365 days later, Govt still unable to find information commissioners; activist demands answers
When it comes to appointments of the crucial post of Central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners, the Modi government, despite having followed all procedures of calling for applicants and shortlisting, has not been able to identify any one
Is Rocket Science required to appoint the Chief Central Information Commissioner and the three Information Commissioners that the government had advertised for? Today, it is exactly one year since applications were invited from the public to apply for these posts, but yet it is a suspicious silence from the Prime Minister’s Office:
Look at this timeline
• On 25 February 2014 (exactly a year back), the government advertised for the posts of information commissioners
• On 16 July 2014, the government again advertised for Posts of ICs in CIC
• On 23 August 2014, CIC Rajiv Mathur retired and two months later, on 24 October 2014, the newly formed BJP government advertised the post of Central Chief Information Commissioner
• On 16 January 2015, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has invited the Search Committee members comprising the cabinet secretary, Rashtrapati Bhavan (chairman); Additional Principal Secretary to PM; Secretary, DoPT; Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs; Secretary, Dept of Expenditure and Professor Ram Chand, National Centre for Agricultural Economics & Policy. They were scheduled to meet at the cabinet secretariat of Rashtrapati Bhavan on 16th January. On the same day, another meeting to draw a panel for information commissioners will also take place.
• Thereafter, the candidates for the post of Information Commissioners and the CIC have been shortlisted but no action has been taken.
Irked by this inordinate delay, which has resulted in piling up of pending cases, about 38,000 as against 22,300 on 25th February last year (figures procured under RTI Act) leading Delhi based RTI activist, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd), has now filed an RTI application. Cmde Batra, who has been tenaciously following up this issue, has sought details of the follow up after the shortlisting of the candidates from the Cabinet Secretariat of Rashtrapati Bhavan. He has sought inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act.
His RTI application has demanded the following information:
1. Background As per information received through RTI, Hon’ble Prime Minister has accorded approval for constitution of ‘Search Committee’ headed by Cabinet Secretary for recommending / short listing panel(s) of names to the ‘Selection Committee’ for appointments of Chief Information Commissioner and 03 Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC)’. The first meeting of the “Search Committee’ was to be held on 16.01.2015 and the 2nd meeting on 06.02.2015.
2. In the above background /context, please provide me following information.
a) Please intimate the procedure /criterion applied /being applied for short listing panel(s) of names for the ‘Selection Committee’, for appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and 03 Information Commissioners in CIC.
b) Please provide me the “Proceedings / Minutes of the Meetings” of the Search Committee held on 16.01.2015 and all the meetings held thereafter. Also provide me copy of final recommendations sent to PMO /DoPT for consideration of the ‘Selection Committee’.
c) Please provide List of file/files with reference number(s) on which the ‘Search Committee’ is processing / has processed the case of appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and appointment of 03 Information Commissioners.
d) I would also like to inspect all the file/ files /records concerned with the above mentioned appointments of Chief IC and ICs in CIC. At that stage, I will take photocopies (duly certified) of the documents and notings in the file(s) as required by me. Please intimate the date and time for the inspection.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of
Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.