Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
PJ Thomas’ empanelment records: Govt to challenge CIC order

The cabinet secretariat has refused to furnish the records of empanelment of Mr Thomas’ appointment at the Centre under the RTI Act. However, earlier acting on an appeal filed by Delhi-based activist Subhash Agrawal, the CIC had directed the government to disclose of the documents

The central government has decided to challenge the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) order in Delhi High Court, directing it to disclose records, including the file noting, related to the empanelment of former Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) PJ Thomas for appointment at the Centre. The decision comes three month after the CIC order.

Hearing an appeal filed by Delhi-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Agrawal, Central Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra had, on 29 February 2012, set aside the orders of the central public information officer (CPIO) and appellate authority and directed the cabinet secretariat to disclose the required documents.

“The entire information relates to a certain 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 and the subsequent relaxation in that rule. The framing of the rule and its subsequent relaxation cannot be classified as Cabinet papers. Cabinet papers refer to only those papers which are placed before the council of ministers or any committee of ministers constituted by it for considering any particular proposal; framing of rules for empanelment of officers at the level of additional secretary and secretary, we understand, does not require the approval of the council of ministers.”

The cabinet secretariat had refused to furnish the records of empanelment of Mr Thomas’ appointment at the Centre citing it to be Cabinet documents not to be disclosed under the RTI Act.

In a reply to Mr Agrawal’s RTI application, the CPIO did not provide information on some questions such as if there is any provision that required an officer to serve at least for three years in the central government before joining post of joint secretary and above at the Centre, any changes in those norms, etc. The decision was endorsed by the Appellate Authority.

PTI reported that the Centre had a rule that only those IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers who had served at least three years at the Centre would be considered for appointment to the post of joint secretary and above at the Centre. Accordingly, 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.

Mr Thomas had joined the Centre as parliamentary affairs secretary in 2009 before his appointment as telecom secretary and subsequently as central vigilance commissioner, which was quashed by the Supreme Court on 3 March 2011. He was selected as CVC in September 2010 by the three-member high-powered committee (HPC) including prime minister Manmohan Singh, home minister P Chidambaram and leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. Ms Swaraj had put a dissenting note opposing the selection of Mr Thomas. The Supreme Court quashed the appointment of Mr 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.


Public Interest Exclusive
Mumbai-Pune Expressway: 27 people from a marriage party killed in road accident

The horrendous accident that killed 27 and left 26 others injured, shows lethargic enforcement of regulations, especially on highways and expressways

Twenty-seven members of a marriage party, including four children, were killed and 26 others injured when a speeding tempo rammed in two stationary buses at Khalapur on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

The incident took place in the wee hours around 1am when the tyres of one of the mini-buses carrying a marriage party got punctured on the expressway and was parked on the roadside while another bus was stationed just behind the vehicle, helping it out with the repairs, reports PTI.

The mishap occurred when a speeding tempo rammed into the second mini bus from the rear, crushing people seated on the road between both the vehicles, police said.

According to Chandmal Parmar, an activist who is fighting hard to prevent road accidents, such horrendous mishaps could have averted, if only they had used the retro-reflector strips on all sides of the bus. “The retro-reflector strips, white on the front side of the vehicle, yellow on both the sides, and red on the backside of the vehicle, especially on commercial vehicles, are more useful in preventing accidents. In fact, the surface transport and highways ministry issued a circular in 2008, based on my application. However, the local authorities do not show any concern. The ministry, after my second approach, again issued similar notification in 2011, but there are hardly 10% to 15% vehicles, which are following the regulations or using the retro-reflector strips,” he said.

Coming back to the accident, according to police, the deceased including women and children were returning to Pune after attending a wedding at suburban Ghatkopar in Mumbai.

The injured have been admitted to MGM hospital at Panvel and Pune’s Sassoon hospital, where three victims were pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

The deceased have not been identified yet. The tempo driver has been detained at Khalapur in Raigad district, they added.

The victims, who were brought to the Sassoon hospital in Pune and declared dead on arrival, were identified as Pooja Shinde (12), Om Sonavane (6) and Mangla Gaikwad (42).

According to police, the newly-married couple was safe as they were travelling separately.




5 years ago

What puzzles me is the speedbreakers before Toll Plaza. Why there is no mention of them? I recall they exist. But look to me that the Tempo hit it & hence was flying when it hit the parked Tempo..

MSRTC should look at more sets of speedbreakers.. Also Toll guys shouldn't allow vehicles to be parked as is mentioned here - at Toll gate. They should be forced to move to side of roads where such parking is permitted.


5 years ago

It appears to be very difficult to understand how this happened. From the many reports and photos available, it looks like two long-body/elongated Tempo Traveller type passenger vans were rammed from behind by an LCV. This apparently happened on the approaches to the Khalapur toll plaza, which itself is after a long and fast left-hander of a turn - and which also has some confusing exits for some factories as well as the food court.

Increasingly in other parts of the country, commercial vehicles are being made to install high running lights, day-glo luminous strips and paint the rear in a diagonal contrasting colour pattern (yellow/black, for example). Aesthetically it may not look good, to some, but it serves the purpose.

It is also about time that compulsory alcohol detection was imposed on vehicles at the toll plazas. Especially at night.


IDBI Mutual Fund to launch 3-4 new products this fiscal

IDBI Mutual Fund would launch new schemes in the equity space would be hybrid in nature like a balanced fund and fund of funds scheme in gold segment

Mumbai: IDBI Mutual Fund is planning to come up with three to four new products in both debt and equity space in the current financial year and also aims to achieve breakeven by FY15, a top company official said.

"We plan to launch three to four products in the debt and equity segments in the current financial year in order to tap the emerging opportunities in this space," Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of IDBI Asset Management Company, Debasish Mallick told PTI.

He also said that the product to be launched in the equity space would be hybrid in nature like a balanced fund.

The company will also come up with a fund of funds scheme in gold segment in this fiscal, where retail investors can invest through systemic investment plan (SIP) route.

IDBI Mutual, the wholly owned subsidiary of IDBI Bank, is also hopeful of achieving breakeven by 2014-15.

"Taking into account the growth rate of the company, we hope to be breakeven by 2014-15," Mallick said, adding that the AMC is fully capitalised as of now and may not need any fund from the parent in ongoing fiscal.

Till date, IDBI Bank has invested Rs75 crore in the AMC.

Talking about the new fund offer of IDBI India Top 100 Equity Fund, Mallick said that the new offer was able to collect Rs70 crore, mostly from the retail investors.

"Given the market condition, Rs70 crore of investment in an equity NFO was an encouraging response. Also, most of the money has been collected from retail investors, which gives stability to portfolio of the fund," he said, adding that the fund is now open for investment from May 25 for investors.

About distribution, he said majority of the collection is coming from IDBI bank branches coupled with distributors.

"We are strengthening our marketing efforts with focussing on distribution channel," he said.

Mallick, however, said that the company has no plans to hire fund managers as of now.


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