Skip to main content

100 RTI pleas? Gujarat govt "evades" revealing Rs 1 lakh crore scam inquiry report, prepared in public interest

Suresh Mehta
By Our Representative
The Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), the state watchdog for right to information (RTI), has told the legal department of the Government of Gujarat must not lie, but admit, without mincing words, that a crucial report containing inquiry into 14 cases of corruption against the erstwhile Narendra Modi administration, is lying with it.
The order is based on a legal department government resolution (GR) dated August 16, 2011, which had, “in the public interest, people in Gujarat must know whether there is any substance in the allegations, particularly at the time when a strong public opinion is building across the country against corruption in public life.”
Modi set up the inquiry commission in August 2011 following Congress allegations, listing 14 corruption charges under Modi government, valuing above Rs 1 lakh crore, only to declare that “nothing has been found” against it. However, neither the administration under him, nor his successors, have made the report public.
The two-page closely-typed GIC order, signed by information commissioner RR Varsani, comes following the refusal of the legal department – prepared by Justice (retired) MB Shah – to admit that it had the report, allegedly to evade demands to make it public under RTI.
Seeking disclosure of the report under RTI for the last four years, former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, 80, told Counterview that he and his supporters must have made at least 100 RTI applications to get the MB Shah Commission report submitted to the Gujarat government in 2014.
“Let alone the report, for four long years they have even refused to reveal which department has got it”, Mehta said. It is well known that in 2012, a day after of the announcement of code of conduct for the December assembly polls, Cabinet spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas told the media that the report had been “submitted” and there is no iota of truth in what the Congress had alleged.
“Ever since then, I tried to get the report, but I would get strange answers: The legal department would tell me the report is with the general administration department (GAD), while the GAD would tell me it was the property of the legal department”, he said.
He added, “Worse, speaking inside the assembly, then No 2 in the Cabinet, Anandiben Patel, had said the MB Shah commission report was with the governor, while an RTI plea with the Raj Bhawan said it didn't have it.”
Mehta made his last plea on October 29, 2014, when, again, the legal department said it “did not have” the report, forwarding the application to the GAD, which looks after personnel issues. In his appeal to the legal department's public authority on November 7, 2014, Mehta was again told that it didn't have the report, and that it is “lying with the GAD.”
This made the ex-chief minister approach the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) on April 6, 2015. Nearly one-and-a-half years later, on September 6, 2016, the GIC called for a hearing on Mehta's application in the presence of the public information officer, legal department, who again repeated that the report was not with it.
The GIC order asked the legal department to just authenticate the matter “in 20 days”. Mehta told Counterview, “Even after 20 days, the legal department has not approached me to tell me that it has got the report.”
During the arguments at GIC, Mehta argued that it is “wrong to say the Shah Commission report belongs to the GAD” hence it could not give it. Referring to a GAD reply to the RTI application moved by a senior activist, Pankti Jog, dated November 6, 2012, which said that the Shah Commission report wuld have to be placed in the state assembly within six months after its “final report” is submitted, Mehta said, the final report was submitted on November 6, 2013.
While nearly three years have passed for the report to be placed in the assembly, Mehta said during the argument, as quoted by the GIC order dated September 9, 2016, that “there is no such provision in law that the report would be made public only after it is placed in the Gujarat state assembly.”

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…