In 2004, Muthuselvi applied for a ration card and was demanded a bribe. She dropped her efforts and did not obtain a Ration Card for the last 12 years due to fear of bribery. When she applied for it again this year they asked her for Rs.2000 as the bribe. That's when she approached 5th Pillar. We helped her file an Right to Information Act [RTI] petition on 26.07.2016 to the PIO of Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department. To her wonderment, officials turned up in 23 days to deliver the Ration Card. The news came as a relief to the family that had waited a decade.
Mr. Velusamy Narasimanaicken Palayam from Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, noticed that his neighbor Rani Selvaraj encroached on his corporation's land and a built fence around it. Velusamy applied for a Right To Information petition to Public Information Officer of Narasimanaicken Palayam Taluk office with help of 5th Pillar, Coimbatore Chapter. He got a reply but no action was taken. Then he made his 1st appeal, got a reply, and officers came and measured the land. They confirmed it was his corporation's land and then the officers gave notice to Rani Selvaraj regarding the removal of the encroaching fence. But she did not reply to that notice , so Mr. Velusamy applied for a second appeal and the officers sent another notice to Rani Selvaraj. She then she removed the fence.
"Yesterday, I went to the Ambatur RTO, in Chennai to apply for my learner's license. When I presented my papers to pay the fees(Rs.90), the Junior Assistant at the counter asked me if I own a car. I answered 'No' and asked him if it is mandatory to own a car if I have to apply for LLR or to learn to drive a car. He stressed on that 'unwritten' rule he has been misleading applicants with, that one must own a car if he/she has to apply for a learner's license, and if i had any issues about it, he asked me to talk to the Brake Inspector.
I approached the Brake inspector's desk and raised this issue knowing very well, that there can't be a silly rule like that. The Brake inspector admitted that the Junior Assistant would have said that by "mistake". He added that it is sufficient to bring any car with the RC book copy accompanied by an authorization letter from the registered owner, that the vehicle can be used for applying for the LLR. When I said I want to give a written complaint on the junior assistant for lying to a citizen about the rules, the brake inspector called for him and asked him to apologize, which I wasn't comfortable with.
After a long conversation he agreed that it is not a matter of apologizing but its is unlawful to give wrong information to mislead the citizen and it is their duty to display the procedures, checklist of documents and the fee structure, inside the premises of the RTO office, which he promised to do in a day or two. He then signed on my LLR application. He then became very friendly and started venting out their side of the frustration. The staff in the printing section asked me to pick up my LLR after 4 pm. I said I can't come back in the evening or can't wait until that time and insisted that I would like to have it sooner. He then printed my LLR and issued it in 5 minutes.
It does work; let's go directly to the offices and pay the right fees, rather than relying on middlemen and paying the bribe."
Durga Devi, a member of 5th Pillar, purchased a car at a dealership in Velachery recently. The dealer quoted Rs 80,428 as the "Road tax and registration fees" to which she agreed and continued with the purchase. She was asked to come after few days to get the registration and tax documents. When Durga went to collect the bills/reciepts on March 25th, 2015 she found receipts from the RTO Tambaram tallying only up to Rs. 61,796.
The 5th Pillar team accompanied Durga to the Tambaram RTO office and filed a complaint to this effect specifying that the dealership has overcharged quoting bribe payment to Tambaram RTO. The team intends to escalate this as a campaign by approaching the Commissioner of Transport as it is a wide spread problem across the state.
In 10 days, Rs.15,818 out was refunded to through a demand by the Car Dealer This was possible only because she asked the right questions & resorted to complete non-cooperation with both the car dealer and the RTO officials when they tried to convince her to "settle the deal" by making counter offers and forcing her to come to the office somehow to urge her to let go of the issue.
Tea stall worker on Dharmapuri highway attended Freedom from Corruption workshop a year ago and she says proudly, "No policeman bothers asking my Dad for a bribe now!"
Sathiq Basha, from Paliambattu village, senji Taluk of vizhupuram district brought his long pending case of Ration card issue to 5th Pillar. He complained that the official demanded a bribe of Rs.1000/-
We drafted an RTI with simple and sharp questions that resulted in not just issue of Ration card to him but to more than 500 families in his Taluk. The one RTI benefited more than 10 villages.
5th Pillar was invited to do a School of Democracy program in Sri Saradha Matric Higher Secondary School.
When the program was over, 5th Pillar learned from the school's Principal that the school had been trying for the previous year to get the approval to teach higher secondary classes (11th & 12th grade) from the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Matriculation schools (TNDM). When the school met the Director of TNDM, the Director demanded 3 Lakhs bribe and said: "We charge the regular schools Rs.12,00,000, but since you are a non-profit and have a good cause I am charging you this".
5th Pillar went to meet the Director, but he was out on official duty, so the 5th Pillar team distributed Zero Rupee Notes to the rest of the staff there.
A week later the Principal of Saradha school called to thank the team for helping them get the license.
Just by showing the Zero Rupee Note, the officials gave the school their approval with Zero-bribe.
Mr. Ashok Jain went to retrieve his towed car from Chennai's C1 police station. The police asked him to pay Rs. 800 (Rs. 150 fine + Rs. 650 bribe).
Mr. Jain said he would pay in exchange for a receipt, which the police wouldn't give. After much talking and pleading, Mr Ashok called his friend Vinod Jain, who came to the station and handed a Zero Rupee Note to the police.
The police saw the note, withdrew their demand for the bribe, accepted the Rs. 150, and gave the receipt without question.
An influential person began constructing a building that was encroaching a public mud road in Tirupattur, Vellore District. Concerned residents approached local and higher authorities to no avail.
Mr. Tamilselvan asked 5th Pillar Chennai to help the cause. 5th Pillar filed a Right To Information (RTI) petition on his behalf and was informed that encroachment was indeed taking place but no remedy was being taken.
5th Pillar filed an appeal insisting that the illegal building be removed. The authorities complied and the building was demolished to the relief of all the local residents.
Mr. K. Velu, a resident of Chennai discovered that his ancestral property partition document did not have his name in addition to his brothers'. He approached the Vandavasi Taluk Office, to have his name added to the land patta document. For 15 years, he did not receive a responsible answer.
Mr. Velu found out about 5th Pillar, visited the office with proof his name belongs on the patta. An RTI petition was filed on his behalf on Oct 23, 2009. The Taluk office sent a detailed reply to all questions asked and a corrected land patta document.
Mr. Velu is very happy that 5th Pillar got his document for him in a month without bribery when he was struggling alone for 15 years.
Mr. Sankar, residing in Royapuram, Chennai lost his ration card in 2004 and applied for a replacement with all essential documents at Royapuram Taluk Office. An official visited his residence after 2 months for an inquiry and asked him to visit the office 2 months later.
Mr. Sankar meticulously visited the office for 5 years but could not meet with any higher officials or get a response to his application. In August 2009, he was informed his application was rejected and had to re-apply.
Realizing there was no legitimate answer for the delay, he approached 5th Pillar's Chennai office after watching a TV program about the organization. Our RTI coordinator filed a petition in September 2009 to the District Civil Supplies department, Royapuram Zone at Chennai.
Mr. Sankar received his new ration card exactly 13 days after the RTI application was filed.
Mr. Rajendran, a corrupt government official in Tuticorin District, in collusion with other perpetrators, fraudulently registered 11 residents' properties which were then sold to third parties.
Samuthiraraj, a victim residing in Karisalkulam village in Kovilpatti Taluk discovered this act and approached the District Registrar, Taluk officer and Sub Registrar of Kovilpatti Taluk along with others who were cheated. Unfortunately, Mr. Rajendran had been promoted to District Registrar of Periyakulam and no government official was willing to take a stand.
Samuthiraraj approached 5th Pillar Chennai and we filed a Right to Information (RTI) petition on Jan 12th, 2010.
The forged property sale documents for all 11 victims were canceled on Feb 1, 2010.
Mr. Rayala Naidu of Tiruvellore applied for a family card but didn't get it for over three years. 5th Pillar sent an RTI application on Mr. Naidu's behalf to the PIO, Taluk Supply Officer (TSO), Tiruvellore on April, 2012. Within 15 days, the TSO came to Mr. Naidu's residence and completed the required inquiry. A little while later, Mr. Rayala Naidu informed us that he received the card, a card for which his family waited for three years.
Mrs. Thayammal, the elder sister of Mr. Natarajan (5th Pillar Coordinator of Uralvaimozhi, Tirunelveli District) was due for Old Age Pension. Mr. Natarajan applied for it in June 2011 with nothing happening for two years. 5th Pillar sent an RTI application to the Public Information Officer (PIO) and then to the Appellate Authority. Neither of them sent a reply.
A second appeal was sent to the Chief Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner ordered the PIO to immediately send a reply; however the PIO did not comply.
Mr. Natarajan then sent copies of all RTI applications and the appeal to the District Collector, Chief Minister's cell, and the concerned Social Welfare Thasildar of Tirunelveli. The Old age pension was sanctioned within 15 days from the date of application.
Though the RTI applications were not immediately useful, further appeal helped Mrs. Thayammal get her old age pension.
Mrs. Shanthi of Kodambakkam, Chennai District, contacted 5th Pillar Chennai informing us that she had been waiting for her widow's pension for over three years.
5th Pillar sent an RTI application to the Egmore Thasildar in March, 2013. The Thasildar came to Mrs. Shanti's house, inquired the details, and asked her to come to the office the next day.
Mrs. Shanti went the next day and received her pension within three days.
Based on a representation given by Miss Sujatha Nanda, 5th Pillar has made a representation to the Office of the Provident Commissioner, Mumbai on the 2nd July, 2012., Since no reply was received within the stipulated 30 days, we sent an appeal to the Appellate Authority on the 3rd September, 2012.
The Assistant Provident Commissioner sent a reply on 9th October 2012, informing us that a sum of Rs. 34652/ towards PF and Rs. 6630/ towards EPS have been settled d to the claimant through cheque No. 837392.
Mr. Namachivayam of Adyar, Chennai contacted us saying his patta allotment has been pending in the Taluk Office, Sriperumpudur from 2011 and all his requests to the Taluk Office hadn't yielded any results.
5th Pillar Chennai sent an RTI Application to the Public Information Officer (PIO), Taluk Officer, Sriperumpudur on 03/29/2012 and an appeal to the Appellate Authority on 03/29/2012. Having received no reply, we have sent an appeal to the Chief Information Commissioner, on 06/08/2012. The Revenue Department published a copy of the Notification in their website but didn't mention the land owner's name. We sent another application to the PIO on 07/30/2012. Because of the application, the Revenue Department published the entire details in the website.
Mr. Namachivayam thanked 5th Pillar for our assistance.
Mr. Kathavarayan, a 72 year old residing in Villupuram District (Then Alambakkam village) had applied for Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension that is granted for people below the poverty line.
After many months, Mr. Kathavarayan was informed by a clerk at the Dindivanam Tahsildar office that the scheme was closed. Kathavarayan sent a letter to the Chief Minister's office on June 25, 2008, begging for special consideration as he had no means to survive. Receiving no response, he sent another letter to the CM's office on March 9, 2009 also with no reply.
During one of our campaigns, Mr. Kathavarayan, received one of our Zero Rupee Notes and contacted our office. We filed an RTI petition on his behalf, attaching all communications to the CM's office and his application. In short time, Mr. Kathavarayan received his pension.