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RTI lawyer sues civic official for defamation

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This should act as a warning to many people in power who demean RTI users.- Magistrate

Mumbai : A city lawyer Advocate Pankaj Pandey filed a defamation case in the Borivli Magistrate Court against Devendra Jain, the Assistant Municipal Commissioner (AMC) of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.  Due to innumerable queries on illegal construction and encroachments in various cases in his Ward, (K – East), Jain termed the activists as ‘blackmailers and extortionists’ in a letter he submitted to Malad police station. Jain submitted 77 names in this list asking police to take action against them.

Pandey found his name in this list and filed a petition against Jain. The magistrate admitted Pandey’s petition. While directing initiating defamation process against the AMC, the magistrate said, “In my view, there is prima facie case made out to issue process under Section 500 of the IPC.” The magistrate further observed, “This should act as a warning to many people in power who demean RTI users.”


Prior to this posting, in 2012, Jain who was the AMC of P-North Ward, had prepared a list of 77 complainants who frequently made complaints against illegal constructions using the RTI act. Instead of filing replies and giving information, Jain labeled them as ‘professional complainants’. The petition says, “He called them ‘owners of illegal buildings’ who blackmailed ‘poor officers’.”

Shailesh Gandhi, the first information officer, said, “The Act should not be misused or abused and I see no grounds of merit in this case made by Jain.” He added, “I have scrutinised the papers and it is evident he has randomly made a list of RTI activists, targeting them wrongly. There is no basis for making such a list.”

 

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