Senior diplomat Veena Sikri will get to look at some papers relating to the foreign secretary’s appointment but it is still uncertain how far she will get.
The Central Information Commission on Monday ordered the Cabinet Secretariat to produce all documents concerning foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon’s appointment for the commission’s perusal next week to figure out if it was possible to disclose information without unwarranted invasion into privacy of other candidates concerned.
In their 16-page decision, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioner OP Kejariwal directed that documents from the "initiation to the culmination of the process of appointment of Foreign Secretary Menon" should be submitted to it in a sealed cover on May 17.
The government had appointed Menon last year, superseding claims of 16 officers senior to him in the diplomatic pecking order. Sikri was one of them.
The commission also ordered the External Affairs Ministry to show Sikri the file held by it under which Annual Confidential Records of diplomats considered for the post were sent to the Cabinet Secretariat.
Sikri, however, is unlikely to get too much information out of this file in the near future since the ministry would bar information relating to other officers on grounds of invasion of privacy.
In March, the commission had ordered that the promotion file of Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Vijender Jain, should be made public. RTI applicant, Subhash Agrawal, still hasn’t seen the files; the government rushed to the Delhi High Court and returned with an order staying the transparency directive.
RTI activist Vishaish Uppal, who had asked the government for files relating to appointments of the five Central Information Commission members including Habibullah in November 2005, is still waiting for the documents. On Monday, she told HT that she did get some papers but none that enabled her to understand the reasons for the decision.
"The government has still held back documents including minutes of a crucial meeting in the selection process. I have moved a complaint against the department of personnel at the commission," she said.