This is as transparent as it can get.
The Central Information Commission (CIC), India’s information watchdog, has decided that complaints against its own information commissioners can now be accessed under Right to Information Act from the commission’s secretary.
But the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the corruption watchdog, allows providing information on only those corruption cases where the charges have been proved and penal action recommended against an official.
Information watchdog has therefore, quite literally, outwitted the corruption watchdog in transparency.
Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in a recent order that as the commission is not competent to hold inquiry against an
information commissioner the best way to ensure transparency is to allow inspection of the files pertaining to complaints under RTI.
Habibullah was delivering an order in an appeal filed by Mizubir Rehman of Chhattisgarh.
Rehman’s RTI application, seeking copies of complaint against information commissioner A.N. Tiwari, had been rejected CIC officials.
“In the interest of full accountability in the future complaints received against any information commissioner or chief information commissioner would be maintained at the secretary’s office and allowed inspection under RTI,” Habibullah said in the order.
Rehman was aggrieved with the commission as he was neither provided with the copies of orders issued by Tiwari, which he had sought, nor the copies of the complaints against him.
“The decision of the commission was flawed as the information has to be provided in the form it has been sought,” Habibullah said.
A move by CVC to put information of corruption cases on its website had evoked a strong reaction from the bureaucracy, which claimed that it would amount to indicting a person even before the inquiry has completed. Now, the CVC puts information of officials against whom action has been recommended on its website.
Habibullah, through this order, made CIC among the first institutions in India to allow inspection of complaints against his fellow commissioners.