In the middle of his busy schedule of filing RTI applications in different government offices, leading RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal has a new job these days — of filing replies to different government agencies on ‘fake’ RTI applications submitted in his name. Agrawal says he has received dozens of replies from various government agencies to RTI applications he never filed.
“Some people have created nuisance by filing RTI applications in my name. When the agencies reply to those RTIs, it comes to my notice that these are not my petitions,” Agrawal told The Indian Express. He said such fake RTI petitions show that they have been filed only to settle personal rivalries within the organisations.
“The common thread between these RTI petitions is that the queries are mostly related to trivial information of an officer or other personal details like those related to appointments,” he said.
The 64-year-old Agrawal, who is known for his RTI queries on assets of Supreme Court judges and details of foreign trips made by former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar among others, said he did not know why someone was misusing his name to access information. “I cannot exactly reason out the motive behind such moves but if you observe closely, it looks like such RTIs are filed to create suspicion among rivals in a government department.”
He said the fake RTI applications in his name have not been filed with one particular ministry or region. “They belong to agencies across the board. We cannot single out a particular agency,” he said. Some of the fake applications were filed with the Central Vigilance Commission, Rajya Sabha TV, Finance Ministry and Air India among others.
The most recent RTI application was filed under his name on May 1. The petitioner sought information from the Controller of Accounts (Home) regarding the number of Delhi Police employees, who availed LTC to visit Srinagar and Sikkim in the past three years. The petitioner also sought information regarding the number of Delhi Police employees who booked air tickets by “unauthorized agents” or “fraudulent” tour packages by private operators.
On the same date, another such RTI application was filed, with similar queries, but with a different organisation. The petitioner sought information from the Controller of Finance, Ministry of Finance.
“In both these cases, the forged signatures are same. This shows that it has been filed by the same person and also the queries are same but in different agencies. Either it has to be coincidental or it has to be done with certain motives,” said Agrawal.
While some of these petitions have been filed once, in some cases the ‘fake’ petitioners have also gone on appeal till the Central Information Commission. One such petition relates to appointments made in IIM, Lucknow. The petitioner sought details on selection of a joint engineer and supervisor. “These are such trivial details, only a person who knows the organisation can file them. Such details in a way show they are filed with some personal motive,” Agrawal said. “In this particular case, I have even written to the Chief Information Commissioner and requested that some remedy may be worked out for effectively checking such nuisance by miscreants.”