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

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Employment loss vis-a-vis pre-Covid situation 'neutralized', claim Govt of India data

By Arup Mitra, DPS Negi, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav* The Labour Bureau, an attached office of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, has been entrusted with the task of conducting the All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey (AQEES) which has two components namely Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) in respect of establishments employing 10 or more workers (mostly constituting ‘organised’ segment) and Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES) to build up a frame in respect of establishments employing nine or less workers.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Article 370 abrogation hasn't helped curb terrorist attacks: Kashmiri Pandit group

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Lt Governor, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in the Valley, Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) president Sanjay K Tickoo has taken strong exception to what he calls" callous approach" shown by the administration and security agencies towards "non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Hindus living in Kashmir Valley".

India's weak fiscal position: Can higher gold reserves help stem further deterioration?

Counterview Desk  India Gold Policy Centre at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIMA), which has been researching on global gold markets working closely with the Government of India as as an advisor on various policy initiatives in several key areas relating to the use of gold as a fungible financial asset, has claimed that high levels of Central Bank gold reserves has had “positive implications for India.”

India's 55% firms perceive significant, sustained high-cost pressure: IIM-A survey

Costs per unit compare: % responses By Our Representative  A new Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) survey, involving responses from executives of around 1,200 companies across India, has said that the cost perceptions data indicates “sustained high-cost pressures”, with over 55% of the firms perceiving significant (over 6%) cost increase.