New Delhi: Chief Information Commissioner
Wajahat Habibullah has spent over Rs 23 lakh on nine foreign
tours undertaken by him to promote transparency in various
countries during his five-year stint.
The travel bills of other information commissioners at
the transparency panel taken together do not cross Rs 18
lakh, reveals an RTI reply from the Central Information
The airfare of Habibullah during his travel to deliver
address at the Brighom Young University at Provo, Utah and
Harvard University at Boston was over Rs 7.83 lakh, the reply,
contained in over 200 pages, shows.
The visit took place in March 2007 when austerity
measures were imposed by the government. Other incidental
expenses of this tour were Rs 31,200, it says.
He went to another four-day tour of the USA next year in
May 2008 to attend a conference in Miami and to address
representatives of World Bank, International Monetary Fund and
The air travel cost Rs 6.84 lakh and the
incidental expenses were to the tune of Rs 1.30 lakh, the
reply accessed by Mumbai based RTI activist Girish Mittal said.
Habibullah visited Pakistan, United Kingdom, Oman,
Thailand, Bangladesh and Bhutan also during 2006-10.
"As the face and the voice of India`s Right to
Information regime, Wajahat Habibullah`s duty is to travel
abroad and spread enlightenment in this regard but how does
the RTI appellant benefit from talks delivered to students of
some US universities at a cost of Rs 8.1 lakh? Also, if these
universities invited him, they would have footed the bills,
wouldn`t they," Mittal said.
Information Commissioner A N Tiwari also went to
Wellington, New Zealand in 2007 for a three-day international
conference of information commissioners. The airfare of the
travel was Rs 2.74 lakh while the incidental expenses were
to the tune of Rs 20,000.
He went to Mexico City in 2008 to deliver keynote address
at Mexico`s National Transparency Week for which Rs 6.96 lakh
were spent on air travel while incidental expenses were to the
tune of nearly Rs 41,000, the documents show.
Former Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramanian
visited the United Kingdom to attend an international
conference of Information Commissioners on which over Rs 3.31
lakh were spent. Balasubramanian was accompanied by another
former Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal who spent nearly
1.8 lakh which is half the amount spent by her.
Shailesh Gandhi also visited Dhaka, Bangladesh to attend
a conference on "Right to Information: Law, Institutions and
Citizens" on which a little over Rs one lakh were spent,
according to the reply.