Governor B L Joshi has referred to the government a complaint accusing Chief Information Commissioner Ranjit Singh Pankaj of concealing information about a fine imposed on him by Allahabad High Court in 2009.
The administrative reforms department has written to Pankaj,seeking his version.
Lal Bahadur,a Right to Information (RTI) activist from Ambedkar Nagar,wrote to the governor on May 21,asking him to suspend Pankaj and send a reference to the Supreme Court for his dismissal on grounds of misconduct in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act.
According to the complaint,former IAS officer Pankaj was secretary,mining and geology,before being appointed CIC on June 30,2009,by the Mayawati government. On November 13 that year,the high court fined him Rs 50,000 in a matter pertaining to a time he was in the government,and directed him to deposit the penalty within four weeks by a bank draft made from his salary account to the registrar general of the court,says the complaint.
Pankaj allegedly concealed this fact from the appointing authority who is the governor and filed,without taking the authoritys consent,an appeal in court on December 11,2009.
On May 31 this year,Raj Bhawan sent Lal Bahadurs complaint to the principal secretary,administrative reforms,Prabhat Kumar Sarangi,asking him to take action after obtaining Pankajs version.
Confirming the developments,Sarangi said,I have passed the complaint to the CIC office for his version. I am yet to receive a reply. Once I get a response,it will be forwarded to the governors secretariat, he said.
CIC Pankaj said he had not received Sarangis letter. Lately,I have not been going to office and hence I am not aware of any such letter. I will check with my office, Pankaj said.
Asked about the fine imposed on him by the high court,he said,It is an old issue of 2009. It has been stayed by the high court. There is no substance in the charges.
On the alleged concealment of facts,Pankaj said,Everybody knows it. The state government is aware of it and even the governors secretariat is aware. There is no truth in it.
The complaint,the CIC said,was frivolous and motivated.
The CIC is appointed by the governor on the recommendation of a committee headed by the chief minister,and consisting of the leader of opposition and a cabinet minister. Under Section 17(1) of the RTI Act,2005,the state CIC or information commissioner can be removed by the governor on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity proved in an inquiry conducted by the Supreme Court on a reference made by the governor.
Under Section 17 (2),the governor can suspend a chief information commissioner or information commissioner and prohibit him from attending office during the inquiry.