India

The eight RTI queries troubling the Narendra Modi Government 

Several Right to Information queries have been troubling Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his government and his Cabinet colleagues, from questions on the PM’s degree to post-demonetisation deposits

PTI photo

NHS Bureau

1. Prime Minister Modi’s degree

An RTI application by Delhi-based Neeraj Sharma sought details of certified copies of the pages of the relevant register where complete information about the results of all students, who had passed in Bachelor of Arts in 1978 from Delhi University has been recorded. 1978 is the year in which PM Modi is said to have earned his BA degree from the university. After DU refused, Sharma knocked on the doors of the Central Information Commission for redressal. The commission asked DU to furnish the details but the university decided to move the Delhi High Court against the CIC order.

2, 3, 4: Demonetisation

  • RTI activist Manoranjan S Roy sought information on the exact amount of demonetised currency collected by various District Central Cooperative Banks. In response to Roy’s query, it was revealed that Ahmedabad District Central Cooperative Bank, which had BJP chief Amit Shah as director, collected the highest number of demonetised notes in the five-day period after note ban was announced on November 8, 2016.
  • Another RTI query revealed that RBI processed 9,711.62 million demonetised notes of ₹500 denomination and 4,709.72 million of ₹1,000 notes. The central bank also said that it doesn’t have any data on counterfeit notes, as of June 30, 2017.
  • Another RTI found that the Jan Dhan accounts were used for money laundering, with a Jan Dhan account at the United Bank of India having a deposit to the tune of ₹93.82 crore.

5. Aadhaar

An RTI query in November 2017 revealed that government websites had unethically parted with Aadhaar numbers and other personal details of citizens, in what was a gross breach of Right to Privacy. The RTI revealed that over 210 websites, including those of central and state government departments and educational institutions have disclosed beneficiary lists, including names, address and other details including Aadhaar numbers.

6. Naga Peace Accord

An RTI activist, Venkatesh Nayak, had sought details of the Naga Accord, including the remuneration paid to government interlocutor and funds spent on travel and accommodation of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (IM) representatives in 2015. After the case reached the bench of CIC, the RTI application was rejected on the grounds of “sovereignty,” “security” and “lasting peace in the North-East.”

7. LPG Connections

An RTI revealed in May 2017 that six out of eight north-eastern states didn’t have a single LPG connection under the government’s flagship scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). According to the RTI reply, till May 8, 2017, not a single family benefitted from PMUY in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. Just the two BJP-ruled states in northeast India — Assam and Manipur—saw five and 27 LPG connections, respectively. In Assam, Baksa district received one connection, Darrang got one, Dhemaji district one and Dibrugarh got two. In Manipur, Kakching district received highest number of connections with 15, followed by eight in Thoubal, two in Imphal West and one each in Jiribam and Churachandpur.

8. Ayush Ministry

An RTI query in 2015 said the Ayush Ministry was against hiring Muslims for short-term positions as trainers for World Yoga Day as it was against government policy. In its reply, the Ministry also stated that none of the 3,841 Muslim candidates, who had applied for the position of Yoga trainer or teacher till October 2015, were hired by the Ayush Ministry. The RTI response came in October 2015. A total of 711 Muslim yoga trainers had applied for a short-term assignment abroad but none of them made it to the interview round. The report on the RTI was disputed by the government.

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