Finally Andhra Pradesh gets 3 new Information Commissioners
VIJAYAWADA: The names of retired IPS officer BV Ramana Kumar, retired IFS officer M Ravi Kumar and advocate Katta Janardhana Rao were cleared for appointment as RTI commissioners.
The selection committee consisting of CM N Chandrababu Naidu and Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu went through the applications submitted by several aspirants on Thursday before finalising the three names. Sources said that though leader of opposition YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is also a member of the selection committee, the government was forced to complete the process without him as he skipped all the three meetings citing his preoccupation with padayatra. The names will be referred to the Governor for his approval.
It is learnt the government will issue notification for appointment of RTI Chief Commissioner post soon and will complete the process at the earliest as there is a case pending in the High Court for completion of the exercise.
With the HC taking a serious view of the delay in appointment of RTI Commissioners by the state government, the committee cleared the names of three persons for RTI Commissioners.
BV Ramana Kumar one among the selected, was known for cracking the sensational Gold Dollar scam in the world renowned TTD. He also worked as the chief vigilance and security officer of TTD besides working as SP of various districts, DIG (CID and Krunool range) and Joint Commissioner of Police Vijayawada.
12.7 Cr in past three years has been spent on maintenance of Rashtrapati Bhavan’s sprawling gardens
President’s secretariat, in response to a letter submitted under RTI Act by Bheemappa Gadad, a noted RTI activist of Belagavi, furnished information (dated May 22, 2018) on the maintenance of the gardens and expenses incurred on it for the past three years.
Besides Rs 12.70 crore spent on maintenance of the gardens, another Rs 1.46 crore was spent on garden equipment and gear. It was also revealed that a salary of Rs 72 lakh was paid to gardeners at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in February 2018 alone. If the salary figure is extrapolated, it means the government is spending approximately Rs 8 crore annually merely on salaries of gardeners of the Bhavan.
The official documents on the gardens’ expenditure provided by Rashtrapati Bhavan shows Rs 3.73 crore was spent on maintenance and repair of garden during 2015-16 and`50.09 lakh on machinery and equipment in the same year. In 2016-17, Rs 4.56 crore was spent on the maintenance and repair of the garden and Rs 96.15 lakh on machinery and equipment used.The maintenance of Karnataka’s Brindavan Garndens with an area of 72 acres - almost half the size of the Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens - costs Rs 7 crore per year.
Governor does't want to be governed under RTI Act
The Goa Raj Bhavan on Wednesday informed the Goa State Information Commission (GSIC) that the Goa Governor does not come under the purview of the Right to Information Act as the Governor is not a "Public Authority".
In a 15-page affidavit submitted to the Commission, Rupesh Thakur, Secretary to the Governor, said the Governor enjoys immunity under Article 361 of the Indian Constitution and therefore is not answerable to any Court or the Commission.
While denying that all other Raj Bhavans have appointed Public Information Officers, Thakur said that merely because some other Raj Bhavans have appointed a Public Information Officer does not mean that the Goa Raj Bhavan is bound or compelled by law to also appoint a Public Information Officer.
The Secretary to the Governor has further stated that the Governor not being a Public authority cannot be compelled or directed by the State Information Commission to appoint a Public Information Officer.
“The Governor is the appointing authority of the State Information Commissioners and is also vested with the power to recommend their removal,” the affidavit also stated.
The affidavit was filed after a city-based lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues in a complaint to the Commission had said that since the Goa Raj Bhavan was a public authority, the institution’s failure to appoint a Public Information Officer was “illegal, mala fide and without reasonable cause”. In the complaint filed by advocate Aires Rodrigues under section 18 (1) (a) of the RTI Act has drawn the attention of the GSIC that the Goa Raj Bhavan despite being a "Public authority in terms of section 2 (h) of the RTI Act has not appointed a Public Information Officer (PIO) for members of the public to be able to seek information and that the Goa Raj Bhavan has also not made the mandatory disclosures required under section 4 (1) of the RTI Act.
After hearing a complaint filed by advocate Aires Rodrigues the then State Chief Information Commissioner Motilal Keny on March 31, 2011 ruled that the Goa Governor was a "Public Authority" and did come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
Later dismissing the appeal filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan against the order of the GSIC, the Bombay High Court at Goa in a landmark judgment pronounced on November 14, 2011, also ruled that the Governor of Goa was a Public Authority and was bound to furnish information sought under the RTI Act.
The Goa Raj Bhavan later challenged the Bombay High Court judgement in the Supreme Court.
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy on January 30, 2018 dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan.
The next hearing in the case has been set for July 26.
Uttarakhand suffers again due to non appointment of SIC
DEHRADUN: Delay in appointment of new ICs has resulted in piling up of appeals in Right to Information (RTI) cases at the SIC. The work in the SIC responsible for hearing the appeals in the RTI cases has stopped in the absence of ICs. The term of last remaining IC Surendra Singh Rawat ended in June this year.
The long-pending appointment on the crucial position of Information Commissioner (IC) has got further delayed as the meeting of three-member committee, constituted to approve the names for ICs scheduled for Tuesday, was cancelled at the last moment. The meeting of the high-powered three-member committee, comprising the Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, leader of the opposition ( LoP) Indira Hridayesh and senior Cabinet Minister Madan Kaushik was scheduled to be held at CM’s residence on Tuesday evening. The meeting was , however, cancelled as the CM left for Delhi in the afternoon to inquire about the health of former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Narayan Dutt Tiwari.