January 10, 2021

RTI Application: A new route to political blackmail of PAGD leaders

Though reply to an RTI application revealing spending of Rs 82 lakhs on personal expenses by Mehbooba Mufti as Chief Minister of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state in a short span of six months  from January to June in the year 2018 undoubtedly shows the misuse of public money by people in power , but the timing choosen to file such an RTI application against Mehbooba Mufti a key leader of Peoples’ Alliance For Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has very rightly created doubts in the minds of the people about the intents of filing the said RTI. A man who himself has spent many years with a critic of Mehbooba Mufti and a former legislator filing the said RTI application against the former Chief Minister is sufficient enough to indicate motives of filing such an application . The reply to the said RTI application coming only after Mehbooba’s controversial remarks over PAGD’s fight for restoration of statehood, special status and the flag of erstwhile J&K state shows that there is more politics and very less morality in filing the said RTI application against the former Chief Minister  of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state. Unfortunately both the national and local media outlets including newspapers and news channels have linked the RTI revelations about Mehbooba’s spending on personal expenses as Chief Minister to her stand on restoration of statehood and special status. As such question can be asked that when the issue is about the financial austerity and public accountability in government, what the RTI reply on Mehbooba’s a personal expense as Chief Minister has to do with her political stand on restoration of statehood and special status.  Though irrefutable fact is that when the head of the cabinet, i.e., Chief Minister crosses the red lines in spending public money, other members of the cabinet  also follow the suit but shockingly the RTI application has been moved only against Mehbooba Mufti as Chief Minister but not against any of her cabinet colleagues of either PDP or BJP.

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Shockingly the people claiming to be champions of public interest as civil society leaders move RTI applications before the central Information Commission (CIC) and public interest litigations (PILs) in courts against politicians and bureaucrats only after their quitting and retirement. Very rarely any RTI application or Public Interest Litigation is filed against the politicians in power and bureaucrats in active service and such a highly objectionable tendency won’t serve the broader purpose of public accountability in Jammu & Kashmir.  

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Interestingly many of the BJP ministers in the erstwhile Mehbooba Mufti led coalition ministry were also facing allegations of corruption but not A single RTI application has been moved against any BJP minister of the erstwhile Mehbooba led coalition government. Shockingly the people claiming to be champions of public interest as civil society leaders move RTI applications before the central Information Commission (CIC) and public interest litigations (PILs) in courts against politicians and bureaucrats only after their quitting and retirement. Very rarely any RTI application or Public Interest Litigation is filed against the politicians in power and bureaucrats in active service and such a highly objectionable tendency won’t serve the broader purpose of public accountability in Jammu & Kashmir.

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