Sunday, February 28, 2010

[rti_india] RTI digs out more Padma muck


RTI digs out more Padma muck


Names Of 19 Awardees Were Accepted Long After The Deadline


Himanshi Dhawan | TNN


New Delhi: Barely has the dust settled on the controversial nomination of NRI hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal for a Padma award, the ministry of home affairs appears to have embroiled itself in another controversy.

In an indication of the 'discretionary' process of choosing Padma awardees, the government admitted that not only did it accept recommendations well after its deadline of November 20, but 19 of these came from award committee members. Only the President, vice-president, Prime Minister and home minister can make recommendations after the cut-off date. The home ministry has also admitted that there was no change in process of selection despite a CIC order asking the ministry to be more transparent.

The information was given by MHA in response to an RTI application filed by Subhash Chandra Agrawal. When asked how many recommendations were received by the ministry after November 20, 2009, MHA said 31. While 12 names were recommended by either the President, PM, V-P or HM, 19 were recommended by awards committee members after the due date.

Incidentally, the high-level review committee under then Vice-President K R Narayanan — set up on the directions of the Supreme Court and whose recommendations were accepted by the government in 1996 — had advised the government to continue the practice of accepting nominations only till September 30.

In fact, ignoring the committee's recommendations, MHA in an RTI reply dated September 22, 2009, admitted that the cut-off date for accepting recommendations was November 20 and four people — President, V-P, PM and HM — could recommend names even later.

In its reply, the ministry said, "The provision for cut-off date as November 20 to accept the nominations for Padma awards (with the exception of nominations made by the President, V-P, PM and HM) is in accordance with the decision taken with the approval of the competent authority."

The MHA, in its recent reply dated February 24, 2010, also admitted that there was no change in procedure of selection. In an order related to the Padma awards, the CIC in October 2009 observed that the process of recommending names for the Padma awards is highly discretionary.

Information commissioner Satyendra Mishra urged the government to strive to lay down, as far as possible, transparent criteria for these nominations and make the selection process more objective. The appellant, Agrawal, had sought to know the number of phases in which the selection process for recommending nominations for Padma awards had been completed.

In violation of the CIC order, the ministry in its February 2010 reply said, "No fresh procedure was adopted by the Padma awards while considering the nominations this year." It denied challenging the order in court showing disregard for the information watchdog.

This is not the first occasion when the government has come under flak for Padma awards. In a series of RTI replies, authorities admitted that nominations were sealed after telephonic confirmations from members of the Awards Committee after its meetings on December 26, 2003 and January 19, 2004.


Government admits it did accept many recommendations well after its deadline Confesses that 19 of these names came from award committee members Only the President, vice-president, Prime Minister and home minister can make recommendations MHA admitted there was no change in procedure of selection



No comments:

Post a Comment