CIC chief, information commissioners make assets public

New Delhi: Leading by example, the head of transparency watchdog CIC, Satyananda Mishra, and five information commissioners on Wednesday made their assets public.

The Information Commissioners reached a consensus to declare their assets voluntarily on the CIC website during a meeting last month where it was also agreed to update this information on annual basis.

"We have taken a decision during the last week of March to voluntarily declare our assets on the website. We thought when there is nothing to hide, why not to place them in public domain," Chief Information Commissioner Mishra told PTI.

The declaration which came after initial reluctance of the CIC on the issue shows that only two Information Commissioners, M L Sharma and Shailesh Gandhi, own a car.

Sharma said he owns a Maruti 800 which he bought in 1993 for Rs two lakh. Sharma has also declared other assets which include agricultural land and house in Jaipur which he built in 1989-90 with a loan from HDFC.

Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit declared two houses that she owns in Delhi and Nainital with the combined value of about Rs 50 lakh. Information Commissioner Sushma Singh has one house in Ranchi purchased in 2004 and another bought in 2008 in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad.

Mishra has given exhaustive details of property owned by him which include an ancestral property inherited by him in native place in Orissa, a house in Bhubaneshwar and one in Bhopal which is co-owned by his wife.

He had also given property details of his wife who is a professor in a post-graduate college in Bhopal.

"I had used the same format which I used to give when I was working as a civil servant," he said.

Information Commissioner Deepak Sandhu gave details of her five properties which include agriculture land worth Rs 1,000, two plot in Kilokari in Delhi with value of Rs 40,000, a house in Barog Himachal Pradesh worth 50 lakh and one in Chandigarh worth Rs five crore.

She paid 20 per cent, about Rs 1.5 crore, of it in joint ownership with her husband after selling a house in Mumbai and 50 per cent was inherited from mother.

Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also declared property details of his family. The former entrepreneur showed a house worth Rs 80,000, a car worth Rs five lakh, jewellery (self estimate value) of Rs 31 lakh, bank deposits and such instruments of about Rs 71 lakh and cash of about Rs 11 lakh.

His income from salary and interests was about Rs 31 lakh while expenses were about Rs 16 lakh during the year.

The step taken by the Commission is a complete turnaround from its position during the time of Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, whose five-year term ended in September last year, when some of the fellow Information Commissioners were against posting their asset details on the website.

Habibullah had said although the Commissioners were ready to declare their assets, they were against the idea of putting the information in public domain like the website of the CIC.

Gandhi had opposed this view point of his peers and had declared his property details on his website.

Habibullah had then directed the officials to understand the practice followed in other commissions. But no concrete step was taken by the Commission.