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Woman Claiming to be Modi’s Aunt Seeks Property Rent Revision

Dahiben claimed she was all alone and survived on the meagre rental income of Rs 1500. 

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India
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A 90-year-old widow claiming to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aunt has knocked on the doors of an appellate authority after failing to get satisfactory answers from the Labour Ministry on her RTI application seeking details of a lease renewal of a government dispensary running on her premises.

In a hearing last week before Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu, Dahiben Narottamdas Modi sent her representative Ishwar Lal Modi, who narrated her ordeal about her premises which was rented on 11 April 1983 for Rs 600 a month.

It was given out to run the Beedi Workers Welfare Fund (BWWF) dispensary on her premises in Vadnagar in Gujarat's Mehsana district.

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The rent was increased from Rs 600 to Rs 1500 through revisions of lease between 1983 and 1998, she said in her submissions before the Central Information Commission (CIC), adding that it had not been raised since then.

The matter reached the Commission after she failed to get a satisfactory response to her Right to Information application and her first appeal before higher authorities remained unanswered, according to details submitted by Dahiben before the CIC.

Dahiben claimed she was all alone and survived on the meagre rental income of Rs 1,500 from the building for which the revision of rent was pending.

Welfare and Cess Commissioner SS Bhople told the Commission in a letter that after the expiry of the last lease agreement, the office had requested the landlord through letters dated 24 July 2002 and 15 May 2008 to submit fresh documents for rent revision.

He said the documents were not submitted and hence the rates could not be revised. During the hearing before the CIC, Dahiben’s representative told the Commission that unless her "information needs" are fulfilled, she will not be providing documents as sought by Welfare Commissioner office for lease renewal.

He said she is too old and cannot physically go around the PWD office and Welfare Commissioner's office at every stage of documentation.

In a emotional second appeal filed by her before the Central Information Commission, Dahiben said:

I am widow of 90 years and such type of mental cruelty is intolerable for me as I have no son and no one is there to look after me.
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In response to her RTI application on 21 December 2017, the CPIO and Assistant Welfare Commissioner TB Moitra told Dahiben that some information was not available in his office.

Moitra also said that the lease can be revised at a new rental which has to be fixed after assessment by PWD/CPWD authorities in Gujarat.

The response has been quoted in the appeal filed by Dahiben and was reiterated by her representative during the hearing held on 21 June 2018.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) said Dahiben was asked to submit documents for renewal of lease which was not done and hence the renewal is pending.

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The response was found unsatisfactory by Dahiben, following which she filed her first appeal before Moitra’s senior officer, Bhople, on 9 January 2018 in which she claimed that she was the “real aunt of Prime Minister Narendra Modi” and “if justice was not given to her the matter will be reported to the Prime Minister”.

She did not elaborate on the relationship with the PM.

She filed a second appeal before the CIC, the highest adjudicating authority for RTI matters, after her first appeal went unheard.

The submissions and documents provided under the First Appeal with the concerned department and Second appeal before the Commission are given under oath by the appellant that details given are true.

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While hearing the matter on 21 June, Acharyulu observed that while she claimed to be a relative of the Prime Minister, she had not used it to influence the authorities. It was only after not being provided proper response that, in utter helplessness, she mentioned her relation with the Prime Minister, he noted.

He also asked some tough questions from the department about the ordeal faced by her and why a penalty should not be imposed on the officers handling her RTI petition.

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