Tuesday, May 11, 2010

AP Governor says RTI used for blackmail -- file RTI on that

I will take excerpt of news below and refute the points made by governor of AP.


Hyderabad, May 10: The Governor, Mr ESL Narasimhan, condemned the misuse of the Right to Information (RTI) Act by some people, who have “vested interests”.

He said the RTI Act has become a tool to “blackmail” the government and its machinery.

“I can say with complete authority that the RTI Act is used for blackmailing people. If that was not the case, why do the same group of people apply for the RTI Act so often,” he asked while speaking at the Administrative Staff College of India, after inaugurating the Forum for Good Governance.

Ok.  The logic is that if some people file RTI so often, they must be using it for blackmail!  Well, governor ji, maybe you forget but the 86 year old ex-governor of Andhra Pradesh had left his office few months back after some pictures of his romps with young women were shown on TV.  Such was the secrecy after that event that the media was stopped by High court order to show any further footage etc of the episode.  When government along with judiciary is hell-bent on stopping people from knowing what is going on within government, RTI is the only forum available for people to find out the truth behind government’s inner workings.

Citing his own experiences on the misuse of the Act, Mr Narasimhan said: “I receive RTI applications that seek information on the dinner I hosted for my guests. They ask me to disclose the guest-list, the menu and the expenditure incurred for the purpose.” He said is not spared even when he visits temples. “The other day, I went to a temple. A person filed an RTI seeking information about whether my visit to the temple was an official visit? If so, who did I meet and what was the discussion? I replied that it was not an official visit. I met the Almighty at the temple and had long deliberations with him. I also prayed to him to please give good sense to such people,” he remarked.

You may think it is irritating to get RTIs about your dinners.  But do not forget that people have very little faith in about people in government regarding use of taxpayer funds at their disposal.  Even an ex-minister Shashi Tharoor was found to be staying in 5-star hotels instead of finding a more reasonable accommodation given the austerity drive of government in place at the time.  If government was more transparent of less cruel with public money, people will have no desire to waste their time in filing RTIs asking about dinners hosted by you.  That trust has yet to be built by government representatives.

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