A 31-year-old man was fined Rs 60,000 and later ostracised along with his family over an RTI petition he filed to find out about suspected irregularities in electric transformers installed in his village in Telangana’s Nizamabad district.
B Raju Goud, a toddy tapper in G G Nadikuda village of Nandipet block, and his family were ostracised on Monday by the village development committee which oversees the implementation of various developmental works there.
Villagers have refused to even speak with him and his family as the committee has imposed a fine of Rs 3,000 on anybody found talking to them.
“There has been no supply milk and water to my residence. Nobody is purchasing toddy from us. No shopkeeper is selling provisions or vegetables to us,” Goud told HT.
Currently, he goes to neighbouring Gadepalli village for provisions and other requirements.
“Except a couple of friends from the neighbouring village, nobody is bothered about my family,” he said, adding that the committee is planning to drive them out of the village. “We have been living here for the last 50 years.”
It all began with Goud filing a petition with the local electricity department in May 2016 under RTI Act, seeking information on supply of electric transformers to the village, as he suspected that faulty transformers were supplied, which led to the electrocution of his cattle last year. He sought to know the process followed in procurement of transformers.
“When the village development committee came to know about it, the members called me and questioned my right to file the RTI petition. The committee unanimously adopted a resolution, imposing a penalty of Rs 60,000 on me on the pretext that my petition would result in stoppage of transformers supply to the village,” Goud said.
After a lot of argument, the committee members finally told him that they would return the money if there was no trouble from the electricity department in the next six months.
“I had no option but to pay the penalty by mortgaging my wife’s gold,” he said, adding that he did not pursue the RTI petition due to threats from the committee.
Goud waited till March 13 this year and made a representation to the committee seeking return of his money, as there were no problems from the electricity department.
“But they refused to return my money, saying once fine was paid, it could not be returned,” he said.
Having no other option, Goud filed a complaint with the Nandipet police the same day. “This infuriated the committee members, who passed a resolution ostracising me and my family,” he lamented.
While none of the committee members was available for comment, local village revenue officer V Rajeshwar confirmed that Goud was ostracised.
“But there is no written order from the committee to that effect. We shall inquire into the matter and take appropriate action,” he said.
“A case has been filed under sections 384 (forcible extortion of money) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. We will take action against the accused once we establish prima facie evidence,” Nandipet sub-inspector, John Reddy said.