In blatant violation of the Public Record Act, 1993, the office of the general manager (GM), BSNL, has failed to provide information pertaining to educational certificates of a section supervisor official (SSO) posted in Hindi section of the senior general manager's office, BSNL.
Balwinder Singh was appointed as telegraph man in 1973. Suspecting that the certificate of "middle pass" given by him was fake, city-based RTI activist Shehenshah Alam in 2012 asked for information about the qualification certificates. But the reply given by the information officer was that the record was not traceable.
Prior to Alam's application, KK Kanda, senior telecom office assistant (TOA), BSNL, Ludhiana circle, had sought information regarding Balwinder's educational qualification in 2012, but to no avail. The information officer while replying to the RTI applications stated that no information was available.
Thereafter, another RTI activist Rohit Sabharwal gave a complaint to the chief vigilance officer and GM, BSNL Ludhiana, Bharat Nagar, Ludhiana, wherein the reference to the Public Records Act was made.
The act was passed to regulate management, administration and preservation of public records of the union government, union territories, public sector undertakings, statuary bodies, corporations, commissions and committees constituted by the union government and union territory administration.
Section 7 of the act states that the record officer will submit a report in writing to the director general without any delay on any information about any unauthorised removal, destruction, defacement or alteration of any public record under his charge and about the action initiated by him.
Interestingly, while replying to the complaint by Sabharwal, Chander Shekhar Bhanot, GM, BSNL, instead of replying to the compliance of the Public Records Act wrote, "At the time of appointment, his educational qualification was middle pass as per entry recorded on the first page of the service book. No other documentary proof for the same is available now in this office. As per attestation of the first page of service book his educational qualification has been verified by the then appointing authority."
As per the provisions under the Act, the department concerned is bound to recover the documents but the authorities have failed to do so till date. This leaves the question, "why has the department not asked for another copy of the educational qualification from the said person?"
To top it all, when asked about the complaint, Bhanot said, "We have requisite proof in the case as Balwinder's documents had been verified at the time of his appointment. Moreover, Balwinder has cleared departmental exams after his appointment. However, I do not know which Public Records
Act is the complainant talking about," he said. On the other hand, Balwinder said he had provided the certificate to the department, and was not aware that it had gone missing. He also said if the department demanded a duplicate copy, he would provide it, adding, "till date the department has not asked for it."