CHENNAI: The state information commission has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on a tahsildar in Vandavasi, Tiruvannamalai district, for providing incorrect information about the disbursement of old-age pension in his taluk.
As T Retna Pandian, an activist, had not got the information he sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, he filed an appeal before the state commission. State chief information commissioner S Ramakrishnan and information commissioner G Ramakrishnan, in their order, said, “The collector of Tiruvannamalai will levy the maximum penalty of Rs 25,000, which has become leviable on the Public Information Officer (special tahsildar), remit it in the government account and report the fact to the commission within four weeks of this order.” The commission also ordered the collector to depute a senior officer to provide correct information to Pandian, general secretary of 5th Pillar India, a Chennai-based NGO.
Pandian had filed an RTI application in June 2008, seeking details about the beneficiaries of the old-age pension scheme following complaints of political interference in disbursement. “More than 20 people from Vandavasi said their old-age pensions had been stopped as they had not supported a particular candidate in the last local body election. I filed an application seeking details of disbursement of Central and state government sponsored old-age pension schemes. The tahsildar, in his reply on June 27, 2008, said 6,887 people had applied and, except in 1,000 cases where the postal department could not deliver the pension, the others were given pension regularly,” Pandian said. The PIO asked Pandian to pay a fee of Rs 300 for a copy of the file. Pandian paid the money and filed an appeal seeking replies to more queries, but did not receive a reply.
Pandian approached the state commission on September 20, 2008. The commission, which held its first inquiry on February 25, 2009, ordered tahsildar M Murugesan to provide the replies. Murugesan said 7,827 people were getting pension and 1,401 applications were rejected. Since the figures contradicted those given by the PIO earlier, the petitioner once again moved the commission.
Tiruvannamalai district collector M Rajendran said, “We have decided to impose a fine on two special tahsildars and two section assistants, who provided wrong information to the commission. If there are complaints about discrepancies in disbursement of pension, we will investigate. “