RTI activist Satish Shetty killed near Pune:
Prominent Right to Information (RTI) activist Satish Shetty
was Wednesday killed when he was attacked by unidentified men while
on a morning walk in Talegaon, on the outskirts of this....Read Full
A group of Right to Information (RTI) activists has served a legal
notice on the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) over Wajahat Habibullah
continuing as chief information commissioner (CIC) three months
after he reportedly resigned.
The notice has also been sent to the department of personnel and
Habibullah was reported to have resigned as CIC of the Central
Information Commission Oct 20, 2009, but continues to hold the post
and RTI activists allege this is contrary to the provision of the
RTI Act 2005 and guidelines given by the DoPT.
"According to Section 13(4) of the RTI Act, the resignation of
information commissioners, including the chief CIC, becomes
effective the moment it is submitted to the president of India and
it cannot be withdrawn or postponed under any circumstances," Girish
Mittal, a Mumbai-based RTI activist who served the legal notice,
told IANS over phone.
Mittal also said the department of legal affairs (DoLA) gave the
same guidelines when DoPT sought an opinion in the case of
information commissioner Omita Paul.
"Omita Paul was appointed as information commissioner on May 13,
2009, and she tendered her resignation June 26, 2009, addressing it
to the president of India and before any acceptance of her
resignation she joined her new assignment at the finance ministry,"
said Krishnaraj Rao, another RTI activist.
Mittal, who claims to have obtained a document through RTI from DoLA,
says, "According to the guidelines given to DoLA by DoPT on the
Omita Paul issue - an information commissioner or CIC is similar to
the post of a judge of the Supreme Court and their resignation is
irrevocable (cannot be withdrawn) and unilateral (meaning there is
no need to wait for the acceptance of the resignation)."
After resigning, Habibullah was to take up a new assignment as the
first CIC of Jammu and Kashmir where the RTI Act came into force in
March last year.
Habibullah told IANS, "I am just waiting for the union government to
relieve me so that I can join my new office as soon as possible."
The notice sent by the RTI activists says, "As per the legal
position adopted by the union of India in the case of Omita Paul,
resignation from office of chief CIC by Habibullah became effective
the very moment he tendered his resignation of his own volition.”
"His continuation in office from that day onwards is illegal as per
the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005 and specific
articles of the constitution of India relied on by the government of
India. The union of India cannot now wait for presidential
acceptance of the resignation of chief CIC Wajahat Habibullah, nor
can it postpone or refuse to accept it”, says the notice.
The legal notice served in the first week of January demands the
Give effect to resignation of Habibullah as chief CIC
retrospectively from the exact date and time that it was tendered to
the secretariat of the president of India.
Recover the salary and other pecuniary benefits given to Habibullah
in his capacity as chief CIC as it is public money.
Declare as null and void all decisions taken and orders pronounced
by him in his capacity as central information commissioner after his
However, a DoPT official said Habibullah holds his office as CIC in
conformity with the law.
"We agree that the resignation of a CIC is irrevocable and he is
deemed to be relieved from his duty as soon as he resigns, but
Habibullah, in his letter to the president, wrote that he should be
relieved from office whenever the government thinks appropriate”, a
top DoPT official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Kashmir remains without a CIC and the government is still
waiting for Habibullah to join office.
"It was great for us to have a person of great calibre like
Habibullah as the first chief information commissioner (CIC) for the
smooth and successful implementation of the act, but we are still
waiting for him to join here”, S.S. Kapur, chief secretary of Jammu
and Kashmir, told IANS over phone.
(Nabeel A.Khan can be contacted at email@example.com)