Govt official fined for withholding information
Reported by Rajshri Mehta, DNA, Tuesday, May 20, 2008

MUMBAI: Chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi has fined the
Public Information Officer(PIO)/deputy registrar of the co-operative
department Rs5,000 for failing to give information sought under the
Maharashtra Right to Information Act.

The application was filed by Sunil Godbole, a resident of the
Glittering Star Co-operative housing society at Worli, seeking to know
whether members of the managing committee of his housing society had
submitted indemnity bonds. However, the PIO failed to provide this
information for a year despite an order by the appellate authority.

RTI activists feel that the order is significant because managing
committee members of thousands of societies in the city do not submit
indemnity bonds.

As per the model byelaws and a Bombay High Court ruling in 2002,
members of the managing committee of a housing society have to submit
indemnity bonds of being legally and financially responsible of the
society's working within 30 days of their appointment with the

Kewal Semlani, an RTI activist, said that there are instances of
society members allegedly submitting indemnity bonds on forged stamp
papers. "The fine will at least make co-operative registrars and
society members think twice before indulging in corrupt practices,''
Semlani said.

The issue arose last year when Godbole complained to the deputy
registrar. He said that his society, in contravention to the bylaws,
had called an urgent general body meeting to get the residents'
sanction for carrying out building repair works.

Dissatisfied with the PIO's reply, Godbole filed an appeal after which
the appellate authority directed that the PIO should give information.

Incidentally, even as the appeal was being heard, the managing
committee prematurely terminated their tenure and called for fresh
elections in May 2007 without even giving the three months' notice
period as stipulated. "The registrar took no action though this was
part of my appeal,'' Godbole said.