Governor Ram Naik Monday approved the name of former chief secretary and serving IAS officer Jawed Usmani for appointment as next Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), five days after he had returned returned the file for the same asking the state government to submit vigilance clearance.
The vigilance report was sent to the Raj Bhawan on Friday. The Governor who, had sought clearance from Central Vigilance Commission as well, took the opinion of legal experts before clearing Usmani’s name and sent the file for further action by the department concerned.
With Governor clearing his name, Usmani, a 1978-batch officer, would have to take voluntary retirement from service before taking charge as CIC. As per the rules laid for appointment of CIC, no one serving on any post in the government can take up charge of the post. Usmani, 58, is due to retire in January 2016.
“I will apply for the voluntary retirement after government notification,” Usmani said speaking to The Indian Express.
Asked about his new role, Usmani, who had served as joint secretary of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh between 2004 and 2007 and had also served as senior advisor in World Bank and in Indian Embassy in Nepal, said, “My first endeavour would be to ensure transparency in working of the government through proper implementation of Right to Information Act.”
Usmani had also served as joint secretary to several prime ministers including H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee from 1996 to 2001.
The IAS officer had earlier served as secretary of then UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2004 and was made chief secretary in 2012 after Akhilesh Yadav took charge as chief minister. However, after two-and-a-half years, Usmani was removed suddenly and after being put on wait list for some time, was appointed as chairman of Board of Revenue, where he is serving at present.
He had applied for the post of CIC, which became vacant in July this year. However, after a long delay, selection committee headed by the CM and comprising Leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya and Leader of the House in Council Ahmad Hasan are had cleared Usmani’s name and sent the file to Governor on November 3.
Meanwhile, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has posted a writ petition, challenging the proposed appointment of Usmani as CIC for hearing on November 12. A division bench comprising Justice Krishana Murari and Justice Rakesh Srivastava gave this order on a writ petition filed by a local lawyer Manendra Nath Rai.
The petitioner has alleged that the Usmani’s name was proposed as CIC on November 3, by the committee led by CM without any guidelines and interview of applicants, which was not permissible under the law.
On behalf of the state government, the petition was opposed by Additional Advocate General Bulbul Godiyal, saying that no order has passed for appointment of Usmani as CIC.