Why Won’t PMO Tell Us About Sachin’s Donation to PM Relief Fund?

Why Won’t PMO Tell Us About Sachin’s Donation to PM Relief Fund?

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Sachin Tendulkar the cricketer could do no wrong, but Sachin Tendulkar the member of parliament can’t avoid controversy even after retirement.

Tendulkar’s six years as Rajya Sabha MP were dogged by his failure to get involved in the parliamentary process — he had a dismal 7% attendance and didn’t attend a single debate. When his term ended in April 2018, however, it looked like he had finally managed to get some good press about his tenure, after reports emerged that he had donated his entire salary and allowances to the PM’s Relief Fund.

But now, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is refusing to answer RTI requests about this ‘generous’ donation, claiming that this information is exempt under section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act 2005.

Also Read: PMO Refuses to Share Info on Sachin Tendulkar’s Donation to PMNRF

Is the Information Really Exempt?

Sec 8(1)(j) of the RTI act states that ‘information which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual” should not be disclosed “unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.”

But it is not clear why this section applies to Sachin’s donation. Data journalism portal Factly had sent in the RTI requests asking for the following information:

  1. Details of the donation of salary by Sachin to the Relief Fund;
  2. Copy of the acknowledgment letter from the PMO regarding the donation
  3. Total amount of donations received from Sachin
This information does not relate to Tendulkar’s personal wealth or earnings, which means it isn’t private. It also relates to his salary earned as a public servant, which means it does relate to a ‘public activity or interest’.

It’s not as though this is entirely new information either — in April, reports given to the media quoted parts of the supposed acknowledgment letter, and even estimated the amount donated to be around Rs 90 lakh, based on how much he is supposed to have earned during his tenure.

Unnecessary Questions

So what’s changed since then? If Tendulkar has made this donation and didn’t have a problem with it being reported earlier, why isn’t the PMO willing to let us know the details now?

There seems to be no logical reason for the PMO to refuse. Sadly, the failure to give out this information means that we have to wonder what donation was actually made — an unfortunate tarnishing of the legacy of one of India’s favourite heroes.

(With inputs from Factly)

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