Bangalore Mirror: Bangalore: Wednesday, April 05, 2017.
After it was given the strange reply of “documents have gone missing” when it asked for ownership papers of a wedding hall in Rajajinagar, the state information commission ordered an inquiry into the case.
It had to, as the documents of the commercial building were not delivered even after four-and-a-half years of continued requisition under Right to Information Act.
The case refers to Sreenivasa Kalyana Mantapa. It was 14-10-2012, when Wg Cdr GB Athri (rtd) first sought information pertaining to the building standing at No 619/G, 36th Cross, Rajajinagar 2nd Block. He wanted information on the building sanction plan, self-assessment scheme (SAS) copies, khata extract and khata documents.
Taking a serious note of the matter, the commission has also recommended disciplinary action against Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) assistant executive engineer (AEE), assistant revenue officer (ARO) and assistant engineer (AE), Rajajinagar for not providing the information despite repeated warnings.
14 hearings and no info
Since he did not get the required information, Athri moved the state information commission in February 2013. The commission then ordered the Rajajinagar revenue officer to provide the khata documents and also directed the AEE to provide the building plan within 30 days. Despite that, the case saw fourteen hearings between Jan 2014 and June 2016, but no information came up with regard to the building sanction plan. Instead the strange reason of the documents going missing was furnished.
Meanwhile, the assistant director of town planning (ADTP) West and East had submitted that they had not approved the plan, which made it evident to the commission that despite repeated warnings and penalty for over four years, why information was not being provided by the persons who occupied the building.
It was then that the commission recommended to the additional chief secretary, urban development department to initiate disciplinary action against the BBMP officials, custodians of the records, for their lapses, negligence and dereliction of duty. Besides disciplinary action, the commission more than doubled the compensation to the appellant from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 for making him run around for more than four years to get the information.
What disturbed the commission, chaired by state information commissioner Shankar R Patil, most was that the information was not provided. That BBMP officials themselves did not have records of the commercial complex did not go down well either. The bizarre reply by the building owner Dayanand, who had submitted in writing that the documents may have gone missing either during frequent visits by income tax officials or during renovation of the building drove the final nail. Dayanand had also submitted to BBMP that the documents would be provided once they were traced. The same reply had been submitted by BBMP to the information commission, which is now beginning to doubt the very validity of the wedding hall, so has asked the urban development department to conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter.
“Four years of running around and I could not get any information. Noble provisions of RTI Act are defeated by corrupt bureaucracy. The question is how BBMP couldn’t have documents like plan of such a huge commercial building. What the respective officials have been doing all these years? The issue is just the tip of an iceberg, and goes much beyond this case. The BBMP suffers a huge revenue loss of lakhs of rupees," Wg Cdr G B Athri (rtd) told Bangalore Mirror.