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No rules for CIC selection, alleges RTI activist

July 01, 2010 00:54 IST

Even five years after the implementation of the Right To Information Act, the government has failed to frame rules for the selection of Chief Information Commissioners across the country which has resulted in "arbitrary selection" of these officials, a leading activist has alleged.

Presenting a series of documents accessed under the transparency law, Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejariwal said the PM-led selection committee for Information Commissioners has become an "endorsement committee" of candidates finalised by the Department of Personnel and Training. "The names which made it to agenda note of selection committee chaired by the PM and who were finally selected, never applied nor were they every recommended by anyone as per records of DOPT and PMO," he said. He cited an interesting case of the then Secretary, DOPT Satyananda Mishra who framed the agenda for the selection committee and put his own name as shortlisted candidate for the post. Mishra was subsequently selected for the post of Information Commissioner at the CIC.

Section 27 of the Right to Information Act mandates the government to frame selection of the Information Commissioners at the CIC and State Information Commissioners. "The DOPT has not framed any rules in this regard even after

five years. Had they done so, their supremacy in arbitrary selection would have been over," Kejariwal said. The activists also cited case of advisor to Finance Minister Omita Paul who was made Information Commissioner after the general elections were announced and resigned from the post to join previous post after elections were over and UPA again came to power. The activists cited several names like Ravi Shanker Singh, Sudhanshu Ranajan and Krishna Kabir Antony which were recommended by several eminent persons but were not put before the selection committee. They also cited names like Satyananada Mishra, Annapurna Dixit, M L Sharma which were put before the selection committee by the DOPT without any recommendation or application in their favour.

"Who in DOPT finalises the names to be sent before the Selection Committee. PM is hardly given a choice to select by the DOPT. For example S N Mishra was the then DOPT Secretary. He included his own name in the agenda note and excluded those of others," Kejariwal said. Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are selected by a committee chaired by Prime Minister and comprising Leader of Opposition and a Cabinet Minister. The DOPT has a secretarial role to receive and shortlist candidates to be put in agenda note of the meeting.

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