As reported in on 04 Sep 2011:

RTI petitioners demand SIC's termination

Imphal, September 04 2011: Three RTI petitioners, namely Ayekpam Keshorjit, Mutum Maipakpi Devi and Titus Kamei announced their decision of taking the help of the law court if the Governor fails to take up necessary steps for termination of State Information Commissioner Ch Birendra Singh from his post.

They alleged that Ch Birendra is not competent and capable of discharging duties conferred upon by the Right to Information Act.

Addressing a press conference jointly at the office of Human Rights Law Network, Paona Bazar here today, the three RTI petitioners informed that they submitted a memorandum to the Governor on May 27 last requesting removal Ch Birendra as the SIC.

A reminder had also been submitted to the Governor on August 17 last.

Accordingly, the Governor intimated Chief Secretary on May 31, seeking opinion of the Law Department.

But nothing has come out it, they lamented.

The three RTI petitioners alleged that Ch Birendra is incapable of discharging his duties as the SIC.

Moreover, he does not have the required qualification, they claimed pointing out basic qualification for the post as a person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science & technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media, administration/governance, etc.

But Ch Birendra, while he was the Commissioner of Revenue appointed 28 LDCs illegally, the RTI petitioners alleged, adding that the appointment was in defiance of Gauhati High Court order and the State Vigilance Commission had subsequently recommended the Government of Manipur to terminate all the 24 LDCs thus appointed in the Revenue Department illegally.

At the same time, the High Powered Committee chaired by the Chief Minister, Government of Manipur initiated to take punitive action against the person responsible for making illegal appointment and found out that it was Ch Birendra Singh, the then Revenue Commissioner and the present State Information Commission who had made the illegal appointments.

So, such a person who made illegal appointments by misusing the official power and capacity can never be regarded as a person of eminence in public life, the RTI petitioners contended.

Ch Birendra has also appointed himself to the post of State Information Commissioner by misusing his official power and position as the Commissioner Revenue at the time of his retirement, they alleged, adding that a retired bureaucrat officer can not be considered independent enough to be the final apex appellate authority under Right to Information Act, 2005 .

The three RTI petitioners further alleged that Ch Birendra has been trying to sabotage the principle and spirit of RTI Act by disposing of cases on the alleged ground that the applicants fail to attend the Commission on the date of the hearing although there is provision under RTI Act which clearly stated that applicant may opt not to be present during the course of hearing of the Commission.

They pointed out that the Governor can terminate the State Information Commissioner Ch Birendra from his post under Section 17 of RTI Act by sending reference to the Supreme Court and while waiting for the reply of the Supreme Court, the Governor can also keep Ch Birendra under suspension.

It may be noted here that the Governor had earlier sought the opinion of the Law department on whether an application under Section 10 of the RTI Act, 2005 filed before the State Information Commission can be remanded for consideration by the First Appellate Authority, if the First Appellate Authority was bypassed by the petitioner and whether this process is the more appropriate course of action under the Act or is such application need to be considered direct by the State Information Commission without referring to the First Appellate Authority.

The Governor had also sought the opinion of the Law Department on whether a person who has been appointed as the State Chief Information Commissioner/State Information Commission by him on the recommendation of the Selection Committee formed in pursuance of the Act can be removed if it was found out that he was involved in an alleged malpractice/corruption case prior to the appointment.