Friday, December 7, 2012

Just 1,18,702 cases under Prohibition Act in 20 years!

Gujarat EDN
DNA 18SEP2012

Only 21 police stations of state reply to RTI query; many others ask applicant to personally check files
Bhavesh Shah
Production, consumption and sale of liquor – country-made as well as foreign – is prohibited in Gujarat under the prohibition act. Therefore, seizures and cops sniffing out bootleggers’ dens jostle for headline space every alternate day. But ask police to list the total figures so far and they are lost. If the replies received by one RTI query, are any proof of the pie, implementation of prohibition in the state seems quite lax as the enforcement agency itself is not interested in it.
An RTI application filed by president of Kutch Ladayak Manch (KLM), Ramesh Joshi in July 2012, sought information on number of cases registered under prohibition and all case papers related to the same in the state of Gujarat in past 20 years. In reply Gujarat police from 21 police stations stated that 1,18,702 cases have been registered against various people under the prohibition act. However, this may be just the tip of iceberg as the figure is the total received from 21 police stations only.
Interestingly, data does not include commissionerate areas of Ahmedabad, Rajkot or Surat, nor many large districts like Kutch, Junagadh, Amreli or Surendranagar.
Interestingly, the application was first sent to public information officer (PIO) in the chief minister’s office, which was directed to home department, which then redirected it to the office of the director general of police. Ironically, no one provided information on consolidated number of cases registered under prohibition in the state. The application further travelled down to the district superintendent of police (SPs), then to commissioner of police and reached to head of various police stations in the state.
While some police stations like Vadodara rural, Kapadvanj, Matar and Chhani in Vadodara city provided him the data for number of cases registered under various periods, others excused themselves from the onerous task claiming that the police station concerned does not have the case papers as cases against the culprits are pending in the court. Again may also advised the applicant to either approach the court to get the papers to get a reply to his query.
In certain cases, data did not come, but what came instead was the demand for payment of fee (Rs2 per page as per the rule) to be deposited in advance! In that case fore data related to case registered in Valsad, Valsad rural, Kishanwadi (Vadodara), Dharampur and Mahemdavad the applicant will have to bear more than Rs1 lakh for information!
While, Aamod is the only police station so far that has claimed that they have not registered any case of prohibition till now, the SPs from Porbandar, Amreli and Junagadh had denied entertaining the query as it is time consuming to collect the data and can disturb daily government work.