The government has refused to share details of appointment of CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma, claiming the information was exempted under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Replying to an RTI query, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said the appointment was done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC). Hence, information related to it is exempted under the transparency law. Verma, the former Delhi Police Commissioner, was on January 19, named as the chief of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“It is stated that the information sought is exempted under Rule 8(1) of the RTI Act, 2005 as the selection of Director, CBI was done through the ACC,” the DoPT said in reply to the RTI application filed by PTI. The DoPT in its reply has, however, not referred to relevant provisions like confidentiality or breach of privilege, under which the information was declined. The rule or Section 8 has provisions to decline information, including cabinet papers, sought under the RTI Act.
However, 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, the rule 8 (i) of the RTI Act says. The DoPT was asked to provide names of all officers who were shortlisted for appointment as CBI Director and also the copy of file notings. The name of Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer of Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre, was cleared by a three-member selection panel headed by the Prime Minister and comprising Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge as members.
Kharge is understood to have recorded his dissent note on Verma’s name, during the meeting of the selection committee held on January 16 on the ground that the officer had never served in the CBI.