मंगलवार, 26 अगस्त 2008

Caveat : Appointment of New Central Information Commissioners

(Milap Choraria)
The leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Shri L K Advani, refused to attend a meeting required under the RTI Act, for appointment of the Information Commissioners, unless a fresh list of names was drawn up for the proposed expansion of the Central Information Commission (CIC). In a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Thursday, Advaniji cited three reasons for declining to attend the meeting that was scheduled to take place on the same evening between these two and the Home Minister Shri Shivraj Patil, who constitute a committee under Section 12(3) of the Act, to select the Information Commissioners proposed to be added to the existing five in the CIC, as referred in the TOI report of August 19, 2008, stating that "public-spirited activists who have been in the forefront of this campaign for transparency in government have taken exception to the fact that government's choice of Information Commissioners is limited to retiring bureaucrats.", stating that the objection of the activists was "justified" as the RTI Act gave the committee "a very wide choice" by laying down that the Information Commissioners shall be "persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism and mass media or administration and governance.", and that the government seems to have sent him the names more for information than for consultation, since the agenda containing the names of five nominees was sent to him just a day before the scheduled meeting, that too without any prior information. "In meetings of this nature where nominations for important positions are to be decided," the "names are invariably discussed with members of the committee informally before they are formally placed before the committee."

The participatory role of the Citizenry in the functioning of the Government to ensure transparent and accountable governance in principal was accorded by the Government, by enacting the Right to Information Act, 2005. If Government is sincere in its implementation, then what is the problem to adopt a transparent procedure in appointment of the Information Commissioners? Therefore, guidelines should be issued that one month advance prior to the meeting of the Appointing Committee, the names of the Penal for appointment as Information Commissioner(s) should be announced, so that if any citizen have any objection he can place the same before the appointing committee for its consideration. In the light of the past experiences of the applicant seekers, this is extremely necessary.

It is reported that some RTI activists suggested the names of respected Shri Anna Hazare, Smt. Aruna Ray, Shri Arvind Kejriwal, and so on for the appointment as the Information Commissioners. I don't think that these people would ever like to reduce themsleves by agreeing to to become part of the group of those members, who constantly seek to move in the corridor's of power as against their present most powerful status of 'Watchdog Activists' in furtherence for the cause of "Right to Know".

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