The Lokayukta of Karnataka P Vishwanath Shetty has reportedly stated that an agency is keeping an eye on Right to Information (RTI) activists in the state. The agency is also collecting the information of all the RTI activists from Karnataka. However, the State denied creating any such database of this information, says a report from The Hindu
Upon knowing this, RTI activist, Wg Cdr GB Athri (retd) wrote a letter to the Lokayukta requesting clarity on the issue. He says this move is ‘an illegal, unconstitutional and also misuse and abuse of office by the Lokayukta’.
The Lokayukta informed Wg Cdr Athri that a case from Udupi had come to his notice where people and officials have complained about involvement of RTI activists in blackmailing and extortion. Mr Shetty, the Lokayukta, stated, “We will keep a watch on those who approach us with complaints claiming to be RTI activists. The institution is only concerned with those who repeatedly file complaints, with the sole intention of harassing officials and not to take the complaint forward,” he said, adding, “honest persons need not fear any monitoring”.
In the letter, Wg Cdr Athri has stressed that the Lokayukta should in fact use its resources to suo motu investigate corrupt commissioners and try to regain the pristine glory of the RTI Act, which he feels is now been tried to destroy by the government machinery. He added that the RTI Act does not place a limit on the number of applications and that a citizen can lodge them as long as the required fees are paid by them.
The Lokayukta had stated, “We will henceforth see the motives of those who come as RTI activists and find out if the complainant has a genuine ground. Such applications will be scrutinised. We cannot act against them directly, but we will speak to the police. Before such a move, we have to be fully satisfied about the case.”
“If there are bad elements who are misusing RTI Act, there are other legal measures to deal with them separately. Need of the hour is to complete enquires on long pending cases which are running till date since past many years,” Wg Cdr Athri said in his reply.