UP panel issues arrest warrant as power department ‘ignores’ RTI query on connection dated 1911

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The arrest warrant was issued recently against Superintending Engineer Anil Verma, Executive Engineer R K Gautam, Sub Divisional Officer Sarvesh Yadav and Sub Divisional Officer Ravi Anand.

State Information Commissioner Ajaya Kumar Uprety said the warrant was issued under section 18 (3) of the Right to Information Act and powers given in the CPC (Civil Procedure Code) 1908.

“This is the first time the UP state information commission has initiated such a strong penal action against erring officials ever since the RTI Act came into existence in 2005,” State Information Commissioner Ajaya Kumar Uprety told PTI.

Uprety has asked Kashi zone Deputy Commissioner of Police Pramod Kumar to produce these officials before the Commission on February 20 when this case will be heard in Lucknow. He also asked him to apprise the Commission how this warrant is being executed.

The matter pertains to an electricity connection dated January 1, 1911 in the Kazakpura area of Varanasi against consumer Uma Shankar Yadav. The electricity department has raised a bill of Rs 2.24 lakh against this connection.

When Yadav disputed the bill and refused to pay it, the department issued an RC (recovery challan) against him.

Yadav approached department officials to correct the bill, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Disappointed, Yadav took the recourse of the RTI.

“While hearing the case, the commission had asked the officials following questions — Whether in 1911 the electricity was being given to consumers in Varanasi? How the bill was calculated and what was the cost per unit? Which was the company that was transmitting power to the consumers then? Was UPPCL (Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited) in existence then?” a source said.

The electricity department officials failed to answer these questions despite repeated summonses, prompting the Commission to issue an arrest warrant against them.

The warrant addressed to DCP Pramod Kumar said that Superintending Engineer Anil Verma, Executive Engineer R K Gautam, SDO (Upkendra Chauk, Macchodari Varanasi) Sarvesh Yadav and SDO (Lohta) Ravi Anand have been summoned to the Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission to answer the questions “pertaining to an electricity connection dated 1911”.

“But these officials have failed to turn up on the dates of hearing. Neither have they given any reply to the Commission about their non-appearance. Prima facie, it appears that these officials have been deliberately ignoring/disobeying the orders of the Commission,” the warrant said.

Hence, exercising its power under section 18(3) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and CPC 1908, the Commission “orders you to arrest and produce these officials before the Commission” without fail, the warrant said.

Feb 11,2024

Source: Deccanherald

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