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For all that you need to know

Use/abuse Right to Information helps keep tabs on philandering husbands and lying wives, reports Ejaz Kaiser and Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2010 23:42 IST

It’s proving to be the law of unintended consequences. The activists who battled for the Right to Information (RTI) had hoped it would reduce the opacity of India’s bureaucracy. But people are finding that it’s a jolly good tool for finding muck on husbands, neighbours and lovers, too.

Chhattisgarh homemaker Shivkumari Kashyap, 29, took recourse to RTI when her lineman husband Baldev Singh Kashyap, 34, began ill-treating her. She suspected he had married another woman. Kashyap filed an RTI seeking details of her husband’s service record and pay particulars. It turned out that Kashyap had not mentioned his wife’s name in the record book.

In Bilaspur, additional train ticket examiner Austin Hyde, 46, lured homemaker Anita Tonde into a physical relationship with the promise to marry. In a few months, when his attitude towards Tonde became indifferent, she filed an RTI plea seeking details of his service record book from his employers.

The South East Central Railways (SECR) refused to part with any information about their employees. “We spoke to Baldev and Hyde seeking their consent on sharing the information sought by the two ladies. Both were dead against the disclosure,” said a senior officer in the personnel division of SECR requesting anonymity.

Hyde refused comment. “I think you have called a wrong number,” he said and disconnected the call.

Dismayed with the railways’ non-cooperation, the women approached the Central Information Commission in Delhi. Commissioner Annapurna Dixit ruled that the details were already in the public domain and therefore, weren’t confidential. She also passed a similar judgement for Tonde.

Husbands too have used the law against lying wives. In a divorce case, Chennai-based Annadurai used the RTI to nail his wife’s lie. His wife had claimed in the court that her negligent husband did not take her to hospital when their first child was born. Annadurai was quick to file an RTI application with the government hospital where his wife had been admitted. He asked for details of the person who had brought her to the hospital and paid the hospitalisation charges. When the hospital provided him copies of the admission register and the payment, Annadurai had proof that refuted his wife’s allegation.Who would’ve thought RTI would enter bedrooms.