Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Chief Secretary does not even want to tell WHETHER he has submitted his assets statements or not

Even before I had filed an RTI seeking copies of the assets statements of the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, I had filed a RTI seeking information on WHETHER IAS and IPS officers have been submitting their statements and if not, the list of officers who have not submitted their statements. I filed this RTI on 2-Dec-2008.

For this I received a reply stating that the property returns of the IAS officers of the government, are personal in nature and disclosure of this information will cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual.

In response to this I filed a First Appeal on 5th January 2008, putting forward arguments why these are public records and also adding that in my RTI application I have not asked for copies of returns filed, but only whether they have filed their returns and the number of people who did so and action taken on those who have not complied with this requirement. Hence the argument of these documents being personal in nature is not relevant to my RTI application.

After this there was no response, hence I filed an appeal with the State Information Commission, which ordered the public department to disclose the information sought for within 2 weeks of the order. Since there was no information even after the SIC's order, I filed a followup in Dec 2010, and when I went a few days back to check with the Registrar on the status of my follow-up letter, I was surprised to learn that the Public department had gone to court appealing against the SIC's order.

This was completely unexpected. Though I can understand their claiming that assets statements are personal documents (though I dont agree with them) their saying that even the information on whether they have filed their returns or not is personal is simply weird. I need to go to the courts now and find out the status of this case. I had not received any notice on this and so I was completely ignorant of it till I checked with the Information Commission.

Though it is plain to everybody that Government Servants will try to hide as much information as possible, the extent to which they do that in this case is a shocker.

No comments: