?), Lt Col Saxena (signing as GSO1 RTI!), denied information, seeking proof of citizenship, through his letter No A/810027/RTI/15344 dated 19/12/2013 but posted only on 27/12/2013. This was in spite of CIC decision of 12/3/2010 in Complaint No CIC/SM/C/2009/000405/LS (A N Prasad Vs Indian Army) that ‘Considering the totality of circumstances, including the concerns of the Armed Forces, we are of the opinion that the proof of citizenship is not required from an information seeker as a matter of principle. However, in certain exceptional circumstances, where the CPIOs, particularly of the Armed Forces, have a doubt about the citizenship of the information seeker, it is open to such CPIOs to seek proof of citizenship. The Commission directs that the CPIOs would exercise this option only in exceptional cases.’ It is to be noted that in this case not only NO sensitive information was sought, the only information sought was in the nature of details on data provided in an advertisement for recruitment in the army and which data was believed to be exaggerated/wrong.
- The 1st appeal elicited no response.
- The 2nd appeal was filed on 19/4/2014 with the following requirements:Quote begin.
Prayer orrelief sought :
(a) The complete information should be provided free of cost without further delay.
(b) The defaulting CPIO should be penalized as per Sec 20 of the RTI Act
(e) The defaulting FAA should be dealt with as per rules applicable.
(f) A compensation of Rs 10,000/- should be paid by the public authority for the avoidable effort that has been necessitated and the cost of pursuing the appeals.
9. Grounds for the
prayer or relief :
(a) The RTI Act provides for making information available to citizens because ‘democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed’. This public authority has failed to provide such information sought by me. Particularly seeking clarification on a bit of information put in public domain which is suspected to be misleading.
(b) The PIO has declined to provide information sought without any valid reason.
- Any other information relevant to the appeal:
- When the RTI Act has not prescribed any format for the application it is not fair or in the spirit of the law to prescribe formats for appeals. However, if formats are prescribed then it should be mandated that the CPIOs and FAAs provide copies of such formats along with their replies. And in cases where no replies have been received from either, then 2nd appeals should be accepted without any formats.
- The RTI Rules-2012 prescribe a period of 7 days notice for hearings which is grossly inadequate for appellants located outside Delhi. In their cases it is imperative that hearings are conducted through video conference. Facility for video conference has been provided by NIC at Collectorate, Palakkad.
- Instead of simply scheduling hearings, the appellant should be informed, atleast 7 days in advance, the issues that need clarification during the hearing. Strictly speaking the documents submitted with the 2nd appeal are complete in themselves to enable anybody with common sense to identify the merits of the appeal and the remedy required. The appellant’s clarification is only required if the CPIO, on whom the onus is to prove that he has acted diligently in providing all the information sought, comes up with an exceptional argument.
- The 2nd appeal should be acknowledged, giving the full reference and date, if any, provided by the appellant and the date of receipt of the appeal by the Commission and the tentative date by which it will be scheduled for hearing/disposed off.Quote end.
- The hearing was scheduled for 11/8/16 and the notice dated 3/8/16 was received only on 8/8/16. In view of my contentions at para 10 (c ) of my 2nd appeal my appearing for the hearing was irrelevant. Also, the information commissioner did not seek any further clarifications.
- The copy of the decision (reference CIC/RM/A/2014/001163-AB) of the information commissioner, Amitava Bhattacharyya, was received on 19/8/16. The decision is fraught with the following errors/treachery:
- The IC has not spelt out if the demand of the PIO for proof of citizenship was justified in this case or not.
- The IC even while recording the fact that the 1st appellate authority had not responded to the appeal has not taken cognizance of the default.
- The IC has totally neglected the mandate of Sec 20 of the RTI Act. The proviso to this section explicitly states that ‘Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him:’ which implies that the only instance in which a hearing is required is when the IC is convinced that the PIO has defaulted and there is a need to penalize him and it follows that the opportunity of being heard is required to be given to the PIO who has defaulted and not to anybody else. In this case the PIO who had defaulted in providing the information was Lt Col Prashant Saxena and the PIO who was heard was Col R Balaji! This is nothing but a fraud, ab initio.
- The only fact recorded in the decision is that the PIO had stated that the information sought was ready and could be provided to the appellant, if desired by the Commission! The other statement of the PIO on record is that the information is available in public domain which is irrelevant given the fact that the PIO is bound to provide the information sought if available and disclosable.
- The IC has ludicrously tried to play passing the parcel by stating that ‘the appellant was not present to challenge the contention of the PIO’. Again, a clear display of incompetence/treason! The other proviso to Sec 20 is also unambiguous in stating that ‘Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.’ Whether the PIO’s claim that the information sought, which was required to be provided by 28/12/2013 (or say, 12/1/2014, catering for postal delays) was ready by 11/8/2016 needed to be challenged by the appellant to enable the IC to understand it clearly begs the question: is the IC such an idiot that he doesn’t have even the common sense to understand the simple provisions of the law he has been tasked, empowered and paid to enforce?
- The IC has also failed to place on record the fact that he had vetted the information claimed by the PIO to be ready to the provided to the applicant/appellant. In the event, one Lt Col Rajiv Guleria (signing as Offg GSO1 (Legal), for DDG MT (RTI)), had provided only the figures for the stipend and the pay scales for commissioned officers of the Indian Army. And that too under IHQ (MoD) letter No A/810027/RTI/15344/CIC(610) dated 22 Aug 2016 but posted only on 29/8/2016, long after the period of 7 days from the date of the order which is presumed to be the date of hearing (11/8/16), in the absence of any other date specifically mentioned in the order! In actual terms nothing of the information sought has been provided!
- By not ensuring that the complete information sought was provided and not hearing/penalizing the defaulting PIO the IC, Amitava Bhattacharyya, has more than amply proved that he is not only incompetent to hold the current office but also leaves room for one to suspect corruption and treason in the whole drama that had been played out. He and his ilk have caused loss to the exchequer to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees by failing to impose mandatory penalty for delay in providing information sought. Legally he is also liable to be prosecuted under section 219 of the IPC which reads as follows:Public servant in judicial proceeding corruptly making report, etc contrary to law-whoever being a public servant, corruptly or maliciously makes or pronounces in any stage of a judicial proceeding, any report, or order verdict, or decision which he knows to be contrary to law shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extent to seven years or with fine or with both.
- It is the duty of Radha Krishna Mathur as the Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission to ensure that his information commissioners are conversant with the law they are tasked, empowered and paid to enforce. Consequently, he is also responsible to undo the wrongs of his subordinates and also to bring the culprits to book. But my earlier complaints to him about other information commissioners had elicited no response or corrective action, proving that he himself is no better than his stupid and treacherous subordinates! Documentary proof of his incompetence and arrogance can be seen in his decisions in Complaint numbers CIC/RM/C/2014/900160/, CIC/RM/C/2014/900281, CIC/RM/A/2014/901227 and CIC/RM/C/2014/900169. This dimwit seems to be under the impression that he has the powers of the Indian Parliament and President combined!
- This country certainly needs no enemies beyond its borders so long as Radha Krishna Mathur and Amitava Bhattacharyya like ‘public servants’ are there as Jaichands and Mir Jaffers in our offices of governance!
P M Ravindran