Selection process for appointment of members of the SEBI
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) seeking a variety of information such as the copies of records relating to the selection process in respect of a particular notification of the Government of India for appointment of two whole time members of the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under section 8(1)(i) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; of the RTI Act stating that the informed that the desired information could not be disclosed since the selection process was on. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) directed the PIO to disclose the desired information but the same was not disclosed. Recently, all the information was presumably sent to the appellant.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent submitted that the desired information had not been disclosed in spite of the order of the FAA because the vigilance clearance in respect of some candidate was still under consideration of the competent authorities so the disclosure of the information might adversely affect that process.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the decision of the PIO not to disclose the information earlier might have some basis in view of the fact that the selection process was on and the records of the selection constituted Cabinet papers, there was no case for not disclosing the information once the FAA so directed. The Commission held that wherever the public authority is of the view that the order of the FAA cannot be implemented, the only course open is to challenge the order before the CIC. As the respondent added that the entire information has since been provided to the appellant the CIC did not intend to give any other direction.
All selections / appointments made by the government for the public offices need to be transparent. Instead of waiting for someone to seek the information through an application filed under the RTI Act, it would be prudent for the public authority concerned to upload the details of the selection process in the public domain.
Citation: Mr. Ravi Shanker Prasad Verma v. Department of Economic Affairs in File No.CIC/SM/A/2012/000285
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/872
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission