Right to Information
Amravati’s Information Commissioner given charge of Pune that is 555kms away!

Pratibha Patil’s former secretary, who is Information Commissioner in her home town Amravati, strangely has got the additional charge of Pune

Maharashtra, which claims to be the most literate state as far as Right to Information (RTI) Act is concerned, is paradoxically much behind in transparency in appointment of state information commissioners (SICs). The latest shocker is handing over additional charge of Pune Division’s Information Commissioner to Rajendra Jadhav, who is SIC at Amravati, which is located 555kms away from Pune. Jadhav is former secretary of Pratibha Patil, the former President of India.
 

Logically, the information commissioners of Mumbai or Konkan, who sit two-three hours away, respectively from Pune should have taken additional charge of Pune, as its information commissioner has taken ill. Is the ex-president still ruling with an invisible hand and if so, what could be her motive in doing this?
 

Consider this:  TF Thekkekara is the SIC of Konkan region and sits at Konkan Bhavan in Navi Mumbai, which is only two hours from Pune. Ajit Kumar Jain is the SIC of Greater Mumbai, which is just three hours away from Pune. MH Shah is the SIC of Pune but has fallen ill and he may take some more time to recover. Hence, an additional charge had been considered.
 

However, instead of giving the additional charge to either the Information Commissioners of Greater Mumbai or Konkan, it has been ‘gifted’ to Amravati’s Information Commissioner who would have to travel non-stop for over 10 hours by road to attend to the Pune office. Alternatively, he would have to take two flights to reach Pune – Amravati to Nagpur and from there to Pune!
 



So, by what logic has the state government agreed to appoint Mr Jadhav in the additional post as Pune’s Information Commissioner? The suspicion that the former President of India Pratibha Patil’s invisible hand might be at play, is fanned by the fact that at present she resides in Pune. She may have ‘appointed’ her former secretary as Information Commissioner of her hometown, Amravati and then allegedly has got him diverted to Pune, never mind the additional public expenditure of his travel.
 

The other factor for such suspicion is the deeply kept secret about Mr Jadhav’s additional appointment as Pune’s information commissioner. It was leading RTI activist of Pune, Vijay Kumbhar who got a whiff of this story last week, when he was in Mumbai and told the media.

Strangely, the website of the state information commission, inconspicuously added Mr Jadhav to the list of information commissioners in its ‘contact list’ on the website. It is only a few days back that the actual order of this appointment has been put up, after Mr Kumbhar made a hue and cry about it.
 

Despite the RTI Act making it mandatory to make the appointment of information commissioners transparent, in Maharashtra, it is the bureaucrats who are appointed through secrecy and conspiracy. Kumbhar says, “Information Commission has become the ideal old age homes for favoured bureaucrats of politicians. The Jadhav appointment is a clear cut case of one of a high profile personality interfering for alleged personal interests.”
 

Besides, in the Supreme Court order of the Namit Jain case, it has clearly been stated that ‘eminence’ record of the candidate be recorded by the high powered committee appointed for the appointment of information commissioners. So, what is eminent about Jadhav? Being Madam former President’s former secretary? Kumbhar has filed a RTI application seeking copies of records of ‘eminence’ recorded by the high powered committee for all posts of ICs that have been filled.
 

In the meanwhile, it is clear that old habits die hard for a President, who used the highest office of the country and large public funds, to satisfy her traveler dreams and a dream palace. The latter though was scuttled thanks to a vociferous campaign by Moneylife .
 

What do the Supreme Court rules say for appointment of information commissioners with eminence record? 

iii) We direct that only persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in the fields mentioned in Sections 12(5) and 15(5) of the Act be considered for appointment as Information Commissioner and Chief Information Commissioner.


iv) We further direct that persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in all the fields mentioned in Sections 12(5) and 15(5) of the Act, namely, law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance, be considered by the Committees under Sections 12(3) and 15(3) of the Act for appointment as Chief Information Commissioner or Information Commissioners.

 

v) We further direct that the Committees under Sections 12(3) and 15(3) of the Act while making recommendations to the President or to the Governor, as the case may be, for appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners must mention against the name of each candidate recommended, the facts to indicate his eminence in public life, his knowledge in the particular field and his experience in the particular field and these facts must be accessible to the citizens as part of their right to information under the Act after the appointment is made.

 

 

 

It’s bureaucrats all the way:
 

Kumbhar says, “Last month the state government had made appointments on three posts of information commissioners in Maharashtra, which were lying vacant for more many months. Ajit Kumar Jain, former Additional Chief Secretary; Ravindra Jadhav, former Secretary of ex-President Pratibha Patil; and Thanksy Thekkekara, former Additional Chief Secretary were appointed as new information commissioners.
 

The fourth appointment of was of Vasant Patil, superintendent engineer of Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation, but he did not take oath as the tenure of his current post was scheduled to end by March. However now the news from corridors of Mantralaya is, his resignation has been accepted and any time in next few days he will take oath as a state information commissioner.
 

 

List of Information Commissioners:
 

Shri Ratnakar Gaikwad

Chief Information Commissioner

State Information Commission

13th Floor, New Administrative Building,
Mantralaya, Mumbai 400032.

Tel: 022-22856078

 

Shri DB Deshpande

State Information Commissioner, Aurangabad

State Information Commission,

Small saving Building,
Behind Treasury Office, Aurangabad.

Tel: 0240-2352133 / 2352544

 

Shri MH Shah

State Information Commissioner, Pune

Maharashtra Information Commission

New Administration Building, 4th Floor,
Opp. Council Hall, Pune.

Tel: 020-26050580

 

Shri Ravindra J Jadhav

State Information Commissioner (Additional Charge), Pune

State Information Commission

New Administration Building, 4th Floor,
Opp. Council Hall, Pune.

Tel: 020-26050580

 

Smt TF Thekkekara

State Information Commissioner, Konkan

State Information Commission

5th Floor, Konkan Bhavan,
CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai

Tel: 022-27570323/27579463/64

 

Shri Ajit Kumar Jain

State Information Commissioner, Greater Mumbai

State Information Commission

Greater Mumbai, 13th Floor,
New Administration Building, Mandalay, Mumbai.

Tel: 022-22040086 / 22040095

 

Shri Ravindra J Jadhav

State Information Commissioner, Amravati

State Information Commission

Bhatkuli Tahsil Office, Camp
Amravati 444602

Tel: 0721-2553172 / 2553173


Shri PW Patil

State Information Commissioner, Nashik

State Information Commission

Shivneri, 2nd Floor, Govt. Guest House,
Behind Golf Club, Nashik.

Tel: 0253-2232764

 

Shri DB Deshpande

State Information Commissioner (Additional Charge), Nagpur

State Information Commission

Administrative Building No.2, Civil Lines,
Nagpur

 

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

Dr Anantha K Ramdas

3 years ago

It is "natural" favours have to be extended.

In a likewise manner, Shiela Dixit the former Chief Minister
of Delhi, who lost, fair and square to AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal, cannot remain in her vanquished territory. So what does the "big powers" do?

Well, make her the Governor of Kerala, and pack her off to the southern tip of India mainland.

Our biggest tragedy is "accommodating" our "well-wishers" and, perhaps, "chamchas" and send them from the battle scene!

Democracy at its worst behaviour. This kind of fooling must stop. But how?

Vaibhav Dhoka

3 years ago

Sothat TA DA and additional PERKS canbe claimed.

India to allow vehicles from neighbouring SAARC members from 2016

As a first step, from 2016, India will start issuing international permits for vehicles entering the country from some of its neighbours, covering both commercial and passenger category, from Bangladesh

During the last summit meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), India made a commitment that it would issue international permits for vehicles to enter the country from our neighbouring states. This move would enable members from this eight-nation group, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India to be able to extend vehicular traffic into each others' territory. It may be remembered that there is already this facility, on a regular basis, between India and Pakistan, at the Wagah border.

 

Similar arrangements exist with Bangladesh and Myanmar, though operative on a much smaller scale.

 

We are aware of the South Asian Free Trade Area or SAFTA agreement on goods, which came into force from January 2006, involving developing countries, such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to bring down their customs duties to 20% in the first phase of the two-year period ending in 2007 and to zero by 2016 in phases.

 

As a first step, from 2016, India will start issuing international permits for vehicles entering the country from some of its neighbours, covering both commercial and passenger category, from Bangladesh. Later on, this is likely to be extended to Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.

 

This arrangement is to coincide with the proposed plan to build a dedicated international highway. When the road permits are issued, these will be included with an IT tracker, which will enable easy location and to keep a watch on the movement of vehicle concerned, if necessary.

 

In the next two years, all the relative arrangements in regard to the introduction of such traffic, including special customs clearance needs, check posts, possibly x-ray or scanning equipments (advanced types) to ensure movement is smooth and without hassle. Yet, at the same time, easy movement does not permit contraband items being brought in or smuggling made easy!

 

It would also follow that when reciprocal arrangements become effective it would help greater movement of vehicular traffic from India too.

 

With a large network of railway system in the country, there is scope for developing this also extensively into Bangladesh, Myanmar and

Sri Lanka.

 

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)

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Doctor payments on the decline

Pharmaceutical company payments to health care professionals dropped between 2011 and 2012 among most of the companies and categories

Pharmaceutical company payments to health care professionals dropped between 2011 and 2012 among most of the companies and categories ProPublica tracks, driven in part by increased transparency as well as blockbuster drugs losing patent protection. Research payments, however, have increased among that group. Search: Has Your Health Professional Received Drug Company Money?
 

Speaking
 

Payments to health care providers for speaking decreased by 38.1% among the nine companies that reported for both years.
 

Research
 

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Meals
 

Payments to health care providers for meals decreased by 20.9% among the seven companies that reported for both years.
 

Travel

Payments to health care providers for travel decreased by 29.1% among the six companies that reported for both years.

 

Consulting
 

Payments to health care providers for consulting decreased by 18.7% among the nine companies that reported for both years.

Items or gifts
 

Payments to health care providers for items or gifts decreased by 47.3% among the four companies that reported for both years.
 

Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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