Man withdraws plaint, NGO fumes
As REPORTED In newindpress.com on Friday May 16 2008 10:14 IST
MADURAI: One month is all a government department gets to furnish information under the right to information (RTI) Act.
Instead, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has allegedly used
that period to persuade an applicant to withdraw his petition.
On March 19 this year, S Samayan of T Kallupatti natural resource protection committee filed an RTI application seeking information on stone crushers in Kilankulam, Vannivelanpatti and Ammapatti panchayats at T Kallupatti in Madurai.
The information sought included the number of licensed stone crushers in the area, pollution control norms that are expected to be followed, actions taken by the TNPCB against the crushers that violated pollution norms in the last two years and the plight of the workers in the crushers.
He withdrew the application on April 16. Villagers of the three panchayats are suffering from respiratory problems because of dust from about 14 stone-crushing units.
As the complaints made to the district administration, the TNPCB and the Chief Minister’s Cell proved futile, Samayan filed the RTI petition. TNPCB officials allegedly tipped off stone-crushing units about the petition. On April 15, on behalf of the stone-crushing units, Murugesan of Azhagappa Blue Metals, Kilangulam, requested Samayan to withdraw the petition.
He gave an assurance in writing that all units would follow the pollution control measures. Next day, Samayan relented and withdrew the petition.
Speaking to this website's newspaper, TNPCB official A Palaniswamy said that there was no requirement to provide the information as the petition was withdrawn.
Meetchi Makkal Iyakkam, an NGO revealed how the stone crushers bought peace. Angayarkanni of People's Watch, a human rights outfit, wondered why TNPCB officers wanted Samayan to withdraw his petition. She sought the intervention of the State Information Commissioner in the issue. firstname.lastname@example.org
People engaged in public welfare activities by now are well aware of this practice very well. One cannot persue a case based on the complainant or evidence on the so called supporters statement. Past experience has tought me that almost all such supporters are purchaseable. I therefore bring out a subject or argue on it purely based on evidence obtained directly by me. This is a lesson for us to remember.
Once an application requesting for information competently filed, the PIO is liable to provide the information. I don't think existance of any provision to withdraw such an application. All that the applicant can say is that he does not need the information he has requested. Based on this the PIO may either stop the action to provide the information or even may provide the information at his discretion. To me it appears that there is no provision or requiremement of withdrawal of application.
colnrkurup is correct. There is no such provision in the RTI Act.
Sometimes, I have seen PIO's requesting applicants to withdraw application since "problem is solved". They generally hand back the RTI Application to the applicant without anything in writing. But they forget, that the applicant has a proof of submission and may also have the inward register number. So handing back the application does not have any meaning.
I have seen 3 or 4 instances when a appellant has withdrawn his second appeal before the CIC. But this is in writing and CIC has passed a order/decision stating this clearly.
I too have a concrete case. In one of my complaint when the SIC summoned the AA viz., the District Collector, she has immediately arranged my hearing and taken action as as desired by me. I had intimatted the SIC that since the AA has taken acion as desired by me my ground for second appeal does not hold good now and requested to consider my complaint as cancelled.. The SIC has still issued an order narratting the entire eipsode.