Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer and whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi prevails again! His RTI application seeking details of corruption complaints against Union ministers has got a sympathetic hearing at the Central Information Commission (CIC).
The 2002-batch IFS officer had filed an RTI application in 2017 seeking this information, which the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) denied. Against this, Mr Chaturvedi had approached the CIC, which had in its order passed on October 16 last year, observed that the “respondent (PMO) has not given correct and specific reply/information to the applicant”. It had further directed the Central public information officer of the PMO to provide information on this within 15 days. But with the PMO tarrying, Mr Chaturvedi then filed a complaint with the CIC under Section 18 of the RTI Act, for compliance with its October 16 order.
After two more hearings, the commission earlier this month dismissed the PMO’s objections to releasing the information that was sought by Mr Chaturvedi. The order by Sudhir Bhargava, chief information commissioner, states that the reply provided by the PMO is “not correct”. Will the PMO comply with the CIC’s order or find reasons to deny the information sought by Mr Chaturvedi?
Spooks from the 1984 IPS batch
The government appointed IPS officer Samant Goel as the new chief of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research & Analysis Wing. Another IPS officer, Arvind Kumar, was appointed the director of the Intelligence Bureau. Both appointments are for a period of two years. Sources say that both officials are believed to be NSA Ajit Doval’s protégées.
Interestingly, with the appointment of the two most senior spooks to high office, the 1984 batch of IPS officers has emerged as the most powerful group in the security and intelligence establishments in the Modi sarkar. It turns out that the director general of the Border Security Force (BSF), Rajni Kant Mishra, the director general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), S.S. Deswal, the director general of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Rajesh Ranjan, the director general of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Y.C. Modi, the National Security Guard (NSG) chief Sudeep Lakhtakia and the director general of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), Rakesh Asthana, all belong to the 1984 batch.
IT officials pulled up
Soon after the government forcibly retired a dozen senior income-tax department officials over charges of corruption, the Central Board Of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has demoted four officials based on “pending” vigilance cases against them. The four officials have been demoted from the rank of joint commissioner to the deputy commissioner rank.
Keeping up the heat on IT officials, the CBDT chief P.C. Mody has also shot off a letter to his officials expressing concern over the “lackadaisical attitude” of the officials in dealing with grievances of the taxpayers. In the letter to regional heads of the department across the country, Mr Mody has directed them to take urgent steps and reduce problems faced by the taxpayers. Apparently, the total number of grievances as of date is 2,647, of which 885 are pending for more than 30 days.
Likewise, 34,026 cases of e-Nivaran (the online grievance redressal mechanism) are still pending for resolution, Mr Mody reportedly wrote in his missive. He has called for resolution of all grievances in a systematic manner within given timelines.