The Uttar Pradesh Information Commission has asked Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan to reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application, seeking to know on what basis he claimed that crime was low in Uttar Pradesh, even though individuals are not covered by the RTI Act. The state Information Commission has asked Bachchan to furnish the information within a fortnight or appear before the commission.
This is the first time an individual has been asked to reply to a RTI application of another individual. Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah, however, refused to comment on UP Information Commission’s order. When asked about the legal implications, Habibullah said: “Normally, show cause notices are issued to public authorities or Principal Information Officers. So far, the Central Information Commission has not issued even a single notice to an individual.”
The RTI Act clearly states that information can be sought only from public authorities under the RTI Act. The type of information sought is also defined —documents and records in possession of a public authority in which the government has a stake.
Brijbhushan Dubey of Gazipur had sent a RTI application to Bachchan, a few months ago, seeking to know the basis of his claim in the advertisement that UP me hai dum, jurm hai yahan kum (UP is strong, crime is less here) aired on television during April-May this year, a PTI report had said.
Dubey had sought for the central report on whose basis the superstar had claimed that crime was less in UP. He wanted certified copies of the report. Dubey had also asked Bachchan about the money he received for the advertisement and by whom and the nature of contract he had signed with the electronic media. Failing to get reply from Bachchan, Dubey filed an appeal before the UP Information Commission.
UP Chief Information Commissioner M A Khan issued a notice to the Bollywood superstar on Monday, asking him the basis for his claim, and fixed October 15 as the next date of hearing. The commission had earlier fixed two hearings seeking Bachchan’s reply but no one appeared, resulting in the summoning order.