RTI applicant name leaked and harassed
Arappor Iyakkam has filed a complaint with the State Information Commissioner and the Chief Secretary of Tamilnadu, against the Public Information Officer of Pallavaram Municipality, for the illegal act of leaking two RTI applicant’s names, causing them to be harassed by a builder.
In Pallavaram, a Reliance Fresh outlet had been built as part of an apartment complex. According to building rules that exist in the municipality, the ground floor is supposed to be meant for car parking. By building an outlet in the parking, the builder had violated building codes. Cars now park outside, endangering pedestrian traffic in this road.
In order to find details about the approval for this construction, two volunteers from Arappor Iyakkam had filed RTIs to the municipality. While the municipality replied to the RTI, the volunteers received threatening calls and visits from the builder himself. It is clear that the Public Information Officer (PIO) for Pallavaram Municipality, Mr.Sivakumar, had revealed to the builder details about the RTI applicants including their addresses and phone numbers as mentioned in the RTI application.
Subsequent to this, the builder had visited the house of one of the RTI applicants and the women’s hostel of the second applicant. He had also telephoned and harassed the female applicant.
This is not uncommon in Tamilnadu, where contrary to maintaining confidentiality of the RTI applicants, government officials themselves call builders and other violators and provide them with details. This continues even though RTI applicants frequently face threats and even physical violence in the state. This kind of nexus between government officials and the builders is one of the reasons for the pathetic state of building code violations and encroachments in the state.