Skip to main content

Transparency? Modi govt "refused" to divulge information on Lokpal selection process

Counterview Desk
The National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), in a letter to the Lokpal Selection Committee, which consists of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its chairperson, and members, chief justice Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, and eminent jurist Shri Mukul Rohatgi, has taken strong exception to alleged lack of transparency in the selection of chair and members of the Lokpal.
Appointed in March 2019, based on the recommendations made by the selection committee, chair and members of the Lokpal were appointed, says NCPRI, under the Lokpal & Lokayuktas (L&L) Act, 2013, which states that “the selection committee shall regulate its own procedure in a transparent manner for selecting the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal.”
"However", contends the letter, "There appears to be no information in the public domain about any process put in place by the selection committee in accordance with section 4(4) of the law. Further, despite the passage of nearly two months since the appointment of chair and members of the Lokpal, relevant information about the selection process has not been made available to people."
"Further", continues the letter, "Information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, including names of applicants, names of candidates recommended by the search committee and minutes of selection committee meetings, has been denied to citizens."
Signed by senior RTI activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Shekhar Singh, Shailesh Gandhi, Nikhil Dey, Venkatesh Nayak, Pankti Jog, Pradip Pradhan, Rakesh Dubbudu, and others, the letter urges the committee to take immediate steps to make public the procedure adopted, if any, to ensure transparency in the selection process as envisaged in section 4(4) of the L&L Act.

Text of the letter:

The Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act 2013 was enacted to set up an independent and empowered anti-corruption institution to tackle cases involving allegations of corruption against public servants, including high level functionaries. We are writing to express our deep concern about the lack of transparency in the process of selection of the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal.
Sub-section 4 of section 4 of the L&L Act mandates that the Lokpal Selection Committee should regulate its procedure in a transparent manner. The provision states that, “(4) The Selection Committee shall regulate its own procedure in a transparent manner for selecting the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal.”
Unfortunately, there appears to be no information in the public domain about any process put in place by the Selection Committee in accordance with section 4(4) of the law. Lack of transparency, despite the statutory provision in the L&L Act, was highlighted in the contempt petition filed before the Supreme Court by Common Cause. The bench headed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, in its order dated March 7, 2019, held that it was the Court’s considered view that no direction should be issued in this regard and that the matter should be left for determination by the Selection Committee.
The Chair and Members of the Lokpal were subsequently appointed in March 2019. Despite the passage of nearly two months, relevant information about the selection process has not been made available to people. Further, information sought under the Right to Information Act, including names of applicants, names of candidates recommended by the Search Committee and minutes of Selection Committee meetings, has been denied to citizens.
Minutes of meetings of the selection panel were denied stating, “as regards the minutes of the meetings it is submitted that the authorship of such documents which in level dignitaries does not vest in the Department of Personnel & Training and same have been shared as secret documents. Thus copies of the said documents cannot be provided...”
The need for transparency in the appointment process of oversight bodies has been upheld by the Supreme Court in several cases. In February 2019, the Court gave a significant judgment to ensure transparency in the appointment of information commissioners under the RTI Act. It directed the proactive disclosure of details of the selection process, including criteria adopted for short-listing.
Opacity in the process of appointments erodes public trust in institutions. We urge the committee to take immediate steps to make public the procedure adopted, if any, to ensure transparency in the selection process as envisaged in section 4(4) of the L&L Act. Further, we request the committee to ensure that all relevant information related to the appointment of the Chair and Members of the Lokpal made in March 2019, including particulars of applicants, shortlisting criteria, minutes of meetings of the Search and Selection Committee and material showing how the selected candidates fulfil the eligibility criteria, also be placed in the public domain to enable scrutiny of the appointment process.
We hope you will urgently take note of the issues highlighted above and take appropriate action.

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.