Monday, April 17, 2017

Jayalalithaa left no will; declare her assets as TN state property: RTI activist

Bangalore Mirror‎‎‎‎: Bangalore: Monday, April 17, 2017.
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has not left behind any will mentioning an inheritor to her huge assets or even an administrator, as per information got through RTI so far. In the absence of an official will or document, and knowing that she kept away from her blood relatives, her properties should be declared state property, says RTI activist S Bhaskaran, who pursued the information.
The RTI pursuit on information about any official document/will by Jayalalithaa has revealed that Tamil Nadu government departments seem to have no records of any official will left behind by her. The TN chief secretary’s office, from where the information was first sought, had asked Bhaskaran to get the information from the commercial taxes and registration department. But the latter department, in a recent reply, has said it has no such documents either.
Bhaskaran had initially filed an RTI application with the Tamil Nadu government to this extent on January 24, 2017. The purpose was to find out whether her properties including her residence, the documents of which were seized and preserved in the city court in a disproportionate assets (DA) case against her (as she had been acquitted at the time of her death) would be declared state properties if no will existed, Bhaskaran explained.
In his application for information on her will sent to the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, Bhaskaran had sought certified copies of any will registered or executed by Jayalalithaa regarding appointment of her successor/inheritor or administrator with regard to her movable and immovable properties.
There was no reply from the CS’s office within the stipulated 30 days. Then on February 28, he filed first appeal in the case. But the same day, he received a reply from the chief secretary’s office, directing him to ask for the information from the PIO (Public Information Officer) of commercial taxes and registration department, which is the department concerned where all agreements, sale deeds, gift deeds or wills are registered.
He had also been asked to attach a banker’s cheque, a DD, a treasury challan or court fee stamp to get the same as postal order was not acceptable in TN.
But interestingly, that department, to which he had filed a separate RTI application on March 4, too, claimed to have not maintained any records and that no records sought were available.
In its reply dated April 5, the undersecretary to the state government, commercial taxes and registration department, said, “I’m directed to invite attention to your petition cited and to state that the details of the document registered in the sub-registrar offices of state are not maintained in the commercial taxes and registration department secretariat Chennai – 9. Hence I’m to inform you that no details as requested in your petition cited are available with the commercial taxes and registration department.”
With the custodian of registration records the commercial taxes and registration department itself denying having any such documents (as all the sub-registrars come under them), it seems there is no such will, Bhaskaran said.
Seeking a clear answer, on Tuesday he again filed an appeal on the same.
“The chief secretary’s office itself directed to seek information from the commercial taxes and registration department. The sub-registrar offices come under the very department and the department saying it has no information maintained by sub-registrars, is strange. This means, either there is no will existing as the commercial taxes and registration department claims to have no documents, or it could be an attempt to dodge information. First appeal has been filed to get a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ although they have maintained to have no information, which means there is none. If no reply comes within 45 days, an appeal will be filed with TN information commission,” Bhaskaran said.