Mumbai: Former Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi and BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta have gotten into a war of words over the latter directing action against “professional complainants” filing RTI queries in bulk for information about building plans post the Kamala Mills inferno that killed 14 people.
In a letter addressed to Mehta recently, Gandhi sought the civic chief’s apology for “insulting citizens using their fundamental Right to Information guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the constitution”. In response to the objection raised by the former CIC, asking Mehta to stop calling activists using Right To Information (RTI) as ‘extortionists,’ Mehta said, ‘Let me reiterate at the cost of repetition that we have started an enquiry to unravel and break the nexus between professional complainants with vested interest, and a very small percentage of employees who connive with them.” Mehta added, “I have emphasised to the officers and the system that this should be conducted in a fair and transparent manner in keeping with principles of probity.”
Gandhi, in response to it, said it does suggest Mehta will issue directives to all BMC officials to “desist from calling RTI users as blackmailers.” Mehta further said in his reply, the RTI applications and responses on the BMC website. “Ensuring that all RTI applications and responses will be displayed on your website from 1 February 2018 onwards. Also, Withdrawing your order MGC/S/4885 of 21/10/2017 declaring Praja and its employees ‘persona non grata’ and apologising for this illegal act,” replied Gandhi.
Gandhi has also asked for an assurance from BMC to follow Section 4 requirements as outlined in the DOPT OM and the Maharashtra State Govt. GR before March 30, 2018. “Ensuring that BMC will participate in the RTI online on the State portal,” asserted Gandhi.