(This is the 4th of a series of exposures being brought to you by Veteran Major P M Ravindran, Kalpathy who can be contacted at email@example.com. The 1st, including the introduction, is 140312-RTIA-Exposing the Idiots and Traitors amoung Public Servants-O/o The DC Pkd and is available at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.in/2014/03/140312-rtia-exposing-idiots-and.html. The 2nd, 140331-RTIA-Exposing the Idiots and Traitors amoung Public Servants-The KSIC is available at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.in/2014/03/140331-rtia-exposing-idiots-and.html. the 3rd, 140414-RTIA-Exposing The Idiots and Traitors amoung Public Servants-O/o The CM, Kerala is available at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.in/2014/04/140414-rtia-exposing-idiots-and.html. Watch out for more at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.com)
Even in the schools we were taught that the President is the Constitutional Head of the Nation and the Executive but being a democracy it is mostly a ceremonial office and the real power is wielded by the Prime Minister. For now let us accept it as it is. The Governor is to the State as the President is to the Nation. But is it really so? The President is elected by an Electoral College comprising the elected representatives of the Parliament and the state legislatures. But the Governor is only appointed by the President. He is more of a nominee of the ruling party at the Centre, out to play mischief when the party ruling the state is in the opposition at the Centre. The most recent example is the case of appointment of the Lokayukta in Gujarat. Earlier there have been cases where these gubernatorial office bearers have even caused elected government in states to be dismissed by the Centre on questionable grounds. But with the enactment of the RTI Act, the information that has been obtained, and even worse, denied, has unequivocally established that this is an office that can easily be done away with at considerable savings to the exchequer!
It goes without saying that in every democratic society the citizen is the king himself. That is why we use the terms ‘government’ (and not ruler) and ‘rule of law’ for managing the affairs of our society. But unfortunately this has remained a concept and only on paper. Those who have been tasked with managing the common affairs and resources and empowered to perform those tasks have, from the word go, assigned to themselves the role of rulers and reduced the citizens to servility! So much so that the Chief Minister of Kerala goes around conducting road shows in the name of Public Contact Programs where even patients are brought in ambulances to receive the doles distributed by him from the taxpayers’ money as if it was from his ancestral property! And why, even when the Motor Vehicles Department put up cameras on a highway to monitor traffic, orders were issued not to take cognizance of violations by government vehicles including buses of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, notorious as the worst transport corporation in the country, officially!
One of the first complaints I had sent to the Governor of Kerala involved the then minister, Naalakath Soopy. ‘Aniyara’, a serial based on investigative journalism, telecast by Surya TV on 30 Mar 2003, had visuals which showed the minister’s official car being used to transport his daughter to the school. Since the perks given to ministers were unknown that by itself would not have mattered as the subject of a complaint. But what was shown further did matter. The team showed the official number plate of the car covered with a rexin cover bearing another registration number! Obviously this was a crime committed willfully and demanded appropriate action. So the complaint to the Governor! Copies were endorsed to the Chief Minister and the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court also! Obviously, there was no response from anyone. But after the RTI Act came into force, an application was submitted to get copies of the file notings of the action taken on the complaint. And what did it reveal? A complaint addressed to the Governor against a minister had been disposed of by a clerk at the level of a Deputy Secretary! The term used is ‘lodged’, apparently a jargon for ‘file and forget’! The copy of the notings can be seen at page 3 of the documents posted at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-kergovrti-fb131016fm-pio191213020114 and the particulars of the public servants who had seen the complaint and initialed on the noting sheet can be seen at para 3 of the document at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-kergovrtifb131016fm-pio111013.
Page 2 of the documents posted at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-kergovrti-fb131016fm-pio191213020114 are the file notings of another complaint I had sent to the Governor in Feb 2002 against strike by government employees. This mass strike, during the term of A K Antony as Chief Minister, carried on for almost 3 months and crippled government functions. The harassment suffered by the public during this period is better left to one’s imagination! But this complaint also got ‘lodged’ by the decision of the same Deputy Secretary!
Now this what the Kerala Rajbhavan website says of the procedure followed in decision making process including channels of supervision:
…The petitions, representations received in person or through post are brought to the notice of the Governor and orders of the Governor on such petition / representation are carried out. Where it is considered necessary and desirable to further pursue the matter, a report is called for from the concerned departments and the report so received is brought to the notice of the Governor for further order and disposed accordingly.
III-Procedure followed in decision making process including channels of supervision)
So much for theory and practice! The website says what should be but experiences show what is practiced. Fraud? Bigotry? Treason? You decide!
Cut to 2013. I got an invitation-wrongly named and wrongly addressed- on 09 Oct 2013 from the Kerala State Information Commission for a 2-day seminar at Thiruvananthapuram on 11th and 12th Oct 2013. Immediately I wrote to the governor. The email is reproduced below.
From: Ravindran P M <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: CHIEF MINISTER KERALA <email@example.com>, Director General IMG <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2013 10:59:23 +0530
Subject: Seminar on RTI Act and the Way Forward
I am in receipt of an invitation for the above seminar. As is wont to happen with KSIC neither the name or the address is correct. Thanks to the good doctor heading Palakkad Munnot I got it allright.
I certainly won't attend because I don't have time to waste nor do I want to feel guilty of having been party to waste of tax payers' money.
And now even though my experiences with complaining about the treason of the information commissioners to your predecessors and the current and previous CMs have taught me that even this mail could be a waste of my precious time, it just that flicker of hope, that in case the situation has changed a wee bit after the change of incumbent in the highest office of the State, that is helping me to bother myself.
I am attaching herewith certain suggestions given to the 1st CIC on 26 Jan 2007! My experience tells me that things have only gone worse thereafter. But since you are going to inaugurate the seminar on 11 Oct you would do well to study these suggestions, evaluate the performance of the KSIC independently and make an honest address during the function instead of dishing out the usual inanities. Not only me but quite as few knowledgeable people in the matter of RTI will be watching you on TV and hope you will be able to give us some hope!
Just for your info some statistics (as available at the web site of the Commission on 07 Oct 2013) : No of cases disposed off by the various ICs during 2013 are as follows :
Siby Mathew: 22; Gunavardhan : 21; Sony Thegamam: 19; Sasi Kumar: 12; Kurias Kumbalangi: 17; Total: 91
This is less than what an IC in the Central Info Commn disposes per day!
regards and best wishes,
P M Ravindran
(The suggestions given to the CIC, KSIC on 26 Jan 2007, in writing, in person, during a seminar on RTI at the Rotary Club, Ottappalam is now posted at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-suggestions-to-the-cickerala260107)
Suffice to say that this important feedback was futile as the only thing reported in the media about the inauguration of this function was that the Governor had stated that the misuse of this Act has to be viewed seriously! So the next feedback was mailed thus:
from: Ravindran P M <email@example.com>
cc: Director General IMG <firstname.lastname@example.org>, CHIEF MINISTER KERALA <email@example.com>
date: Sat, Oct 12, 2013 at 1:01 PM
subject: Fwd: Seminar on RTI Act and the Way Forward
I could not view the TV yesterday but I eagerly looked up Malayalam's two premier dailies to see what they had reported about the two day extravaganza of the KSIC whcih got inaugurated by you at Kanakakunnu Palace yesterday. I was glad to see that one of them had totally ignored it, both in their print and online editions. And what was reported by the other exposed your ignorance as nothing else could! The one sentence report about your inaugural address- about the threat of misuse- can be seen only as evidence of your ignorance and may be your indifference to the responsibilities of your office. As the law stands the only people who can misuse this only pro-democracy, citizen-friendly law are the information commissioners and almost 100 pc of their orders are documentary evidences of such misuse. The law mandates that penalty shall be imposed for delays and you only need to look at those orders where the PIOs have been directed to provide information and have been spared the penalty to infer what could have gone wrong- of information commissioner having taken bribe from the PIO and spared him from ignominy and adverse records in his career documents! Of course these crimes of the ICs are punishable under Sec 219 of the IPC but then who will go to the court when they can't even give a fair decision in as simple a matter as the date of birth case of a former Chief of Army Staff ?
I an only pray God save my country! And also curse those who have been responsible for bringing this country to this sordid pass!
P M Ravindran
And on 16th Oct 2014 I send the feedback along with an application under the RTI Act. These documents are at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-kergovrtifb131016appln.
The reply I got from the PIO initially is at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-kergovrtifb131016fm-pio111013, the response of the FAA to my 1st appeal is at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-kergovrtifb131016fm-faa191213020114 and the letter I got from the PIO in compliance with the order of the FAA is at http://www.slideshare.net/raviforjustice/rti-kergovrti-fb131016fm-pio191213020114.
Apart from the failure of the public servants in Rajbhavan in taking prompt action on the feedback given what the responses to the application and 1st appeal under the RTI Act has revealed is that this office of the 1st public servant in the State is a white elephant, only burdening the taxpayers. Even the simple requirement of providing copies of the file notings on action taken on the feedback, as it existed on the date of providing the info by the PIO-11/11/2013 and not 11/10/2013 as shown in the initial reply by the PIO- were not provided and even the 1st Appellate Authority, a member of the disastrous IAS cadre, had failed to direct the PIO to provide the same!
Well, as part of disclosures under Sec4(1)(b) of the RTI Act, the website of the Kerala Rajbhavan has provided some information. As per this info the Secretariat of the Governor has 71 public servants to help the Governor discharge his official duties. And the budget for the Secretariat alone is, rather was (because the details available as on 8/5/2014 is that of the 2011-12 budget!) Rs 273.28 lakhs! (The household staff number 77 and the budget was 240.9 lakhs. Apart from this there is the Rajbhavan dispensary with 6 personnel working on a budget of Rs 48.24 lakhs! And well, the Rajbhavan is situated on 12.3 hectares of prime space in the State capital!) Now, given the expose of the shoddy or non-performance of this public authority in this blog, is there any justification for wasting the tax payers’ money on it?
Please note: The contact details given in various documents uploaded/reproduced could be obsolete. The current contact information is only firstname.lastname@example.org