Bhopal: MPSIC brings Maihar temple under RTI purview

The trust had denied info under RTI saying the temple isn’t under RTI ambit

Vivek TrivediUpdated: Saturday, July 02, 2022, 08:36 PM IST
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Representational pic | FPJ

FP News Service

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)

In an important verdict, the MP State Information Commission (MPSIC) on Saturday issued a landmark verdict bringing Maihar temple under the purview of Right To Information Act.

An order accessed by Freepressjournal.com, said that anyone from the public could take information under RTI from the temple trust. The commission has also directed Satna collector Anurag Verma to ensure implementation of the order.

The commission had also imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the SDM and the ex-officio administrator of the temple trust for denying information under RTI against norms.

Advocate Anand Shrivastava in the past had sought details of Managing Committee appointments and other inputs through RTI but the SDM had denied information saying the committee and the temple doesn’t fall under the RTI ambit. The lawyer complained to MPSIC under section 18 of the Act.

Replying to MPSIC queries on denial of information, the SDM claimed that the goddess in the temple is in child form and collector is the legal guardian. He also claimed that the temple doesn’t accept any government grant so it isn’t bound to comply with RTI norms.

SIC inquired into the matter

Under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) 1908, the SIC Rahul Singh constituted a probe and deduced that RTI act is applicable on the temple trust. Presenting facts in favour of his verdict, Singh said the temple managing committee falls under public office category as it was established under Ma Sharda Devi Temple Act 2002. He also referred to a High Court verdict in which the court has assumed that the temple falls under state government.

The HC has accepted a writ petition against the temple managing committee and this can only be done against the state government, opined Singh in the order.

The SIC in the order pointed out that the SDM deliberately refused information under RTI in order to suppress details. The commissioner expressed surprise that the temple committee had in the past issued info under RTI but in this particular case presented bizarre plea to deny details.

'Temple is god's abode, why secrecy'

“Temple is god’s home and why secrecy in such a place,” said the SIC adding the temple receives huge sums as donations so it is imperative that managing committee functions in transparent and corruption less manner. Implementation of RTI will make managing committee accountable before the public, said Singh.

The commission levied a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the SDM as he attended a single hearing and did not turn for hearings despite three notices from the MPSIC.

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