Mumbai, Feb 23 (PTI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has appointed as many as eight external staffers as Officers on Special Duty (OSDs) in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), an RTI query has revealed.
A statement from the CMO, however, defended the appointments, saying they were perfectly legal, and such appointments were made by the earlier Congress-led governments too, and even "globally" such practise prevails.
RTI activist Anil Galgali had, under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, sought information from the state government about the appointments of external staffers as Officers on Special Duty in Maharashtra CMO and their salary details.
The reply by undersecretary, General Administration, said Fadnavis had appointed eight external persons as OSDs who collectively get Rs 7,69,108 per month in salaries.
Galgali said such externally appointed officers lack experience and their salary bill was a huge drain on treasury.
But the CMO said there was nothing new about such appointments. "Just before this government took charge, there were 19 external candidates working in the previous government," it said, naming some of them.
Section 10 (C) of Maharashtra Ministers and Allowances Act, 1953, allows the ministers to make such appointments, and the current OSDs were appointed by following the Government Resolutions passed by the earlier regime, the statement said.
"Decision about the salaries of OSDs has been taken based on the GR issued on 10th December 2010," and "all the OSDs have been appointed within the sanctioned strength of CMO. In fact, 2 posts in CMO are still vacant," the CMO said.
The present OSDs were "well-read and are experts in their respective fields, having vast experience", it added.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued here this evening, the Chief Minister's Office said "The claim that this is the first time private persons are being appointed in the state, is based on incomplete information".
"At least 19 such persons were working in the previous government, including those in offices of the then CM, Dy CM and ministers.
"The appointments are as per rules. There are still two vacancies in the sanctioned posts in CM's establishment," the statement added.