Bangalore Mirror: Bangalore: Saturday, March 18, 2017.
The office revealed this before the state information commission during a hearing, and the candid admission came after over two years of denying the information and a fine of Rs 10,000.
The case pertains to information activist S Bhaskaran sought. The activist initially sought information from the chief electoral officer (CEO), Karnataka, in February, 2014. Through two applications, he sought certified copies of papers and documents filed by energy minister DK Shivakumar at the time of filing his nominations for the Kanakapura assembly seat during the 2008 and 2013 elections. He needed the information, Bhaskaran told Bangalore Mirror, to assess the growth of assets the minister had declared five years apart.
After the information was not provided, Bhaskaran filed an appeal in March 2014 before the first appellate authority, office of CEO, Karnataka. His applications had then been transferred to Ramanagara deputy commissioner, from where it was transferred to the Kanakapura tahsildar office.
When the required information was still not provided, he filed a second appeal before the state information commission in July 2014. Even after the commission took up the case, no information was provided. Repeated denials resulted in the commission levying a penalty of Rs 10,000 on the PIO of the Kanakapura tahsildar office.
After all of this, and two years of delay that saw six hearings over the issue between May 2016 and March 2017 came the final admission recently. The tahsildar’s office provided the energy minister’s affidavit filed in 2013, but said it doesn’t have the 2008 papers. It also filed an affidavit to the effect.
“This is both a surprise and a shock as one can’t understand how important records like electoral documents can go missing. For two years they delayed. Denial and delay give rise to suspicion if at the end of it, the documents are said to have gone missing. Posting the poll papers on the website would have made the job easy for the CEO’s office. Now that they have filed an affidavit stating that they do not have the papers, the issue on how vital documents can go missing and fixing responsibility on officials responsible will be legally pursued,” S Bhaskaran said.
Bhaskaran maintained that along with the DC’s office, he would initiate action against the erring officials under the Public Records Act as the lost papers are an important public document.
“Filing an affidavit ‘not found’ should not be an escape route from the RTI Act. Hence as they themselves have admitted the lapse, I will seek action against whoever is responsible,” he said.