According to the Maharashtra government’s website (www.maharashtra.gov.in), which lists its decisions, the only decision women and child development minister Pankaja Munde took on February 13, 2015, was to clear the appointments of some temporary officials to implement a central government scheme.
On that day, Munde had issued a state-record 24 government resolutions (GR), awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore. However, her department did not publish any of the resolutions online. Even now, four months later, none of the 24 GRs have been made public on the website.
Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government came to power last December, Munde’s department has issued 39 GRs in all. Set against this, her decision to issue 24 GRs on a single day is a significant detail in itself.
For a government that came to power on the promise an accountable, transparent regime, the glossing over of a move aimed at ensuring transparency – making its GRs public – has raised many eyebrows.
Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, mandates that governments and others authorities make public all information related to governance, on their own accord, to reduce to a minimum the number of RTI applications seeking such information.
The Maharashtra government’s website, which even has a separate section for these resolutions, has details of 44,545 GRs in its database.
Pune-based activist Vijay Kumbhar, who pointed this out in a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, said that such a lapse was itself a serious issue. “These ministers are spending money and people deserve to know how it’s being spent. Whether Munde is right or wrong can be settled later, but why is the government hiding this information to begin with?” he asked.
Munde has said in her defence that the 24 GRs involved important decisions that had to be taken. “If they were so important, they should have been promptly published on the website to let the public know about them,” Kumbhar said.