Effects of RTI – Principal and Visitors’ Footwear

A small intermediate college in AP received an RTI application. The request for information posed a total of 7 questions. The original RTI is in Telugu. A translation of the questions is as follows.

  1. Let me know the directive principles of Constitution of India. In these principles, under 51A(h), let me know what activities have been performed by you during the academic year 2010-2011 to train the students. Let me know how many religious activities have been conducted and on what dates.
  2. a) How many SC, ST and BC students study in your college? b) Must the students, their parents leave their footwear outside the room while visiting college Heads/Principal? Please let me know which religious principle dictates these principles of untouchability. Do you consider Heads/Principal to be Gods? Let me know the reasons for the same.
  3. Since thousands of years, SCs, STs and BCs are being discriminated against by forcing them to hold footwear in hands, and walking without footwear. You are forcing them to leave their footwear outside the room even if you know that it is an offence under SC, ST atrocity act. Let me know the methods you have been using to avoid SC, ST atrocity cases so far.
  4. In your college, which is running on government funds, do you believe in geo-centricity or helio-centricity? Which theory do you take as standard in your course curriculum? By putting Saraswati idol in your college, would your students get educated even if you do not teach them? If your college a minority college, please provide a copy of the certification of the same.
  5. Do you teach jyotisha in your college course curriculum? Is your college time table made based on tithis or is it based on Roman calender of the mlecchas. Please provide reasons and evidence for the same.
  6. On 20 August 2014 “prashna adhyayan vedika” obtained a receipt from you after submitting a request to conduct a meeting with students and teachers of your college. In that application, it was noted that the objective of the meeting would be to explain students and teachers of your college about the implementation of prevention of superstitions act in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, as guided under 51A(h) of the constitution of India. Please give information on the status of the application, the related files and the reasons behind why the request has not been accepted yet.
  7. Let me know if your institution has respect for the Right To Information Act 2005. Please provide information on how many RTIs have been filed under section 6(1) of RTI Act 2005. Please provide a list of how long it took for you to respond to those queries.

This RTI application was filed by a person who calls himself Rationalist Christian. It came as a shock to the teaching community across the town where this RTI was filed that the same questions were posed to different government institutions on the same date. If anything, the person who filed this RTI was neither seeking information nor genuinely concerned about the institutions but was only trying to make his presence felt, which he could in the end.

As one can see, these are not requests for information but are straight charges on the respective institutions. Refusing to answer such questions under RTI is an offence.The heads of respective institutions are worried what would be the consequence of answering some of the questions which are straight charges (like in question 2, 3). Their worry is not unfounded. The next logical step of the applicant is to try hard and find anything objectionable in the provided information to further intimidate them by dragging the matter into media.

If you read these questions carefully, there is a clear hidden agenda. The real intention of this RTI is about Saraswati idol in the campus and visitors having to leave their footwear outside the room when meeting the principal. It was camouflaged under the guise of other questions which are just as ridiculous as the RTI Act 2005 .

A little bit of investigation reveled that the RTI was filed to government and aided institutions only, which means the applicant knew answers to some of the questions (like questions 4, 5, 7). These specific questions sound as if the RTI was filed to find out the name of the principal or the institution! Is this what RTI  is supposed to be used for? If so, then RTI is just another law to prevent institutions from doing their regular activity without being hindered by over-enthusiastic individuals trying to influence institutions posing intimidating and frankly, ridiculous questions.

Footwear seem to be performing a better function in Indian society than the RTI Act 2005.

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