The decision to drop Bassi was taken amidst mounting pressure from Congress along with other opposition parties and civil society activists citing alleged inaction of Delhi Police as violent mob had beaten up journalists, teachers and students inside Patiala House Court complex during the hearing of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar’s case, official sources said.
Meeting the six-week deadline set by Delhi High Court to fill vacancies in the transparency watchdog, the panel met here this morning in which various names were discussed.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge at the Prime Minister’s South Block office here. Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh also attended the meeting as a special invitee.
Sources said Kharge was against Bassi’s candidature, a stand made already clear by some of his party leaders. A 1977-batch IPS officer, Bassi, who is due to retire this month-end, was one of the applicants for the post of Information Commissioner. His name was shortlisted last November by a search committee headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha.
There is a vacancy of three Information Commissioners against its total strength of 10. The names of candidates for all three vacancies were decided at today’s meeting,they said.
Sources said the selection panel has sent its recommendation to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent so that final orders for their appointments can be issued.
Besides Bassi, former Secretary of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) Shyamal K Sarkar, Anup K Pujari, the then Secretary of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and former Information and Broadcasting Secretary Bimal Julka were also shortlisted then.
Bassi had applied for both the post of Information Commissioner and Central Information Commissioner against the government’s order issued in September last. The government had in December appointed former Defence Secretary R K Mathur as head of the transparency panel. Mathur has tenure as CIC till he attains the age of 65 on November 25, 2018.