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Info war puts panel chief in a tight spot

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 2, 2006

Info war puts panel chief in a tight spot

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Social activist asks for info on why only IAS officers are on the panel; runs into a wall

Narendra Kaushik

New Delhi: The war for information, fuelled by Central Information Commission (CIC), has finally reached the doors of Commission itself with a social activist demanding to know from the government the criteria followed while appointing five information commissioners (including Chief Information Commissioner).

Social activist Vishaish Uppal wrote to Prime Minister’s Office in January this year, seeking papers relating to the appointment of five commissioners. The PMO through its CPIO (Central Public Information Officer), first said the information sought had no relation to public interest and so could not be shared.

Uppal complained against the CPIO to Appellate Authority in the PMO and Central Information Commission (CIC).

The Appellate Authority, joint secretary Javed Usmani in the PMO, rejected Uppal’s claim saying the information was ‘confidential’.  The Authority also said her appeal made no case on why an exception should be made in her case.

On Friday, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, after hearing her and the PMO, upheld the order of the Appellate Authority saying ‘it was for a public authority, in this case the PMO, to decide on access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighed harm to the protected interest’.

At the same time, he said Uppal was free to challenge order of the Appellate Authority to the CIC.

Uppal has said she would challenge order of the Appellate Authority.

Asked why she wanted information about appointment of the information commissioners, Uppal said she wanted to find out why PMO appointed only IAS officers to the Commission. Out of the five commissioners, four are retired civil servants while one is a professor.

“The law on CIC says that the commissioners will be persons of eminence. Does the PMO consider only IAS officers are persons of eminence? Are there no judges, no journalists of eminence?” Uppal told Mumbai Mirror.

Headed by Habibullah, the Commission comprises A N Tiwari, Padma Balasubramanian, O P Kejriwal and M M Ansari. Ansari is the only non-IAS member.

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One Response to “Info war puts panel chief in a tight spot”

  1. VEERESH BELLUR said

    Information Commissions have become rehabilitation centres for retired beauracrats. They are interested only in salary and perks besides protecting corruptpublic servants which they did in throughout their service. This country is being ruled by these IAS officers since independence and politicians are only pawns in their hands.

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