Monday, May 31, 2010

[rti_india] Bag search


RTI and Cases pending in Courts

Life is never short of surprises and it is all the more the case regarding the interactions one has with different government officials. Today I had two of those.
They both deal with my hearing today in the State Information Commission, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow. I had applied to the Public Information Officer for grant of all the orders, documents etc related with my study leave. This was followed by an application to the First Appellant Authority in the department and then the State Information Commission. Here my case came for hearing before the Chief Information Commissioner of the SIC. The observations relate exactly to this event.
The first took place just at the time of my entering the chamber for hearing. I had taken up my laptop along with me at the SIC as from my various experiences, I did not know when my turn for appearance might come. Again, not very sure of who would be the other persons waiting there and whether any one of them would be a friend or not, I had thought it prudent to have the laptop as a faithful friend to do some work there waiting for my turn. But surprisingly my number had come even before I had reached the place and hence I got an almost instant entry to the chamber. So, as soon as I made my first leap towards the chamber, the custodian of rule and order there, an authoritative person with all the visible signs of might bestowed to him, stopped me and asked me keep the bag outside the chamber. I requested him to allow the bag to be taken which he naturally flatly denied. I was equally vehement but the official almost snatched the bag and kept it just outside the door saying that it will remain there as were the bags/ possessions of the rest of the applicants. Knowing the various possibilities of having kept my bag there without anyone watching it, including the most natural one of its getting pinched, I just could not compromise myself to the official's act. I said a bit loudly that if if kept the bag there, then he would be personally liable for the loss of the bag, in case it happens. This again the official completely denied, adding that he was not the custodian of personal goods. In brief, we were soon in the midst of a mild altercation.
The CIC, Sri Ranjit Singh Pankaj heard the noise and he intervened from his own chair, asking what exactly the matter was. I came near him, explained the situation (not without forgetting to introduce myself as such and such officer) and said him of my predicament adding that being single, I just could not dare to keep my bag unattended. The CIC was kind enough to immediately permit me to take the bag, quipping at the same time- "Mr Thakur, I allow you the bag, with one condition attached. Whenever you are there as the law-enforcing authority and some other person comes before you in a similarly placed situation, with a bag in his/her hand and no other person to attend, you shall also allow the person the same, despite the dictates and orders that you have made."
There is much in what Sri Pankaj said to me. It has many questions and answers hidden in it. I will never forget these words and would also like all of you to ponder over the incident, even for a while.

Amitabh Thakur
IIM Lucknow
# 94155-34526

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