He has been their guardian angel. Equipped with right to information (RTI), Raaj Mangal Prasad, 49, has exposed the corruption that plagues the very “homes” meant to provide shelter and a decent life to children.
Vice-president of a Delhi-based NGO, Prasad through a string of RTI applications also brought to light appointments of unqualified people to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
His efforts have earned him the nomination for the National RTI Awards in the citizens’ category.
The PMO in 2007 appointed two unqualified persons as members, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights — a body set through an Act of Parliament to protect the rights of children.
Though appointed a disability expert, Sandhya Bajaj’s only qualification is that she is a lawyer and a Congress worker from Haryana. Deepa Dixit, taken in as an expert in child law, is a corporate lawyer. Her expertise — mergers and acquisitions. The information was available in the bio-data the two submitted to the PMO.
Just ahead of the 15th Lok Sabha polls, the PMO, on the recommendation of the ministry of women and child development, hastily appointed four more people to the panel.
Prasad’s RTI plea found that the appointments were apparently pushed without any clarity on how the candidates were chosen. The decision ran into the election code and is yet to be implemented.
It took Prasad and his team three years to expose theft of crores of rupees of public money at 24 Delhi government-run children and observation homes. Fake quotations were being submitted for procuring food, clothing, medicine, and other goods. Nine Class-I officials of the social welfare department were arrested.
“Our RTI application met with much stonewalling,” Prasad said.
A petition filed by Prasad prompted the Delhi High Court to order the Delhi government to “streamline” the procurement of goods for children homes, which happened in March 2009.