Nexus between Corrupt Officials and Odisha Information Commission
Since last few years, RTI Activists have been accusing the Information Commissioners of hobnobbing with corrupt bureaucracy and taking extra-initiative to protect corrupt officials, infamous for violating the RTI Act. The nexus established between Odisha bureaucracy and Information Commission has not only made RTI an ineffective tool to contain corruption in Odisha, but also frustrates RTI Activists to fight out the issues to enforce an accountable and transparent Government in the state.
Luckily on 13 April 2015, we got a test case of secret understanding of the Commission with the bureaucracy. Myself and Jayant Das had been to Odisha Information Commission to attend the hearing of 4 Second Appeal petitions (SA No.- 428/14, 430/14, 429/14, 432/14 by Sri Pramod Kumar Mohanty, lone State Information Commissioner (other posts are lying vacant). As expected, while reaching in the office, we were informed about abrupt postponement of hearing of the case by the Commission. On query about reason, the Receptionist informed that Sri Mohanty, Information Commissioner personally came to office and appraised the staff about his illness to the staff and asked to postpone the hearing of the case.
However, these Second Appeal cases fixed for hearing are most important cases of denial of information to the Information-seeker about irregularities committed by Sri Bijay Kumar Sharma, Addl. D.G. of Police. On RTI query in 2013 from University Law College, Vanivihar, it was found that Sri Bijay Sharma who was working as Police Commissioner got admission in LLB course in 2011-12 and secured 85% attendance in first year in 2011-12 and 75% attendance in 2012-13 and got gold medal for his outstanding performance and securing highest mark. From this information, common question came to mind whether Sri Sharma was performing his duty nor not. If he was performing his duty, how he attended the class in Law College and secured 85% attendance. Keeping it in view, Sri Jayant Das, RTI Activist submitted RTI Application in Dec. 2013 to the PIO, Dept. of Home, Govt. of Odisha seeking the copy of Tour Diary and Tour Report of Sri Bijay Sharma and details of leave sanctioned to him from 2011-12 to 2012-13. RTI Application was transferred to the PIO, office of Commissioner ate of Police and Crime Branch, Cuttack. Both the PIOs denied to provide the information on the ground of personal information under section 8 (1)(h) of the RTI Act. On denial of information from the PIO and the First Appellate Authority, Sri Das approached the Commission by filling second appeal under section 19(3) of the RTI Act.
The Commission fixed the date for hearing on 13.4.15 after a lot of persuasion due to delay in hearing. Strangely, the Commission was found not web-hosting the Cause List of the Cases fixed for hearing of this week which is generally done by the Commission. As this is very serious issue and smelling trouble, Sri Pramod Mohanty strategically avoided to hear the case and deferred the date. More interesting is that another date which was fixed for hearing of the case is 26.5.15. On query about intention behind taking a long date for hearing of the case, it was found that Sri Mohanty would get retired on 7.5.15. So he has consciously fixed the date to avoid the hearing of this case. The hearing of this Case will take long time because there is no Information commissioner in the office of Commission.
It is alleged in media by Sri Jayant Das, complainant that due to unholy alliance of Sri Mohanty with Sri Bijay Sharma, Sri Mohaty took last ditch effort to protect him by blocking supply of information and consciously extended the date to such a period, so that he will never hear the case and the Complainant will wait for uneven period to get the information. The allegation of the activists against the commission working as great dalal of the State Govt. was found true in this case.
The intention behind appointing IAS as Information Commissioner is nothing, but to cover up the corruption and protect corrupted officials. Sri Mohanty is proved as RTI killer at retiring stage of his career which will be ended on 7 May 2015.
Pradip Pradhan, M-9937843482
14 April 2015