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The selection procedure of the chairman of telecom regulator TRAI including all the details of selection committee meeting should be made public, the Central Information Commission has held.

The transparency panel rejected the plea of the Cabinet secretariat that information was personal in nature and cannot be given under section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act which prohibits disclosure of such details.

“We fail to understand how the desired information could be classified as personal information at all…The information sought in these cases is far from personal. “Selection and appointment to certain posts in the government are part of the administrative decision-making process and must be placed in the public domain as soon as possible in order to ensure transparency,” chief information commissioner Satyananda Mishra said.

Mishra directed the Secretariat to allow the RTI applicant the inspection of entire file related to the selection of the chairman, TRAI. The case relates to an RTI application filed by one Ashok Golas, one of the candidate considered for the selection in the telecom commission, who sought to know from Cabinet secretariat information regarding selection of the member (technology) of telcom commission and chairman, TRAI including the file notes of selection committee meeting, annual confidential reports of the candidates, number of candidates considered for the post among others.

The Cabinet secretariat refused to disclose the information citing personal information clause of the transparency law and also said that information could be used by the applicant to further his interests before any court of law against the government. The secretariat citing a CIC order said information which could be used by any information seeker in support of his case before any court of law should not be disclosed as it could affect the interests of the government which as a third party had also the rights to safe-guard its interests.

This argument of the Cabinet secretariat was also not accepted by the chief information commissioner, who said the case relied by it has no relevance in the present matter and “both the cases are quite different.” Mishra ordered the Cabinet secretariat to disclose date of special committee of secretaries’ meeting to select member (services) and member (technology) of telecom commission including the name and designation of all the officials who took part in the process. He also directed that list of all the officers who were considered for the posts should be made public. Mishra also ordered to make public agenda of the selection committee meeting, guidelines followed by it and file-notings of recommendations made by it to appointments committee but said annual confidential reports of candidates can be withheld.

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