Citizens' Issues
RTI activist alleges Nehru Museum director’s link with Congress is breach of service rules

Subhash Agrawal says Prof Mridula Mukherjee’s association with editorial board of a party publication is not permitted under civil service regulations

An RTI query reveals that the director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library is guilty of violating civil service conduct rules by virtue of her also being on the editorial board of a Congress party publication. However, as the director is the appellate authority to the information officer, the reply provided is incomplete and evasive, according to an RTI activist.

The query was posted by renowned RTI (right to information) activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, and in reply, the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) admitted that its director, Professor Mridula Mukherjee, had violated provisions of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules and Central Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules which forbids officials from involvement in any political party or organisation. Prof Mukherjee is a member of the editorial board for a publication that has been published by the Congress party to mark its 125th year.

However, while admitting that Prof Mukherjee is a member of the editorial board of 'Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation', which is in two volumes, the information officer, Purnima Arora, was evasive on the exact nature of the violation of rules. But she admitted that NMML comes under the purview of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules and Central Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules.

It follows as a corollary that, therefore, NMML members are also not allowed to be associated with a party or political organisation, or offer any assistance in any manner. However, when asked about whether Prof Mukherjee has violated any service by-rules, the reply was evasive. "The query of the applicant is not covered under the definition of 'information' as given in section 2(f) of the RTI Act 2005," Ms Arora said. Citing a precedent, she said that giving advice or making suggestions to an enquirer falls under the scope of the Act.

Ms Arora also stated that no records are available of any action taken against Prof Mukherjee and that neither has any explanation been sought from her, nor has she volunteered any.

But, Mr Agrawal also cites a precedent that indicates a liberal interpretation of the Act for public welfare. He said, "Honourable Mr Justice S Ravindra Bhatt of Delhi High Court in the matter Bhagat Singh vs CIC (W.P.(C) No.3114/2007) has held that the Right to Information Act being a right-based enactment is akin to a welfare measure and as such should receive liberal interpretation."

Mr Agrawal has thus requested that the information authorities should answer his queries. Incidentally, the appellate authority in this case would be the director of NMML, Prof Mukherjee, herself.

'Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation' is edited by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, and it has been criticised by opposition parties and others for a distorted portrayal of the Emergency. The book blames Sanjay Gandhi for the compulsory sterilisation that was among the major excesses of the Emergency, and apparently absolves the former prime minister Indira Gandhi and other leaders.

This new controversy while hurting the Congress party further, also undermines the integrity of a premier institution like NMML.


2G case: Judicial custody of Raja and 3 others extended

CBI request for more time to complete investigation into telecom scam case

New Delhi:  A Delhi court today extended the judicial custody of former telecom minister A Raja and three other accused in the 2G spectrum case till 31st March.

Mr Raja along with former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Mr Raja's former personal secretary RK Chandolia and Swan telecom promoter Shahid Balwa are lodged in Tihar Jail in the national capital. The four were to appear before special CBI judge OP Saini in a video-conference. But, due to technical glitches in the video conferencing system between Tihar Jail and the Patiala Court complex, they were produced before the judge in person, PTI reports.

The CBI informed the court that the probe in the case involving Mr Raja and the three others was yet to be completed and the judge granted an extension of judicial custody. The investigating agency also submitted that the accused are "highly influential" and could tamper with the evidence if they were released at this stage of the investigation.

Mr Raja was arrested by the CBI along with Mr Behura and Mr Chandolia on 2nd February 2011 and Mr Balwa was arrested in Pune on 8th February.


IVRCL wins orders worth Rs565 crore

IVRCL Infrastructures and Projects Ltd’s power, buildings and transportation divisions have won orders worth Rs564.62 crore

IVRCL Infrastructures and Projects Ltd's (IVRCL) power, buildings and transportation divisions have won orders worth Rs564.62 crore, the company said.

According to a press note, an order worth Rs239.67 crore was received from Power Grid Corporation for transmission project in the North Eastern Region while another order worth Rs 119.94 crore is meant for work in Orissa.

The building division of the company has bagged order for constructing 320 residential apartments from Nagpur Housing and Area Development Board.
Other project bagged by the division include boundary wall works for Pellet Plant Project at Donimalal, Karnataka, awarded by NMDC and installation of Bored Pilling work for a Multi-storyed IT Office Complex in Kolkata among others.

The aggregate value of the orders of Building Division is Rs131.46 crore. While transport division has bagged orders worth Rs73.55 crore, the company said.

On Thursday, IVRCL ended 0.14% up at Rs72.95 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex declined 1.14% to 18,149.87.


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