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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Format for Anti-Corruption FIR against SIC/CIC staff & Info Commissioners

When monetary penalties and disciplinary actions appear likely, people offer bribes to escape. During casual chats, Maharashtra SIC staff talk about how PIOs and FAAs of slippery public authorities – especially those dealing with builders and land mafias -- offer hefty amounts. In return, Information Commissioners and their staff render “services” such as:

a) Giving orders favourable to PIO, ignoring facts

b) Condoning unjustified delays and denials

c) Not passing orders after the hearing

d) Passing vague, unreasoned and meaningless orders

e) SIC’s staff not issuing show-cause notice even after adverse order

f) Not posting adverse order and/or not putting it up on website

g) Posting hearing notice to appellant on or after hearing date, or close to hearing date, so that appellant cannot attend

h) Not calling appellant for hearing and passing ex-parte order

i) Ignoring incriminating evidence produced by appellant

j) Allowing PIO’s or FAA’s contentions unsupported by documents or evidence.

Sections 7 - 14 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PCA 88), describes various corrupt acts performed by public servants and their henchmen. Section 7 (“Public Servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act”) defines gratification thus: “The word ‘gratification’ is not restricted to pecuniary gratifications or to gratifications estimable in money.” For instance, if an Information Commissioner, or his wife or son, is rewarded with a plum post-retirement posting by Mantralaya, that is “gratification”. Or, if the State Information Commissioner’s wife or son gets a plum contract with a builder’s firm, that is “gratification”.

Thus, PCA 88 does not require evidence of money changing hands. If we can establish that “gratification” was given in respect of an official act, we should complain to Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and try to get an FIR registered under PCA 88 and Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In fact, even gratification need not be established by evidence under PCA 88. Abuse of public office is enough to get the ACB to register a complaint and investigate. Section 13(1) of PCA 88 says, “(1) A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct (c) if he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person, any valuable thing without consideration or for a consideration which he knows to be inadequate from any person whom he knows to have been, or to be , or to be likely to be concerned in any proceeding or business transacted or about to be transacted by him, or having any connection with the official functions of himself or of any public servant to whom he is subordinate, or from any person whom he knows to be interested in or related to the person so concerned; or (d) If he - (i) by corrupt or illegal means, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage ; or (ii) by abusing his position as a public servant, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage; or (iii) while holding office as a public servant obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest”.

In Maharashtra, a very useful High Court order can directly lead to investigation and action by ACB.
Download this order:

There are at least a hundred activists and RTI appellants out there, who have direct first-hand knowledge of such activities happening in various State Information Commissions and their secretariats. I would urge them to use this format to file a complaint against their corrupt Information Commissioner and/or member of his staff.

Download format for Complaint to ACB:

Other useful links:

Warm Regards,
98215 88114

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