|September 21, 2018 at 12:45 pm #8306|
With the RTI Act having become a powerful tool in the hands of common people and being used by citizens to unearth a lot of dirt shoved under the carpet by political leaders and the government machinery at every level, netas and babus leave no stone unturned to dissuade people from using the legislation to counter the injustices meted out to them.
Sebastiao Fernandes from Benaulim had filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to obtain some records from the local village panchayat office on May 15. Almost a month later, on June 13, he received a letter from the panchayat office asking him to submit a sworn affidavit stating that he is a citizen of India, as “information under RTI can be issued only to a citizen of India.” “As soon as the panchayat receives the above documents the information sought by you will be issued,” the letter further read.
When asked for an explanation, panchayat secretary Prabhakar Kamati, who is also the public information officer, told TOI that they had received a state government circular directing them to ask for the sworn affidavit stating that the applicant is an Indian citizen before providing any information. When informed that the state government had promptly recalled the circular due to public outcry, Kamati said he did not have knowledge of the development.
In yet another incident, Cruz Fernandes from Benaulim had sought information on a tender floated for house tax assessment and its cost to the panchayat in terms of payment made to the surveyor for conducting the survey.
Kamati replied to the query saying the tender for house tax assessment is not on record. However, he said the panchayat had paid Rs. 23,56,715 to the surveyor concerned.
Speaking to TOI, an amused Fernandes questioned as to how the amount paid to the surveyor is on record, while the tender is not. “I find it fishy and am seeking legal advice to lodge a criminal case against the panchayat for misappropriation of taxpayers’ money,” he said
Source/Reference: Times of India, “Panchayat holding back RTI information, say Benaulim locals“