NEW DELHI: Magsaysay awardee, Arvind Kejriwal, has returned to the Central Information Commission with the case that provoked the abortive attempt to pull file notings out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
Reason: despite its promise to CIC five months ago, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has failed to disclose the manner in which senior bureaucratic appointments are being made.
In his complaint to CIC filed on December 12, Kejriwal alleged that DoPT had avoided giving information relating to appointments at the level of secretary and additional secretary by claiming that those details were actually available with the cabinet secretariat.
But even if DoPT officials really did not have records on senior appointments, Kejriwal pointed out that they were required by the RTI Act, in such a situation, to transfer his request to the cabinet secretariat, along with CIC's July 14 order directing disclosure of information within a month.
Besides seeking a fresh direction to the cabinet secretariat on information relating to appointments at the level of secretary and additional secretary, Kejriwal requested CIC to issue penalty notices to DoPT officials for not complying with its July 14 order.
A former IRS officer, Kejriwal first asked for such sensitive information from DoPT more than a year ago under RTI to see whether the officers selected for the level of secretary and additional secretary in various ministries fulfil the prescribed criterion of "specific suitability", despite being drawn mainly from the generalist stream of IAS.
Kejriwal's application raised the hackles of the IAS lobby which saw it as an attempt to expose their monopoly over all top posts, regardless of their suitability for the increasingly technical demands of those jobs
The information asked for may lay bare the manipulations that allow an officer to be posted as telecom secretary, for instance, without having any qualification or experience in that specialised field.
While withholding all information pertaining to the level of secretary and additional secretary, DOPT has been less secretive with Kejriwal about appointments made at lower levels, that of joint secretary and downwards.
He was allowed to inspect those files. But Kejriwal's grievance is that he was not supplied with copies of documents despite an express provision in the RTI Act for such service against payment of photocopying charges.
While rejecting his request for copies of documents, DoPT cited another RTI provision which permits it to refuse on the ground that photocopying all those files would "disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority."