Govt to challenge CIC order on PJ Thomas` empanelment

The government has decided to approach the Delhi HC seeking relief from the CIC`s directives for disclosing records related to empanelment of former CVC PJ Thomas for appointment at the Centre.

New Delhi: The government has decided to approach the Delhi High Court seeking relief from the Central Information Commission`s directives for disclosing records related to empanelment of former Central Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas for appointment at the Centre.

In February, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra, who was former secretary in the Department of Personnel, had directed the Cabinet Secretariat to disclose documents related to empanelment of Thomas at Centre.

The Cabinet Secretariat had claimed that the information was exempted under the RTI because of being cabinet document.

Rejecting the contentions, the CIC found it fit case for making public.

Three months after the order, the Cabinet Secretariat has refused to disclose the documents and told RTI applicant Subhash Agrawal that it has decided to challenge the order of the Chief Information Commissioner in the Delhi High Court.

The Cabinet Secretariat in its latest communication said it had sought permission of the competent authority for providing the required documents in compliance with the order of the CIC.

"The undersigned has been conveyed that competent authority has decided to go into an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the directions of CIC for providing copies of the file noting and other records relating to both the framing of rule made by the Central government for empanelment of officers for posting, at the level of Additional Secretary and Secretary to the Government of India as well as its subsequent amendments/relaxations," said S P Roy, Under Secretary at Cabinet Secretariat.

Thomas had joined Centre as Parliament Affairs Secretary in 2009 before his appointment as Telecom Secretary and subsequently as Central Vigilance Commissioner which was quashed by the Supreme Court on March 3, 2011.

He was selected as CVC in September 2010 by the three- member HPC which had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj as its members.

Swaraj had put a dissenting note opposing the selection of Thomas.

The Supreme Court quashed the appointment of Thomas as CVC, saying the recommendation made by the HPC did not consider charge sheet relating to a corruption case pending against him during his tenure in Kerala government.

The CIC had ordered disclosure of rules for appointment of joint secretary level officers and their seniors at the Centre, saying statutes which reportedly resulted in appointment of Thomas as Union Secretary cannot be termed as Cabinet documents.

The Centre had set a rule that only those IAS officers who had served at least three years at the Centre would be considered for appointment to the post of Joint Secretary and ranks.

As a result officials, who were facing vigilance cases in their states, could not come to the Centre for these positions. The rule was reportedly changed allowing the officials who had been cleared of vigilance inquiry to come and serve at the Centre.

Agrawal had sought to know details of the older rule for such appointments and subsequent changes in it along with the file notings.


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