RTI did not provide any information on the grounds that I did not provide ‘any attachment’ which is something unheard of.
Sahara chief Subrata Roy is known for his influence in government circles. It certainly shows in the office of the Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies (CRCS), which is under the Union Ministry of Agriculture. The office has stonewalled the flow of information about the action against Sahara’s two multi-state cooperative societies for compliance.
I filed an RTI application on July 13, seeking information on this matter. I got a response—a non-response actually—in which the officer refused to provide any information on the grounds that I did not provide “any attachment.”
The two societies, the Lucknow-based Sahara Credit Cooperative Society (SCCSL) and the Bhopal-registered Saharayn Universal Multipurpose Society (SUMSL), have been accused of not submitting books of accounts and other documents sought from them after an inspection. The CRCS issued notices to the two societies associated in January last year. What happened after that is unknown; it seems that the office of the CRCS doesn’t want it to be known.
Last month I had sought the information from Ashish Kumar Bhutani, who was the CRCS till recently, whether the documents demanded by his department were finally submitted. Further, I wanted to know if these were not, what action was taken against SCCSL and SUMSL. He refused to meet me despite several attempts on my part. I sent him an email on July 6 and a reminder on July 12; there was no reply.
So, I filed an RTI application on July 13, seeking information on this matter. I got a response—a non-response actually—in which the officer refused to provide any information on the grounds that I did not provide “any attachment.”
Sampath, who also responded to my RTI petition, further wrote that the “non-submission of these documents… has been viewed very seriously.”
This is something unheard of, for the authorities are supposed to provide answers and, if any, attachments. They are certainly not supposed to seek information and attachments from RTI petitioners.
On further inquiries, I have been informed that the office of the CRCS is rife with unsavoury activities. Bhutani is said to enjoy good rapport with important people cutting across political divides. This is the reason that the Indian Administrative Service officer (Assam-Meghalaya cadre, 1992 batch) spent five years in the important office of the CRCS. Governments come and go, but connected bureaucrats continue to enjoy plum postings. On August 10, Bhutani got another plum in his basket: he got the post of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
Sampath, Director in the office of the CRCS, wrote to SCCSL on January 23, 2017, that “your letter dated 17-01-2017, audited statements for accounts for the financial year 2013-14 and 2014-15 only found enclosed and whereas for the year 2015-16 is not enclosed even though it is mentioned as enclosed. This appears to have been done intentionally. The detailed information regarding investments made for the last three years also has not been furnished.”
Sampath, who also responded to my RTI petition, further wrote that the “non-submission of these documents… has been viewed very seriously.” The papers were to be submitted “latest by 27-01-2017… otherwise, action will be initiated…” The ultimatum was issued “with the approval of Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies.”
Neither Sampath nor Bhutani were willing to disclose what action, if any, they have taken against the entities owned by the tainted Sahara group.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.