Fifty-four days before he retires,Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has been instructed not to take up any new cases while the departments under him are being allocated to other commissioners starting Saturday. Gandhi wont be able to hold any hearings after June 15.
Among the departments whose charge Gandhi is set to lose following the unprecedented order is the Department of Atomic Energy. Incidentally,the Information Commissioner had recently delivered an order telling Nuclear Power Corporation Limited (NPCL) to disclose reports relating to safety,site evaluation and environmental impact assessment of the controversial Koodankulam nuclear power plant. CIC sources said Gandhi had surprisingly decided to hear the matter related to the project even though the appellant hadnt filed an appeal to the information commission.
Gandhi is the first person in the information commissioners post from the non-government sector. The Department of Atomic Energy will now come under Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra. His other departments have been re-allocated to commissioners Deepak Sandhu,Vijay Sharma and M L Sharma.
Gandhis April 30th order in the Koodankulam case said: Appellant had filed an appeal before the commission on August 13,2010. However it appears that the commission failed to register the matter and schedule it for hearing.
The said order was therefore delivered on the basis of an email sent by the appellant to the commission on February 16,2012. Sources in the commission said that more than half the cases in which Gandhi has ordered for penalty have been stayed.
Mishra and Gandhi both said the circular concerning re-allocation of Gandhis departments,issued on Friday,was not linked to this. Gandhi himself had requested that he didnt want to list new cases any more. He will finish his pending cases till July 6,when his tenure is going to end, said Mishra.
Gandhi said: I do not want to retire with the burden of pending cases. Whatever appeals and complaints I have received till today,I will schedule them for before my retirement. However,the circular (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) has no mention of such a request.
Expressing surprise over the circular,retired commissioner Prof M M Ansari said: I did all my responsibilities till the day I demitted office.