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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 16/08/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The judge gave the directive while admitting petitions filed by Seetha Lakshmi an advocate and Rajasekhar Tulasi challenging the decision to hold the survey.The controversial intensive household survey (IHS) that the Telangana government intends to undertake on August 19 may come a cropper with the Hyderabad High Court giving the go ahead for the massive survey only on condition that disclosure of personal information and indeed participation in the exercise itself would be purely voluntary.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government had ordered the survey on a single day covering each and every household in the new state “to ensure better and effective coverage of beneficiaries under various government schemes and to weed out bogus beneficiaries.” The mammoth exercise for which 400000 government employees teachers and students are being mobilized turned controversial with several quarters particularly people from Andhra settled down in Hyderabad and other parts expressing doubts about the actual intention.

Justice Vilas Afzulpurkar who declined to stay the survey made it clear that the government will have to strictly adhere to the statement made before the court that disclosure of information would only be on voluntary basis and that there would be no element of compulsion.

The judge gave the directive while admitting petitions filed by Seetha Lakshmi an advocate and Rajasekhar Tulasi challenging the decision to hold the survey.

Telangana Advocate General K Ramakrishna Reddy submitted before the court that the only reason for conducting the survey was to extend welfare schemes to the downtrodden and to ensure it reaches the targeted groups. No one would be compelled to participate in the survey the Advocate-General said.

Reddy said another reason was to weed out bogus white ration cards wherein underserved persons were benefitting from schemes like Arogyasri subsidised rice and housing for poor.

Stating that the residents were at liberty to refuse to divulge personal details like bank accounts and income tax returns the Advocate General said the residents can even refuse to participate in the survey altogether.

Reddy pointed out that this was not the first time that the government was seeking information from the citizens. In 1995 2001 and 2011 the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government had also sought details from citizens for extending welfare schemes to the needy. Senior counsel R Raghunandan Rao appearing for the petitioner contended that seeking details from citizens on their bank accounts and income tax was nothing short of invading the personal life of citizens. If citizens disclosed such information there was every possibility of it being posting on public domain which could be accessible to other departments he argued.

He contended that Parliament had already enacted the Collection of Statistics Act 2008 and the Collection of Statistics Rules 2011 and as per the Act a nodal officer was to be appointed. When a department in a state government wishes to collect statistics it is required to first consult the nodal officer after which a notification is to be issued with a gap of at least 15 days between the notification and the communication of advice.

Justice Afzulpurkar dismissing the interim application of the petitioner to stay the survey after recording the statement pointed out that the government should instruct the enumerators to strictly adhere to the submissions made before the court. For more news from Khaleej Times follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/khaleejtimes and on Twitter at khaleejtimes Follow khaleejtimes ->

 


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