In the season of demands for greater accountability, central information commissioner Satyananda Mishra and five information commissioners became the first set of prominent government functionaries in Delhi to make their assets public after the Supreme Court judges.
Supreme Court judges had last year gone public with their property details last year.
The information commissioners reached a consensus to declare their assets voluntarily on the CIC website during a meeting chaired by Mishra last month where it was also agreed to update this information on annual basis.
“We have taken a decision during the last week of March to voluntarily declare our assets on the website. We thought when there is nothing to hide, why not to place them in public domain,” Mishra said.
The commission had earlier delivered several decisions permitting access to assets of government officials under the RTI law but had shied away from declaring their assets.
A proposal that information commissioners go public with their assets was initiated during Wajahat Habibullah’s tenure as the CIC. But Habibullah had gone along with some commissioners who were against the idea. Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi had opposed this view point of his peers and had declared his property details on his website.
Mishra — who was then an information commissioner — pulled out the proposal after he became the CIC. Incidentally, government servants in several states such as Bihar and Chhattisgarh have to declare their assets. But the
Centre has been fighting shy of issuing a similar directive to its officials.
At the CIC, the declaration shows that only two Information Commissioners, ML Sharma and Shailesh Gandhi, own a car. Sharma, a retired IPS officer, has also declared other assets which include agricultural land and house in Jaipur which he built in 1989-90 with a loan from HDFC.