Is the President’s office telling lies on Pratibha Patil’s 155 gift items?

Two different replies under RTI by the President of India office to the query of 155 gift items.  The other reply says Pratibha Patil “has not taken any gifts”

While this writer was informed through a RTI (Right to Information) reply that 155 gift items have been taken by former President Pratibha Patil from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to showcase them in her private museum in Amravati until 15th June 2013 after which she will return them back to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, another RTI activist Ambrish Pandey has been informed through a RTI reply that “Pratibha Patil has not taken any gift items after the end of her term.”

 

In a bizarre twist to the information dissemination by the Public Information Officer (PIO) Saurabh Vijay of the President’s Secretariat, Mr Pandey got this reply to his query seeking information, related to each and every gift item taken by Smt Pratibha Patil (along with her) after end of her tenure as President of India, description of the item, value of the item (as per records) and photograph of the item (if available in records).

 

Mr Pandey is a noted RTI activist and had recently procured deadly information on allotment of guns between 31 August 2001 and 12 April 2012 from the anti-smuggling unit of the Customs Department. The reply had revealed the indiscriminate allotment to MPs and MLAs across party lines, some of them with criminal backgrounds.

 

Mr Pandey, in his RTI application dated 5 August 2012 addressed to the PIO, Rashtrapati Bhavan, had also sought copies of “of rules/regulations/any official document under which she (Pratibha Patil) was allowed to take gift items along with her” and “if the said items were loaned to her” to “provide the certified copies of allotment letter/contract note/agreement by which the said items were loaned to her”. The PIO replied that “these questions do not arise” in view of the reply he gave that “Pratibha Patil has not taken any gift items after the end of her term.”

 

To Mr Pandey’s request of providing “the certified copies of rules/regulations/any official document which have provisions for loaning of gift items received by the President of India, the PIO replied: “no such rules and regulations are available for loaning of gift items received by the President of India.”

 

Mr Pandey’s other query, “please provide me with the details of eligibility criteria under which any Indian citizen can avail gift items (received by the President of India) on loan basis; if the news reported by various newspapers is hoax (that gift items were taken by her) please provide the certified copies of your office letter/press release by which any refutation was pronounced or communicated” the PIO replied that “no press release has been issued in the matter”.

 

Asked whether, “any security money has been taken from her towards the gift items loaned to her, please provide the details as per available records”, the reply to this question was “does not arise” as “she has not taken any gifts”.

 

On Monday, Moneylife had carried a story on this writer’s RTI reply received from the President of India office regarding the gift items taken by Pratibha Patil to showcase it in a museum run by her politician-son. See this link: http://www.moneylife.in/article/pratibha-patil-to-return-155-artifacts-to-rashtrapati-bhavan-by-15-june-2013-reveals-rti-reply/28508.html

 

Also see: Pratibha Patil’s Museum: Gifts received by VVIPs from foreign countries can be purchased by them but can they be loaned?

 

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected].)

Comments
C M Vairale
9 years ago
Are we setting a wrong set of precedents by such acts? Unfortunately no one can take what he or she owns in this materialistic world when one dies..
Even the land which was made by the 'Maker' is stamped by individual ownership!Why is the human not happy with the life experiences?Why does he/she need material things? Do we have no rules ,regulations to follow?Can we see Happiness/Sadness,Can we see Peace/Disturbance,Can we see satisfaction/failure? All are felt and experienced by the brain... none tangible!
Dr Anantha K Ramdas
9 years ago
Thanks Vinita for again handling the hot issue of our former President Pratibha Patil's activities. This has actually opened the Pandor's box.

First is have a statutory control over gifts received by President/PM and other government officials; establish a Gift centre where all the gifts be displayed for visitors to view them for a fee. At the end of 5 years or so, the gifts can be auctioned, and the net proceeds credited to a Children's Education Fund for giving scholarship to needy kids.

We need to get the President's estate to account for all the gifts since inception. Where did they also go?

I am looking forward to our President Pranab Mukherji to introduce some kind of austerity
measures also as this will really add dignity to the Chair.
Hitesh vira
9 years ago
Reading the stories is giving us depresion & helpness towards the scam. The future of country looks dim
Vijay Deshmukh
9 years ago
It is a biggest fraud from ethical point of view in which ex President, Presidents office and congress party is involved. It is a eye opener story that reflects the extent of downfall of character quality at such highest post. It is very shameful to country.
Ravindra Pathak
9 years ago
It is very clear that the information provided is not correct.Since in dependance it is 23725 days till Aug 2012.The Presidents either receives or visits at least one foreign dignitary every day.Consider they received or met foreign visitors only 50% of those days and that makes 12000+ days and those many gifts.How come Toshakhana has only 2500 gifts? How many were purchased by individuals and at what cost/How many went missing?How are they accounted for?Why no valuation is done?Many questions are left answered or need answers by Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Having dealt with the Rashtrapati Bhavan when we took on the Land Grab case i am fully aware of how much the so called bureaucrats who are supposed to do their duty in good faith and hence are exempt from prosecution, are capable to telling lies or half truths.
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