Gujarat government has now rejected another RTI request seeking information on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s salary and other benefits during his tenure as the state’s chief minister.
This comes after a series of unsuccessful requests by RTI activists to obtain information on Modi’s educational qualification.
An Ahmedabad based lawyer KR Koshti had written to the state government requesting information on Modi’s pay and other benefits. Among other requests, ‘point 4’ of his RTI request had asked for the following;
“From date when Narendra Modi became Chief Minster to date when he ceased to be Chief Minister of Gujarat, provide monthly breakup of Costs, Allowances Perks and other benefits paid (expensed to exchequer) to Narendra Modi in a tabular form for each component. When direct benefit is not paid, please provide cost incurred by government in books for Narendra Modi for it.”
The state government rejected the request outright stating that ‘such information is not retained and not available then such information cannot be created and given.’
The RTI reply stated,
“With respect to that it is stated that item no (4) is not directly related to here and as per Govt of India class of employees, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Personnel and Training via their document ref 10/02/2008-IR dated 12/06/2008 and related provisions of para 3 which states that If such information is not retained and not available then such information cannot be created and given. Therefore as the record regarding this is not to be made available from here, this information cannot be given.”
“In the same affidavit he also mentioned a refund of Rs 54,000. That’s really bizarre because you are not even coming in taxable bracket and you are saying you are entitled to Rs 54,000 refund.”
Ahmedabad-based RTI activist, Roshan Shah, expressed shock that the government had failed to retain the records of Modi’s income while ordinary tax paying citizens including businesses are expected to retain those records for at least seven years.
He told jantakareporter.com, “It is unbelievable that the Prime Minister, who was once a chief minister and who lectured us on the transparency in RTI, his government is not able to retain the records on his income. When I contested Lok Sabha elections, I was hounded with umpteenth rounds of scrutiny of my bills. There were 18 rounds of scrutiny and they could find a table fan bill of Rs 2200 questionable because that was missing. Why was there no scrutiny in Modi’s case, who’s been incurring lakhs of expenses at the cost of tax payers money.”
The RTI activist said that Modi’s stated income as the Gujarat CM also did not add up to the expense he’s revealed on various occasions in the past.
In 2011, the then Gujarat finance minister, Vajubhai Vala told the state assembly that Modi had spent Rs 3,30,381 towards BSNL telephone connections of which Rs 2,64,620 was paid for the telephones installed at his residence in the year ending July 31, 2011. Only Rs 65,761 was paid for calls made from telephones at his Sachivalay office.
In another reply to a question from a Congress MLA in 2012, the Gujarat government had said that the phone bills of Modi as chief minister had amounted to Rs 10.10 lakh over the period of three years. Of which more than Rs 8 lakh was towards the BSNL connection at his residence.