Noted right to information activist and now information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi voluntarily revealed his assets on Friday, as a Pune resident, Vihar Dhurve, had asked why judges and bureaucrats must declare their assets when information commissioners don’t.
Gandhi became the first information commissioner to declare his assets by revealing that his and his family members’ assets were worth Rs 20 lakh. He said, “I have requested the Central Information Commissioner (Wajahat Habibullah) to post the list of assets of all the commissioners on the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) website.”
Dhurve told HT: “I had asked the CIC to put the details of the assets on the commission’s website to lead by an example.”
Earlier, when Dhurve sought details of assets of Maharashtra state government officials, he was told that since the information commissioners themselves had not given information on their assets, the officials were not morally bound to make such information public. “They had a valid point,” Dhurve said, while explaining the reasons for his suggestion to the CIC.
Gandhi, who was an RTI activist in Mumbai before joining the commission, has also asked other commissioners to declare their assets so that the government and the judiciary is forced to provide information on the assets of bureaucrats and judges.
Till now, the assets of public servants and judges have not been made public on the pretext that it was ‘private information’ and, therefore, cannot be revealed under the RTI Act.