Sunday, August 05, 2007

Commoner stops govt official promotion through RTI

The RTI Act has typically been used to bring about information mainly about the status of one's own files that are being processed slowly by the bureaucracy, or to root out some matters of public interest, typically in cases where some sort of corruption is involved. But as more and more cases come about, it is clear that RTI can make information freely available to people, and information is power. In this particular case, it has allowed a non-Government official to ask details about the record of a official who was promoted, once revealed, the information was such that the promotion was withdrawn.

Ashwin Patel, who is a drug manufacturer himself, had asked whether the promotion of assistant depot manager of the Central Medical Stores Organisation (CMSO) RS Shah can be considered legal or not. Shah was chargesheeted by his own department and a vigilance inquiry too was pending against him. At the end of the exercise, Shah's promotion was withdrawn on Friday.
Patel procured under the RTI Act two letters—- one written by the under secretary dated October 30, 2001 and the other written by a vigilance officer on October 11, 2001, categorically informing the department that it had been decided to initiate departmental enquiry against him. So perturbed were the health department officials that they never allowed Patel to even inspect the files pertaining to Shah's vigilance inquiry under the RTI Act. On Friday, Shah's promotion was nullified.

Do read the link above, it shows the Government officials have used the garb of secrecy to stall enquiries and promote one of their own. But, once you have people willing to challenge this (after all, the Government is setup for the service of the citizenry and is paid out of the tax-payer's taxes), more and more of such cases will be rooted. In the end, if corruption in India decreases and more efficiency and honesty gets promoted, the RTI Act will be one of the leading reasons for such a thing happening.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:17 AM