NEW DELHI: Former regional passport officer of Delhi, Gloria Kumar, has levelled charges of "a general bias and perverted overtones" against information commissioner O P Kejariwal who had imposed a penalty of Rs 16,000 under the RTI Act.
The provocation for such an outburst in a writ petition filed before Delhi High Court was an order passed by Kejariwal in March pulling up Gloria Kumar for delaying information on extension of passport sought by a 90-year-old widow, Krishna Devi Jhalani.
Passing strictures on Gloria Kumar, Kejariwal had said: "Could there be a more callous and apathetic attitude of a government servant towards not just a member of the public but also a statutory body like the information commissioner?
It is such officers who bring a bad name to the bureaucracy and tarnish its image."
Denying that there was any negligence on her part (personally as opposed to that of the department), Gloria Kumar attributed the strictures and penalty to Kejariwal's "highhandedness." She said that during hearings in the Central Information Commission (CIC), Kejariwal "makes women officers feel in a awkward position. His manner of making observations is something which is not in tune with the ethics and manners which one, as a statutory authority, is required to show to a woman officer."
This is the way Gloria Kumar reconstructed a hearing that took place in December in Jhalani's case: Kejariwal first commented on her religion saying, "Oh! So you are a Christian." Making "uncalled for" comments on her name and surname, "he went on to ask me about my parents saying, how come you are a Christian if your mother was Christian and father was a Hindu? That means that your mother must be the dominating factor."
Worse, "Kejariwal also repeatedly asked me as to how often my husband visited India. He also commented on my parents and my age. His conduct was far more humiliating and reflected a general bias and perverted overtones. Seeing that he was getting into personal aspects relating to me, I very firmly told him that I have come here to make my submissions and not discuss personal matters with him." Sensational as it is, Gloria Kumar's writ petition against Kejariwal, who has earned the reputation of being the most assertive member of CIC, may help revive the bureaucracy's attempt to dilute the RTI Act.
Whatever view HC takes on her personal allegations against Kejariwal, he may have some explaining to do on whether he had taken her “explanations and justifications” into account while passing orders against her.
CIC member accused of gender bias-India-The Times of India
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