New Delhi: The Lok Sabha Secretariat has
refused to disclose action taken by the Speaker Meira Kumar on
the objections raised by Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj to
the extension given to Secretary General T K Vishwanathan.
The Secretariat while replying to an RTI application has
said disclosure of communication or consultations entered by
the Speaker may cause breach of privileged of the House and
exempted under the Right to Information Act.
Swaraj in a strongly worded letter in August to the
Speaker had criticized the extension given to Vishwanathan
saying his behavior and conduct was "not up to the mark" for
the high post.
Activist Subhash Agrawal sought from the Lok Sabha
Secretariat complete information with "related correspondence
and file notings" on action taken on letter of Swaraj.
"Communications/Consultation by Honorable Speaker with
the functionaries of the House in the discharge of the
constitutional duties, which, if disclosed, may cause breach
of parliamentary privilege and hence exempted under Section
8(1)(c) of the RTI Act," the RTI reply said.
As part of reply the Secretariat has provided the letter
from Swaraj and the rules of appointment of the Secretary
General as sought by Agrawal.
Vishwanathan, 63, who was made the Lok Sabha Secretary
General last year after his retirement as Law Secretary, got
one year`s extension in the post in August this year.
Following this, Swaraj shot off a letter to the Speaker,
saying his behaviour and conduct was "not upto the mark" for
the high post.
Swaraj had objected to the extension given to
Vishwanathan on three counts -- there was no formal meeting
with her and leader of the House, officers of Lok Sabha
Secretariat have been ignored, behavior and conduct of the
Secretary General was not up to the mark for this post, the
letter provided in the RTI reply said.
Vishwanathan does not belong to the Lok Sabha Secretariat
service and has worked for two decades in the Union Ministry
of Law and Justice since 1988 and was Advisor to the Union
Minister for Law and Justice from November 2009 to September
2010. He retired as Law Secretary in October 2009.
"You did not hold a formal meeting with the Leader of the
Opposition and the Leader of the House on extending the tenure
of the present Secretary General. Holding informal talks on
this cannot be an alternative for a formal meeting. It is a
must for the three to sit together before the decision,"
Swaraj also said in the letter that only an employee of
the Parliament Secretariat should be appointed to the post.