Corporators are divided on the BMC’s proposal to put up the names of complainants and RTI activists, along with the nature of the complaint and information sought, in all ward offices. mid-day had reported yesterday (‘Does the BMC want RTI activists attacked?’) on the proposal as well as the backlash it has received from activists, including former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi.
mid-day’s report yesterday
Incidentally, rivals Shiv Sena and Congress seem to think along similar lines on the issue. Yashodhar Phanse, Sena leader and chairman of the civic Standing Committee, is against the disclosure of complainants’ names. “If the BMC reveals the complainant’s name like that, no one would dare to complain, or file RTI queries, about illegal activities in their area.
It’s like being a police informer. If the identity of informers starts being revealed, no one would want to become an informer,” said Phanse. Leader of Opposition in the BMC and Congress corporator Devendra Amberkar, said, “I will strongly oppose the move in the general body meeting whenever the issue comes up for discussion. It is unethical to expose those who are helping the BMC improve its services and working for the betterment of the city,” said Amberkar.
The MNS, however, is sticking to its guns. Its corporator Sandeep Deshpande said, “Citizens should not be scared of registering complaints even if their names are disclosed. Exposing the identity and asking for details like qualification, residential address and identity proof will deter the professional complainant.”
NCP leader Dhananjay Pisal said, “I am only against professional complainants and RTI activists who misuse the Act. The genuine complainant has nothing to be worried about.”
After Samajwadi Party corporator Yaqoob Memon had first raised the issue of ‘professional complainants’ and their misuse of the RTI act, four corporators SP leader Rais Shaikh, NCP’s Pisal, BJP’s Dilip Patel and MNS’ Deshpande had demanded an urgent general body meeting to discuss this. The mayor had called the meeting on Tuesday, but it was cancelled after Shaikh and Pisal did not turn up.
When mid-day asked them why they did not attend the meeting, Pisal claimed he was unwell while Shaikh said that he was stuck in a party demonstration at Churchgate against the steep railway fare hike. The corporators will now have to write again to the mayor to reschedule the meeting.