HC moved against appointment of OSD to Pondy Lt Guv Kiran Bedi

Chennai:The Madras High Court Monday sought affidavits from three top Puducherry officials on a petitioner’s claim that he had obtained confidential reports through RTI, using which he challenged the recent appointment of a retired IAS officer as OSD to Lt Governor Kiran Bedi.

Petitioner P Saravanan, who has sought to quash the appointment of G Theva Neethi Dhas as the officer on special duty, filed, along with a PIL, confidential reports and documents in the form of typed set of papers, claiming he had obtained them through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

He alleged the appointment of Dhas, who had retired as the secretary to the Puducherry Lt Governor, was made in violation of rules and by keeping the chief minister in the dark and it was a colourable exercise of power by Bedi.

When the PIL came up for hearing, a bench comprising Justice S Manikumar and Justice P T Asha observed how the confidential documents, reports and demi-official letters such as file notings with the signatures of the chief secretary and other officials were obtained.

It directed the Puducherry chief secretary, principal finance secretary and the secretary to the Confidential and Cabinet Department to file separate affidavits setting forth the details whether any application was made under RTI by the petitioner for the reports and documents.

The matter relates to the appointment Dhas as OSD for a period of two years from July 1, 2018 at a contractual fee of Rs 1,16,737 per month.

The petitioner claimed the chief minister had written to the Lt Governor to name the successor of the Dhas a day before he was to retire.

It later came to light that the Confidential and Cabinet Department had on June 26 itself issued a letter of proposal pursuant to which Dhas was appointed OSD, he submitted.

The procedure for appointment of retired government officials as consultants shall be on submission of a proposal before the Consultancy Evaluation Committee consisting of department officials concerned, but in this case, the procedure was violated, the petitioner contended.

Moreover, there was no such post as officer on special duty to Lieutenant Governor and such posting was illegal and liable to be quashed, he said.

When quite a number of officers senior to Dhas had been waiting to get such a post, his appointment as OSD was illegal, incorrect, biased and violative of principles of natural justice, the petitioner claimed.

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