BENGALURU:Ever since the modus operandi of the accused in the alleged extortion scam in the Lokayukta institution came to light, Lokayukta officials are being cautious in dealing with Right to Information Act (RTI) applications. This is because the accused in the case had allegedly used information obtained under RTI to extort money from public servants.
The Lokayukta registry has stopped providing information to persons who are not directly connected with any case. If the applicant wants, he/she should apply directly to the enquiry officer concerned of the anti-corruption body for any information.
The Public Information Officer and Deputy Registrar (Administration) had refused information to J Ashok Kumar, a resident of Nagashettyhalli on August 10. On July 31, Kumar had sought information about the ongoing investigation into alleged misappropriation of funds by senior IAS officer Amita Prasad when she was Director General of the Administrative Training Institute (ATI) in Mysuru.
In his endorsement, which is available with the Express, the PIO informed Ashok Kumar that the information he had sought was related to the case. Since the applicant was neither a complainant nor a respondent in the case, his application was not considered under provisions of RTI Act.
While disposing of the application, the PIO clarified that the information which he had sought was being dealt by Additional Registrar of Enquiries-9, Lokayukta. The proceedings of the section is quasi-judicial in nature and come under Indian Evidence Act and Civil Procedure Code. Hence, the applicant was asked to apply for copies of the case with that section.
To a question on whether such a move would defeat the very spirit of the Act, a Lokayukta official told Express that there is provision under Section 8 of the RTI Act to follow the said procedure. As per Section 8 of Sub-section (h), disclosure of information which would impede the process of investigation can be exempted from being given out, he added. The officer added that there are chances of the accused destroying evidence by obtaining information in the names of different persons or to blackmail the officers, as observed in the Lokayukta scam.
“Therefore, we will not provide information to the applicant if he is neither a complainant nor a respondent. Even the enquiry officers concerned will not reveal the case details to applicants if the reasons quoted in their applications are not satisfactory,” he added.
When contacted, in-charge Registrar M S Balakrishna said the Lokayukta institution was dealing with RTI applications more carefully as a few people are learnt to have applied for information ‘habitually’ under RTI Act. Three people were found to be obtaining information repeatedly, he said.