Heads of Orissa Information Commission Hide Their Properties!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

RTI activist Pradip Pradhan has raised serious allegations against Orissa’s Chief Information Commissioner D.N.Padhi as well as the Member of the Commission Jagadanand Mohanty. “They have not provided the required information on their movable assets……. lest the disproportionate wealth they might have amassed during different phases of their public career would be leaked”, he has said.

He narrates:

“On 31.8.09, I had applied to the Public Information Officers in the offices of both Orissa Information Commission and Information and Public Relations Department, Orissa, seeking information about the property list of State Chief Information Commissioner ( Mr. D.N. Padhi), State Information Commissioner (Mr. Jagadananda Mohanty) and former State Information Commissioner (Prof. Radhamohan) which they might have submitted to Govt in compliance of their respective Service Rules. As is well known, the status of Mr. D.N. Padhi is equivalent in rank to that of Election Commissioner of India and that of Mr. Jagadanand Mohanty to that of Chief Secretary of State. It is further well known that as per both All India and State Service Rules, the concerned Officers are required to submit the property list to the Govt. under whom they are presently posted.

“Strangely enough, the PIO, Dept. of I and PR rejected my RTI Application without any rhyme or reason.

“Then I made the 1st Appeal before the Appellate Authority, Dept. of I and PR, who on hearing my appeal directed the PIO to forward the application to the PIO, Office of Orissa Information Commission under Section 6 (3) of RTI Act for providing me the required information.

But then the PIO, office of OIC, supplied me incomplete information.

As is well known, as per the Service Rules, the property list means both movable assets (Bank Balance, LIC, Insurance and jewelry etc.) and immovable assets ( land, building etc. ).
But the PIO simply supplied me list of immovable assets of the Commissioners.

On receiving incomplete information, I made 1st appeal to the 1st Appellate Officer of the Commission with request to supply me complete information.

On 27.11.09, the 1st Appellate Officer heard my case. During the hearing, the PIO explained that he could not supply the complete information to me as the information on movable assets has not been submitted by any Commissioner. He further observed that State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioner have supplied only the information relating to immovable assets, and that too in a prescribed proforma.

The 1st Appellate Authority dismissed my case pronouncing that the PIO has provided me the information as available with him from the source of both the Commissioners.

Not satisfied with the decision of the 1st Appellate Officer, I have made 2nd appeal to Orissa Information Commission on 12.1.2010, pleading for supply of complete information to me and take punitive action against the PIO as required under Section 20 of RTI Act”.

Informing that he is waiting with baited breath to know how Orissa Information Commission hears and decides the case when the Commissioners themselves have not provided the required information on their movable assets to the PIO as required under the existing Service Rules, Pradhan has viewed the phenomenon in the following term:

“It is crystal clear that both the Commissioners who have not disclosed the complete information about their respective property list including movable assets to the Office of Commission have violated the Service Rules applicable to them and deserve therefore to be censured and punished by the Governor, who has sworn them into the office. Secondly, both Commissioners, who have deliberately kept their own office in dark about their ‘movable assets’ are patently guilty of ‘moral turpitude’ and therefore deserve to be dismissed by the Governor forthwith under Section 17 of RTI Act.

It seems, they have carefully hid such information from the public view, lest the disproportionate wealth they might have amassed during different phases of their public career would be leaked out and thereby invite fresh scandals to rage against them”.

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