Info commissioner wants to go 4 days early

Weeks before he is scheduled to leave office, Information Commissioner M L Sharma is learnt to have resigned from his post, apparently because he does not want to serve under a Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) who would likely be an officer junior to him.

CIC Satyananda Mishra, head of the Central Information Commission, retires on September 4, and Sharma on September 8. If Sharma were to stay till the end, he would have to serve for four days under Mishra's successor.

A panel comprising the Prime Minister, law minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha will pick the new CIC, and has the option of elevating a serving information commissioner.

Deepak Sandhu and Sushma Singh are contenders — and Sandhu, who is currently after Mishra and Sharma in order of precedence at the commission, is believed to be the frontrunner for the post.

Sandhu is a retired officer of the 1971 batch. Sharma belongs to the 1972 batch, but he was in the IPS, while Sandhu was in the Indian Information Service. At the commission, Sharma — who was appointed in September 2008 — is senior to Sandhu.

Sources said that even if the next CIC were to be an outsider, he or she would certainly be junior to Sharma. CIC officials confirmed the developments, but declined to speak on record. Sharma is learnt to have sent his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee about 10 days ago, citing "personal reasons". But he continued to attend office, and sent an email to CIC Mishra asking to be relieved the day Mishra himself retires.

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