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19081Legal Battle of RTI Activists against State Machinery/ Odisha Information Commission for effective implementation of RTI Act in Odisha From 2005 to 2014

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  • Pradip Pradhan
    Apr 21, 2014

    Legal Battle of RTI Activists against State Machinery/ Odisha Information Commission   for effective implementation of RTI Act in Odisha From 2005 to  2014

     

    Dear friends

     

    RTI Activists in Odisha have not only  led awareness campaign to sensitise  masses  about the Act,  procedure to be followed  for inspection of documents  proactively disclosed under section 4(1b) of the RTI Act and to access information through filling application, filling  complaints to Information Commission  but also   unleashed  legal  battle approaching various  judicial bodies including Odisha High Court  against  callous and indifferent  attitude of State bureaucracy  and  illegal, anti-people  activities of  Odisha Information Commission for effective implementation of RTI Act in the state. Through their ceaseless struggle and overzealous   activism,  They have  exposed conspiracy hatched by Odisha Govt. and Information Commission to dilute the RTI Act in Odisha. The efforts of   RTI Activists has not been confined to just   seeking information  but using it  at different level  to improve the governance of the state. I  do present  herewith the glimpses of our  legal battle    against  the State Govt. and  Information Commission  for  RTI Act  in the state.

     

    Sl.No

     Cases in different  court with Case No 

    Name of Petitioner

    Subject Matter of Case

    Status

    1

    Defamation case  filed   in Senior Division, Civil Court, Bhubaneswar in October, 2010

    Odisha Information Commission, Bhubaneswar

    Odisha Information Commission  ( Sri D.N. Padhi, former Chief Information Commissioner and Sri Jagadanand Mohanty, former Information Commissioner)  as an Institution  has  filed defamation case  against two RTI Activists   Sri Pradip Pradhan and Sri Chitta Behera in October  2010  seeking permanent injection  on their writing  against Commission and  Rs. 1 lakh damage suit. Both the RTI Activists in their writings  have vociferously  criticised  the illegal activities  of the Commission which is alleged  by the Commission duo  as tarnishing their image and social dignity.

    Case is pending  in the Court of First Class Judicial Magistrate, Bhubaneswar, capital city of Odisha,

    2

    Defamation case  against Sri Jagadanand  as  Odisha Information Commissioner  filed   in SDJM Court, Bhubaneswar  on 5.6.13

     

     Smt. Rajalaxmi Das, wife of Jayant Das, an RTI-Complainant, Puri

    On 5.6.13,  Smt.  Rajalaxmi Das,    has  filed  a defamation case   against Sri Jagadanand Mohanty, State Information Commissioner  in Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Bhubaneswar, capital of Odisha  with  a prayer  to punish  him  for  using  derogatory and defamatory  languages  in  his decision  ( Second  Appeal case No.- 439/2011).  In her petition, Smt. Das  has mentioned that  Sri Jagadanand Mohanty, SIC  has illegally  and  without any rhyme or reason reflected  the unsavoury version of the PIO about the complainant in the order issued by him in the capacity of State Information Commissioner. 

    The case is pending in the court of SDJM, Bhubaneswar, capital city of Odisha.

    3

    W.P (C)(PIL) No.  26100  of 2013  case  against Sri Jagadanand and his wife     seeking an enquiry  and cancel the G.A plot no.58  of Ghatikia area  allotted in favour  of  Smt. Patnaik and to direct to take appropriate  legal action against  them.

    Sri Jayant Kumar Das , RTI Activist, Puri

    In spite of having  own land  under Bhubaneswar Muncipality area in 1989, Sri Jagadanand Mohanty , State Information Commissioner ( now retired and Member Secretary, CYSD)   manipulated  Govt. procedure  and  illegally took GA Plot in the name of his wife Smt. Manjushree Patnaik  which was exposed by Sri Jayant Das, RTI Activist in 2012.  With this information he filed  complaint to Governor, Odisha  on 29.12.12 seeking inquiry into the matter. Though Governor ordered for inquiry, the Govt. is sitting idle  on the file  and  yet to initiate legal proceeding against  Sri Jagadanand Mohanty. Finding  no response  despite submission of  number of RTI Applications,  he had filed a writ petition in Odisha High Court  seeking  direction for inquiry into the matter and  take stringent legal action against Sri Jagadanand.  In 2011, Sri Jagadanand   using his position as Information Commissioner and influencing officials of GA Dept. has taken the  GA plot  by depositing the required  money  after 20  years  of allotment of land  made  in 1992. 

     

    Case is pending in High Court.

     

     

     

    4

    Writ Petition  W.P. C. No- 12468/2013  filed in Odisha High Court challenging the decision of Sri Jagadanand Mohanty, the then Information Commissioner.

    by Jayant Das, RTI-Complainant  

    On dated    30.5.13, Sri Jayant Das  had filed a writ petition in odisha High Court seeking direction to Sri Jagadanand, State Information Commissioner to expunge the derogatory and defamatory remarks   used in the decision against him and    to remove the judgment from their official website and further direct the   Commission     to provide accurate information as sought for   free of cost and also to pay the requisite compensation to him.

     

    That, while deciding   a Second Appeal case No. 439/2011 on 9.2.2012,  Sri Jagadanand  remanded the case  to the First Appellate Authority, Dept. of Health  and Family Welfare , Govt. of Odisha  and  wrote the objectionable  and illegal remarks  of the PIO  ( the petitioner is involved in fraudulent land deal with many persons  including Sanat Mohapatra and was arrested in a Criminal  case).  This sentence is illegal, perverse and non-application of judicial mind.  He had  also alleged in his  petition that Sri Jagadanand, SIC lacked minimum knowledge about RTI Act .  Without hearing  from the petitioner,  how Sri Jagadanand  recorded  the statement of the PIO  and  reflected  on the order sheet which does not  come  within the domain of the Commission.

    On 10.12.13, the High Court said that the observation has no relevance to the decision on the application for giving information  and directed  the  Commission to delete the same  from the decision. 

    5

    PIL Case  on RTI filed in Orissa Court seeking   court direction for effective implementation of Section-4 of  RTI Act.

     

    Sanjib Satapathy , RTI Activist, Bhawanipatna , Kalahandi

     This PIL  case has been filed by Mr. Sanjeeb Satapathy, Social Activist  of Kalahandi district. Mr. satapathy has been spearheading RTI campaign in remote pockets of  Kalahandi district  since last three years.  He has sought direction from the Court  to both Central and State Govt.  to implement  section -4 of RTI Act  in letter and spirit. He has  alleged in his petition that the state Govt.   continues to be callous and indifferent  to implement section 4 (1b) of the RTI Act.

     

    On 16.12.10, hearing the case, Odisha  High Court  had  issued notice  to  Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, Govt. of India,  Department of Information and Public Relation, Govt. of Orissa, Orissa Information Commission  seeking  reply within two weeks  “ why  suo moto  disclosure of  17 types of information  under section-4 of RTI Act  has not been implemented  in the state”.

    The case is pending.

    6

    Writ Petition  ( W.P.C. No- 4797/2013) filed  in Odisha High Court on 27.2.13

    Kunja Bihari Patra , RTI Activist, Dasapalla, Nayagarh

     Sri Kunja Bihari Patra, BPL  RTI Applicant is  using RTI extensively  to expose corruption in Govt. offices. Having been deprived of getting  any benefit under  RTI Act, he has approached Odisha High Court seeking direction to provide  information to the BPL Applicant  free of cost. He had challenged  the direction of the Commission  for giving instruction to Sri Kunja to pay fees for information  which is the violation of section 7 (5) of the RTI Act.

    On 2.7.13, while adjudicating the case, the High Court quashed the order of Information Commission and directed the Public authorities  to supply the information free of cost as per provision of section 7(5) of the RTI Act. The Information Commission’s anti-BPL mindset and ignorance of law  was exposed.   This is a big victory of  Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan.

    7

    W. P. (C) No.10848/2012 filed  in Odisha  against gross miuse of power  and misappropriating Rs. 3.25 crore  for awareness campaign on RTI in Odisha  by Odisha Information Commission .

    Pradip Pradhan, RTI Activist, Bhubaneswar  

     Sri Pradhan  in his writ petition   has alleged that the State Govt. has completely abdicated its power and function in favour of the Commission and the Commission has been indulging itself in activities in the name and style of Information, Education and Communication (IEC), beyond the scope and ambit of the statue. It has further been alleged that such kind of activities carried on by the Commission since its inception till date has resulted in gross misappropriation of public exchequer to the tune of more than rupees five crores over the years, which requires a thorough probe and recovery from the errant Commission and its Commissioners.

     

    Hearing the case on  18.7.12, the Odisha High Court has   issued  notices of show-cause to the Chief Secretary, Secretaries of I & PR Deptt., Planning & Coordination Deptt., Finance Deptt., Information Commission through its Secretary, Chief Information Commissioner, Information commissioner Mr. Jagadanand, formerly Chief Information Commissioner Mr. D. N. Padhi and formerly Information Commissioner Prof. Radha Mohan.

    8

    Writ Petition  filed  in Odisha High Court  against  Sri Jagadanand Mohanty , Information Commissioner

    Biswa Kalyan Mohanty , Chandabali, Bhadrak

    On 22.1.13,  Sri Biswa Keshari Mohanty, Chandbali  of Bhadrak district, Odisha  has  filed  a writ  petition in Odisha High Court   challenging  the failure of Mr. Jagadanand,   Odisha Information Commissioner    in redressing his Complaint against the concerned public authority as per provision of RTI Act  and Governor, Odisha  in enquiring into and taking appropriate action on his Complaint against the  Orissa Information Commissioner

    .    Sri Mohanty has  prayed to  the Hon’ble High Court  to direct to recover the penalty from the erring officials  and issue a writ in nature of Mandamus or any other suitable writ directing   Governor  to take appropriate legal action against Sri Jagadanand, SIC   as per law and  remove him from his office within a stipulated period.

    Case is pending  against Sri Jagadanand Mohanty

    8

    writ petition W.P (C) No.  10207  /2013 filed  in Odisha High Court  against Sri Jagadanand,  Information Commissioner ( retired now)  on  2.5.13

    Karunakar Behera,  retired Govt. official, Baripada, Mayurbhanj

      On 2.5.13, Sri Karunakar Behera, a petitioner of Mayurbhanj district has filed a writ petition W.P (C) No.  10207  /2013 in Odisha High Court  challenging  the decision of the decision of  Sri Jagadanand Mohanty, State Information Commissioner  who with malafide intention  disposed  and closed the case without  providing information on 4.1.13.  The Petitioner Sri Behera  has appealed the court  to    quash the order dated 04.01.2013   and has  prayed  for a direction to the PIO, office of CDMO, Mayurbhanj  to provide  the required information and   direct the Information Commission  to take action deemed proper against the concerned Public Information Officer  within a stipulated period .  The Petitioner has also prayed for removal of Mr. Jagadanand Mohanty from the post of Odisha Information on the ground of inefficiency and incapacity.

     

    Case is pending

    9

     WPC No.  13/2014 on  2.1.14 filed   in Odisha High Court  seeking direction for withdrawal of    provision  of submission of  proof of  citizenship identity which is required  at the time of submitting RTI Application under Odisha RTI Rules, 2005

    Pradip Pradhan, RTI Applicant, Bhubaneswar

     Under Odisha RTI Rules, 2005,  there is provision of  submission of proof  of    identity of citizenship   at the time of submitting  RTI Application  which is against  section 6 (1)  of the RTI Act.  Sri Pradhan has challenged in his petition the Odisha RTI Rules  as  illegal and ultravires  .

     The  case  has been heard  and pending  in the  court.

     10

    WPC ( PIL) Case 2153/14 filed  in Odisha High Court on large scale misuse of bulk kerosene  distributed to few institutions  under PDS.

     

    Pradip Pradhan, RTI Activist, Odisha

     In Odisha, few Govt. and Private organisations like office of Tahasil, Police stations, SP office, Ashram schools are  being provided bulk kerosene starting from 30 litres to 200 litres of kerosene  at BPL price under PDS   since 1980s.  The State Govt. has not made review “whether the bulk kerosene is required  for these institutions” since inception. It  is exposed through RTI  and fact-finding visits that  the  bulk keresone is hugely misused  by the  Civil Supply officers, the authority of the institutions  and  black-marketed  to truck, tractor owners.  With this information,  Sri Pradhan  has filed the case  in High Court seeking direction to check corruption and black marketing of bulk keresone.

    Case is pending.

    11

    Writ Petition filed in January, 2014  in Odisha High seeking direction to State Govt. to undertake social audit  of  PDS, ICDS, MDM programme  as per direction of Supreme Court. 

    Pradip Pradhan, RTI Activist, Odisha

    On 31.8.13, RTI Application was  submitted  to Dept. of Food Supply and Consumer Welfare, School and Mass Education, Women and Child Development, Govt. of Odisha  seekinf information about  social audit conducted  on PDS, MDM, ICDS  as per direction of  SC  in 2002. The information supplied by  PIOs of all 3 Dept. that no social audit  has been conducted so far  by Govt. With this information, Sri Pradhan had approached High Court seeking  direction  to State Govt. to comply SC Order. 

    Case is pending.

     12

    PIL case  {W.P. (C)(PIL) No.                10537 of 2013} filed  on 2.5.13   seeking direction  to State Govt.  to  vacate the quarters illegally occupied by retired officers, former MLAs, Ministers etc.

    Pradip Pradhan, RTI Activist, Bhubaneswar

      In the month of February,2013,     three RTI Applications were submitted  to the PIO, Dept. of GA, Govt. of Odisha seeking information  about  details of Govt. quarters unauthorisedly occupied by  retired Govt. employees and former MLAs/MPs, house rent arrear pending  against  the  retired IAS, IFS, IPS officers and former Ministers/MPs/MLAs  etc.  It was found from the information supplied by the Department of General Administration that   total number of 400 Govt. quarters have been unauthorizedly  occupied  by retired Govt. employees.  With this information, Sri Pradhan approached Odisha High Court seeking direction to vacate the quarters.

    On 11.12.13, High Court  has issued notice to state Govt. produce the report within 4 weeks  about status of quarters in  Bhubaneswar.

    13

    { W.P. ( Civil )  No. 19857     of 2013 filed in Odisha High Court  seeking   direction     to Odisha Information Commission  to provide  copy of the decision of cases  in Odia language on 12.8.13.

     

      Sri  Nilamani Joshi, RTI Activist of Bolangir and Core-body  Member  of Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan 

     Since 2006,   RTI Activists of Odisha   have been demanding   in form of organising rally, Dharana and demonstration before State Govt.  and  Odisha Information Commission  to  make  all proactively  disclosed information  under section 4 (1b)  and  decision of the Commission  in vernacular  language (Odia).   Finding no response from Govt..  RTI Activists decided to resort legal means to get the copy of the decision of their cases in Odia language   from the Commission.  Accordingly, referring a English-written decision (Second Appeal No. 773/2013) disposed by Sri Tarun Kanti Mishra , State Chief Information Commissioner in  which  the appellant  has sought the copy of the decision in Odia, Sri Nilamani Joshi filed a writ petition in the High Court 

    On 21.3.14,  Hearing the case, Odisha  High Court  issued  direction to   Commissioner-Cum-Secretary to Govt. of Odisha,  Information and Public Relation Department,  Bhubaneswar to take a decision  within a period of two months   about  desirability  and necessity  of providing  to the  complainant-citizens  Odia Copies of the  decisions  rendered  in English  language  by Odisha Information Commission.

     

     

    14

    WP (C ) No.  635/14  filed   in Odisha High  Court   seeking withdrawal of  compulsory RTI Application  under Odisha RTI Rules  2005.

    Muhammad Imran , Social Activist, Bhubaneswar

     Sri Imran in his petition  has mentioned that  RTI Act  in its section 6(1)  has not prescribed  any application form for citizens seeking information.  Complying this provision, the Central Govt. has not prescribed  any application form  for citizens . The option has been left to the citizens  to  submit plain application  or any format  whichever is liked  by them   for seeking information. But under Odisha RTI Rules,  the State Govt. has  prescribed  a compulsory  application form  which  the common people  can not fill it up. He has prayed  the court  to  direct  the State Govt. to withdraw  the  compulsory application form  which  is not citizen-friendly.

    Case is pending.

    15

    Writ Petition ( C ) No.  6130/2014 on  24.3. 14 challenging the unilateral  disposal of the cases  without hearing  by  the State Information Commission

    Pradip Pradhan, RTI Activist, Bhubaneswar

    In 2012, there was  a Supreme Court Judgement  in Civil Appeal No. 10787-10788 of 2011 in which single bench   has given a direction  that  the Commission can not   direct  for supply of information under section 18 of the RTI Act.  This  direction has been challenged  in the Supreme Court   which is pending.  Taking  cue from this judgement, the Odisha Information Commission started   rejecting  all complaint cases  without hearing   citing  the abovementioned case of SC  in their decision. Now  the Commission has rejected  around 1200 cases without hearing. The  complainants are seen   harassed  and frustrated .    The unilateral rejection of  cases without hearing and providing no information by the Commission  has been challenged by Sri Pradhan  in the High Court.

     

    Case is pending.

    16

     Writ Petition (PIL) No.-  5103/2014 filed  in High Court seeking direction  to State Govt. to  ensure  constructed  building  to all Anganwadi centres in the state.

    Pradip Pradhan, RTI Activist, Bhubaneswar

     RTI Application on dt. 19.10.13  was  submitted  to  the Dept. of Women and Child Development, Govt. of Odisha  seeking  information about  status of  AWCs  with own  building , fund sanctioned for building, its  utilization  etc.   The PIO  on dt. 1.11.13  has  supplied the    information that  74 % of Anganwadi Centres do not have own building.  Out of 600 crores sanctioned  for  AWC building, only 150 crores have been utilized since last   three years. With this information, Sri Pradhan has filed the case in High Court.

     

    Case is pending.

    17

    WP (C) No. 23903/2012

     

    Sri Jayant Das, RTI Activist, Puri

     On  8.4.2010, As they were involved in private  practice and running private clinic, the State Govt. transferred  153 doctors  to different districts .  90% of doctors   did not join  and went on leave. which was exposed  through RTI  by Sri Jayant Das . For example,  26 Doctors were  transferred in Bhadrak  district out of which  25  did not move.  So Sri  das filed  the case in High Court  seeking direction  to State Govt. to take immediate steps  to execute  transfer order.

    On 11. 12. 12 , the court  has issued notice.  Govt. ha s not  compiled it till yet.  

     18

      Vigilance case  filed against Manjushree Patnaik, wife of Sri Jagadanand Mohanty  for  illegally  taking GA plot in Ghatikia area  of Bhubaneswar on 30.7.13

     

    Jayant Das,  RTI Activist, Puri

    He  has alleged that Srimati Manjushree Patnaik, wife of Jagadananda Mohanty, of Village-Motarin Dist- Puri had  taken a GA plot No. 58 of Ghatikia Area, Bhubaneswar on 23.4.1992 under the Allotment scheme of Residential Plot in New colonies within Bhubaneswar municipality Area, 1989. As per Government decision,  a person having plot within jurisdiction of

    Bhubaneswar Municipal area cannot be entitled to get the GA Plot but,

    in this case the leaseholder’s   husband (information commissioner Sri husband (information commissioner Sri Jagadananda Mohanty) is the owner of a homestead land with an area 24OO square feet is situated in Mouza: Gobinda Prasad, Tahasil Bhubaneswar, P.S: New Gapital, District  Khurda and the Plot number

    is 11491237q Khata No. {05712476 and one building was constructed

    on the said land(this homestead land was purchased on 15.2.1989).

    Vigilance has started inquiry and ceased some important document from GA Dept. in this connection. 

     

     

    Pradip Pradhan

    M-9937843482

    Date- 20.4.14