New Delhi: The Central Information Commission on Wednesday recommended HRD Minister Smriti Irani to "positively" consider plea of a whistleblower against his dismissal after he exposed alleged corruption in EdCIL, saying it will instill moral courage among whistleblowers.
"The Commission also finds that the appellant is a recognised whistleblower by CVC and deserves protection. He was subjected to unnecessary harassment for the last two years," Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu pointed out.
The case related to one Rajesh Gauhari, who claimed to have exposed corruption in EdCIL following which he was dismissed from service.
He claimed that his appeal against the dismissal from the service was not put up to the President inspite of the same recommended by the then Human Resources Minister.
The then Additional Secretary Amita Sharma had dismissed the appeal, saying it was time barred whereas Gauhari claimed that appeals before the President do not have any time limit.
Gauhari filed an RTI application to know the status of his representation. After not getting satisfactory reply, he approached the Commission to know what had happened to his representation, why it was not placed before the Minister and why was it wrongly claimed that his representation was time barred, especially when there was no time limitation in such cases.
"There is merit in the appeal of the appellant against imposition of disproportionate penalty against him for certain irregularities.It appears that the representation of the appellant was not placed before the Minister for the last 2 years," Acharyulu noted.
The appellant alleged that some unknown people are obstructing placement of his representation before the Minister.
"The appellant has the right to know the action taken on his representation which depended upon bringing the same before the Hon’ble Minister for HRD. If the whistleblower like the appellant is not protected, and bureaucratic redtapism prevents his representation from being considered by the Hon'ble Minister, it will be impossible for the political executive government at the Centre to fulfill its
commitment to fight against corruption," he said.
Acharyulu termed it a "fit case" to be considered by the Minister for HRD and said the respondent authority (ministry officials) has a duty both moral and legal under the RTI Act, to bring the representation of the appellant before the Minister.
"The Commission also recommends the Minister for HRD, Smriti Irani, to positively consider representation of the appellant Rajesh Gouhari and instill moral courage among whistleblowers to expose corruption and irregularities and at the same time discourage forces who try to facilitate inaction and delay by raising technical obstructions," he said.
The Commissioner also issued a show cause notice to the Ministry officials to explain why compensation should not be awarded to the appellant for causing a delay of two years in placing the representation before the Minister, inspite of several endorsements by higher officers.