Thursday, March 3, 2011

States responsible for correctness of officials’ records, says Centre

New Delhi, March 3, 2011

The Centre has put the onus on State governments and the officer concerned for "correctness of information" in official records in the wake of allegations of misrepresentation of facts before a high-level panel that selected P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), in an RTI reply, has said that the Executive Record (ER) sheet maintained by it is prepared on the basis of the information provided by State governments.

The DoPT replied in the affirmative when asked in the RTI question by activist S.C. Agarwal whether Mr. Thomas, a former IAS officer of Kerala cadre, was named as an accused in a supplementary FIR filed by the Kerala government with reference to alleged corruption in the case of Palmolein imports in 1992.

Mr. Thomas resigned on Thursday from the post of CVC after the Supreme Court quashed his appointment. The RTI reply was made public before the judgement.

In response to a question whether in the Palmolein import case Mr. Thomas, named as an accused, was omitted from his bio-data from the ER placed before the selection committee, the department said, "Bio data as reflected in the ER sheet is generated on the basis of inputs provided by the State government."

"The responsibility of the correctness of information available on the ER sheet lies with the State government where the officer is posted and the individual officer concerned," the DOPT further said.

The ER sheet, which was placed before the CVC selection committee comprising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, did not mention the pending Palmolein case against Mr. Thomas who was appointed CVC on September 7, 2010.

Ms. Swaraj, who had opposed the appointment of Mr. Thomas, had alleged that the files circulated before the selection committee did not make a mention about the Palmolein case in which he is listed as an accused.

The DoPT in its RTI reply to Mr. Agrawal said it has been "time and again writing to the State governments to ensure correctness of the information available on the ER sheet."

The department provided a letter dated February 10, 2011, eight days after the RTI application was filed, addressed to all Chief Secretaries which States that responsibility of updating ER sheets lies with the State government and the officer concerned.

"The updation of entries in the ER sheets is done on the basis of copies of posting orders, joining reports, relieving orders etc. issued by the State governments or the Government of India, as the case may be. At times due to non-receipt of various orders, the ER sheets remain un-updated," it said.

The department asked the Secretaries of all the State governments and Union Territories to bring out discrepancies in the ER sheets to its notice on regular basis.

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