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No more secrecy in top babus’ hiring

The Central Information Commission has ordered the government to make public the official documents on secretary-level appointments, reports Nagendar Sharma.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2008 08:39 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The veil of secrecy surrounding appointment of top government officials may finally be lifted. The Central Information Commission has ordered the government to make public the official documents on secretary-level appointments and names of the candidates shortlisted for these posts.

The ruling by a three-member CIC bench on an appeal filed by Magsaysay award winner and noted RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, puts an end to the government efforts to keep the top bureaucratic appointments behind iron curtains.

The CIC has come down heavily on the Department of Personnel and Training and the Cabinet Secretariat for denying information to Kejriwal, who fought a three-year-old battle on the issue and won the appeal.

“The DoPT and Cabinet Secretariat have clearly evaded their responsibility by not responding to RTI requests and transferring applications to each other. Being custodians of the information, it was mandatory on their part to have decided the matter,” the CIC said in its order.

“The Commission directs the DoPT and the Cabinet Secretariat to allow inspection of the relevant files concerning empanelment of Additional Secretaries and Secretaries to the Government of India and to provide copies of document and records, as specified by the appellant,” the CIC ruled.

Kejriwal had sought information on the procedure for appointing officers for the posts of deputy secretary, joint secretary, additional secretary and also for the secretary rank under the Central Staffing Scheme for government of India services in 2005.

The commission directed the DoPT to provide all details pertaining to appointments. “However, I was only shown files related to the appointments up to the rank of joint secretary,” Kejriwal said.

He filed a second appeal with the CIC. But, a single member CIC bench dismissed it. Finally, Kejriwal approached the Delhi High Court in 2007. Following a court directive, a CIC bench upheld Kejriwal’s appeal.