New Delhi. Dec. 29: The email lying on the desk of the information commissioner isn’t the classical hate message, but its sender has no love lost for the Central Information Commission.

“You won’t get away with this,” reads a line in the anonymous message. The information commissioner the email is addressed to dismisses it as an “empty threat”, but concern is writ large on his face. It’s not the first case, after all.

Central information commissioners have been at the receiving end of several “personal slanders” — from “empty threats” to allegations of “motivated judgments — in the past two months. “While most mails are anonymous, some government officials have been brazen enough to reveal their identities,” says a joint secretary at commission.

Initially, some information commissioners laughed it off. “It’s ugly, but you have to shrug it off. After all, they are bureaucrats, not goondas (thugs) and it didn’t seem a major cause for concern,” said an information commissioner who received two mails where the sender identified himself.

But now, there are worries. The increasing frequency of such mails has led chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah to consider legal action against those who have named themselves. “The slanders are shocking and unacceptable,” he says.

Officials at the commission see the mails as intimidating, intended to scare commissioners into giving more lenient judgments against them in the future. “In the larger picture, intimidating us will help all those in the bureaucracy with skeletons to hide,” said commissioner Om Prakash Kejriwal.

Those who have identified themselves include registrars of two central universities. They have accused an information commissioner of “personal enmities”.

Both registrars had been sent notices from the information commission after they violated the time frame within which they were supposed to respond with information sought by appellants under the Right to Information Act. “I’ve never met the two officials who accuse me of personal vendetta,” the commissioner facing the accusation said.

To deal with the mails, including those that come with “threats”, the chief commissioner is seeking help from the National Informatics Centre, which handles software facilities for most central government officials.

The centre has asked IBM — about to provide new hardware for the information panel’s computing facilities — to ensure that products are compatible with software to help track email senders.

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