The Congress-led Democratic Front government had its way over the appointment of state’s chief information commissioner (CIC) when the name of Ratnakar Gaikwad was finalised through a committee headed by CM Prithviraj Chavan. Gaikwad, who recently retired as the state chief secretary, pipped big names such as ex-additional chief secretaries Umesh Chandra Sarangi and Ramesh Kumar, and former BMC commissioner Subodh Kumar. Sources said in all there were seven contenders for the prestigious post, which has been lying vacant for the last 7-8 months.
The three-member committee comprising the CM, deputy CM and leader of opposition finalised Gaikwad’s name. Sources said questions were raised over the appointment of Gaikwad as his name was linked to the controversial Adarsh housing society in Colaba. It was in Gaikwad’s tenure as metropolitan commissioner of MMRDA that certain clearances were granted to the society that comprises members from the defence establishment, state bureaucrats, politicians and their kith and kin.
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But, the CM reportedly strongly backed Gaikwad saying that he was not an accused in the case and his name does not find mention in the ongoing probe. Questions have also been raised on whether the state government was waiting for Gaikwad’s retirement for the last eight months as the CIC’s post was not filled despite a huge pendency of appeals.
Surprisingly, in spite of the meeting, the vacancies at divisional information commissioner-level were not filled up and the issue has now been postponed for the next edition. Sources said the government wants to create two new posts of divisional information commissioners — one exclusively for Mumbai suburban district — owing to the large backlog of pleas. Currently the state has seven divisional information commissioners at Mumbai, Konkan, Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, Amravati and Nagpur.