Karnataka governor fined Rs5,000 for refusing RTI information: Activist

Karnataka governor fined Rs5,000 for refusing RTI information: Activist

Submitted by alvin on Mon, 2016-10-10 10:42 Bengaluru: In less than two years from the date of taking charge till June 29, 2016, Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala has spent Rs2.89 crores on air travel including both official and personal work.This information was provided by the DPAR to RTI activist T Narsimha Murthy, who revealed documents to show how the governor ended up paying a fine of Rs5,000 in Nov, 2015, after the State Information Commissioner penalised him for evading RTI replies pertaining to his special flight travel expenses.Last August, Narsimha Murthy filed an RTI seeking the details of the travel expenses of the governor. According to the Section 19(1) of RTI Act 2005, the appellant should get a reply from the respondent within 30 days. But Murthy didn’t. “Since I did not get any reply from the Public Information Officer of the governor's office, I applied for the first appeal to the First Appellate Authority on October 15 last year,” said Murthy. According to him, in the first appeal hearing on 9-11-15, R Kalpana, Public Information Officer and the Under Secretary to the Governor, clarified that the governor's office did not come under RTI Act's purview. She also told him that the case was pending with the Supreme Court in the Specially Petition Civil number: 33124/ 2011.Undaunted, Narsimha Murthy checked for the background of the case by using the Specially Petition Civil number. “I got the details on the internet and found out that the case which Kalpana referred to was that of Goa Governor's office,” he said, which didn’t have any relation to his RTI application.So, in order to verify whether the governor's office was excluded from RTI, he filed an RTI application on July 20, 2016 to get information from the office of Tamil Nadu Governor. “In this RTI application, I asked the date when K Rosaiah took charge as governor of Tamil Nadu. I got a reply within a period of eight days. This led to the suspicion that our governor had something to hide,” Murthy said.Following the discovery, Murthy wrote to the President of India’s office with all documents. In reply, the president’s office marked a copy to the Chief Secretary Arvind Jadhav and directed authorities to follow the rules and provide the necessary information asked by the appellent. Later, the chief secretary directed the Department of Personnel Administration and Reforms (DPAR) to give information with the monthly travel expenses of Vajubhai Vala in special flight.According to the information provided by the DPAR, in less than two years, the governor has used public money worth Rs2.89 crores on air travel that includes both official and personal work. The activist further stated that the previous governor, HR Bhardwaj, who completed five years in office, spent Rs 67 lakhs on air travel.Narasimha Murthy is not done yet. He has filed more than ten RTI applications seeking the same information from the governor's office and wants to file another appeal seeking air travel expenses from the date he has assumed as governor till the date of the disposal of RTI application. The Goa angleIn 2005, Manohar Parikkar, the then opposition party leader in Goa, had sought information through RTI about the Goa Governor, SC Zameer. The governor's office approached the high court and finally the Supreme Court challenging the RTI.