Citizens' Issues
State tries to pull the plug on transparency, activists cry foul

The Maharashtra government wants police officials not to record phone calls and ‘unofficial’ visits from politicians and ministers. But activists, retired senior police officers and citizens won’t take this issue lying down

These may not exactly be the best of times for the current UPA government.

Badgered by questions from the judiciary, the common people, activists and investigating agencies, the Centre has become increasingly defensive, and has resorted to do everything to stifle the simmering dissent.

However, activists and citizens are not giving up so easily, and are determined to fight the government all the way.

After a 2010 circular, that instructs Maharashtra police officers not to record phone calls and unofficial visits from politicians and ministers has surfaced, protests have been recorded from all corners.

Now, some activists are planning to drag the government to court if it fails to scrap the diktat.

Bhagwanji Raiyani, a social activist, has decided to file a public interest litigation (PIL) against the state authorities, including the chief minister, if the notification is not quashed.

In a letter to chief minister (CM) Prithviraj Chavan, state home minister RR Patil and director general of police D Sivanandan, Mr Raiyani has said, "I will file a PIL in the Bombay High Court, making all of you as party respondents for quashing the illegal notification."

Apart from the activist, retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro has also decided to file a PIL against the arbitrary order. On behalf of his organisation, the Public Concern for Government Trust, he has drafted a letter for the state authorities, and has decided to file a PIL if the order is not repealed.

The retired ace cop said, "I am very happy that someone has decided to take a legal step. These orders will only make the system more corrupt and will cause increasing interference in investigations, while letting the politicians go scot-free."

Politicians' unofficial 'visits and requests' became public knowledge when IPS officer Yogesh Pratap Singh resigned from his job a few years back. Every police station keeps a record of such visits and calls and these records have been forwarded to courts for various cases.

The notification, which surfaced just a few days back, was issued in 2010. The move, as it is said, was meant for the benefit of friends of former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. These friends of the former CM were accused of cheating farmers in Vidarbha, a backward region in Maharashtra.

When some legislators complained that their names featured in police records, the then deputy CM Mr Patil assured them that the matter will be "looked into." The order, signed by IPS officer Gulabrao Pol, thus made its appearance, and was accompanied by a call by from Mantralaya (the state government's headquarters in south Mumbai) to the superintendent of police, requesting him not to file an FIR.

Even though the SP complied with the "request", he noted down details about the call in the official records.

Subsequently, Mr Deshmukh was penalised by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court for trying to cover up for Gokulchand Sananda, the father of Congress legislator Dilip Sananda. The Supreme Court too, upheld the ruling and fined the state government Rs10 lakh.

The order becomes significant in the backdrop of the current ruckus regarding slain cop Hemant Karkare's phone conversation with Congress secretary Digvijay Singh, reportedly over Hindu right-wing parties. In the absence of proper call records, no verification can be made of Mr Singh's claim.

Mr Raiyani said, "In light of the Supreme Court judgement, the said notification can't survive the legal test. Somebody will soon challenge the same. It is against the fundamental right(s) of the people to know the truth under Article (19) of our Constitution as well as The Right to Information Act, 2005."

It lies in the interest of the already beleaguered government to do the right thing in order to re-establish its tarnished credibility. Otherwise, the ostrich-in-the-sand approach is not going to take them anywhere in a hurry.



Babubhai Vaghela

6 years ago

There should be no need for PIL that would unduly increase load of High Court. Rather, Govt act in a prudent manner and withdraw the illegal circular without further loss of time.

Parsvnath raises Rs100 crore via equity sale

Realty firm Parsvnath Developers Ltd said it has raised Rs100 crore by selling 49.9% stake in a housing project at Ghaziabad to private equity (PE) firm Sun Apollo.

The 31-acre housing project 'Parsvnath Exotica' is being developed by its subsidiary Parsvnath Buildwell.

"Sun-Apollo will invest up to Rs100 crore for a 49.9% stake in the project SPV Parsvnath Buildwell, which will develop the project," Parsvnath said in a statement.

The construction of the project has already commenced and all requisite approvals, including sanction of building plans, have already been obtained.

On Tuesday, Parsvnath ended 1.44% down at Rs54.90 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.14% down at 19,196.34 points.


Punj Lloyd wins Bihar government contract for water plant

Infrastructure major Punj Lloyd Ltd said it has won a contact from the Bihar government for a water treatment plant to supply 6.224 million litres of drinking water per day to fluoride affected areas at Kharagpur. No financial details were provided.

The scope of work includes engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning of a centralised water treatment plant to supply treated water to Khaira and its adjoining villages, the company said.

The project will be completed over a period of 24 months, it added.

On Tuesday, Punj Lloyd ended 0.35% down at Rs100.05 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.14% down at 19,196.34 points.


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