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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 07 Feb 2012:

The Hindu : States / Andhra Pradesh : Politicians as information commissioners opposed

 

Politicians as information commissioners opposed

 

Speakers at a roundtable here on Monday decried the appointment of politicians as Information Commissioners and blamed the Chief Minister, Leader of the Opposition and the Governor for the fiasco.

 

The meeting organised by the United Forum for Campaign on Right to Information requested Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to review the appointments and induct individuals who had understanding of the Right to Information Act. Speakers criticised Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu too for giving his nod to the names proposed by the government.

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karira

As reported by A Srinivasa Rao in indiatoday.intoday.in on 07 Feb 2012:

Politicos have reduced RTI body to a farce : A Srinivasa Rao News - India Today

 

Politicos have reduced RTI body to a farce

 

THE appointment of as many as eight Right to Information Commissioners in Andhra Pradesh last week has kicked up a big controversy. RTI activists across the state are up in arms against the Congress government for virtually converting the commission into a political rehabilitation centre.

 

Such was the intensity of the protests that Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan had to keep the file on the appointments in abeyance. He was flooded with representations from various sections of the civil society, including Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey, requesting him to cancel the appointments. In fact, the commission has been without commissioners for the last 15 months.

 

And when the Kiran Kumar Reddy government finally filled up eight posts, that too after being reprimanded by the High Court, it came as a shock to many activists: Four of the commissioners are Congress leaders and the others include two retired IPS officers, a retired IFS officer and a senior journalist.

 

One of the commissioners Imtiaz Ahmed has been in politics for over a decade. In fact, he had contested against the Chief Minister from Vayalpadu assembly constituency twice in the past on a TDP ticket. He joined the Congress recently and was rewarded with the RTI Commissioner post.

 

Another commissioner, N Vijaya Nirmala, also contested the last assembly polls on a Praja Rajyam Party ticket. She is the sister- in- law of Bheemili MLA Avanti Srinivas. Now that the PRP has merged with the Congress, she has been accommodated in the RTI commission.

 

So is the case with L Tantiya Kumari, daughter of former deputy chief minister late Koneru Ranga Rao. Till recently, she was the Congress zilla parishad member in Krishna district.

 

Another commissioner Varre Venkateshwarlu was a Youth Congress leader in Nalgonda district. Even journalist Vijaya Babu was also an active member of the Congress in Guntur.

 

For retired IPS officers S Prabhakar Reddy and M Ratan ( the latter applied for voluntary retirement supposedly in expectation of being appointed to the RTI Commission) and retired IFS officer Madhukar Raj, the post was a post- retirement blessing. M ORE THAN 150 candidates applied for the RTI Commissioner posts and there was a hectic lobbying by political leaders at all levels. “ No wonder there was such huge competition, as RTI commissioners enjoy the rank of Chief Secretary with a salary of about ` 1.15 lakh per month, besides facilities like a fully- furnished government bungalow, vehicle, personal assistants and other perks,” says RTI activist D Rakesh Reddy.

 

RTI activists say none of the new commissioners fit into the guidelines fixed under the RTI Act. As per the Section 15 ( 5), commissioners should persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge of law, science, technology, social service, management and mass media. Similarly, as per Section 15 ( 6), they should not hold any other office of profit or be connected with any political party. “ How can persons, who contested the elections, be appointed as RTI commissioners?” asks Rajesh. He said it was unfortunate that government had taken caste, regional and political considerations in the appointments.

 

Former Union energy secretary E. A. S. Sarma also questions the propriety of appointing civil servants as RTI commissioners.

 

“ What will they do, if they are called upon to adjudicate on the disclosure of information relating to the respective departments in which they served?” he asked.

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Sajib Nandi

RTI activists livid with Kiran Reddy's replies

 

As reported by Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Feb 8, 2012

RTI activists livid with Kiran Reddy's replies - The Times of India

 

HYDERABAD: Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy told a group of RTI activists who met him on Tuesday that he wouldn't reconsider the appointment of information commissioners. An 11-member team, comprising civil society activists and retired civil servants, were told in no uncertain terms by the CM that there would be no changes.

 

What left the activists flummoxed was his reply. The CM, when questioned about the appointment of politicians as information commissioners, apparently he said that none of them would venture into politics in the future.

 

"This is nothing but trivialising the RTI Act," rued K Padmanabhaiah, former Union home secretary noting how the Act was originally framed to keep the commission off the political influence. He added, "The CM said that he had sought legal opinion on the candidates and been told that there was nothing illegal. His explanation is not satisfactory."

 

Ramakrishna Raju, another civil society activist who was part of the delegation, said the CM interpreted the RTI Act in a way that suited him. "He conveyed to us that he had done social justice by appointing candidates from lower sections. Are these posts created to be filled for social justice," Raju asked.

 

Similar questions were raised by V B J Chelikani Rao, a social activist who too was part of the team. Unhappy with the CM's reaction to the team's concerns, Rao said, "He even tried hard to assure us that the commissioners would fare well in their duties, once appointed."

 

Livid with the CM for not entertaining their request for reconsidering candidates, the team has now sought an appointment with the leader of opposition N Chandrababu Naidu and governor ESL Narasimhan to put forth their case. The members said that they were also considering legal action on the matter.

 

When questioned about the appointment of politicians as information commissioners, the CM reportedly said that none of them would venture into politics in the future

 

 

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munirathnam

This is the way how the legislators do the things against the parliment. Hence there should be a check list approved by the legislators to check the each and every term and conditions (normally this technique is used for lay man, not for experts, ofcourse out politicians are acting like lay men) ...

 

When ever any decision is made then they should give detailed reasons (complying with the section 4(1)(d) of RTI Act) so that any person will challenge those reasons if required.

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karira

As reported in indianexpress.com on 08 Feb 2012:

http://expressbuzz.com/states/andhrapradesh/Naidu-to-dissent-on-SIC-appointments/361404.html

 

Naidu to dissent on SIC appointments

 

HYDERABAD: Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu has decided to register his dissent over the appointment of information commissioners to the State Information Commission under the Right to Information Act. As there were protests from some quarters on the appointment of politicians as information commissioners, Naidu decided to write a dissent note on the file.

 

Sources said that Naidu also have reservations about the bona fides of some candidates.

"Wait for two more days. You will know everything," he said without elaborating.

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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 08 Feb 2012:

The Hindu : NATIONAL / ANDHRA PRADESH : No politician as Information Commissioners: RTI activists

 

No politician as Information Commissioners: RTI activists

 

Opposing the appointment of politicians as the Information Commissioners for implementation of Right to Information Act, the Lok Satta district leaders have demanded that the government appoint persons who have concern for the society as the Information Commissioners.

 

Lok Satta district leaders staged a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in town on Tuesday denouncing the government's decision to appoint politicians as Information Commissioners. Speaking on the occasion, Lok Satta district president N. Srinivas, RTI activist T. Rajamouli demanded that the government implement the RTI Act in its true spirit.

 

 

‘Government should appoint Information Commissioners

 

who have concern for society'

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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 08 Feb 2012:

The Hindu : NATIONAL / ANDHRA PRADESH : Chief Minister defends choice of Info Commissioners

 

Chief Minister defends choice of Info Commissioners

 

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has defended the recent appointment of Information Commissioners claiming that the government had factored in various aspects, including social justice.

 

Mr. Reddy said the government appointed eight commissioners for the first time after taking legal opinion. He explained the government's standpoint to a delegation of Right to Information activists led by former Union Home Secretary K. Padmanabhaiah, retired IAS officers K. Madhava Rao and V.K. Srinivasan and representatives of various civil society organisations who called on him on Tuesday.

 

The delegation wanted the Chief Minister to reconsider the decision on the Information Commissioners in view of the fact that some of the incumbents had direct relations with political parties while some others were serving officers. The latest appointment was in direct contravention of the spirit of the Right to Information Act. They wanted experts with proven experience in law, science and technology, social services, management, journalism and administration to be selected for the crucial post, equivalent to that of the Chief Secretary, rather than those contested elections on behalf of political parties and lost.

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karira

An article by M Sridhar in the hansindia.info

::The Hans India::

 

Political chelas should not be Info Commissioners

 

In Tamil Nadu, the appointment of Chief and 3 other Information

Commissioners was challenged. Selection of three Commissioners

was struck down as illegal

 

It is a paradox that people have no right to information about those who are going to preside over their information rights. The Right to Information Act has several safeguards to secure itself from political onslaught.

 

But they appear to be no deterrent to political executives; or it seems no sane advice is available to them. Section 15.6 of the RTI Act, 2005, is very specific with regard to who should not be appointed as Information Commissioners. It says: "The State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory or hold any office of profit or be connected with any political party or be carrying on any business or pursuing any profession."

 

Though the makers of law categorically kept political chelas out of its ambit, rulers are selecting them. When right to information was granted to citizens, it was celebrated like second Independence Day.

 

People understood the strength of this tool that has potential use as a weapon too. The fact that several RTI activists were killed or threatened by the Babus and Netas is enough proof of its dynamic working. The ever- increasing support to the RTI Act by its implementation made it so strong that governments fear to dilute it through amendments.

 

Though the State and its officers believe this Act is of great nuisance value and creates problems in administration, they realize that they have to live with it. But then, the efforts to kill it by other means began.

 

The first such effort is not to fill the vacancies of information commissioners, who are the key persons in enforcing the law and helping people to realize the right; the second is to treat this as a rehabilitation center for rejected candidates and other henchmen.

 

Look at the paradox in Andhra Pradesh; people have to approach the High Court seeking a direction to appoint information commissioners. And when appointed they have to approach the High Court again for cancellation of some of those appointments on legal grounds.

 

After waiting for about 14 months, a petition was filed in AP High Court, in response to which the HC directed, on December 6, 2011, the AP Government to ‘act’. While the Act envisaged a multi-member body of ICs, it was functioned with a single Chief Information Commissioner.

 

Then somehow, Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy found time to appoint in the presence of deputy chief minister Damodar Raja Narasimha and Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu, and cleared the names of Imtiyaz Ahmed (retired district judge), M Ratan (serving IPS officer), M Prabhakar Reddy (former Cyberabad police commissioner), L Tantia Kumari, M Vijaya Nirmala, Varre Venkeshwarlu (social workers), P Vijaya Babu (senior journalist) and C Madhukar Raj (former forest service officer) as Information Commissioners. Neither the high command nor RTI activists were happy with these names.

 

At least four of those selected have either political affiliations or are pursuing some profession or holding an office of profit. Those holding office can relinquish it and secure eligibility. But political connection continues to be a disqualification.

 

Though the TDP president was silent during these selections, his party described it as “political rehabilitation”. V. V. Rao, convener of the Social Audit Council on Information Rights, decided to knock on the doors of justice if the Governor approved the ‘political list’ as this is violative of Section 15(6) and also 15(5) which specifies who to be selected. He sought that the political affiliation should be considered a disqualification.

 

In Tamil Nadu, the appointment of Chief and 3 other Information Commissioners was challenged. Selection of three Commissioners was struck down as illegal. Upholding the nomination of Chief Information Commission Sripathi, the court said: “The TN Opposition leader Ms Jayalalithaa was duly informed but she did not choose to attend. Only on the ground that leader of Opposition did not attend, it could not vitiate the appointment.”

 

The Bench said unless it was found that the Act by the earlier government was either contrary to the constitutional provisions or unreasonable or against public interest, the State should not change its stand merely because another political party had come to power.

 

In this case first, the government contended selection as proper but after elections the Jayalalithaa government instructed its lawyer to contend that selection was improper. The bench said: “Political agenda of an individual or a political party should not be subversive of the rule of law.”

 

However, the same High Court held in another petition challenging the appointments of P.A.Ramaiah, C.Manoharan and A.Arumuga Nainar as Information Commissioners, that fixation of the date for the selection committee meeting and the decision recommending the appointments of the three as arbitrary.

 

These three appointments were made in a meeting wherein the leader of opposition could not be present. She objected to convening of selection committee after election notification was issued.

 

It was held to be improper to select three commissioners when leader of opposition could not attend the meeting. Despite the fact that the election was notified, the meeting was held, Governor's consent for the appointments was obtained and the order of appointment was issued the same day.

 

State Government should adopt a transparent mechanism in appointing ICs in the interest of disclosure of public information to public.

 

Appointment of two commissioners was challenged in Punjab and Haryana Court recently, because there was no advertising of posts; applications were sent by interested and eligible persons but were not put up before the Selection Committee; no empanelment committees have been set up, and intelligence reports about the antecedents of selected candidates were not sought.

 

Petitioners also alleged, Mr. Ashok Mehta who was appointed as Information Commissioner by Haryana Government was found guilty of producing fake law degree and had to eventually resign, because of media exposure.

 

Likewise, Asha Sharma, who was also appointed as Information Commissioner by Haryana Government is facing a criminal charge of tampering with some documents, while continuing as State Information Commissioner.

 

There should be a system of calling for applications, to be scrutinized by a search committee, besides mandatory verification of antecedents. Only those names should be recommended who can uphold purpose of RTI.

 

The writer is Professor & Coordinator of Center for Media Law and Policy, NALSAR University of Law

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karira

Various articles appearing in local media in AP on appointment of Info Commissioners:

 

::The Hans India::

 

Guv urged to cancel SIC list

 

RTI activists allege corruption, lack of transparency

 

 

Hyderabad: Raj Bhavan was on Friday flooded with representations, opposing the selection of State Information Commissioners (SICs) by the committee headed by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha and the leader of the Opposition, N Chandrababu Naidu.

 

Letters came from activists of Right to Information Act, non-governmental organizations and social activists appealing to the Governor to cancel the present list, claiming there was no sanctity to the appointments. They found fault with the way the SICs were selected, and expressed concern over the history of the candidates.

 

They said that the spirit of the act was hurt by the State Government’s actions. D Rakesh Reddy, an RTI activist, in his letter said: “The State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.” He said, “The history of the eight persons who were selected by the committee are connected to the ruling party and other parties and bureaucrats.”

 

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), an NGO working on various issues including RTI, said in its letter that, “The RTI Act is the culmination of long struggles by the people to bring transparency and accountability in the system and it is slowly becoming a farce in the hands of the politicians.” The letter was signed by NAPM members including Sandeep Pandey, Raman Megasaysay awardee P Chennaiah, Saraswathi Kavula, P S Ajay, Rajendra Ravi, Anand Mazgaonker, Vimal Bhai and Madhuresh Kumar.

 

They said that it was high time to amend the Section 15(3) of RTI Act to eliminate the role of politicians in the selection process, and make the process much more participatory, transparent and inclusive of citizens and other democratic institutions.

 

T V Bhaskar, the director of SIRI, an NGO working in Phirangipuram in Guntur district, said, “The selection committee has made injustice to eight crore people of the State with the selection of improper persons as SICs.”

 

He also alleged that the government resorted to corruption in the selection of RTI commissioners. In his observation, Kandregula Venkata Ramana, the convenor of the RTI Protection Forum of Visakha Region, said, “The selection process turned out to be a ridiculous affair and the government changed the RTI office as a rehabilitation centre for politicians and retired bureaucrats.”

 

ITMD (It’s Time to Make a Difference), a voluntary organization working on RTI, urged the Governor not to approve the selections, which were in direct violation of the Act. It urged him to instruct the government to follow a transparent process in the selection of SICs. ITMD president P Ramakrishna expressed his concern over the list.

 

On the other hand, the selection of RTI Commissioners has also created ripples in the government as some senior ministers lodged their protest with the party high command. A senior minister told this correspondent, “There were allegations that five posts were sold out at Rs 50 lakh to Rs 60 lakh and some ministers took the issue to the notice of the leaders in the high command.”

 

They complained that Information Commission has been turned into a rehabilitation centre for politicians and retired bureaucrats. It is also learnt that some ministers have also opposed the appointments of State Information Commissioners and even lodged their complaints with the party high-command to intervene

 

===============================================================

 

::The Hans India::

 

CM nixes charge of flouting norms in ICs’ selection

 

Hyderabad: Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Tuesday strongly defended the selection of the information commissioners and denied that there was any violation of norms. The selection was done after prior consultation with legal advisors, the Chief Minister told a delegation of National Alliance for People Movement, which called on him and urged him to review and reconsider the names of the people selected as commissioners.

 

According to the former chief secretary Kaki Madhav Rao, the Chief Minister had made it clear that there was no need for any reconsideration of the issue. Ramakrishna Raju, state convenor for National Alliance for People Movement, said that the forum would soon take recourse to legal methods against the selection of new information commissioners. He said they would also meet Governor E S L Narsimhan urging not to approve selection of commissioners.

 

A 12-member delegation of the United Forum for RTI campaign led by intellectuals like K Padmanabhaiah, IAS (former home secretary); K Madhava Rao, IAS (former chief secretary); V K Srinivas; V Laxman Reddy (Jana Chaitanya Vedika); Rao Chelikani; T L Narsimha Rao; T Nagenderaswamy; S Srinivas Reddy etc.

 

were of the opinion that the selection lacked transparency and were illegal and improper nominations as per sec. 15 of RTI Act. They alleged that the selection done by the committee was not based on merit but on political consideration. Many of the selected were within the ambit of the disqualification clause, they said.

 

As per the RTI Act 15, the State Information commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or member of the Legislature or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carry out any business or pursue any profession. The delegation in their memorandum stated that the selected candidates were either linked to political parties or holding a position of profit.

 

====================================================================

 

::The Hans India::

 

RTI activists cry foul over selection of new ICs

 

The RTI activists are contemplating to move the High Court if necessary to ensure that the institution of RTI does not get packed with people who have political affiliations, family connections and caste considerations

 

Hyderabad: The appointment of eight new information commissioners seems to be heading for a major controversy. The selection of the commissioners and the procedure that was followed is being strongly opposed and the RTI activists are gearing up to urge the Governor ESL Narasimhan to reject the list. They are also contemplating to move the High Court if necessary to ensure that the institution of RTI does not get packed with people who have political affiliations, family connections and caste considerations.

 

The RTI activists across the State were unanimous that Chief Minister and leader of Opposition colluded with each other in packing the State Information Commission with such people. Transparency and accountability should govern the functioning of a commission as well as its appointments. Unfortunately, the appointments and also the process followed were not in that spirit, said Ramakrishnam Raju, convenor of United Forum for RTI Campaign.

 

He felt that a great deal of lobbying appeared to have influenced the appointments. According to him, it had been due to those pressures that the chief ministers could not fill the vacancies for a long time. Finally when it took place the appointees reflected what he wanted to avoid. As per the provision 15(3) of the Act, those in the social service, intellectuals, non-party men and distinguished retired officials should be the members.

 

Similarly 15(6) says, people actively connected with politics are not to be in the body. Talking of the selection committee, he pointed out that when two out of three members were from the government side selections could not be otherwise, unless it was unanimous.

 

His suggestion was to increase the committee membership to five and appoint some impartial individuals who could inspire confidence among general public.Another RTI activist Karthik Chandra from Hyderabad said that there were no subject experts.

 

The new list did not create any confidence among the people that the Act would be implemented effectively. “None of them according to me are above board,” he added.Hari Babu of Vijayawada said, “When the government is paying over Rs 1 lakh as salary and spending more money on other perks, it is mandatory for them to ensure that people of high competence are appointed.

 

It should not become a place for political rehabilitation. The government needs to explain how and why they felt that those eight people were found to be fit for the post.”

According to Balagangadhar, RTI activist belonging to Lok Satta, such appointees would toe the official line. They could not but be loyal to the government.

 

Subba Rao, advocate of Rajahmundry, who has been quite active on this front, said, strictly speaking not even one member of the eight met the Act criteria.Srinivasa Madhav, High Court advocate and consultant in Centre for Good Governance, appealed to the Governor to reject the list outright and set an example, before the court struck it down.

 

“It is tragic to note that constitution of an autonomous information commission which is supposed to protect a law to promote transparency and contain corruption is shrouded in secrecy,” he lamented adding that the recommendations were made in disregard of the law. BJP senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu also found fault with the list.

 

=========================================================

 

::The Hans India::

 

Political leaders slam CM for appointing Imtiaz as RTI Commissioner

 

According to Section 156 of The Right To Information Act 2005, the State Chief Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner shall not hold any office of profit

 

Chittoor: Telugu Desam Party under the leadership of district party president Mahadeva Naidu decided to oppose the selection of Imtiaz Ahmed as the new Information Commissioner. The party said that his appointment was an act of backstabbing the democracy.

 

Meanwhile, it was reported that several district Congress leaders were also expressing their resent against Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s decision in this regard.

 

CPI, CPM, YSRCP and other political parties in the district had openly expressed their concern for recommending Imtiaz Ahmed as Information Commissioner.

 

“According to Section 156 of The Right To Information Act 2005, the State Chief Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner shall not be a member of Parliament, or member of the Legislature of any state or union territory or hold any office of profit or be connected with any political party or carrying any business, or pursue any profession.

 

“Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is violating the guidelines of the Act by nominating Imtiaz Ahmed, a politician of the ruling Congress party,” exclaimed a senior TD legislator of the district.

 

Speaking to The Hans India here on Wednesday, a TDP official spokesman said that Intiaz is from Piler (CM’s Constituency) and he joined TDP after retiring as a civil judge.

 

He said that Intiaz had contested as TDP nominee against Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy in 2004 and 2009 Assembly elections and lost both times.

 

“Recently, he joined the Congress Party and joined hands with the chief minister. He was rewarded with the post of Information Commissioner, which is a violation of the guidelines of the RTI Act. This is a public secret and is known to any child in the district. Misusing his power, the CM has nominated Intiaz for the prestigious post,” he said.

 

An official spokesman of the ruling Congress Party has ridiculed the CM’s act and said, “The chief minister has vested interest in offering the most valuable seat to Imtiaz. He wants to strengthen his hand in his constituency besides he wishes to woo the Muslim minorities. The CM has nominated the chairmen posts of various marketing committees of his constituency neglecting the other part of the district.

 

Piler Area Development Agency (PADA) is his brain child. He is least interested to offer the nominated posts for any Congress man in the district. As a result the party will soon pay the cost for its follies in the approaching elections.”

 

District Congress legislators like P Ramachandra Reddy, Dr Kuthuhalamma and others are said to be unhappy over the CM’s attitude in the regard.

 

“We are not against Imtiaz. The CM did not pass a word to us in this regard and we condemn his style of functioning openly,” a senior Congress leader said.

 

District Secretary of Communist Party of Marxist Kumar Reddy and CPI District Secretary Haranatha Reddy besides Narayana Swamy, District Convenor YSRC, have categorically condemned the Chief Minister’s attitude in violating the guidelines of the RTI act and accommodating his three decade old political enemy.

 

Meanwhile, authentic source reveal that Telugu Desam Party Supermo N Chandrababu Naidu has decided the nominate Information Commissioners.

 

====================================

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karira

As reported in thehansindia.info:

::The Hans India::

 

New ICs: Rights activists to meet Governor today

 

Hyderabad: The Janachaitanaya vedika and other social acitivists on Wednesday announced that they would be meeting the Governor today morning and submit a memorandum demanding that the file pertaining to the appointment of information commissioners be rejected. They also threatened to seek legal remedy in case the Governor did not reject the names recommended by the government.

 

==================================================

 

::The Hans India::

 

Babu returns RTI file with dissent note

 

Hyderabad: The leader of opposition N Chandrababu Naidu late on Wednesday night returned the file pertaining to the selection of Information commissioners to the chief minister with a dissent note. It may be mentioned that Naidu who attended the meeting chaired by chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy to select the Information commissioners last week did not give any dissent note.

 

The selection of the eight commissioners had become controversial and social acitivists have been alleging that it was done based on political considerations and that the Congress and TDP had shared the posts to pack the commission with their chosen men and dilute the importance of the commission.

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karira

As reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 10 Feb 2012:

Civil society takes battle to Raj Bhavan - The Times of India

 

Civil society takes battle to Raj Bhavan

 

HYDERABAD: Stepping up their protest against the state government's choice of candidates for information commissioners, the civil society members on Thursday met governor E S L Narasimhan and submitted a memorandum to reconsider the decision. The nine-member team consisting of K Padmanabhaiah, former Union home secretary, K Madhava Rao, former state chief secretary, V K Srinivasan, retired IAS officer and other members told the governor that the appointments were in violation of the RTI Act.

 

V Lakshmana Reddy of Jana Chaitanya Vedika said, "The governor informed us that the file concerned had not reached him. He said he would study the issue and address their concerns once the file reaches him for his

consent."

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karira

As reported in thehansindia.info on 10 Feb 2012:

::The Hans India::

 

Governor assures rights activists strict scrutiny before approving ICs

 

ics.JPG

 

Hyderabad: Governor ESL Narasimhan on Thursday assured the Samachara Hakku Prachara Aikya Vedika that he would examine the proposals from the government with regard to the appointment of new Information Commissioners under Right to Information Act. He told them that so far the file had not come to him for his consideration.

 

The Aikya Vedika consisting of former home secretary K Padmanabhaiah; former chief secretary Kaki Madhav Rao; secretary, Forum for Good Governance M Padmanabha Reddy; state president of Senior Citizens’ Association Dr Rao Chelikani and others on Thursday met the Governor and submitted a memorandum alleging that the nominations were the result of political patronage.

 

They appealed to the Governor to cancel the present nominations as the very process of decision-making and recommendation has been grossly vitiated for lack of transparency and openness.

 

“We appeal to you to direct the government to process the entire matter afresh in accordance with the spirit and letter of the RTI Act and in accordance with the guidelines and principles laid down by the Supreme Court and a few High Courts,” they said. Further, the memo said:

 

“The RTI Act 2005, which provides for these statutory posts, is hailed as an effective instrument to usher in open and transparent governance, and to contain corruption in the administration. These posts are thus similar to the posts of Vigilance Commissioners and Lok Ayuktas which are some other statutory posts. Recommendations to these posts are required to be made by a panel of three members headed by the Chief Minister and approved by the Governor.

 

These posts are extremely sensitive as the Information Commissioners can have access to any information with the government and semi-governmental bodies. The only exception is a few areas relating to internal security, law and order, intelligence etc. The sensitive role required to be played by the Information Commissions has been clearly brought out in the preamble to the RTI Act.

 

“Information Commissioner’s is a high ranking position as the post carries the pay and allowances of the Chief Secretary to the government which is the highest ranking position in the administrative hierarchy.

 

Once selected, the incumbent can only be removed by the Governor on the recommendations of the Supreme Court after an enquiry. All these statutory provisions would make it imperative that the panel recommend the names after following an objective, salutary, credible and transparent procedure.

 

“The selection process, if there is any such process at all, of the eight nominees is shrouded in secrecy and nothing is known as to whether any applications were invited, the number of applications received, whether all the applications were considered, whether there was any search committee or a screening committee, what criteria were followed in screening and others.

 

“The eligibility criteria are spelt out under Section 15(5) and 15(6) of the RTI Act. Section 15(5) mandates that persons selected as Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life, with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.

 

Section 15(6) prohibits persons connected with any political party from being appointed as State Information Commissioners. We think that in addition to the integrity of the process of selection, at least three of the people recommended are hit by being non-eligible for consideration according to the provisions of Section 15(5) and 15(6).”

 

Later addressing the media, the members of the SHPAV said that the Governor responded positively and said that the file had not yet reached his office. Once the papers come for his approval, he would properly examine the eligibility criteria, the governor told them, they said.

 

The civil society members also gave a presentation on orders passed by the respective High Courts in Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

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Ketan Modi

Respected Karira Sir,

This thread is highly thought provoking and an eye-opener. The only was out is to defeat the corrupt politicians during the election to bring them back to earth. CM's largesse distribution to his chosen few are common every where and all the RTI Community Workers are with our brethren in AP. Stop not till the goal is reached is the only soul inspiring quote that comes to mind. Keep fighting. Happy information seeking.

Ketan Modi

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karira

As reported by N. Vamsi Srinivas in deccanchronicle.com on 10 Feb 2012:

Naidu

 

Naidu’s u-turn on info commissioners surprises state

 

Reports of the Telugu Desam chief, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, recording his dissent at the appointment of information commissioners came as a surprise to the government.

 

The government is yet to receive any official intimation from Mr Naidu, but what officials find surprising is that the U-turn by the former CM took place within days of his getting two of his nominees appointed on the panel of information commissioners.

 

The minutes of the meeting held on January 31 clearly indicate that the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, the track record of the applicants was discussed in detail and that there was unanimity among the three members — Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Deputy CM Mr Damodar Rajanarasimha, and Mr Naidu.

 

“It is rather shocking to see Mr Naidu airing different views a few days after he agreed to the panel,” a senior bureaucrat involved in the process said. “It is an open secret that senior police officer Mr M. Ratan and academician Ms Vijaya Nirmala were his pick,” the official added.

 

Sources said that the CM first made known his options with regard to six commissioners, in which the two named above did not figure at all. Then there was a proposal from Mr Naidu that the number should be increased to accommodate all sections.

 

Accordingly, the three member committee went through more names. Mr Naidu supported Mr Ratan and Ms Nirmala. He even observed that Mr Ratan belongs to the backward classes, has an impeccable character and hails from the Telangana region. He appreciated Ms Nirmala as a highly qualified academician.

 

Sources also said that the Chief Minister was informed in advance that Mr Ratan's name would be proposed by Mr Naidu, even though Mr Ratan is still in service. Those who supported Ms Nirmala's appointment approached Mr Naidu through an academician close to him.

 

No IAS officer was considered because the chief information commissioner, Mr Jannat Hussain, belongs to the same service.

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karira

As reported in deccanchronicle.com on 11 Feb 2012:

Naidu dissent on ICs leaves Kiran smiling | Deccan Chronicle

 

Naidu dissent on ICs leaves Kiran smiling

 

Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu’s much hyped “dissent” over the appointment of Information Commissioners appears to be a classic case of much ado about nothing.

 

Contrary to his public posture that he is very opposed to the way the new Information Commissioners had been picked, Mr Naidu remained highly non-committal while recording his views on the issue in the note file concerned. “In view of the feedback and public perception on the proposed list of Information Commissioners, I suggest that a search committee should be formed to scrutinise the eligibility of the applicants as per the provisions of the RTI Act and place it before the next meeting of the high-level committee,” he scribbled in the note file, according to highly placed sources.

 

In fact, the Leader of Opposition made the job of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy easier by not putting spokes in the process. After seeing Mr Naidu's views, the government felt comfortable and decided to forward the note file to Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan so that the appointment orders could be issued.

 

Though the Telugu Desam president wanted a search committee to scrutinise the applications as per the provisions of RTI Act, ironically, the Act itself prescribes the selection of the Information Commissioners by a high-level committee comprising the Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and a senior minister. “There is no provision for any search committee in the Act,” sources said, adding that Mr Naidu indeed undermined his own position as member of the high-level committee that is supposed to go through all the credentials of the applicants and chose the best among them.

 

Mr Naidu’s talk about a “next meeting” also surprised officials as there would not be any meeting once the new commissioners were shortlisted by the high-level committee. “He did not demand such a meeting in the January 31 meeting,” sources said.

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karira

As reported in ibnlive.in.com on 11 Feb 2012:

RTI activists to stage dharna on 11th - southindia - Hyderabad - ibnlive

 

RTI activists to stage dharna on 11th

 

HYDERABAD: RTI activists across the state have called for a protest at the Dharna Chowk here on Saturday against the appointment of eight information commissioners to the AP Information Commission. Terming the appointment a farce, B Ramakrishna Raju, convenor of the United Forum for RTI Campaign, said that the forum members had met the governor on Thursday and presented the many flaws in the appointments during a 45minute meeting. "Since the file containing the nominees' list is yet to reach the governor with the signature of the opposition party leader, he listened to us patiently and promised to look into the issue. But to further drive home our point, we have planned the dharna on Saturday,'' he said.The youth wing of the forum is expected to lead the dharna, with the support to be provided by K Padmanabhaiah, former Union home secretary and K Madhava Rao, former chief secretary.Around 200 people, including RTI activists and civil society members are expected to converge at the venue for the dharna which will be held between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. It may be recalled that a selection panel, comprising chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and Opposition Leader N Chandrababu Naidu among others, had recently selected eight persons as the information commissioners.Noting that some of the selected persons had actively participated in politics, Padmanabhaiah said the selection of such persons is not correct as the RTI Act mandates that eminent persons in a variety of fields be picked for the statutory posts.

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karira

As reported in Hans India on 12 Feb 2012:

::The Hans India::

 

New ICs demanded

 

Hyderabad: Former Union Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah on Saturday criticised

the selection of RTI commissioners by the State government.Addressing a protest

programme organised by the United Forum for promotion of Right to Information at

Dharna Chowk, Padmanabhaiah said it was not proper to fill up RTI commissioner vacancies with candidates having political inclinations, instead of choosing experienced people from relevant

areas.

 

Jana Chaitanya Vedika, state president, V Lakshman Reddy said a people’s ballot

would be conducted across the State on February 15 and 16 on whether the people having political affiliations and persons continuing in government jobs can be appointed as

RTI Commissioners.

 

Forum convenor, B Ramakrishna Raju said the RTI Act was being diluted in

Andhra Pradesh. Others termed the selection of RTI commissioners as a

blatant violation of the rules, while forum secretary M Padmanabha Reddy demanded

that the Governor should cancel the selection of the commissioners.

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karira

As reported by Sudeshna in postnoon.com on 12 Feb 2012:

Drop politicians, say RTI activists : Postnoon

 

Drop politicians, say RTI activists

 

drop_politians_says_rti_postnoon_news-435x292.jpg

 

RTI activists in the City are aghast at the government proposal to nominate four political persons to the Information Commissioner office. They held a protest dharna at Indira Park on Saturday and plans to launch a signature campaign against the move. The protesters say four of eight new commissioners recommended are ineligible to be the commissioners.

 

The Commission has over 13,000 cases pending as it does not have the official quorum . The United Forum of RTI activists which had organised the protest said fresh process of selecting respected and non-controversial persons of eminence should be initiated. Their meeting with the CM, governor and ministers proved futile so far.

 

Not laying down clear parameters for selection of information commissioners is the main reason for such controversies, protesters said. The whole process should be transparent. “We don’t hate politicians but the kind of image they created for self do not evoke confidence in them. It’s time we exercise our democratic right and stop the trend of placing politicians in every sphere of life. RTI is an important tool of empowerment of masses and it should not be diluted, says Babu Rao, a retired scientist and RTI activist.

 

Who are opposed?

 

Imtiaz Ahmed: Former member of Telugu Desam Party. Contested in election in 2004 and 2009. Recently joined the Congress.

 

Lam Tantya Kumari: Former Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) member and daughter of the late deputy CM Komeru Ranga Rao from the congress.

 

M Vijaya Nirmala: Contested from and lost the Nuzvid Assembly seat in Krishna District on Praja Rajyam Party ticket in 2009.

 

V Venkateswarlu: Leader of National Student union of India.

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amin4go

Dear Karira Sir,

 

If there is any protest or dharna in Hyderabad regarding this issue, please post on this forum the time and location of venue so that other members who are supporting this cause can join.

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munirathnam

Better to have WRIT/PIL ready to file in High Court.... no need to waste time in the circumstances that the politicians do not re-consider their decision on ICs.

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karira

As reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 15 Feb 2012:

Praja ballots on info officials - The Times of India

 

Praja ballots on info officials

 

HYDERABAD: Not giving up yet on the selection of information commissioners, civil society activists have now decided to take public opinion across the state and communicate the same to the government.

 

It will now place ballot boxes across districts, ask people to cast their vote on whether the selection procedure of the information commissioners was transparent or politically influenced. The voters will tick on 'yes' or 'no' and activists say they will take this data to the government.

 

B Ramakrishna Raju, convenor, United Forum for RTI Campaign, said that 2.5 lakh ballot slips have been prepared. "We have decided to include people through this 'Praja' ballot process. We want to know what people think of the quality of candidates and will convey the same to the government," he said. He also appealed to the people to participate actively in the process.

 

The ballot process will be held in Hyderabad on Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm. Ballot boxes will be placed in 12 centres in the city near bus stops in areas such as Jubilee Hills, Malkajgiri, Secunderabad railway station, Nampally Public Gardens, Lingampally, Madhapur and Charminar, among others.

 

The voting process in about 22 districts of the state will be held on February 21 at various centres with about 10,000 ballot slips for each district.

 

The results of the process will be announced and made public on February 22 which will later be submitted to the government.

 

Apart from that, the activists have also announced a parallel signature campaign, where they plan to collect 2 lakh signatures. V B J Rao Chelikani, president, senior citizens' association said, "The Praja ballot will be a one-time campaign but the signature campaign will be a continuous process.

 

As part of this campaign, we are appealing to the public to sign their disapproval of the appointment of present commissioners and directly mail or fax it to the chief minister or the governor."

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munirathnam

Hi All,

 

Better to collect SMS from public and for this famous TV channles (GENIMI and ETV) may advertise. This process is easy than any other method and also entire state will come to know abou the malpractices done by the politicians.

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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 16 Feb 2012:

The Hindu : Cities / Hyderabad : People's ballot on information commissioners conducted

 

People's ballot on information commissioners conducted

 

A “people's ballot”, seeking public opinion over the controversial selection of the eight Information Commissioners on January 31, was conducted across 10 centres, here on Wednesday.

 

Over 10,000 members cast their vote on the question: ‘Do you believe that the selection of the Information Commissioners was unbiased and without any political interference', across centres of Secunderabad bus stop, Nampally bus stop, Jubilee bus stand and L.B Nagar municipal ward among others, a press release said.

 

The referendum will also be organised in 100 other centres across all district headquarters on February 21 by the United Forum for RTI Campaign. The results of the State-wide ballot will be announced on February 23, the press release said.

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karira

As reported in postnoon.com on 15 Feb 2012:

Polls to choose RTI commissioner : Postnoon

 

Polls to choose RTI commissioner

 

polls_to_choose_rti_commissioner_postnoon_news-435x292.jpg

 

Hyderabad is going to polls today, not to elect a government official, but to voice their views on the selection process of RTI commissioners.

 

The polling is being conducted by the United Forum of RTI Campaign after it found fault with the procedure followed for the selection of eight information commissioners that took place on January 31. They claim people of the State are concerned about the issue — some even disillusioned.

 

“We have been raising our voice over the issue for the last ten days,” said B Ramakrishna Raju, convener, United Forum for RTI Campaign. “We also met Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, but he was very adamant and flatly refused to change the commissioners. The selection procedure does not follow the rules, and we feel let down.”

 

The committee has organised 10 polling centres in different parts of the city. The polling starts at 10 am and ends at 5 pm. In all the other district headquarters polling will be held on February 21. The results will be announced on February 22.

 

Sashank Rajwadi, RTI Activist and Associated with National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), said that people are not happy with the selection process and credentials of the candidates. “We have met the CM and Governor and have apprised them of the lapses, purposely made. We want to spread awareness and inform citizens about the lapses and get their voices heard.”

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