Mid-DAY: RTI boss blocked info on Adarsh
2010-11-01 04:37:53 GMT
State information commissioner Ramanand Tiwari's son got a flat in Adarsh; dodgy replies came every time activist sought info on his family assets
Even as the Adarsh Housing Society scam threatens to cost the CM his chair, a recently unearthed fact implicates the State Information Commissioner for allegedly stonewalling information disclosing his assets.
The issue, overlooked till now, came to light after Ramanand Tiwari's son Onkar's name figured among the flat owners of Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society.
According to RTI activist Vihar Durve, he had repeatedly attempted to obtain information on the assets owned by Tiwari and other senior government officials. But Tiwari had stonewalled all his efforts, he claims.
"I first applied to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the General Administration Department of the state government in November 2008.
In December the same year, an undersecretary and PIO of the state government replied that as the officers had retired, the information of their assets could not be made available.
The RTI reply also said that since the information was not in public interest, it was not binding on the state to provide it to the applicant," said Durve.
When Durve appealed to the appellate authority, his efforts were blocked again with claims that he had not signed the application.
Said Durve, "They tried to avoid giving the information as well.
A particular reply by the PIO (copy of which is available with MiD DAY) said that the information on the assets of the concerned officials was destroyed at the level of the joint secretary Seema Vyas, who was authorised to destroy it, as the officials had retired from service."
Incidentally, even Vyas's name figured among the beneficiaries of Adarsh Society. Eventually, Durve went on to appeal before the Information Commissioner in March 2009.
"In reply, the office of the information commissioner said that June 11, 2009 had been set as the date of hearing.
Immediately after that, another letter informed me about the hearing being cancelled because of certain unavoidable circumstances. I am still waiting to hear from them," Durve said.
"If the Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi can disclose his assets, what stops the state information commissioners from disclosing theirs? They just did not want to disclose their assets," he added.
The Other Side
When we called Tiwari's mobile phone, a woman answered and asked what the issue was. When we disclosed the issue, she said he was not at home and would be available for comment only the next day. Messages to the number went unanswered after that.
Shailesh Gandhi starts the trend
Activist-turned-CIC member Shailesh Gandhi first raised the issue of declaration of assets by information commissioners. Gandhi had said that he made his property statement public in the interests of "transparency" of the office, and that other commissioners should follow suit too.
After a letter from a Pune-based applicant asking information commissioners to reveal their assets, Gandhi gave details of his perso nal income and family wealth amounting to Rs 5.38 crore.
Other officials under the scanner in Adarsh scam:
- Uttam Khobragade, former Food and Drugs Administration commissioner
- Jairaj Pathak, former municipal commissioner
- Pradeep Vyas, collector in 2004, when the plot was handed over to Adarsh CHS
- IA Kundan, former Mumbai collector
- P V Deshmukh, former Urban Development deputy secretary
- D K Shankaran, former state chief secretary, and his wife Joyce
- Ranjit Sangitrao, son of former suburban collector C S Sangitrao
- Arun Pawar, a former Income Tax commissioner