New Delhi: “How did my husband encash his NSC returns three years after his death?”
A poor and uneducated widow T Subbamma used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to dig up 10-year-old case where she was allegedly defrauded by her relative in collusion with the officials of the post office in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh.
Ms Subbamma’s husband Mr Adisheshaiah had bought five National Savings Certificates (NSC) of Rs. 10,000 each. He had died in 2004. After his death, Ms Subbamma repeatedly approached the post office but no clear answer was given to her. She was later intimated that her husband had withdrawn the amount and interest in 2007.
With the help of her son, she filed an RTI last year seeking information on 10 points regarding documents relating to discharging certificates of NSCs, inquiry in the matter, statement of witnesses among others.
The postal department, however, gave only limited information and withheld crucial records citing section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act which exempts personal information from disclosure.
During the hearing before the Commission, she asked the postal department officials “how did a person go to the post office three years after his death and released five NSCs worth Rs. 50,000 with interest, Sir?”
Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu noted that this question exposed a fraud that occurred in the post office and the misleading replies to her RTI requests.
“The Superintendent was confused and could not answer the old widow. He was flipping through the papers, and looking to his lady assistants and dealing clerks for help,” he said.
Mr Acharyulu said the response of the department denying information citing exemption clause was “most atrocious and illegal” which appears to be a “cover up” of alleged involvement of a postal department official in defrauding Ms Subbamma of more than Rs. 50,000 deposited by her husband.
Ms Subbamma alleged that the then superintendent of the post office created a set of false documents and helped some cheats to claim entire amount of the five NSC certificates.
Her son alleged that the office staff played a fraud with help of one of their relative.