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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Prejudiced CIC Laps Up PMO Lies

The following is the CIC's "decision" on my appeal.

Complaint No.CIC/WB/C/2007/00653 dated 17.10.2007
Right to Information Act 2005 – Section 18
Complainant - Shri Divakar S. Natarajan
Respondent - Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)


By an application of 18.7.07 Shri Divakar S. Natarajan of Begumpet, Hyderabad applied to the CPIO PMO seeking the following information:

“Please provide me with all information, including files and notings, regarding action taken on the matters petitioned vide my emails to Dr. Sanajaya Baru dated 5.12.2005 and Shri Muthu Kumar PMOSB 25.7.05, 26.7.05, 31.7.05, 31.8.05 and five emails on 18.8.05.”

To this he received a response dated 14.8.07 from Shri Kamal Dayani, as follows:

“Your emails on various dates to Dr. Sanjaya Baru, Media Advisor and Shri Muthu Kumar, Director, Media are not readily traceable as the data pertaining to the period is no longer available in the Computers. You may provide details of the letters written by you, if any, in this regard to enable this office to reply accordingly.”

Aggrieved by this response, Shri Natarajan moved his first appeal before Ms. Vini Mahajan Jt. Secretary on 30.8.07 by Email criticizing the response as follows:

“1. It appears to be misdirected to me. This query ought to be directed to Dr. Baru and Shri Muthu Kumar for appropriate results.

2. The RTI Act does not permit any conditions to be imposed on the petitioner by the CPIO to “enable this office to reply accordingly”

It passes my comprehension as to why the CPIO should seek details from me again, when I have already done so.

I am sure you will agree, that prima facie this response from the CPIO appears to be a rather flimsy and frivolous dilatory tactics contravening both the letter and spirit of the “revolutionary” RTI Act 2005 of which our Hon’ble Prime Minister is justly proud.

In the event, I request you to kindly do the needful under the law and procure me the complete information that I have requested.”

The CIC has chosen to leave out the following introduction:


Further to my request for information under RTI Act 2005, dtd 18th July,2007 I have received what appears to be a strange and awkwardly worded response from the Director and CPIO Shri K Dayani.

I have been asked "to provide details of the letters written by you "if any" to enable this office to reply accordingly."

Because "the your emails are not readily traceable as the data pertaining to the period is no longer available "in the Computers".

Gentle Reader, would you not have been shocked and amused, if you had received the above response from office of the leader of the emergent IT Super power?

Who could have reasonably imagined that the PMO's email system would have been hacked?

So why does the CIC remain tight lipped about the PMO's clearly incomprehensible communication ?

Why does the CIC have no sympathy for my bewilderment?

Were my complaints justified or not?

Why has the CIC chosen to gloss over the critical fact that the appellate authority did not bother to give me any answer whatsoever.

My very first line in my appeal to the CIC was:

" I am disappointed to state that I have had no response whatsoever from the above appellate authority, regarding my request for information of July 18, 2007."

It is telling that rather than take immediate and summary action, the CIC has chosen to ignore the appellate officer's dereliction and instead has sent my case to the "dungeon" from where it has been allowed to emerge only at the fag end of this government's term.

This PMO officer appears to be some kind of a serial offender. And in other cases has been "admonished" by the CIC - why not in my case?

Have I become a lesser citizen and earned the CIC's wrath because of my two decade long individual,non partisan, ultra peaceful sathyagraha against "the patronage paradigm - the paradigm of shoddiness, irresponsibility, cronyism and corruption that has cretinised us Indians."?

On not receiving a response Shri Natarajan has moved his complaint before us with the following prayer:

“Whether Hon’ble PM has been properly briefed and kept current on my ultra peaceful “no excuse” individual, non partisan, satyagraha against corruption, now in its 17th year.”

Once again,the CIC, with the most egregious prejudice, has chosen to edit the following.

"Has he (the Hon'ble Prime Minister) been made familiar with Dr Baru's (Dr Sanjaya Baru - then the media adviser to the PMO) 1991 Economic Times review of my documentary in Urdu "Hyderabad August 1948."?

Has he been told about the martyr Shoebullah Khan in the context of the recent attacks on Taslima Nasrin in Hyderabad ?"

This was followed up with an Email on 29.11.07 addressed to Chief Information Commissioner seeking an out of turn hearing,
which was not agreed to, upon which the appellant submitted a CD containing three separate files.

It is unfortunate that The Chief Information Commissioner implies that I was asking for something "out of turn" .

He does not appear to have the heart to accept responsibility for the rude,ignorant and prejudiced dismissal of my plea that my life and liberty was incarcerated without the information that I had sought.

The following is the dismissive response. F. No CIC/WB/C/2007/00653 Dtd 31/12/2007


Your email dated 14/12/2007 was placed before the Chief Information Commissioner for consideration of your request. The CIC has observed the following.

"This hardly requires for (sic) out of turn hearing. He may be requested to provide copies of documents on which he seeks information to PMO. sd CIC"

This was rudeness verging on the venomous.

Would it not have been more productive and enlightening if the CIC had opted to make public his criteria for "Life and Liberty" consideration?

Would not such a professional response have been reassuring and earned my gratitude?

Evidently earning the gratitude of a solitary sathyagrahi was not a priority for our wordly CIC.

One is a letter addressed to the Jt Registrar praising the efforts of the officials in helping him.

"Praise?" This is a thank you note. Evidence of my scrupulously courteous style. Not "praise".

The second letter is a paper report and the third is a report titled “A resonant validation of an ultra peaceful non partisan 14 years individual Satyagraha against corruption” running into 88 pages.”

The coldness and the lack of affect with which the CIC has refused to apply his mind, his disdainful dismissal of the horror and perversity that has been inflicted on me and the implication that I have somehow grievously erred in submitting copious evidence to support my claim for so called "out of turn" hearing - with due respect, this is Darth Vader stuff. Pure evil.

Rather than take summary action against the derelict PMO official, CIC has left no stone unturned to punish me.

A most vivid instance of "the patronage paradigm's" florid perversity.

In response to our complaint notice Shri Amit Agarwal, Director & CPIO PMO has in letter of 24.4.09 submitted as follows:

“It is submitted that the emails referred to in the application were considered as personal communications and accordingly, no action was taken by the office.

As the emails were not available with the office, the then CPIO had sent a letter dated 14.8.2007 in order to better understand the appellant’s request and respond in light of any correspondence that might have been sent regarding the matter and processed for any action in this office.

As regards, the appellant’s first appeal before the appellate authority in this office (as enclosed with the second appeal to the Hon’ble Commission in the form of an email dated 30.8.2007), it is submitted that despite best efforts, the said emails could not be located in this office.”

The complaint was heard on 27.4.09. The following are present:

Respondents at CIC Studio, New Delhi
Shri Amit Agrawal, Director & CPIO, PMO.
Shri Agam Aggarwal, Section Officer.
Shri Muthu Kumar, OSD, PMO
Although arrangement had been made through videoconference with Hyderabad and complainant Sh. Divakar S. Natarajan informed by Notice dated 16.4.2009 regarding the hearing, he has opted not to be present.

In a similar travesty of the RTI Act by the State Information Commissioner in Hyderabad, for which I had to appeal to the High Court, the SIC did not make any appearance, nor even appoint a counsel.

The Hon'ble judge hearing the case obliged the respondent by refusing to hear me,by arguing on his behalf and by producing a rank dodgy judgement.

Given the quality and volume of evidence that was before the CIC, the PMO's admissions of delinquency and the CIC's previous experience with this office, my presence was completely unnecessary.

Finally and most importantly, there is little I could have done to deal with the CIC's deep, subconscious animus against me , his venomous response to my plea for an early hearing, his misleading quotations, his contemptuous dismissal of all evidence of my nearly two decade long ordeal, of "Hyderabad. August 1948" and of course his big, bland lie that I have been provided information by the PMO,that are clearly revealed in his written decision and now open for all to see.

For the record, I have never met the CIC in my life and from what I had seen of him on Lok Sabha Television I had been very hopeful of a truly creative interaction.

Shri Amit Agrawal specifically submitted that the Email addressed to Ms. Vini Mahajan, containing the first appeal remained untraced; hence it had not been dealt with.

To remedy any shortcomings in the receipt of RTI applications through Internet, the Jt. Secretary, PMO has separately taken up the matter with the RTI Cell within the PMO, which also consists of Shri Muthu Kumar, OSD, also present in the hearing, who monitors the RTI correspondence on Internet.

Shri Agam Aggarwal SO PMO submitted that he has spoken to complainant Shri Natarajan on the telephone on the evening of Friday, the 24th April 2009 and explained the position to him. Sh Natarajan has asked for certain documents which have been provided.

Shri Agarwal did call me but only to ask me for my fax number.

I submitted that only government offices with annually expanding budgets had fax machines.

Ordinary people like me used Gmail.

He then asked me for my email address. I then inquired whether he had any of my correspondence with him on file or not?

He confirmed that he indeed had my correspondence on file.

I then requested him to kindly refer to his files for my email address. He said he would and that he would call me back.

He called me back a few minutes later and confirmed that he indeed had my email id. Later that evening, he sent me a copy of his response to the CIC through email.

He could have asked me for a copy of my appeal to the appellate officer. But he did not.

I have clearly and repeatedly stated the details of the information that I sought.

The CIC could have inquired and ascertained from the PMO officials present as to exactly what information was being given to me.

The CIC did not.

In the event,the CIC has vaguely and falsely observed "Sh Natarajan has asked for certain documents which have been provided." And happily closed the case.

Once again, I have no more information on the matters petitioned by me today,than what I had two years ago.

The Prime Minister's Office has given me nothing.

Having heard the arguments and examined the record, we find that the information held by PMO has indeed been provided to appellant Shri Natarajan.
Shri Natarajan’s petition, however, exposes a possible weakness in the Internet receipt system of the PMO, which is being looked into. Hence there seems no case for our further intervention in this matter.
This complaint is now closed.
Announced in the hearing. Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.
(Wajahat Habibullah)
Chief Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges, prescribed under the Act, to the CPIO of this Commission.
(Pankaj Shreyaskar)
Joint Registrar