Parliament,not courts,should decide on ‘cooling off’ period: SC

The order may give bureaucrats another reason to cheer.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: October 11, 2013 12:18:08 am

The Supreme Court has said it was not for the courts but for Parliament to decide whether there should be a “cooling off” period before considering a retired government official eligible for the post of State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC).

Steering clear of the issue,a Bench of Justices A K Patnaik and J S Khehar said the appropriate authority to dwell on the necessity of a “cooling off” period for retired bureaucrats was the legislature and the court did not have to interfere.

“It is for the legislature to decide. We cannot issue guidelines or do anything on it. We are not going to say anything. It is for Parliament to decide what they should do or have in the law,” said the Bench.

The order may give bureaucrats another reason to cheer about after the government recently shot down a proposal by the Election Commission for a “cooling off” period to bar them from joining politics or contesting polls.

The court’s remarks came as it upheld the appointment of former Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad as the SCIC.

The PIL filed by Krishna Harishchandra Rao and two other RTI activists had challenged the appointment of the former bureaucrat on an array of grounds while emphasising that Gaikwad was appointed as the SCIC within a month of his retirement as the Chief Secretary.

Arguing in appeal,advocate Sanjay R Hegde sought to convince the court that the appointment was malafide and that the appointment of a senior bureaucrat immediately after his stint with the government would lead to compromising with the integrity of the transparency body.

“There is bound to be conflict of interest and problems with transparency,for Gaikwad,as Chief Information Commissioner will hear cases relating to the Maharashtra government and various departments of Mantralaya,which he headed as Chief Secretary,” argued Sanjay R Hegde.

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