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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

'Disclose action taken on complaint against Praful'

PTI  New Delhi, March 31, 2013
First Published: 13:37 IST(31/3/2013) | Last Updated: 16:13 IST(31/3/2013)

The Central Vigilance Commission has been asked by the CIC to make public action taken on a plea for a probe into a complaint by former Indian Airlines CMD Sunil Arora against the then civil aviation minister Praful Patel.

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However, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra, while giving the direction, did not allow the disclosure of original complaint filed by Arora saying it would impede the ongoing investigation even though the CVC had not sought any such exemption in reply as well as at the first appeal stage.

Last August, two Lok Sabha members, Prabodh Panda (CPI) and Nishikant Dubey (BJP) had sought a CVC probe into a May, 2005 letter of Arora to the then cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi.

The MPs had sought verification and investigation into some "grave irregularities" that allegedly took place during Patel's tenure and raised by Arora.

In his RTI application, activist Subhash Agrawal had sought from the CVC the details of action taken on the letters given by the two MPs and allegations levelled by Arora against the former aviation minister.

The information was denied by the CVC saying it was held in fiduciary capacity and personal in nature which are exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act. These arguments, cited by the CVC, to withhold the letters of the MPs, were rejected by the CIC.

Directing the CVC to comply with its orders in 15 days, Mishra said, "We do not think that a communication received from MPs can be classified as either a personal information or as information held in a fiduciary capacity unless they had marked it as confidential/personal.

"It is presumed that the MPs while communicating with the CVC would raise issues only in larger public interest. Therefore, while the original complaint made by the former Indian Airlines chief may not be disclosed at this stage in view of the pending investigation into the matter, the communication received from the MPs, if any, and the consequent action taken should be disclosed."

He also directed the CVC that any communication received from the Cabinet Secretariat, which had received the complaint from Arora, should be disclosed to Agrawal.

The Chief Information Commissioner advised the CVC to deal with each query in the RTI application separately and not give an omnibus reply invoking certain exemption provisions.

Panda and Dubey had claimed that "haste" was shown in signing of a contract for purchase of aircraft between Air India and US aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

The MPs said that seat configuration of planes under order from Boeing was "changed at the intervention of the minister when negotiations were under process". Air India also converted the option of buying 15 more aircraft to firm orders, they had claimed in the complaint.


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