I’m being victimised by BSP government: suspended RTI chief

August 4th, 2008 - 3:14 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party
By Asit Srivastava
Lucknow, Aug 4 (IANS) M.A. Khan, Uttar Pradesh’s former chief information commissioner (CIC) who was suspended last month on several charges of misconduct, says he is being victimised by the Mayawati government because he had given a pro-Samajwadi Party ruling as a high court judge three years ago. Suspended by Governor T.V. Rajeswar July 9, Khan is the first chief information commissioner in the country to have been shown the door.

“My suspension stems from a 2005 ruling in an anti-defection case, in which I, as a high court judge, recognised the merger of 40 rebel Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators with the Samajwadi Party,” Khan told IANS in an interview.

The decision had helped the ruling Samajwadi Party to continue in power, he said.

Mayawati, who was the then chief minister in the BSP-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government formed in 2002, had to resign after 13 BSP legislators quit the party and formed a separate political outfit, the Loktantrik Congress.

Later, the 13 legislators were joined by 27 more BSP rebels and the outfit merged with the Samajwadi Party.

“Now, I am being victimised by the BSP government for my ruling as it went against Mayawati. The government is trying all means to implicate me falsely just to settle personal scores with me,” Khan alleged

After retiring from the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in November 2005, Khan was appointed as the CIC during the last days of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government.

The appointment was seen by many as a “reward” for Justice Khan, who had issued the ruling in the anti-defection case.

A group of social activists, including Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey who is associated with the ‘Save RTI campaign’ have filed complaints against Khan.

Violating norms for recruiting employees in the commission, financial irregularities, mistreating complainants and non-cooperation with colleagues are some of the charges levelled against Khan.

It has been alleged that he made direct recruitments on 40 posts of class three and four employees without following the reservation norms. Khan has also been charged with financial irregularities.

“Social activists in one of their complaints have stated that penalties were imposed by Khan in majority of the cases when the information was not provided in the stipulated time,” an official said.

However, the penalty was realised only in a few cases, the official added.

For seeking information under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, one has to apply to the public information officer (PIO) of the particular department.

If the information sought is not provided in a period of 30 days, the applicant has to file an appeal with the PIO, who is to provide the desired information within 15 days.

However, if the information is still not provided within the desired time, the applicant can move the State Information Commission, which in turn can impose a maximum penalty of Rs.25,000 on a particular department for not providing information within the specific time.

Moreover, Khan has been charged with disposing off cases if the complainant failed to turn up at the scheduled time. But, on the other hand, the former CIC gave several chances to government officials to appear in connection with RTI cases.

Khan has also been accused of making purchases in the commission against sanction. The former CIC, who has now moved the high court against his suspension, claims that all charges against him are baseless.

“As far as recruitment is concerned, I have all the papers ready to prove that recruitments were made on the directions of the government only,” said Khan.

Likewise, charges pertaining to anomalies in realising the penalty money are also baseless, rather illogical, he said.

“Realising the penalty amount comes under the ambit of district administration.

“In cases of anomalies, although I directed the organisations concerned to pay up the fine, its recovery has to be ensured by district magistrates and other government officials,” Khan said.

“Do you expect a chief information commissioner to visit places for recovering the fine from the defaulters?” Khan asked

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