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Sunday, December 6, 2009

CIC Selections: PMO and DoPT websites raise awkward questions of ethics

Unprofessional conduct is on public display at the websites of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and DoPT (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions). As Shri Manmohan Singh is Minister in charge of DoPT (MOS Prithviraj Chavan is second in command), he is doubly responsible for mal-administration of the Right to Information. Visit the websites of PMO ( ) and DoPT (, and see some strange omissions in matters concerning appointment of Central Information Commissioners:

1) Although details of other committees headed by PM are published, the committee for CIC Selection is not even mentioned. Why?

Item no. viii of PMO’s suo moto disclosure ( under Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act 2005 states, “The details of Committees serviced by PMO are available on the website.” The PMO web page ( names six committees, and gives further details through hyperlinks:

· Delivery Monitoring Unit

· PM's Council on Climate Change

· PM's National Council on Skill Development

· The Trade and Economic Relations Committee

· The Economic Advisory Council

· The Energy Coordination Committee

So why is the committee for selecting CIC formed under Sec. 12(3) of RTI Act 2005 excluded from this list? Can anybody at PMO explain this?

2) Through circulars, DoPT invites applications for the post of Registrars at Central Information Commission, but not for the post of Information Commissioners. Why?

Read this lovely circular: . Terms of appointment, documents to be submitted, manual of guidelines to be used for selection, etc. – everything is clearly specified. Why are such circulars not issued for soliciting applications for the CIC’s post? Why are these appointments a hush-hush affair for the privileged few?

3) Minutes of crucial meetings are put up on DoPT website, but not of the meeting of PM’s selection committee for CIC. Why?

Read this circular recording minutes of a pre-bid meeting with some consultancy organizations: . What is preventing DoPT or PMO from similarly publishing minutes of CIC selection committee meetings? Why this desperate urge for secrecy?

Such suspicious behavior is unbecoming of our Prime Minister. Appointment of pliable candidates as Central Information Commissioners, using the CIC’s post for giving retiring bureaucrats a five-year extension, especially those from PMO, DoPT and government-mouthpiece organizations – are this not unprofessional acts? Are these not unethical and immoral practices? How can we hold our head high amidst the community of nations when such sleazy things are visibly done on our government websites?

Look at these naked facts from the CIC website:

· A N Tiwari and Satyananda Mishra were both DoPT Secretaries immediately before being sworn in as Information Commissioner at the age of 59 years 10 months and 59 years 7 months respectively.

· Before becoming CIC at the age of 62, O P Kejriwal was Director General of All India Radio and earlier, CEO Prasar Bharati.

· Mrs Deepak Sandhu was working as Press Advisor to the Prime Minister, directly before taking oath at the age of 60 years 9 months.

· Mrs Sushma Singh was Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, before taking oath at the age of 60 years 4 months.

· Mrs Omita Paul was CIC for one month between May and June ’09, between two assignments as Advisor to Pranab Mukherjee. In the 30-year span starting 1980 – she worked with the Information & Broadcasting ministry for about a decade. When not working in Pranab babu’s ministries, she held positions in All India Radio, Doordarshan, Press Information Bureau etc. When she took oath, her age was 60 years 6 months.

· Chief CIC Wajahat Habibullah worked in Indira Gandhi's PMO, facilitated the transition to Rajiv Gandhi's Prime Ministership after her assassination, headed Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, authored two chapters in a book titled Rajiv Gandhi's India and won the Rajiv Gandhi award for Excellence in Secularism.

My family and I have been staunch Congress voters and supporters over the decades, and we continue to be so. The fact that the UPA government ushered in RTI Act in 2005 is a big plus-point in their favour. But it seems that they have been having second thoughts; having given birth to this girl-child, the UPA government seems to be keen on drowning it in milk.

Sorry Manmohan Singhji, we can’t let you do that. That is infanticide. It is a criminal offence, and anybody who tries to commit such an offence, including the child’s parents, will pay a very heavy price.

Warm Regards,


98215 88114


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