The process to remove defiant State Information Commissioner Ramanand Tiwari got a fillip with Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan Tuesday referring the issue to the Supreme Court, an official said.The governor has referred the case to the apex court under Right to Information Act, Section 17(1), said an official who declined to be identified.
The section lays down guidelines for action against a state information commissioner.
“The next stage will be Tiwari’s suspension, which could happen as soon as the governor’s recommendation reaches the apex court,” the official explained. The suspension itself could take place in the next few days.
Tiwari, a former Indian Administrative Service officer, was last month asked to quit his post by the state government after his name came up for alleged involvement in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society (CHS) scam.
Since Tiwari, who occupies a constitutional post, refused to resign claiming innocence in the case, the state cabinet initiated the process to remove him.
Among other things, he has been accused of withholding crucial information on the Adarsh society, in which many politicians and bureaucrats are members.
Earlier Tuesday, the governor also sent a state government proposal to suspend Tiwari back to the authorities, advising that they should take the advice from the legal department and re-draft the proposal.
Tiwari has been at the receiving end after it came to light that his son Omkar was also a member of the controversial Adarsh Society.
The officer had occupied several important positions, including as the secretary of the state urban development department, between 2000-2009 when the Adarsh Society files moved at a jet speed in the power corridors.
After his retirement, Tiwari was appointed an information commissioner.
Even as the Adarsh Society case hotted up, Tiwari last fortnight sought to go on a long leave of nearly three months starting Jan 7, but his application was rejected by the governor.
The scam has already claimed the job of former chief minister Ashok Chavan after allegations surfaced of collusion between bureaucrats and politicians to corner flats in the society’s 31-storey building constructed on a prime plot measuring nearly 6,500 sq metres in the posh Colaba area of south Mumbai.
The Right to Information Act’s Section 17(1) states that “subject to the provisions of Sub-Section(3), the state CIC (Chief Information Commissioner) or SIC (state information commissuioner) shall be removed from his office only by order of the governor on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the governor, has on inquiry, reported that the state CIC or SIC, as the case may be, ought on such ground be removed.”
Last Sunday, Tiwari called on the governor ostensibly to give his version in the Adarsh Society controversy. Later, he claimed that he was innocent and was prepared to face any action.