Patanjali Given Land At 75% Less Rate, RTI Officer Transferred Who Made This Information Public

This article is contributed by Saksham Arora.

India is a country which is, in a consequential way, a hypocritical land of rights and freedom. Why specifically consequential? Because we are all made aware of our fundamental rights and provisions of freedom by our government, but the main problem with it is that at certain points, when people become conscious about using their rights and exposing the misdeeds that are happening in the country, they are reminded of this wicked fact that they live in a country where listening to one’s conscience may lead to loss of job, dignity or eventually, life.

We all have heard about the recent murder case of Gauri Lankesh, who was critical towards the right wing Hindu extremism. This is an example of how some forces in our country which may be backed by money, religious support or political powers are controlling the fate of people of our country and eventually, misusing this position in their favour.

Recently, two information officers used their Right to Information to make some documents public which contained information about the land allotment to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda.

As a result of this action, both the officers received a transfer order from their jobs to any other location within a fortnight. After that, many questions were raised about this penalty on both the officers. The documents said that the land previously belonged to Maharashtra Airport Development Authority (MADC).

Bijay Kumar, an IAS officer and MADC’s marketing manager Atul Thakare who was PIO of its Nagpur branch were the two officers who were transferred from their previous job locations, both of whom were given administrative reasons for the same.

The timing of these transfers, however, is a question of concern. It is hard for anyone to believe that the transfers happened for administrative reasons, because if not then it is a case of victimization for following the law.

It has been alleged that while the current market value of land is not less than Rs. 1 crore per acre, Patanjali got it at a throwaway price of Rs. 25 lakhs per acre. It wasn’t made public whether the company had received any kind of concession at the time of allotment. Sanjay Nirupam, a Mumbai Congress chief filed a petition for the same in which he had alleged that the Maharashtra government disregarded all tender norms to provide land to Patanjali at this throwaway price.

This is a case which shows a scenario in which one organization is preferred more by the government. Moreover it is a case of neglect of transparency in a decision making process.

With the revelation of RTI documents, it was interpreted that the decision of the land allotment was uncontested. Not only uncontested, but it was actively protected when someone tried to question the legitimacy of the decision. This makes us question ourselves- Should we feel proud to call India a democratic country given the kind of democracy that is being followed?

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