Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chorus for RTI activist

Calcutta Telegraph: New Delhi: Thursday, June 22, 2017.
Academics, artists, former bureaucrats and filmmakers have joined transparency advocates in expressing concern over an Ajmer court's decision to convict National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information co-convener Nikhil Dey and others of "trespass and simple hurt" in a 19-year-old case related to their demand for records of expenditure incurred by an elected representative.
"The case for which the activists have been falsely convicted for is one of the first documented instances of citizens demanding information to corroborate records of public expenditure under the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act," the NCPRI said in a joint statement, referring to the munsif magistrate court's order that also convicted activists Naruti, Ram Karan and Chotu Lal.
According to the NCPRI, the activists had gone to ask for information from the sarpanch of Harmara village on May 6, 1998, carrying with them a letter from the block development officer. Since the office of the sarpanch was often closed during working hours, they went to his house to deliver the letter.
"The sarpanch came out of his house and assaulted the activists to prevent them from accessing information which would expose his corrupt practices," the statement said. Two days later, the sarpanch filed an FIR alleging the activists had assaulted him.
The NCPRI expressed disappointed at the conviction and said this case was yet another example of the attacks transparency campaigners often face when using the RTI law to expose wrongdoing. Nearly 60 RTI activists have been killed and thousands attacked and threatened, the NCPRI added.
The signatories to today's statement included filmmaker Anusha Rizvi, economist Devaki Jain, former bureaucrats
Devasahayam M.G. and E.A.S. Sarma, academic Romila Thapar, Dilip Simeon and Kalpana Kannabiran, actors Girish Karnad and Nandita Das, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and singers Shubha Mudgal and T.M. Krishna.