CIC Chief, information commissioners make assets public

Leading by example, the head of transparency watchdog CIC, Satyananda Mishra, and five information commissioners on Wednesday made their assets public.

New Delhi: Leading by example, the head of
transparency watchdog CIC, Satyananda Mishra, and five
information commissioners on Wednesday made their assets public.

The Information Commissioners reached a consensus to
declare their assets voluntarily on the CIC website during a
meeting last month where it was also agreed to update this
information on annual basis.

"We have taken a decision during the last week of
March to voluntarily declare our assets on the website. We
thought when there is nothing to hide, why not to place them
in public domain," Chief Information Commissioner Mishra said.

The declaration which came after initial reluctance of
the CIC on the issue shows that only two Information
Commissioners, ML Sharma and Shailesh Gandhi, own a car.

Sharma said he owns a Maruti 800 which he bought in
1993 for Rs two lakh. Sharma has also declared other assets
which include agricultural land and house in Jaipur which he
built in 1989-90 with a loan from HDFC.

Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit declared two
houses that she owns in Delhi and Nainital with the combined
value of about Rs 50 lakh. Information Commissioner Sushma
Singh has one house in Ranchi purchased in 2004 and another
bought in 2008 in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad.

Mishra has given exhaustive details of property owned
by him which include an ancestral property inherited by him in
native place in Orissa, a house in Bhubaneshwar and one in
Bhopal which is co-owned by his wife.

He had also given property details of his wife who
is a professor in a post-graduate college in Bhopal.

"I had used the same format which I used to give when
I was working as a civil servant," he said.

Information Commissioner Deepak Sandhu gave details of
her five properties which include agriculture land worth Rs
1,000, two plot in Kilokari in Delhi with value of Rs 40,000,
a house in Barog Himachal Pradesh worth 50 lakh and one in
Chandigarh worth Rs five crore.

She paid 20 per cent, about Rs 1.5 crore, of it in
joint ownership with her husband after selling a house in
Mumbai and 50 per cent was inherited from mother.

Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also declared
property details of his family. The former entrepreneur showed
a house worth Rs 80,000, a car worth Rs five lakh, jewellery
(self estimate value) of Rs 31 lakh, bank deposits and such
instruments of about Rs 71 lakh and cash of about Rs 11 lakh.

His income from salary and interests was about Rs 31
lakh while expenses were about Rs 16 lakh during the year.

The step taken by the Commission is a complete
turnaround from its position during the time of Chief
Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, whose five-year
term ended in September last year, when some of the
fellow Information Commissioners were against posting their
asset details on the website.

Habibullah had said although the Commissioners were
ready to declare their assets, they were against the idea of
putting the information in public domain like the website of
the CIC.

Gandhi had opposed this view point of his peers and
had declared his property details on his website.

Habibullah had then directed the officials to
understand the practice followed in other commissions. But no
concrete step was taken by the Commission.