Wednesday, January 13, 2010

[rti_india] How to make a whistle-blower howl!


How to make a whistle-blower howl!


His public-spirited act of exposing a power theft was rewarded with torture in police custody. Now, police officials say the SHRC file recommending action against the cops concerned is 'lost'




Three years ago, he blew the lid off a power theft being indulged in by his landlord. Cut to the present, and this whistle-blower has found to his chagrin how bureaucracy can make a mockery of public-spirited vigilantism.

Thirty-eight-year-old T Christy has been running from pillar to post to see that disciplinary action is taken against two policemen who allegedly colluded with his landlord and tortured him. But as so often happens within the corridors of officialdom, the file pertaining to his case is apparently 'lost'.

According to Christy, his former landlord Anthony was supplying water to nearly 30 of his tenants by using the power meant for agricultural purposes (for which the tariff is low) and collecting money from them. "The particular pole inside his Rosary Farm in Arogyapa Layout was allotted to him for agricultural purposes. BESCOM charges a minimum amount in such cases, but Anthony had taken the law for granted. He was supplying water to nearly 30 tenants and making a lot of money, in the process causing a loss to BESCOM. How can someone use the free electricity meant for agricultural purposes either for domestic or commercial use?" said Christy.


He complained to the vigilance unit of BESCOM, which found Anthony guilty of misusing the power supplied. A fine of Rs 12,000 was slapped on the landlord. "By that time, I had shifted to another house in Kempapura. Anthony and his brothers framed me in a false extortion case and on Feb 6, 2008, I was arrested by the Yelahanka police and taken to the station in a vehicle provided by Anthony. Sub-Inspector Shankarappa pressured me to keep quiet, saying he would get me Rs 50,000 from Anthony. He even threatened to kill me. I was beaten up by him and a constable, Narayanaswamy, and was released after four hours. They did not even bother to show me a copy of the complaint filed against me," Christy said.

Christy approached the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which found the two policemen guilty of acting at the behest of Anthony. The rights panel recommended exemplary action against the cops in a letter to the police commissioner in September 2008. Surprisingly, the file is missing from the police commissioner's office and the accused cops are yet to face any action."I have been making the rounds of the police commissioner's office for the last five months, but the officials there keep saying they have to search for the file," he said.

A desperate Christy called up joint commissioner Alok Kumar on Friday to enquire about the file, but did not get a positive response. He now plans to approach the SHRC to have the papers pertaining to his case sent once again to the police chief's office.

Penalised, but do they care?

When T Christy was not told by the local police why he had been detained, he filed an RTI application with the police commissioner's office. But there was no response forthcoming.That prompted him to shoot off another RTI application for details of officials who have been penalised for failing to furnish information on time. The following is the gist of the reply from the Karnataka Information Commission:
A total of 103 officials were found guilty for not responding to RTI queries within the stipulated 30 days.

The penalty collected from such officials totalled Rs 3.97 lakh between August 2006 and May 2009.

The maximum penalty collected from individual officials was Rs 25,000, while the minimum amount was Rs 250.



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