DD Director treats RTI applications with contempt – Early Times – 31 Aug. 2010
SRINAGAR, Aug 30: Director of Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, has introduced an imaginative mechanism to subvert the process of seeking information under Right To Information (RTI) Act.
None of the applicants till date has been provided any information whenever anybody made an attempt to know how DDK Srinagar had been spending its annual budget of around Rs 15 Crore. Insiders insist that almost all the applicants have been obliged with allotment of programmes so as to prevent them from approaching the higher authorities.
Prominent advocate of Jammu & Kashmir High Court, Sheikh Shakil Ahmed, is till date the first and the last applicant who has decided to approach the appellate forum at Directorate General of Doordarshan and the Central Information Commission.
On March 19, 2010, Advocate Shakil had filed an application under the central RTI Act with Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Masoodi, and sought information regarding the programmes purportedly produced by seven particular producers, namely Sudesh Bakshi, Kousar Parveen, Syed Zeeshan Fazil, Rashid Javed, Haleema Parveen, Shammi Shayir and Mufti Riyaz.
Advocate Shakil had filed the application after allegations were galore that Director, DDK Srinagar, Dr Masoodi, had swindled funds worth Crores of Rupees in league with seven particular producers. Public Information Officer (PIO), Shabir Mujahid, was bound by the law to provide the information requisitioned within 28 days.
“I had filed the application under RTI on March 19th, 2010. The information should have been provided to me by or before April 15th, 2010. When there was no response from DDK Srinagar, I sent a reminder through a telegram. In May, I received a letter, dated April 22, 2010, from PIO and Deputy Director of DDK Srinagar, Shabir Mujahid, who assured me to provide the information in the next few days and sought time of two more weeks.
Thereafter, there has been absolutely no response from DDK Srinagar. I have sent a number of reminders through telegrams to Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Rafeeq Masoodi, and PIO, Shabir Mujahid. They have not bothered to reply in the last 166 days. Now I am moving the appellate authority at Directorate General of Doordarshan as well as the Central Information Commission, headed by Mr Wajahat Habibullah”, Advocate Shakil told Early Times.
He revealed that some of Masoodi’s “touts” had meanwhile attempted to bribe me like a number of RTI applicants in the past. “I made it clear to them that my application was in the interest of the people and there was no question of my withdrawing the same”, Shakil added. He claimed that the DD authorities did not bother to even respond to his reminders, including the telegrams dated 3-5-2010 and 31-5-2010.
Through his reliable sources, Shakil claimed to have learned that a group of seven particular producers, working under Director Rafeeq Masoodi’s instructions, had drawn huge amounts of money on account of producing programmes that had never been made.
Months after Shakil filed the application, CBI conducted a raid on the office and residence of one of the seven producers, namely Kausar Parveen, and Administrative Officer, Noor Mohammad Qazi, and recovered a huge quantity of incriminating documents, including pass books, checque books and ATM cards of over 20 fake account holders in whose name money had been fraudulently drawn from DDK Srinagar.
CBI is currently investigating the scam but Director DDK Srinagar, Dr Masoodi, has been publicly telling officials and private producers that the Union Minister of Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and a Kashmiri Police officer, posted as DIG in CBI at New Delhi, had issued “necessary instructions” to the investigators in Srinagar that neither he nor the producer, Kausar Parveen, should be arrested or held guilty in any matter.
Efforts to reach Dr Masoodi for his comments failed as his cell phone was continuously switched off, nobody responded from his residence numbers and his office maintained that he was “out”.