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Bad governance & black money

Bad governance & black money
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Bad Governance & Black Money. Generally, the government allots lands for public purposes, developmental and welfare activities and does not sell....

The citizen who approached authorities under the RTI Act has a right to get his representation to be acted upon and also to know the action taken by the goverment. The State has to explain why it has not acted. An RTI plea suggested ways to curb growth of black money and increase State revenue

Generally, the government allots lands for public purposes, developmental and welfare activities and does not sell. Recently, it has started auctioning lands. It fixes value for a piece of land and then sells it in open auction. Mostly, the government does not know the value or try to assess the real value of land.

Even when there is no need to sell the land, the government has to fix value of the land so that registration fee can be properly paid. The government does not perform even this minimum function. In governance, value of indecision leads to loss of hundreds of crores of rupees, and results in continuous corruption. The economy also will be adversely affected.

Though it looks like a request for informaiton, it contains an effective suggestion to curb growth of black money and increase the State revenue. S P Manchandani suggested to the Chief Minister of Delhi to curb black money and prevent corruption in property transactions in Delhi. There was no response. He filed an RTI request to know: i) date of reciept of his representation to the office; ii) status of its progress; iii) details of the official who handled the representation and the action taken by them; and iv) if no action, then the reason for the same, etc.

As usual, the PIO gave some lifeless routine reply and advised him to inspect the files. The appellant called it vague and incomplete. In spite of the specific direction by the first appellate authority, information was not provided. In second appeal, he sought a thorough enquiry against concealing of information, which he alleges to be mala fide. The appellant expressed disgust at the way he was made to take several trips to the offices in futility. He also sought costs for causing him mental agony and penalty for denial of information.

The appellant suggested how futile it is to decide uniform circle rates for entire Delhi without distinguishing the high value at one place and low value at another center. The government wrongfully kept uniform circle rates all over Delhi, irrespective of the importance of area or lack of it. For instance, in Kesav Puram, the market rate of an MIG Flat is Rs 1,40,00,000 whereas the stamp duty collected on the basis of circle rates is only Rs 40,00,000, thereby losing the stamp duty to the extent of Rs 1 crore. Similarly, in Narela, the value of a flat is just Rs 15 lakh, but the Circle rate is as high as Rs 37 lakh, on which the stamp duty is assessed where people have to suffer the loss. Hence in Narela, there are no buyers for the flats, which again means loss of revenue to the government. This also germinates the civil disputes and crimes besides creating land mafias. The officers explained that the Committee on Revision of Circle Rates-2014 was constituted and appellant’s representation was taken to it. The PIO also admitted the anomaly and hoped to remove itsoon. Section 27 of the Indian Stamps Act deals with the undervaluation of the properties. A new section 47A has been inserted on 23-9-2014 by amending that Act, by which the Collector of Stamps gets power to assess the real value of the property, when the document is referred to him and also to enhance it, if property is undervalued.

In the name of public-private partnership, the State is giving away its resources to private bodies who are not amenable to any controls or accountability. Though there is a regulatory, the corporate entity wields enormous power over that regulatory. The corrupt babudom prefers to enslave the corporate money rather than securing public interest. Several bodies which are in fact ‘public authorities’ are escaping accountability under the RTI by showing value of the land given to them by the government as ‘commercial value’ which is an open lie as every one knows the real value would be thousand times more than what it was shown to be.

Several hospitals, sports clubs, cricket associations etc are claiming the land was given to them at commercial rate, simply because the state does not have any document to say that they properly assessed the value of the land in a particular area. Because of this, every selfish person or profit motivated corporate body is trying to take prime government land using corruption as an easy tool and making huge profits at the cost of public exhequer and imposing burden on common consumers.

This RTI application is one of the best in the interests of fulfilling the objectives of the Right to Information Act. It is a great relief after hearing a plethora of misused RTI appeals being filed by disgruntled employees or those facing disciplinary actions or caught red handed taking bribe, or facing challenge from wives for their cruelty. Most of these are guided by self interest or private grudge or motivated by revenge or intended to harass and never with any public interest. A simple and ordinary person, the citizen rightly sought a thorough enquiry against concealing of information, which he alleges to be mala fide.

The Commission has powers under Section 19(8)(a) to require the Chief Secretary of Government of Delhi to take a serious look into these highly significant suggestions to decide the actual circle rates of land value in Delhi and, for that matter, initiate inquiry or if any inquiry is already ordered expedite the proceedings of that inquiry. The citizen who approached under the RTI Act has a right to get his representation to be acted upon and also to know the action taken by the goverment. The State has to explain why it did not act. Only positive feature on the side of government is that they constituted a committee to revise rates of lands in different circles. If the report is ready, citizen should get it.

If the work of this committee is delayed, the State has a duty to accelerate the process because it is losing crores on passing of each day. The Chief Secretaries and Chief Ministers or Governors and Administrators need to act, perform and wake up from slumber.

By Madabhushi Sridhar

(Based on the order in S P Manchandani versus Delhi Government No. CIC/SA/A/2014/000576 decided on 9th Jan, 2015)

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