The PMO has refused to disclose information on action taken on suggestions made by the Shunglu panel, which probed alleged irregularities in 2010 Commonwealth Games-related projects in New Delhi.
To an RTI query, the Prime Minister’s Office said it was being examined by a Group of Ministers (GoM) and was hence exempted under the Right to Information Act.
The PMO, in reply to a query whether the government was considering to make the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) a three-member body on the basis of the committee’s suggestion, said “information regarding future course of action” cannot be accessed under the transparency law.
The High Level Committee (HLC) led by former CAG V.K. Shunglu had in March 2011 written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggesting changes in the country’s top auditing body, Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Controller of Accounts under Delhi government, Central Vigilance Commission and Delhi Development Authority.
“The said letter dated March 29, 2011 from V.K. Shunglu, former CAG and Chairman of High Level Committee, has been referred to a Group of Ministers... to look into issues relating to the reports of the High Level Committee and consider the views expressed on the findings and recommendations by the concerned ministries or departments,” the PMO said in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI.
It cited an exemption clause of the Act to deny information sought in the plea.
“In terms of rule 6 (4) of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, a Group of Ministers is an ad hoc committee of the Cabinet.
“As such, the information sought is exempt from disclosure in terms of Section 8(1)(i) of the Right to Information Act,” the reply said.
The Section bars disclosure of information on Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers.
A GoM headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony is looking into six reports submitted to the government by the HLC pointing out alleged omission and commission by officials and lack of oversight by the government in executing CWG-related projects.
The Commonwealth Games were held from December 3-14, 2010 in the national capital.
The term of the GoM, which was constituted in August 2011, has been extended till the completion of its assigned mandate, the reply said.
When asked whether the government was considering making CAG a multi-member body and giving greater autonomy to Chief Technical Examination Wing of the CVC, the PMO declined the details saying information regarding future course of action cannot be given under the RTI Act.
“As per Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, only information which is available in material form can be accessed.
“Information regarding the future course of action does not constitute information that can be accessed under the Act,” the PMO said in its reply.
The Shunglu Committee had suggested structural changes in CAG by making it a multi-member body.
“A three-member body would obtain greater transparency in its operation. One member should possess professional accounting qualifications, Chartered Accountant or its equivalent,” it had said in the six-page letter to the PM.
Shunglu had said that autonomy of Chief technical Examination (CTE) wing under the CVC needs to be increased and recommended outsourcing of professional hands to assist in its probe. It had also suggested changes in the functioning of CGA, Controller of Accounts under Delhi Government and DDA.