P M Ravindran
2/18, 'Aathira', Sivapuri, Kalpathy-678003
Tele: 0491-2576042; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
File: Comp/cmk jsp2015-distadm-110415 11 Apr 2015
Through the District Collector, Palakkad
CM’S JSP 2015, PALAKKAD: COMPLAINT- DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION
1. While it can be easily said that the district administration is a total farce and a 100% drain on the exchequer, the following few issues are listed because of the simplicity of the requirement and the grossness of the failure of the public servants involved:
1.1. The failure to comply with the directions contained in Kerala Govt Circular No 168/AR 13(2)/09/UBPV dated 12 Jan 2009. The directions are in two parts:one is regarding issuing of receipts for documents submitted by the public and the other is regarding displaying this information along with the copy of the receipt in a board of specific size, for the benefit of the public.
1.2. The failure to comply with Sec 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act
1.3. The failure to comply with Sec 5 of the RTI Act
1.4. The failure to comply with Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act
2. Regarding the matter of issuing receipts, though the Circular is of 12 Jan 2009, even as on 1/3/14, the Huzur Sirastadar had only given directions as reproduced below, vide Note 5 in file No 2014/14649/9:
And as a matter of fact even this has not been complied with till date! Neither the board nor its substitute is anywhere visible in the premises of the Collectorate. The Civil Station complex, housing the Collectorate, has so many offices that it would have been prudent to display atleast one board each, may be a little larger in size, at the various access points to the complex!
Even in the matter of providing receipts the order is not being complied with, with brazen contempt for the authority issuing such orders and denying a basic right of the public seeking services of the government. In this context your attention is invited to my complaints through e mails dated 31/1/2015 and 14/2/15 both addressed to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with copy to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. It also needs to be placed on record that there has been no response to those complaints till date!
3. Regarding non compliance with Sec 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act, I had inspected the documents on 22/8/14 and found that except for one register with partial info of some employees having their names, designation and records held there were no records available providing the info that is required to be disclosed proactively/suo moto under this section. The 2nd appeal on this application is pending with the Kerala State Information Commission (KSIC) since 28/10/14!
4. Regarding non compliance with Sec 5 of the RTI Act, even when the public servant dealing with the file on the subject has made an assertion, relevant extract reproduced below, the SAPIO, o/o the DC, Palakkad has been returning applications to the applicant, blatantly violating the law on the subject.
While many examples can be given one instance will suffice to prove the perfidy of the public servants involved. In this context your attention is invited to Collectorate Palakkad letter No 2014/37925/9 dated 23/6/14.
In this context it is also reiterated that the KSIC letter quoted therein is not only illegal and invalid but is just another example of treachery by the public servants involved in implementing and enforcing the law.
Your attention is also invited to para 5 of Kerala Govt Circular 1 reference, No 77000/Cdn5/06/PBV dated 30 Oct 2006.
Your attention is also invited to the fact the CAPIOs in Head Post Offices are accepting applications and appeals to any central public authority and forwarding them to the concerned addressees, leaving no room for doubt in the matter of interpretation of the functions of the APIOs.
5. Regarding non compliance with Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act, Collectorate Palakkad letters No E3-2009/49675/9 dated 16/7/2011 and LRG6-2011/40278/9 dated 12/8/2011, both in response to my one application, dated 14/7/2011, under the RTI Act, speak for themsleves about the wayward functioning of the public authority, headed by none other than the Head of the District Administration itself! While the application had been transferred (in a manner of pure palming off of
responsibility) to Akshaya Kendra for providing info on UID, it was not followed in providing info on computerisation of land records! That the office of the District Collector should have had this info and did not have it is in itself a matter of serious concern and the direction to collect the info from respective tehsildars can only be seen as a matter of evading provision of the required info! As events turned out, even the info about UID that was ultimately provided on 21/11/12 by the PIO of Collectorate, Palakkad, on the orders of the information commissioner, were copies of two letters: Cabinet Secretary, New Delhi letter No DO/281/1/5/2011-TS dated 4th Apr 2011 addressed to all Chief Secretaries and Govt of Kerala order GO(rt) No 37/2011/ITD dated 26/2/2011! The most notable thing about the GO is that the District Collector is the Working Chairperson of the District Implementation and Monitoring Committee for UID!
6. Even as late as on 9/3/15, the PIO, o/o the District Collector, Palakkad had refused to comply with Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act, inspite of my having quoted Central Information Commissioner’s order dated 16 Jun 2011 in Appeal No CIC/SM/A/2011/000278/SG which amply clarifies the scope of Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act.
7. Lastly, on seeking info about the expenses incurred in organising the earlier Jana Samparkka Paripadi, only the following info was provided, vide Collectorate Palakkad letter No PGR3-2013/72809/9 dated 10/12/2013.
This is without doubt blatant violation of Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act. But interestingly, it had been reported in the media that one MLA, Mr George Sebastian, had got info under the RTI Act that a total of Rs 24.24 Cr was distributed and Rs 4.32 Cr were expended in organising the last Jana Samparkka Paripadi. (http://manoramanews.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/mmtvVideoGallery.do?tabId=14&contentId=15686775) The question is who had provided the compiled info or did the MLA seek information from atleast 6 public authorities in each district to arrive at these figures?
8. While, in the matter of complying with the RTI Act, the action required to be taken by the Head of the Public Authority, that is, the District Collector, in this case, is obvious, the following practical method of implementing the order on issuing receipts is placed on record:
8.1. The present method of issuing receipts, only to those demanding it, with file numbers as receipt numbers should be discontinued forthwith. All those activities, like scanning the document, assigning file numbers etc are tasks that have nothing to do with issuing receipts across the counter. The receipt numbers have to be in series and printed and is much like the serial number (and date) of a register maintained for recording receipt of tapal. If the receipts are maintained in book form (example TR-5) then the serial number would be continuous over a period of time and will be associated with the book number also; but, if computer generated,
it needs to continous only for a particular day and will be associated with the date. This can, and should be done across the counter, and would not take more than a minute to provide a receipt for a document.
8.2. Since documents like applications under the RTI Act involve payment of fees also, whoever is providing receipts for documents should be tasked with providing receipts, on TR-5, for cash also. Alternately the public servants designated as PIOs should be tasked with providing both the receipts for applications/appeals and fees. The kind of running around required and delay, as reported in my e mails dated 31/1/15 and 14/2/15, referred to in para 2 above, need not and cannot be accepted.
9. The RTI Act provided a window of opportunity to usher in real democracy in this country. However the treacherous public servants have murdered this law as well as other citizen friendly directions from competent authorities. If the Chief Minister of the State cannot ensure that the services of the government due to the citizens are delivered promptly and correctly then the citzens would be better off without such Chief Ministers and the white elephants that are legally called institutions of governance.
(P M Ravindran)