Uttar Pradesh chief information commissioner faces probe (Lead)
Lucknow, July 9 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh chief information commissioner Justice (retd) M.A. Khan was Wednesday debarred from performing his duties as Governor T.V. Rajeswar recommended to the Supreme Court to initiate an inquiry against him, officials said. Khan has been accused of misconduct and lack of capability to perform his duties, they added.
Following a complaint by a panel of social activists, he was prohibited to attend his office till the inquiry was over, the officials added.
Lucknow, July 9 Uttar Pradesh Governor TV Rajeswar suspended the state’s Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) MA Khan today for alleged misconduct and grave irregularities in some appointments. Khan was barred from entering his office.
The Governor also initiated the process for his removal — making a reference to the Supreme Court for an inquiry into the charges against him.
Under Section 17 of the RTI Act, the Governor can remove the CIC for misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, in an inquiry made on his reference, has found the charges true. Pending the inquiry, his entry in office can be barred.
A cryptic note, issued by the Chief Secretary’s office, said there were complaints that Khan had adopted a style of work that was seen as violation of Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005. He also interfered with the functioning of other officials of the commission.
Khan could not be reached for comment. The Governor’s action comes on the recommendations of the government. Khan, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court, was appointed by the Mulayam Singh government.
The relationship between the government and the CIC has been far from cordial. He had often made stern observations about the government and summoned senior functionaries like the chief secretary and the cabinet secretary.
While holding a hearing on an application seeking information about the Ambedkar Memorial, he had commented on the amount being spent on the project. Khan also sent a notice to the Assembly Speaker on an application, seeking information on how MLAs became millionaires after winning elections. The assembly had then passed a resolution that it would summon Khan if he ever sent such a notice again.
LUCKNOW: Governor TV Rajeswar on Wednesday placed state's chief information commissioner (CIC) Justice (retd) Mohammad Asgar Khan under suspension after making a reference to the Supreme Court for an inquiry into complaints related to serious malpractices and irregularities against him. He is probably the first CIC in the country to have been placed under suspension.
In an office order issued by chief secretary Atul Kumar Gupta late on Wednesday evening, it has been stated that the governor had placed the CIC under suspension using his powers under Section 17/2 of the RTI Act. During the pendency of inquiry by the apex court, Khan has also been barred from attending the office by the governor.
The office order further stated that the decision was taken by the governor to ensure impartial inquiry into the alleged malpractice including irregularities committed in appointments, interference in working of the commission and functioning against the provisions of the RTI Act.
A senior official in the government said that under section 17/2 of the RTI Act, the governor may suspend the CIC or an information commissioner from office and, if deemed necessary, may prohibit him also from attending the office during inquiry by the apex court.
He said that the governor's secretariat had received a large number of complaints from individuals and various organisations against the suspended CIC. Among the complaints were Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey who had alleged that Justice (retd) Khan had committed grave irregularities in appointing 58 employees in the commission under group 'C' and 'D' by violating reservation roster rules.
Besides, Pandey had also made complaint about purchase of an office table by the CIC office whose cost was shown as Rs 1 Lakh. Similarly, former deputy SP Shailendra Singh, who joined the Congress after tendering his resignation from the service, had made 24 complaints against the suspended CIC with governor and had demanded an inquiry under section 17/1 and suspension of CIC under section 17/2 of the RTI Act.
Re: Uttar Pradesh chief information commissioner faces probe (Lead)
Governor suspends UP CIC
AS REPORTED ON YAHOO NEWS.COM
Thu, Jul 10 02:18 AM
Uttar Pradesh Governor T V Rajeswar on Wednesday suspended the state's Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) M A Khan for alleged misconduct and grave irregularities in some appointments. Khan was not allowed in his office. The Governor also initiated the process for CIC's removal by making a reference to the Supreme Court for holding an inquiry into the charges against him.
Under Section 17 of the RTI Act, the CIC can be removed by the Governor for proven misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, in an inquiry made on the Governor's reference, has found the charges true and held that he can be removed. A note, issued by the Chief Secretary's office, said there were complaints about Khan's working style, in violation of Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005. He also interfered in the functioning of other officials of the commission. Khan could not be reached for comment.
As reported tby Krishnadas Rajagopal, Indian Express, Friday, July 11, 2008
New Delhi, July 10: The suspension of Uttar Pradesh chief information commissioner M A Khan by the Governor evoked a mixed response from the apex Right to Information (RTI) panel and activists, with Chief Information Commissioner, Government of India, Wajahat Habibullah asserting on Thursday that nobody can “harass” information commissioners.
“There is a written process of law on how action against an information commissioner can be taken. There is no point in harassing commissioners, and nobody can stop them from completing their five-year term in office,” the topmost official in the country under the RTI Act told The Indian Express.
Khan was earlier suspended by UP Governor T V Rajeshwar—on the recommendation of the state Chief Secretary — for alleged misconduct and irregularities in appointments, and his case has been referred to the Supreme Court as per the RTI Act for inquiry.
Habibullah, however, declined to comment on Khan’s suspension and said the inquiry by the Supreme Court into the latter’s alleged misconduct is according to the letter of the law. “There is nothing objectionable to certain checks and balances in the system, but they should not lead to any harassment,” he noted.
Information commissioner O P Kejriwal with the Central Information Commission (CIC) revealed that he and his colleagues were often targeted with allegations, mainly from litigants. “Each of us, including Wajahat, is accused of various types of misconduct like caste bias, giving undue favours and gender discrimination. I am myself blamed of gender bias. You see, the CIC is the apex body, and it is only natural that our decision in a case being final will harm one party or the other. We cannot make everyone happy, can we?” he pointed out.
Kejriwal also insisted that action against Khan would set a “bad precedent” since information commissioners would now be subjected to a “spate of allegations”. The information commissioner also added that the UP incident ought to be treated as an “isolated case”.
Prominent RTI activist Aruna Roy, speaking from Rajasthan, called the incident “most unfortunate” if the suspension was instigated by “political motives”. “If the incident is politically shaped rather than based on genuine facts, this would amount to a gross misuse of the law,” she said.
Asked if an independent inquiry into the allegations against Khan should be held within the RTI framework instead of by the Supreme Court, Roy said: “The RTI Act calls for an inquiry by the Supreme Court. The choice of the institution of authority may not be perfect, but it is technically correct.”
“The probe would have smacked of malafide intent if a UP state-level functionary was in charge. But we expect a fair and objective decision from the Supreme Court,” said information commissioner M M Ansari in reaction to the issue.
In the meanwhile, activist Commodore (retired) Loksh Batra from Noida made no attempt to hide his pleasure over the suspension. “We are celebrating the decision of the Governor,” he said. His RTI appeal against Noida authorities seeking details about the cleaning of sewers around the residence of Moninder Singh Pandher, main accused in the Nithari murder case, was “thrown out without any explanation”.
Complaints against M A Khan have been building up for over a year now, notably since Mayawati came into power:
•June 2007: RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey barged into the chief information officer’s chambers and shouted slogans raising questions over his judgments. Kejriwal alleged that Khan’s orders always went in favour of the Government and that he “misbehaved” with complainants.
•March 2008: The head of the Congress party’s RTI cell Shailendra Singh gave a memorandum to the Governor asking him to order an SC inquiry n May 26: Sandeep Pandey confirmed that the Governor had told them that the matter had been referred to the SC.
•June 30: Journalists Izhar Ahmad and Afzal Ansari claimed that they met senior officials of the Governor’s secretariat who said they had directives from the SC to forward relevant documents.
UP axes CIC after CBI claim of evidence to try Mayawati
UP axes CIC after CBI claim of evidence to try Mayawati
As Reported by Kajari Bhattacharya, The Statesman, NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW, July 10
Hours after the CBI today told the Supreme Court that it had “sufficient” evidence to prosecute Uttar Pradesh chief minister Miss Mayawati in a disproportionate assets case registered against her five years ago, balls of retaliatory action started rolling in Lucknow.
In the first action of its kind taken against a state's chief information commissioner (CIC) anywhere in the country, UP Governor TV Rajeswar put UP CIC Justice (Retd) Mr MA Khan under suspension and prohibited him from attending office for alleged corruption, misconduct and irregularities in appointing employees. Justice (Retd) Mr Khan was a Mulayam Singh Yadav appointee.
The CBI filed an affidavit in the SC saying it will shortly file a chargesheet in a disproportionate assets case registered against the BSP supremo in 2003. It said there was ample evidence to show that Miss Mayawati had amassed wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income while responding to a notice issued to it on a petition filed by her. The UP CM was seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against her in the case which she alleged was politically motivated.
In Lucknow, a highly-placed source said: “We have sent a reference to the SC, which will form a committee to inquire into the allegations and then decide if Justice (Retd) MA Khan will be removed from office.” The source added: “The allegations have been confined to misconduct and irregularities in hiring employees. We do not want to level allegations of misappropriation of funds, as these undermine a Constitutional authority, which a CIC is.” He said that in spite of the fact that the CIC was not supposed to make appointments directly, Justice (Retd) allegedly Mr Khan had done so, flouting recruitment rules. “There were no advertisements, no tests.” Other information commissioners were also critical of the CIC.
Magsaysay awardee and RTI activist Mr Sandeep Pandey said many complaints against the CIC had been forwarded to the Governor. "The CIC was more partial to public information officers, who are government employees, and harsh with RTI applicants. Hearings are pending in thousands,” Mr Pandey alleged.
Justice (Retd) Mr Khan's tenure was due to end in November. The CIC was appointed in 2005, during the last days of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in UP. The appointment was seen by many as a reward from Mr Yadav to Justice (Retd) Mr Khan, who, as an HC judge in 2003, had issued a highly-controversial ruling in an anti-defection case that helped the SP come to power the same year in the state.
New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Suspension of Uttar Pradesh's chief
information commissioner Justice (retd) M.A. Khan has been hailed by
many Right to Information (RTI) activists but some of them warn
against setting up a precedent.
"We need to be very careful as it should not set a precedent for
others to be removed. It could be politically motivated also," RTI
activist Aruna Roy told IANS.
Khan was suspended by Uttar Pradesh Governor T.V. Rajeswar July 9 who
recommended to the Supreme Court of India to initiate an inquiry
against the information commissioner.
Khan was accused of misconduct and lack of capability to perform his duties.
Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen
requests for government information promoting transparency and
accountability in the system.
"Allegations levelled against someone may or may not be true. But one
has to be very cautious and every case should be decided on its
merit," Roy said.
However, Magsaysay award winner and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal
couldn't hide his happiness over Khan's suspension.
"Basically, this kind of incident highlights that right kind of people
are not appointed as information commissioners and RTI activists all
across the country have been facing problem due to it," Kejriwal said.
"This case proves that there is seriously something wrong with them.
If governments are serious about the RTI they should demonstrate by
appointing good people in a transparent manner," Kejriwal added.
A Noida-based RTI activist Commodore (retd) Lokesh Batra said it was
due to happen but politics should not be played around it.
"It was a very sad day for the RTI. However, there have been numerous
complains to the Uttar Pradesh governor against (Khan) in
implementation of the RTI act in its true spirit," Batra said.
"They were not even giving information pertaining to the Uttar Pradesh
state information commission itself. I had only asked for details of
the commission's budget but they simply stated that it cannot be
provided making a mockery of the act," Batra added.
But unlike RTI activists, commissioners of the Central Information
Commission (CIC), which is the apex body under the RTI act, chose not
to comment on the issue.
Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah refused to comment.
Information Commissioner M. M. Ansari said: "As far as procedural
aspect of the law is concerned, this matter had to go to the Supreme
Court. It is in fully accordance with the RTI law."
"I don't know about the case but hope that the case would be decided
fairly and objectively," Ansari added.
I'm being victimised by BSP government: suspended RTI chief
Lucknow, Aug 4 (IANS) M.A. Khan, Uttar Pradesh's former chief information commissioner (CIC) who was suspended last month on several charges of misconduct, says he is being victimised by the Mayawati government because he had given a pro-Samajwadi Party ruling as a high court judge three years ago.
Suspended by Governor T.V. Rajeswar July 9, Khan is the first chief information commissioner in the country to have been shown the door.
'My suspension stems from a 2005 ruling in an anti-defection case, in which I, as a high court judge, recognised the merger of 40 rebel Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators with the Samajwadi Party,' Khan told IANS in an interview.
The decision had helped the ruling Samajwadi Party to continue in power, he said.
Mayawati, who was the then chief minister in the BSP-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government formed in 2002, had to resign after 13 BSP legislators quit the party and formed a separate political outfit, the Loktantrik Congress.
Later, the 13 legislators were joined by 27 more BSP rebels and the outfit merged with the Samajwadi Party.
'Now, I am being victimised by the BSP government for my ruling as it went against Mayawati. The government is trying all means to implicate me falsely just to settle personal scores with me,' Khan alleged
After retiring from the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in November 2005, Khan was appointed as the CIC during the last days of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government.
The appointment was seen by many as a 'reward' for Justice Khan, who had issued the ruling in the anti-defection case.
A group of social activists, including Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey who is associated with the 'Save RTI campaign' have filed complaints against Khan.
Violating norms for recruiting employees in the commission, financial irregularities, mistreating complainants and non-cooperation with colleagues are some of the charges levelled against Khan.
It has been alleged that he made direct recruitments on 40 posts of class three and four employees without following the reservation norms. Khan has also been charged with financial irregularities.
'Social activists in one of their complaints have stated that penalties were imposed by Khan in majority of the cases when the information was not provided in the stipulated time,' an official said.
However, the penalty was realised only in a few cases, the official added.
For seeking information under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, one has to apply to the public information officer (PIO) of the particular department.
If the information sought is not provided in a period of 30 days, the applicant has to file an appeal with the PIO, who is to provide the desired information within 15 days.
However, if the information is still not provided within the desired time, the applicant can move the State Information Commission, which in turn can impose a maximum penalty of Rs.25,000 on a particular department for not providing information within the specific time.
Moreover, Khan has been charged with disposing off cases if the complainant failed to turn up at the scheduled time. But, on the other hand, the former CIC gave several chances to government officials to appear in connection with RTI cases.
Khan has also been accused of making purchases in the commission against sanction. The former CIC, who has now moved the high court against his suspension, claims that all charges against him are baseless.
'As far as recruitment is concerned, I have all the papers ready to prove that recruitments were made on the directions of the government only,' said Khan.
Likewise, charges pertaining to anomalies in realising the penalty money are also baseless, rather illogical, he said.
'Realising the penalty amount comes under the ambit of district administration.
'In cases of anomalies, although I directed the organisations concerned to pay up the fine, its recovery has to be ensured by district magistrates and other government officials,' Khan said.
'Do you expect a chief information commissioner to visit places for recovering the fine from the defaulters?' Khan asked