The Power of Right to Information (RTI)
Mangaluru: Right to information is a facility extended by the government to the common man to keep a close vigil on the various activities of the government authorities. The government machinery, in order to carry out the various government activities, do take all measures as per the law and execute the government orders in right earnest. However it cannot be guaranteed that all public servants will have full commitment to their profession and it is not incorrect to assume that there will be many black sheep in the government machinery who will have vested interest and may benefit some self-centered group/personalities etc.
It is essential that common man should be vigilant towards the misuse of government machinery by this so-called persons/group that take advantage of the loopholes in the government machinery and overrule the established rules by conniving with the public servants. Right to information – RTI is a weapon in the common man to ensure that nobody is over and above the law and everyone has to follow the rule of land. Can a common man bring awareness in such lawless persons and initiate measures from the government to ensure the law of the land prevails. Here is SHARIQ of Sullia, DK district who single handedly worked towards the illegal erection of the statue in the heart of Sullia.
Shariq, RTI activist from Sullia, is a common man just like any of the law abiding common citizen of India but with a difference that he keeps a strict vigil on the unlawful activities. Recently in the heart of Sullia- within the boundary of the private bus stand, a group of people, who were impressed with the contributions of late Kurunji Venkataramana Goud (KVG) decided to erect a statue of the late KVG. Without obtaining any clearance from the relevant authorities, with utter disregard to the law, they went ahead with the erection. Also many government institutions extended their facilities (like electricity, water, land etc) to this erection. Shariq requested from the relevant authorities their sanctioning and approval letters for erecting the statue in the public property through RTI. To his utter dismay, all authorities failed to provide approval letter and some even try to shift the blame on other government agencies stating that it is not in their purview.
Shariq registered a complaint against Chief Officer, Sulia Town Panchayat, Sullia with the Project Director, District Urban Development Cell, Mangaluru, Dakshina Kannada as no government authority took onus of permitting the statue erection and at the same time statue erection went without any hindrance. Detailed hearing was done at the Project Director office in Mangalore wherein explanation was sought from the Chief Officer-Sullia Panchayat, Executive Engineer-NHAI, Urva Store, Mangaluru, Assistant Executive Engineer-PWD, Sulia Section, President-KVG education group and Divisional Engineer-Karnataka Road & Development Corporation.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, an order dated 14th Jan. 2019 has been passed wherein clear directions has been given to all to produce the relevant permission from the authorities within 10 days of the order. It is also ordered that failure to produce the relevant approval letters, concerned authorities shall remove the erected statue from the public place in accordance with the protection of public property act.
It is clear from the above that vested group took advantage of the lethargy of the officials and went ahead with an act which had no official sanction. All rules and regulations were overstepped. As a vigilant citizen, Shariq sought that the established procedures to be followed by all and cannot be bypassed by some vested groups. He utilized the RTI facility for know whether the vested groups took all relevant approval. Upon knowing that no such approval was given, he approached the relevant authorities to take action.
It is time for all law abiding citizens to be vigilant and ensure everyone follows the law of the land. All must obey the law of the land and behave with discipline. There are ample weapons like RTI, establishments within our system. It is only the will to use them is the call of the day. Be a Vigilant citizen and make everyone to abide the law. Let us make our society a law abiding society.
by: Er Rajendra Kumar- Convener-Aam Aadmi Party