8 June 2012, Mumbai: In the last 24 hours, 35 prominent activists and citizens endorsed a petition to Governor K Sankaranarayan to reject the state government’s selection of Ratnakar Gaikwad as its next Chief Information Commissioner. Besides RTI activists, the signatories include advocates, retired government officials, doctors, businessmen and people from many walks of life, who have supported the petition with their phone numbers and email addresses. The letter is reproduced below.
Why are these people opposing Ratnakar Gaikwad’s selection? Because it is well known among the citizenry that he is a pliable bureaucrat with tendency to favour builders. Consider this example of his pliability:
A couple of years ago, when Ratnakar Gaikwad was the chief of MMRDA, a massive 25-year-old land scam involving Hiranandani Developers surfaced. The scam started in 1986 when Maharashtra Govt handed over to Niranjan Hiranandani 230 acres of land at the rate of 40 paise per acre in the villages of Powai, Kopri and Tirandaz on an 80-year lease to construct public amenities. Hiranandani used 15 percent for low-income housing, and the rest for building luxury apartments measuring 2,000-5,000 sq ft, which he sold at Rs 8,000- Rs 15,000 per sq ft. This activity continued unhindered for over two decades, until finally, RTI activists of Medha Patkar’s Ghar Bachao- Ghar Banao Andolan dug out the documents and filed a PIL in court. And so Ratnakar Gaikwad, as MMRDA’s Metropolitan Commissioner, passed an order dated 1 January 2009 imposing a fine of Rs 1,993 crore on Hiranandani Developers.
The then CM Ashok Chavan wrote back requesting a reassessment. MIRACULOUSLY, RATNAKAR GAIKWAD REVISED THE FINE AMOUNT TO RS 200 CRORE. Simpreet Singh of Ghar Bachao- Ghar Banao Andolan opines that even the original amount of Rs 1,993 crore is far below the actual quantum of the scam, which he estimates at over Rs 30,000 crore.
Documentary evidence of Ratnakar Gaikwad’s undue generosity to builders is available in abundance. And that is why 35 prominent citizens, in a letter that contains many such examples, have specifically urged the Governor to not appoint Ratnakar Gaikwad. It is difficult to imagine how, with such credentials, a selection committee consisting of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Opposition Leader Eknath Khadse could even consider him for the key post of Chief State Information Commissioner.
If the Governor appoints Ratnakar Gaikwad in spite of all that is known about him, then God help Maharashtra!
WITH 35 SIGNATORIES
8 June 2012
Shri K Sankaranarayan,
Governor of Maharashtra,
Raj Bhavan, Malabar Hill,
Mumbai – 400035.
Copy to Shri Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister
Petition: Please don’t appoint scam-tainted Ratnakar Gaikwad as Chief SIC.
It will cause embarrassment to State Govt & burden to State Info Commission.
We urge you to reject the state government’s selection of Shri Ratnakar Gaikwad. As you are the appointing authority, we request you not to appoint him as the Chief Information Commissioner. To hear the mounting pendency of RTI second appeals and complaints, it is urgent to appoint a Chief SIC and at least three other SICs — preferably many more. But it is equally important to ensure that the person who is appointed for five years does not become a costly liability and embarrassment, as is former Information Commissioner Shri Ramanand Tiwari.
WHY SHRI RATNAKAR GAIKWAD MUST BE REJECTED:
1) BENEFICIARY OF INTERNAL POLITICS. Shri Gaikwad is engaging in internal politics in Mantralaya, where he is a leading light of a Dalit lobby among government servants. Possibly to please this lobby, the Chief Minister held the seat of Chief SIC vacant for Shri Gaikwad for more than a year, causing great harm to Right to Information in the state. In our letter to the CM dated 3 February 2012, we voiced our concern about Shri Gaikwad’s lobbying for this post. Please read http://tinyurl.com/CM-letr-Ratnakar-Gaikwad-Lobby
2) NON-TRANSPARENT & ARBITRARY SELECTION. Shri Gaikwad was selected by a process that clearly violates Supreme Court’s mandates. Over 50 activists wrote to you on 9 May 2012 about the need for transparent selections: http://tinyurl.com/Letr-2-Guvnor-SIC-May2012
3) HAND IN ADARSH SCAM. As Adarsh is still under investigation and many facts are yet to emerge, appointing Shri Gaikwad as the Chief SIC is likely to embarrass the government as he was tainted in the Adarsh scam. As Metropolitan Commissioner of MMRDA, Shri Ratnakar Gaikwad acted against public interest by issuing occupation certificate to Adarsh building, ignoring objections raised by Western Naval Commanding-in-Chief about national security issues. Please read Shri Gaikwad’s correspondence with Western Naval Command: http://tinyurl.com/Ratnakar-Gaikwad-Adarsh-OC-Nav
4) FAVOURING BUILDERS IN CORRUPT WAYS. As MMRDA chief, Shri Gaikwad favoured many builders. Numerous documents bear testimony to an IAS officer with scant respect for public resources, law and order and public safety. Here are some papers from a detailed study of MMRDA’s dealings in just one area called Oshiwara ODC:
a) Rs 640 cr contractual obligations of 25 builders written off: http://tinyurl.com/MMRDA-640-cr-gift-2-builders
b) Terrorist hideout in densely populated SRA colony: http://tinyurl.com/MMRDA-422-Terrorist-Hideouts
c) RNA Builders subvert MMRDA permission procedures: http://tinyurl.com/MMRDA-RNA-Builders-Shady-Deals
Sir, considering this evidence which is only the tip of the iceberg, please reject the government’s selection of Ratnakar Gaikwad.
GOVT MUST ISSUE CIRCULAR, INVITE APPLICATIONS & SHORTLIST CANDIDATES:
Please prevail on the State Government to invite applications so that all eligible persons can participate in the appointment. Section 15(5) of the RTI Act states, “The State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance”. This includes civil society.
So far, nobody outside Mantralaya’s inner circles knows when and how SIC selection will be made. The three-person committee specified in Section 15(3) of RTI Act is only used as a rubber-stamp made by other means. This is a political appointment based on nepotism rather than merit.
Sir, even the Central Government has taken baby-steps towards greater transparency. The latest round of selections of three Central Information Commissioners in April 2012 happened after issuing a circular inviting applications, and after candidates were shortlisted by a Search Committee. This process is detailed in this RTI reply from Central Cabinet Secretariat to Retd Cdr Lokesh Batra: http://tinyurl.com/Cabinet-Secretariat-May2012
Please direct the State Government to follow due procedure while making these selections. Kindly remind the government that taking shortcuts is likely to result in the selection of dubious candidates such as Shri Ramanand Tiwari, who spent the last two months in CBI custody.
G R Vora,
Pathologist, RTI activist, Cell: 09869195785
E-mail : email@example.com
Plot – 275 / 3, Gope Nivas, Dr B A Road, Sion E, Mumbai – 400022.
Along with the below-mentioned citizens :–
1. Mr Manohar Sharma, Navi Mumbai, State Consultant, Cell: 9892005490, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mr Anil Galgali, Saki naka, Mumbai – 72, RTI Activist, Cell: 9820130074, email@example.com
3. Mr D S Ranga Rao, Bhiwandi, Member – PCGT, firstname.lastname@example.org, Anti-Corruption activist.
4. Dr Y T Oke, Vile Parle E, Retd. Pediatrician, email@example.com, Cell: 9769749859.
5. Mr Raymond Barboza, Activist, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 9969083680.
6. Dr Emmaneul D’Silva, Mahim, Mumbai, Environmental Scientist, email@example.com, Cell: 9930537002.
7. Mr Mohammed Afzal, RTI activist and Human Rights Activist, Andheri, Mumbai, Cell: 9820490435, firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Mr Krishnaraj Rao, Content writer, Borivali, Mumbai, email@example.com, Cell: 9821588114.
9. Mr Madhav Vishnubhatta, Porur, Chennai, Software Engineer, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell : 9840327303
10. Mr Utsal Karani, Juhu Scheme, Mumbai – 56, Activist and Hon. Secy. – Janhit Manch, Cell: 9324991030, email@example.com
11. Dr Mohammed Naved Khan, Professor – Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh – 202002 (UP), firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell : 09557633713.
12. Mr Dolphy A D’Souza, Malad, Mumbai, Consultant, email@example.com, Cell: 09820226227.
13. Mr Raju Dudam, Sion, Mumbai, IT Professional, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell : 9773032020.
14. Mr Vishal Kudchadkar, Los Angeles CA, Software Engineer, Ph – 3236326479, email@example.com
15. Mr Natarajan Krishnamurthy, Ghatkopar E, Mumbai – 77, firstname.lastname@example.org, Businessman, Cell: 9869422915.
16. Mr Surendra M Bhanot, Sec. 22-D, Chandigarh – 160022, Ph. 172-5000970
17. Advo. Rina Kamath, Legal Practitioner, Colaba, Mumbai, email@example.com, Cell: 9820235034.
18. Mr Ajay M Marathe, Vasi, Navi Mumbai, Service, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 9322215443.
19. Mr J S Keshriya, Mulund W, Mumbai – 80, Businessman, email@example.com, Cell: 9821344673.
20. Mr Samir Pradhan, Polymer Technologist, Thane, Cell: 9004593784.
21. Mr Dara Acidwala, Juhu, Mumbai – 49, Cell: 9820213015, firstname.lastname@example.org
22. Mr Madansingh B Pardeshi, Chandivali, Mumbai – 72, Retired, Cell: 9969457452, email@example.com
23. Mr Jagdish K Gianchandani, Chembur, Mumbai, Content writer, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 9819708697.
24. Mr Ramesh Jadhav, RTI activist and Social worker, Andheri W, Mumbai 58, , Mumbai, Cell: 09320086238.
25. Mr Sharad S Phadke, Karve Nagar, Pune – 411052, Retired Engineer, email@example.com, Cell : 0981129521.
26. Mr Manish Modi, Vile Parle, Mumbai, Businessman, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 09821438180.
27. Mr Kamal Shah, Malad, Mumbai, Trader, Cell: 09870156571, email@example.com.
28. Mr A B Gokhale, Ganeshkhind, Pune, Retd. Govt. Official, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 09850604009.
29. Mr Santosh Awatramani, Altamount Road, Mumbai, Hotelier, Social worker, email@example.com, Cell: 09820345878.
30. Mr Ashish Mhatre, Grant Road, Mumbai, Private Service, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 09869111122.
31. Mr Ashish G Chandarana, Businessman, Dist: Akola, Maharashtra, email@example.com, Cell: 09423102861.
32. Mr Janak Daftari, Water-conservation activist, Andheri W, Mumbai, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 09322292908.
33. Ms Cynthia Fernandes, Bandra W, Mumbai, Activist and Social worker, Cell: 09867075044, email@example.com.
34. Ms Lucy D’Sa, Santacruz West, Mumbai, Educationist, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 09833647337.