No separate account maintained on PM swearing-in: RTI reply to Bengaluru activist

Express News Service

BENGALURU: An RTI reply has revealed that the office of the President of India does not have details of the total money spent on the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister in 2019. T Narasimha Murthy, an RTI activist from Bengaluru, had applied through RTI seeking information of the total cost of the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India, on May 30, 2019.

In the application, Murthy had sought details of expenditure on high tea, food arrangement (both veg and non-veg) for all participants, including foreign dignitaries, transportation, including air ticket charges for foreigners, light, sound, flower decoration, invitation cards, and other expenditure.

Though the applicant got details of the expenses on a few things, the details of others have not been shared citing various reasons. As per the details shared to the applicant, Rs 32,11,953 was spent on tents and mobile toilets, Rs 11,79,750 on lighting and DG set, and Rs 18,63,744 on an audio system, car calling, video walls, and UPS system. Besides, Rs 10,60,058 was spent towards flower arrangement and displaying of potted plants. All these put together, Rs 73,15,505 was spent.

As far as the food expenses are concerned (around 8,000 guests took part in the event), the applicant has got a reply that no separate event-wise accounts were maintained, and bills generated by vendors are settled periodically.

“Similarly, the printing of invitation cars is undertaken by the Government of India Press, and expenses relating to the same are debited notionally. With regard to the expenses on the air tickers of foreign delegates, it was stated that the same was not incurred by the President’s Secretariat,” the reply stated.

RTI activist Murthy said denial of information is the denial of the fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution of India. “That being the case, how can the President’s office deny a citizen query through RTI?” he questioned.