Thane Collector’s Public Information Officer fined Rs 25,000 for not providing information under RTI

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Ranjit Mahanti

A public information officer (PIO) in Collector’s office, Thane has been penalised Rs 25,000 by State Information Commissioner, Konkan division for his “utter” negligence by not providing information sought under the RTI Act by a Ulhasnagar-based social activist. The SIC has also expressed displeasure on actions of the RTI officer.

The accused identified as Sachin Bhoir, is an RTI officer in Collector office, Thane. The fine will be deducted from his salary. A Ulhasnagar based NGO, Vishwa Manav Kalyan Parishad has complained to Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse on November 19, 2015 seeking justice for tribals and action against land mafia Prakash Budhrani and his gang. Budhrani and his gang have encroached on tribal land in Kalyan Taluka by forging the documents and have blatantly attempted land grabbing.

On December 13, 2017 NGO’s representative Ramji Maheshwari filed RTI application in Revenue Minister’s office seeking information on what action has been taken on his complaint. On January 6, 2017 Revenue Minister’s office replied that his complaint had been forwarded on April 6, 2016 to Collector, Thane for further action. On February 8, 2017 Maheshwari filed application in Collector office, Thane to know what action has been taken on his complaint forwarded by revenue minister’s office.  Collector office failed to respond to his application. On April 10, 2017 Maheshwari first filed an appeal in Collector office demanding action on RTI officer under sections 5 (4), 2 (1) of RTI act. He demanded disciplinary and punishable action and also requested that RTI be provided free of cost. But collector failed to act on appeal. On June 16, 2017 Maheshwari filed second appeal to State Information Commissioner, State Information Commission, Konkan division. Thanksy Francis Thekkekara, State Information Commissioner for Konkan Division heard the appeal on January 30, 2018.
 
State Information Commissioner expressed anger on RTI officer over his extreme and utter negligence. Commissioner noted that real complainant Balaram Kashinath Sid on June 4, 2013 had registered FIR (No-125/2013) in Titwala (Thane rural) police station but he was harassed by Sachin Bhoir and was not provided the information.

On March 7, 2018 Commissioner fined RTI officer Sachin Bhoir Rs 25,000 cash under section 19 (8) (kh) of Information act 2005 for the delay in providing information within the stipulated time frame.

“Shockingly one month has been passed since the order for punishment but collector’s  office has once again demonstrated their negligence and apathy by failing to provide information to NGO Vishwa Manav Kalyan Parishad,” said Maheshwari.
ABI’s Reports
 
ABI has published several articles in the past about bureaucrat – land mafia nexus. Kalyan Talathi, Tehsildar, Nayab Tehsiladar, Collector, Prant Adhikari and Mandal Adhikari have shown extreme kindness on Ulhasnagar based land mafia Prakash Revachand Budhrani. All of them have avoided taking actions on Budhrani.

Prakash Budhrani and his wife Nisha Budhrani have encroached on around 200 acres tribal land at Mauje-Kamba, Taluka – Kalyan (West), District – Thane by forging the documents.

ABI VIEW: Land Grabbing and encroachment of tribal land is a grave issue, especially in developing and rural areas, where the prices of land can shoot up exponentially in the future. The officials in charge are often seen to be hand in glove with these notorious criminals. Ultimately it is the poor tribal land owners who suffer and are forcibly evicted from their own land just so that this criminals can make millions. Government should ensure the safety of tribals and take strict action again encroachment as well as punish officials under whose watch and jurisdiction this happens.

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