Millennium Post

Union Govt declines to share information on Lokpal aspirants

NEW DELHI: The Centre has declined to divulge details of persons who have applied for the posts of chairperson and members of anti-corruption body Lokpal, saying these are ‘personal’ in nature and cannot be disclosed.

Replying to an RTI query, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) also declined to furnish copies of communication, sent to and received from individuals, accepting or rejecting the government’s offer to become members of the Lokpal Search Committee, saying the file ‘is not readily available’.

The DoPT said that the selection process for appointment of the chairperson and members of the Lokpal is under consideration of the competent authorities, as per the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act.

‘The name of persons, their references/letters etc. can’t be disclosed as the information sought is exempted under Section 8(1)(J) of the RTI Act, 2005,’ it said in reply to a question asking details about persons who have applied to be chairperson and members of the Lokpal.

The section exempts publication of information which relates to personal information and the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual.

The government, however, gave names of eight persons chosen for appointment as chairperson or members of the Search Committee during a meeting held in February 21 this year.

Those selected then included Justice (retd) K T Thomas (Chairperson) and seven members — Kaki Madhava Rao (former IAS officer), F S Nariman (legal luminary), Prof Meenakshi Gopinath (educationist), M L Kumawat (former Director General of Border Security Force), H K Dua (senior journalist and Rajya Sabha member), S Y Quraishi (former Chief Election Commissioner) and Prof Mrinal Miri (Rajya Sabha member). In a setback to the UPA government, Thomas and Nariman subsequently refused to be part of the search panel.

Earlier this week, the centre had informed the Supreme Court that it will not take any immediate decision on the appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal, virtually indicating that a decision in this regard might be left to the new government after the general elections.

Appearing before a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said the government is not planning to take any decision on the appointment of Lokpal after which the apex court posted the case for hearing on May 5.

The bench said there was no need for any interim order on a PIL challenging the selection procedure for the Lokpal after the government assured the court that no decision will be taken till May 5.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by NGO Common Cause seeking a stay on the entire selection process of appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal, saying the government was going ahead with it despite the apex court being seized of the issue.

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