The Union Public Service Commission in its notification for the 2010 Civil Services examinations has done away with the requirement of Central Recruitment Fee stamp worth Rs.50 for women and members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as also physically and visually handicapped candidates. Now all that is required of candidates to apply for the exam is to fill up the Rs.20 form and send it across. While this will benefit economically poor students, it will also lead to candidates applying for the exam indiscriminately. Year after year it is seen that over one lakh applicants out of the several lakhs who apply do not appear for the exam. Even before a candidate makes up his/her mind to sit for the exam, he/she sends in the form anyway as the cost involved is meagre.

With this new move now, you can expect many more such applications flowing in. The cumulative impact of this on the Exchequer will be enormous. The UPSC will have to print question papers for all the applications. It will also have to arrange examination centres and employ invigilators at great expense. It is high time the UPSC reviews its decision and discourages the practice of students sending in the forms recklessly with no serious intent. The best way to do this would be to raise the exam fee.

Sarath S. Pillai,

61-UB, Mohan Nivas, Jawahar Nagar, Delhi – 110 007.

Yes, My Lord.…..

Hats off to Delhi High Court Chief Justice A. P. Shah for authoring a landmark ruling while heading a three-judge Bench hearing an appeal by the Supreme Court. The appeal by the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court was against a September 2009 Single-Bench ruling of the High Court wherein the office of the Chief Justice of India was declared a “public authority” under the Right to Information Act. I suggest that any further adjudication on the matter would be unnecessary and unwarranted.

Any apprehension that declaring the CJI office as a public authority would open up floodgates for vested interests to file frivolous applications on one issue or the other which would tend to interfere with the independence of judiciary is highly exaggerated. Although a public authority, the CJI is not bound to disclose any information held by him unless a case of clear public interest is made out by the applicant. If this is not considered adequate by the Supreme Court, a mechanism could be devised by the Chief Justice in consultation with other judges of the Court to foil instances of any possible misuse of RTI.

The Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of the Constitution as well as any statute enacted by Parliament, is fully competent to frame suitable guidelines/regulations for dissemination of information held under its domain. Such regulations would have no less force than an enacted law. Any information which it deems to be affecting the tenet of judicial independence can be excluded implicitly.

Only this past December when the Chief Information Commissioner directed the Supreme Court’s Public Information Officer to divulge details about appointment of judges as well as correspondence exchanged between the CJI and a judge of the Madras High Court, the apex court immediately stepped in to avoid any transgression of the judiciary’s independence. The image of our judiciary would go up further in the public eye if RTI is implemented by the Supreme Court in letter and in spirit albeit with suitable exceptions so as to protect the judiciary’s independence.

Hemant Kumar,

414, Sector 7, Urban Estate, Ambala City (Haryana).

Vote, please

On January 9, on the occasion of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed hope that Indians living abroad would be able to vote in the next general elections. Responding to the frequent plea for voting rights to non-resident Indians, most recently made by members of his global advisory council for overseas Indians, Dr. Singh termed the desire legitimate.

Speaking of the ongoing work on this issue, he promised to go a step further and asked why more overseas Indians should not return home to join politics and public life as they are doing increasingly in business and academia.

I think Assam can work on similar lines. Voting provisions for non-resident Assamese — not only those staying abroad but also those staying in different parts of the country — should be made available. In this era of the Internet, voting through a website especially designed and equipped for non-resident Assamese votes should be launched during the elections. This should be given thoughtful consideration as thousands of Assamese who migrate from their hometowns in Assam can’t go back to Guwahati just to vote on polling day as it is not feasible given a one-day holiday.

Pallavi Barua,

Vijay Nagar, Delhi - 110 009.

Clear the jam

The Delhi Government should streamline the system of vehicle numbers allotment to avoid their swelling up to ten digits in place of the current eight. The present system of marking ‘C’ for cars and ‘S’ for scooters in the number plate should be done away with by separating the registration authorities for cars and two-wheelers.

Just as the registration authorities have their identifying number like ‘6’ in a number like DL6C-1234, the same should recognise the class of vehicle also, widening the scope to use all 26 alphabets from ‘A to Z’. There can be two ways to allot VIP numbers, which should include all numbers ending with ‘000’, single-digit numbers and numbers with all four numerals being same from ‘1111’ to ‘9999’. One way could be to allot all such numbers only to government vehicles but not to private vehicles owned by persons in top posts. The second is to auction these numbers at the start of a new series through media publicity. Many States are generating handsome revenue by such auctions. A new series should, however, not be started before the closure of an earlier series.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal,

1775, Kucha Lattushah, Dariba, Chandni Chowk, Delhi – 110 006.