Appointment of Gaikwad as the Chief Information Commissioner under RTI opposed
At least 35 prominent activists and citizens have endorsed a petition to Governor of Maharashtra Shri K Sankaranarayan to reject the selection of Ratnakar Gaikwad as the next Chief Information Commissioner. They have based their arguments on:
- When Shri Ratnakar Gaikwad was the chief of MMRDA, a massive 25-year-old land scam involving Hiranandani Developers surfaced and vide an order dated 1 January 2009 a fine of Rs 1,993 crore was imposed on Hiranandani Developers. When the then CM Ashok Chavan wrote back requesting a reassessment of the quantum of fine, Shri Gaikwad revised the fine amount to Rs. 200 Crore.
- Shri Gaikwad was selected by a process that violates Supreme Court’s mandates. No applications have been called from the eligible candidates and the process lacks transparency.
- It has been alleged that the post was kept vacant to enable Shri Gaikwad to join.
- During his tenure as the Chief Secretary, an amendment was made in the RTI rules for the benefit of state officials. It has been alleged that with his appointment, the RTI Act will face a certain death.
- It has been alleged that as Metropolitan Commissioner of MMRDA, Shri Ratnakar Gaikwad acted against public interest by issuing occupation certificate to Adarsh building, ignoring objections raised by Western Naval Commanding-in-Chief about national security issues. As Adarsh is still under investigation and many facts are yet to emerge, appointing Shri Gaikwad as the Chief Information Commissioner is likely to embarrass the government as he was tainted in the Adarsh scam. Shri Ramanand Tiwari, who was earlier the Information Commissioner has spent the last two months in CBI custody.
Earlier, the governor of Andhra Pradesh had returned the file related to the appointment of Information Commissioners back to the Chief Minister.
Mr Ratnakar Gaikwad, who was sworn in as the Chief Information Commissioner, dismissed the charges as baseless and has asked his detractors to prove that he committed violations as the metropolitan commissioner in giving an occupation certificate to the Adarsh housing Society.
Mr. Gaikwad’s appointment is likely to be challenged in the Bombay High Court by the activists.