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Monday, December 22, 2008

Assets on Web: RTI officers say no

Chetan Chauhan
New Delhi
Hindustan Times: Metro; Dt. 22nd Dec 2008; pg 11

INFORMATION COMMISSIONER Shailesh Gandhi's move to put his asset details in the public domain hasn’t found favour with his colleagues.

In an apparent rejection of Gandhi's proposal, the Central Information Commissioner has decided not to put his asset statement on the commission's website, for now.

Gandhi had in November submitted details of his assets, worth Rs 5.4 crore, to the Central Information Commissioner and had asked it be put on the commission's website. “I've requested CIC Wajahat Habibullah to post the list of assets of all information commissioners on the website,” Gandhi had told HT.

The Central Informa tion Commission, where majority of members are retired bureaucrats, however, opted for a longer route to decide the matter. “We've to take into account the procedure for submission of declaration of property by other such commissions before taking a final decision,” Habibullah told HT.

The rules don't require members of commissions set up by the Centre to declare assets.

Gandhi's proposal was discussed at a recent meeting, but most members weren't in favour of declaring as sets on the website.“There wasn't much opposition to declaration of assets. But, what the commission ers didn't like was providing the information on the website,” said a commission official, who didn't want to be named.

Magsaysay award winner Right To Information activist Arvind Kejriwal termed the move as a lost opportunity “If the as . sets' statements would have been put on the website, it would have put pressure on other government departments to do the same,” he said.

Vihar Dhurve, an RTI activist from Pune, had in a letter to information commissioners, asked how could the commission ask government officials to declare assets when they weren't doing the same. Responding to the letter, Gandhi had sent him his asset statement and forwarded the same to be put on the website.

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