New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has decided against public declaration of assets owned by its commissioners on the official website, even as it is pursuing a Right to Information application that seeks details of assets owned by Supreme Court judges.
The matter came up after a commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi, offered to put up his declaration on the website of the commission.
According to CIC chief Wajahat Habibullah, the commission, which is the top body for implementing the Right to Information (RTI) Act in India, had organized a meeting to discuss whether its members should submit income-tax returns to the commission for posting on the website.
More transparency: CIC chief Wajahat Habibullah. Commission members say they may post their returns on their own websites. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
“Most of the members said they would not like to submit their declaration,” Habibullah said.
According to him, commission members had stressed that they would “post the declaration on their personal websites if required.”
Habibullah declined to reveal the names of members who were reluctant to disclose their personal assets.
“The whole idea of RTI is to bring about transparency in public life. So how can the CIC shy away from this?” asked Jagdeep Chhokar, founding member of Association of Democratic Reforms.
“I have sent my declaration only because I believe that we (CIC) need to be totally transparent ourselves,” said Shailesh Gandhi, who was till recently an RTI activist.
Interestingly, the Delhi high court had earlier this month stayed a CIC order directing the Supreme Court to provide information on the personal assets of judges, including the Chief Justice of India.
The CIC had in January rejected the Supreme Court’s contention that the Chief Justice of India was not bound to furnish assets information under the RTI Act.