Bangalore: The Karnataka Lokayukta, mandated to ensure transparency and good governance, is refusing to disclose details of politicians’ assets and liabilities under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. “Disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion of MLAs’ privacy and risk life and property,” said Public Information Officer and deputy registrar (Administration), Karnataka Lokayukta, Mohamed Mujhaid Ulla.
In fact, similar information is available on the Election Commission website as all candidates declare property details while contesting elections. However, the information with the Lokayukta is updated every year. Express wants its readers to know how their representatives’ assets and liabilities have changed since their elections.
Rejecting this correspondent’s request, Ulla said, “If information is disclosed, it may harm the citizen’s privacy. In the guise of transparency, it would amount to unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy.”
The Karnataka Lokayukta, mandated to ensure transparency, is refusing to disclose politicians\' assets under RTI.
To defend his argument, he referred to a High Court observation in a case, in which an RTI request asking for property details of a state government employee was dismissed. However, the portion of the HC order Ulla cited does not categorically say that Lokayukta officials should not reveal information about MLAs’ assets under RTI.
Former Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde, RTI activists and lawyers are baffled by the denial of information by the agency. “They are quoting an observation from the High Court. When I headed the Lokayukta, I gave such details under RTI,” Hegde told Express. “The purpose of filing property declarations with Lokayukta is for people to know those details. It is not correct to deny such information,” he added.