Sucheta Dalal :Jailed for seeking information under RTI
Sucheta Dalal

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Jailed for seeking information under RTI  

May 23, 2008

By Manoj Chaurasia/The Statesman

 

PATNA, May 21: Not very long ago, the chief minister Mr Nitish Kumar,

launching a call centre for facilitating Right to Information in

Bihar, had termed it a historic step which, he said, will "tame

corruption, check nepotism and above all help the government tone up

the state administration".

However, things have gone in just the opposite direction. The RTI has

been reduced to a mockery in Bihar with people being harassed,

tortured or jailed for seeking information, by the very officials who

are supposed to be implementing the Act.

 

There are over two dozen cases where the applicants were tortured or

jailed for daring to seek information from these babus. The lid over

this can of worms was removed by a youth from Buxur, Shiv Prakash Rai

at a press conference here yesterday, at which he revealed how he was

implicated in a false case of seeking extortion from the district

magistrate of Buxur and then threw into jail.

Rai who spent 29 days in jail before the charges leveled against him

were trashed by the SP had sought from the DM details of beneficiaries

under PMRY of all the 69 banks under the Buxur district.

 

Similarly, one Chandradeep Singh of Maner under Patna district had to

spend 23 days in jail for seeking information from district

authorities about the step being taken to provide him safety in the

aftermath of criminals killing his son and daughter. He was charged

with attempting to rape a woman.

Likewise, Purushottam Prasad of Nalanda, home district of the Bihar

chief minister, was implicated in a fabricated case of stealing

kerosene oil drums when he sought information about land reforms under

RTI.

 

According to Bihar Right to Information Manch coordinator Mrs Praveen

Amanullah, there are at least 14 cases to her knowledge wherein

applicants were mentally tortured by officials for seeking information

under the RTI.

"It's sheer mockery of RTI in Bihar. Instead of cooperating with the

people, the officials have been implicating them in false cases for

using RTI as a tool to expose corruption in the government offices",

said Mrs Amanullah.

 

Mrs Amanullah, wife of Bihar home secretary Mr Afzal Amanullah, who

has launched crusade against the corruption and red-tapism in the

state administration has herself been a victim. Recently, when she

sought details about the services being provided by the Patna Medical

College and Hospital under the RTI, the authorities concerned handed

her a bill of Rs 5 lakh. The money was charged for photocopying of the relevant documents.

 

The editor of a popular news portal, bihartimes.com, Mr Ajay Kumar who

too had to go through similar harassment said: "Bureaucracy in Bihar

is hell-bent on blocking all information. They does not have

people-friendly approach."

 

He said almost all the officials now enjoying key posts in the Bihar

State Information Commission were, in fact, former civil servants and

hence "all the time they appear to be trying their best to save skin

of their colleagues".

Asked for comments, State Information Commissioner Mr PN Narayanan

said he had ordered a probe into the jailing of the Buxur youth,

allegedly in a false case and other such cases. He however denied that

officials were harassing applicants or blocking information. "We act

promptly when a case reaches my court", he told The Statesman.

 

http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=2&theme=&usrsess=1&id=204976'

 


-- Sucheta Dalal



 



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