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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 03 May 2012:

The Hindu : NATIONAL / ANDHRA PRADESH : State to appoint four ICs cleared by Governor

 

State to appoint four ICs cleared by Governor

 

Government seeks Election Commission's clearance

More than two months after Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan returned the file related to the appointment of eight information commissioners under the Right to Information Act, the government has taken a decision to appoint four whose names have been cleared.

 

On Wednesday, the government sought the Election Commission's clearance for appointment of C. Madhukar Raj, IFS (Retd) , S. Prabhakar Reddy, IPS (Retd), M. Ratan, IPS and P.Vijaya Babu, journalist, as Information Commissioners.

 

The Governor had returned the file without ratification to the Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on February 21 as four of the eight information commissioners had political affiliations. The Governor reportedly suggested to the government to reconsider the appointment of S. Imtiaz Ahmed, M. Vijaya Nirmala, Lam Tantiya Kumari and Varre Venkateswarulu.

 

Campaign

 

The appointment of those with political affiliations as ICs led to a furore with the civil society and RTI activists vehemently opposing the selection on the ground that it ran contrary to the letter and spirit of the RTI Act. They even launched a campaign and conducted public ballots across the State against the nominations made by the Government.

 

As Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy took his own time on Governor's suggestion, one thought that the Government was not interested in making any changes.

 

However, soon after the Centre gave a second term to the Governor, a decision was taken to issue appointment orders to the four persons earlier cleared by the Governor without further delay .

 

The appointment of information commissioners was eagerly awaited as the pendency of cases had been increasing with only the Chief Information Commissioner disposing of the appeals in the wake of vacant IC posts.


Appointment of those with political affiliations as ICs opposed by civil society, RTI activists

 

Appointment of ICs is eagerly awaited as pendency of cases has been increasing

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Ibnlive.in.com on May 10, 2012

Three ex-bureaucrats, scribe named Info Commissioners in AP, IBN Live News

 

Hyderabad, May 10 (PTI) Andhra Pradesh Government today appointed three retired bureaucrats and one journalist as Information Commissioners (ICs) under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Retired IPS officers M Ratan, S Prabhakar Reddy, ex- Indian Forest Service officer C Madhukar Raj and journalist P Vijaya Babu have been appointed to the posts as Governor E S L Narasimhan approved only their names out of the eight recommended by the Government. The State Information Commission has been functioning with only the Chief Information Commissioner for over 18 months now though there could be 10 ICs in all. In its meeting on January 31 this year, the selection committee, comprising Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu and Deputy Chief Minister C Damodar Rajanarasimha, chose eight candidates for appointment as ICs. On February 21, the Governor rejected the names of Lam Tantiya Kumar, S Imtiyaz Ahmed, M Vijaya Nirmala and V Venkateswarlu as they had political affiliations and approved the names of the retired bureaucrats and the lone journalist. As the issue kicked up a political controversy, the Government chose not to send the entire file to the Governor for re-consideration and decided to appoint only those candidates approved by the Governor. Since the model code of conduct is in force in view of the next month's by-elections, the State Government sought the permission of the Election Commission (EC) three days ago to go ahead with the appointments. The EC gave its green signal yesterday following which a formal order was issued today appointing the ICs, official sources said.

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karira

The AP Govt. has now issued a GO regarding these 4 appointments.

 

It is attached to this post.

GO for Four ICs appointment in AP.pdf

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karira

As reported in deccanchronicle.com on 10 May 2012:

State rushes to appoint info commissioners | The Asian Age

 

 

[h=1]State rushes to appoint info commissioners[/h]

The state government rushed to appoint information commissioners on Thursday. Though it sat on filling up the vacancies for more than two years, it showed unusual urgency in issuing the appointment orders. The new RTI commissioners who were appointed are: M. Ratan, S. Prabhakar Reddy, C. Madhukar Raj and P. Vijayababu.

 

The government first issued orders appointing in-charge of the General Policy Matters and Administrative Reforms (GPM and AR) wing in the General Administration Department who in turn issued the appointment orders. The RTI commission falls under the GPM and AR wing. The post of principal secretary fell vacant after the incumbent J.C. Sarma was moved to the labour department. The government a few days ago issued orders making senior bureaucrat M.K. Sahoo as the in-charge of GPM and AR.

 

Incidentally, Mr Sahoo went on a four-day leave and in the meantime the EC gave its go on ahead for appointing the four commissioners. Sources told this newspaper that the Chief Minister Mr N. Kiran Kumar Reddy was so keen issuing appointment orders on Thursday itself that he made GAD political principal secretary Mr Ajay Mishra as in-charge of GPM and AR through whom the appointment orders of RTI commissioners were issued.

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Pulivarthi Narasimhulu

After two months, at least four Commissioners are appointed is a good job done by the Govt. of A.P.

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karira

As reported by PTI in ibnlive.in.com on 15 May 2012:

AP: four Information Commissioners administered oath, IBN Live News

 

[h=1]AP: four Information Commissioners administered oath[/h]

Hyderabad, May 15 (PTI) Four new Information Commissioners took oath of office here today. Retired IPS officers S Prabhakar Reddy, M Ratan; retired IFS officer C Madhukar Raj, and senior journalist P Vijay Babu were administered the oath by Chief Information Commissioner (RTI) Jannat Hussain. Though the state government had contemplated appointment of another four Information Commissioners, it did not materialise following objections that the candidates had political affiliations.

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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 16 May 2012:

The Hindu : NATIONAL / ANDHRA PRADESH : New RTI Commissioners assume office

 

New RTI Commissioners assume office

 

Four new Information Commissioners under the Right to Information Act were sworn in on Tuesday after their names were cleared by the Governor.

 

They are former Indian Forest Service officer C. Madhukar Raj, former IPS officers S. Prabhakar Reddy and M. Ratan and a journalist P. Vijay Babu. They will hold office for five years from now or till the date they attain 65 years of age, according to the Government Order announcing their appointment.

 

Reducing pendency

 

Chief Information Commissioner Jannat Hussain administered the oath of office to the four incumbents who took charge soon after a brief ceremony. He told presspersons later that with the four new RTI Commissioners, much could be achieved and said his target was to reduce the pendency of applications seeking information from three years to three months.

 

Other issues that needed to be addressed in the department could also be handled now with the addition of officers, he said, adding that despite being a powerful tool, the RTI was yet to create an impact in rural areas primarily due to lack of awareness. Mr. Vijay Babu said the primary purpose of the RTI Act was to serve as a tool to ensure transparency between the government and citizens. “Our role will be just that of facilitators to promote the use of the Act,” he added.

 

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karira

Attached is the work distribution list of the newly appointed ICs in the APSIC.

 

Commissioner Name Departments

 

Sri Jannat Husain (SCIC)

 

 

General Administration

Home (Hyderabad & R.R. Districts)

Revenue (Hyderabad & R.R. Districts)

Public Enterprises

Environment, Science & Technology

Horticulture, Sericulture, & RSAD

Information Technology

 

 

Sri C. Madhukar Raj (SIC-CMR)

 

Municipal Administration & Urban Development

Home (excluding Hyderabad & R R Districts)

Revenue (Endowments)

Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs

Finance & Planning

Irrigation & Command Area Development

Tribal Welfare

 

 

Sri S. Prabhakar Reddy (SIC-SPR)

 

Education

Revenue (Telangana - Exc. Hyd. & R.R. Districts)

Minorities Welfare

Industries & Commerce

Forest

Tourism, Culture, Sports & Youth Services

Infrastructure & Investment

 

 

 

Sri P. Vijay Babu (SIC-PVB)

 

Panchayat Raj & Rural Development

Revenue (Rayalaseema Region)

Energy

Agriculture, Cooperation & Marketing

Transport, Roads & Buildings

Housing

Women Dev. Child Welfare & Disabled Welfare

 

 

Sri M. Ratan (SIC-MR)

 

Revenue (Andhra Region)

Health, Medical & Family Welfare

Law

Labour, Employment Training & Factories

B.C. Welfare

Social Welfare

Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development & Fisheries

AP Info Commissioner's work distribution.pdf

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on May 29, 2012

Departments allotted to new information commissioners - The Times of India

 

HYDERABAD: The newly-appointed state information commissioners, comprising three former bureaucrats and a journalist, have been allotted government departments for which they will be handling cases pertaining to Right to Information (RTI) queries.

 

To avoid any conflict of interest, C Madhukar Raj, an ex-Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, has been allotted home department along with municipal administration and urban development, and former IPS officers M Ratan and S Prabhakar Reddy have been allotted departments such as revenue, education, health and medical family welfare, among others.

 

Chief information commissioner Jannat Hussain said, "The departments have been distributed keeping in mind the existing pendency in each department. Based on that, work has been distributed equally among the four information commissioners. Also care was taken not to allot the department in which the information commissioner has either worked or had been associated with."

 

Revenue and home departments under Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy district jurisdiction have been retained by chief information officer Jannat Hussain along with general administration, public enterprise, environment, science and technology, horticulture and information technology.

 

Former journalist Vijay Babu will look after revenue (Rayalaseema region), energy, agriculture, transport and housing. M Ratan has been allotted revenue (Andhra region), health, law, labour, BC welfare and animal husbandry.

 

The information commissioners, who are now, getting familiarized with their respective departments, will start hearing cases from June 18.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Deccanchronicle.com on June 26, 2012

Guv right on ICs: Activist | Deccan Chronicle

 

Magsaysay award-winner Sandeep Pandey has said he approves Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan putting his foot down on Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s choice of information commissioners.

 

In an exclusive talk with this newspaper on Monday, the social activist said the AP experience of pus-hing “ineligible persons” as information commissioners should be a signal to the Centre to effect changes in the selection process.

 

“The selection process should not be what it is now. Some drastic changes should be brought in,” said Mr Pandey, who is here to participate in a series of programmes on inc-reasing awareness on the Right To Information Act. The RTI activist said the selection should not be left to three political leaders, and the procedure of announcing the list of applicants immediately after the leaders’ meet should be done away with. A proper notification must be issued in advance inviting applications; and scrutiny of the applicants must take place, he said.

 

Mr Pandey also expressed concern over the existing system wherein the government’s choice becomes final. The Governor at best can send back the file for reconsideration of the names. On the government filling the information commission with retired bureaucrats who, when they were in service, tried to hide information from people, Mr Pandey said in some cases, non-bureaucrats proved to be more ineffective than former bureaucrats. “There are a lot of suggestions against making bureaucrats as commissioners. People from other walks of life should come forward to take up the job,” he said. The social activist was also surprised at the government hiding its orders by making them “confidential”. “Once it is an order it ought to be made public,” he pointed out.

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karira

The 4 ICs who were not appointed by the AP Government, due to the averments of the Governor have now approached the AP High Court:

 

case filed by rejected ICs.jpg

 

 

So now, AP High Court will hear two cases:

 

- one filed by the 4 ICs who were not appointed

- the other filed by me (and two others) on why the other 4 were appointed

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Pulivarthi Narasimhulu

There is no letter of assurance from Govt. of A.P that they will be appointed as SICs.Till they receive any intimation from Govt. they have no right to demand those posts. They do not have moral right to go to court of law as every one know the reasons why Governor rejected their names.

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akhilesh yadav

Appointment of ICs challenged

 

Reported by thehindu.com on August 22, 2012

The Hindu : NATIONAL / ANDHRA PRADESH : Appointment of ICs challenged

 

A Division Bench of the AP High Court comprising acting Chief Justice P.C. Ghose and Justice Vilas Afzulpurkar on Tuesday adjourned the cases filed challenging the appointments made to the post of Information Commissioners (ICs).

The Bench was dealing with cases filed challenging the appointment of M. Ratan, S. Prabhakar Reddy, C. Madhukar Raj, all retired bureaucrats, and journalist P. Vijay Babu.

 

The main complaint was that these persons did not have the requisite qualifications at the time of making the application. Many pages of the records obtained under RTI Act were filed in the court to show that these persons were not fit to be appointed. The Bench said that to issue writ of quo warranto the present challenge was not sufficient. The Bench adjourned the case by a week.

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karira

As reported in deccanchronicle.com on 02 Feb 2012:

Panel suggests names of 4 info chiefs rejected by Guv | Deccan Chronicle

 

Panel suggests names of 4 info chiefs rejected by Guv

 

 

Hyderabad: In a surprise development, the selection committee to appoint state information commissioners under the Right to Information Act, on Friday evening submitted afresh the same four names for the four posts that they had recommended last year and that the Governor had rejected.

The committee comprises Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, deputy Chief Minister C. Damodar Raja Narasimha and leader of the Opposition and former CM N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Exactly a year ago, Gov-ernor E.S.L. Narasimhan had rejected the four names put forth by the committee because they had political affiliations, and had approved four others.

The rejection also came as a major embarrassment to the Chief Minister as he was one of the members of the selection committee.

Mr Naidu, who is also a member, could not make it to the selection committee meeting held in the CM’s office at the Secretariat on Friday due to his padayatra, though he had been in on the earlier meet to select the four commissioners.

Info panel aspirants file affidavits

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and deputy Chief Minister C. Damodar Raja Narasimha, as part of the selection committee to appoint state information commissioners, recommended M. Vijaya Nirmala (academician), Varre Venkate-swarlu (advocate), L. Tantia Kumari (advocate and former ZPTC member, Krishna district) and Imtiaz Ahmed (former district judge) who were earlier rejected by the Governor.

Before sending in the names to the Governor, the selection committee took sworn affidavits from all the four that they have given up their political affiliations and would not engage in any political activity in the future.

Sources said the Chief Minister, in a recent meeting with the Governor had broached the subject of the commissioners and had requested him to reconsider his decision.

The Governor seems to have suggested it would be better to send the recommendation to him again.

The four names approved by the Governor last year were: Senior IPS officer M. Ratan, journalist Vijaya Babu and retired bureaucrats S. Prabhakar Reddy and Madhukar Raj.

Though it was not clear whether the Governor rejected outright the selection of four others, who all have political leanings, Tuesday, the CM came in for criticism for selecting former judge and TD leader Imtiaz Ahmed, Congress leaders V. Venkateswarlu and L. Tantiya Kumari and academician S. Vijaya Nirmala, who contested on the erstwhile PR ticket in the 2009 Assembly polls.

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Prasad GLN

What can one comment about this sort of blatant violations ? When Hon.Governor rejects and even when entire Public and activists are opposing appointment of ICS" with political background, simply getting undertaking that they will not participate in political activities is just eye wash to bye pass rules and regulations. The General Public are made as fools in the democracy, and knowing that their appointments are not welcomed in elite circles, the appointees still craving for appointment appears strange.

Political bosses have their own axes to grind, as even ICS' are most powerful now to expose other party"s corruption/misdeeds or suppress them if the PA has affiliations to their own party. Such appointments are essential for political bosses not only to silence disgruntled elements, silence some and to gain some advantage out of such appointments.

Long live Democracy. Long live respect to Public Opinion by CM. Long Live sincere Governors.

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akhilesh yadav

ICs issue: Governor in a dilemma

 

Reported by thehindu.com on Fab 03, 2013

The Hindu : Today's Paper News : ICs issue: Governor in a dilemma

 

A decision on the appointment of four Information Commissioners under the Right to Information Act named by the Committee will be taken by Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan only after Monday.

The Governor is likely to consult legal experts before making his notation on the file he has received from the office of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy recommending the appointment of former civil judge S. Imtiaz Ahmed, erstwhile Praja Rajyam leader M. Vijaya Nirmala, Youth Congress leader V. Venkateswarlu and Krishna Zilla Parishad former member L. Tantiya Kumari as Information Commissioners.

This is the second time that the file is being sent to the Governor as he had rejected it almost a year ago. Mr. Narasimhan is reportedly in a dilemma since he has no powers to reject it once again. But he cannot accept these names either since a review petition filed by the Centre is pending final order in the Supreme Court.

The Union government had challenged the apex court’s laying down certain qualifications, including legal background, for appointment as RTI Commissioners. In light of these developments, the Governor feels it necessary to consult leading advocates, sources said.

Meanwhile, the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has decided to approach the High Court, if necessary, contesting the government’s decision to appoint persons with political background. Headed by noted social activist Aruna Roy, the NCPRI has strongly opposed the government’s decision to go ahead with appointment of four people a year after the Governor returned the file.

NCPRI convenor B. Ramakrishna Raju said they would meet the Governor to urge him not to accept the government’s choice. The YSR Congress alleged that the development exposed the “clear understanding” between the Congress and the main Opposition Telugu Desam.

The spirit of transparency would be totally lost if the appointments were made.

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karira

From:

C J Karira

RTI Activist

Secunderabad

 

 

To:

The Hon'ble Governor of Andhra Pradesh

Raj Bhavan, Hyderabad. Date: 03 February 2013

at 13:16 Hrs.

 

 

URGENT PLEA TO STOP APPOINTMENT OF INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS

 

 

Your Excellency,

Today's newspapers carried a news that the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh

has once again sent you the very same four names which you had earlier not

approved, for appoinment as Information Commissioners. The awoved reason

for this action of the chief minister is that the High Court of Andhra Pradesh

has vide its order dated18-9-2012 in WP 23577/2012directed the respondents

 

to consider and take appropriate decision in the matter of petitioners in

accordance with law particularly with reference to Section 15 (6) of the

Act, 2005 as construed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Namit

harma v. Union of India case and vide Judgment dated 13.8.2012 in

Writ Petition (Civil) No.210 of 2012”.

 

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Namit Sharma v. Union of India

case vide Judgment dated 13.8.2012 in Writ Petition (Civil) No.210 of

2012, inter alia, issued the following direction.

 

“As opposed to declaring the provisions of Section 12 (6) and 15 (6)

unconstitutional, we would prefer to read these provisions of having

effect ‘post-appointment’. In other words, cessation/termination of

holding of office of profit, pursuing any profession or carrying any

business is a condition precedent to the appointment of a person as

Chief Information Commissioner or Information Commissioner at the

Centre or State levels.”

 

I wish to bring to your kind notice that there is no case for changing

your earlier decision.

 

(1).The State Government has selectively for its purpose relied on

only one portion of the judgement of the Hon. AP High Court. In

fact it relied on one portion of one sentence of the judgement

without following the other half of the sentence.The Hon. High Court

directed that the matter may be considered in accordance with the

section 15(6) as construed by the SC in the case of Namit Sharma

and wide judgement dated 13-8-2012 in the same case. It is in this

judgement that the SC has laid down guidelines regarding procedure

to be followed in recommending the names. The state government

has not bothered to follow the latter part of the decision of the

Hon. AP High Court.(2).Even as regards the interpretation of Sc.15(6) of the Act,it is

very important to note that the Supreme Court was silent on the

issue of "connection with political party" which was the main

ground for rejection of the recommendation by the Hon’ble Governor.

.

S.15(6) of the RTI Act clearly states that the "Information Commissioners

shall not be connected with any political party’.

This particular provision cannot be interpreted that it is sufficient

if the Commissioners who are appointed aver that they would switch

off their political connections from their first day in office. The Parliament

intended to ensure that that there is no conflict of interest in the

functioning of Information Commissioners, and hence the clear bar -

"Shall not be connected with political party".

 

A person to be appointed as the Chairperson or a Member can get rid

of his office of profit/ profession/business, with definiteness, which

can be verified, but it is difficult to verify with any definiteness

whether one has given up his connection with a political party.

In fact the supreme court's decision regarding S.15(6) does not cover

connections with political parties. It only covers the cases of

termination of holding of office of profit, pursuing any profession or

carrying any business. There is no mention in the judgement about

termination of connection with political parties.The wording of the

Supreme Courts order and its intent are very clear in this regard.

 

Since nothing new has come out of the Supreme Court ’s judgment

decision, the said stand of the stand of the State Government is NOT

based on sound logic and law.

(3).Further there is no case to change your decision, as the State

government has not followed a transparent and fair method of selecting

before recommending the names, either earlier or even now.

 

The Government have not followed the guidelines laid down by the

Supreme Court in its order dated 13-8-2012 in this very case of

Namit Sharma Vs.Union of India (Writ Petition (Civil) 210 of 2012).

 

 

  • The appointment of the Information Commissionersat both levels should be made from amongst the persons empanelled by the DoPT in the case of Centre and the concerned Ministry in the case of a State.

 

  • The panel has to be prepared upon due advertisement and on a rational basis as afore-recorded.

 

 

  • The panel so prepared by the DoPT or the concerned Ministry ought to be placed before the High-powered Committee in terms of Section 12(3), for final recommendation to the President of India.

  • Needless to repeat that the High Powered Committee at the Centre and the State levels is expected to adopt a fair and transparent method of recommending the names for appointment to thecompetent authority.

 

  • The selection process should be commenced at least three months prior to the occurence of the vacancy.

 

 

(4).Further it is not clear whether the recommendation of the Chief Minister

is for reconsideration of the old decision or for a fresh decision based on

a fresh recommendation by the selection committee constituted for this

purpose. If it is for reconsideration of the old case, it may be recalled

that the leader of the opposition in the State Assembly sent a note of dissent.

Courts have laid down a procedure on how to consider when one of the

members expresses a dissent.

 

The Supreme Court, in Centre for PIL v. Union of India, examined

‘legality of the appointment’ of P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance

Commissioner under Section 4(1) of the Central Vigilance Commission Act,

2003. The Court stated that

 

“the Selection Committeemay adopt a fair and transparent process of consideration of the empanelled officers.”

 

The Supreme Court observed as follows:

 

"In our judgment we have held that there is no prescription

of unanimity or consensus under Section 4(2) of the 2003

Act. However, the question still remains as to what should

be done in cases of difference of opinion amongst the

Members of the High Powered Committee. As in the present

case, if one Member of the Committee dissents that

Member should give reasons for the dissent and if the

majority disagrees with the dissent, the majority shall give

reasons for overruling the dissent. This will bring about

fairness-in-action. Since we have held that legality of the

choice or selection is open to judicial review we are of the

view that if the above methodology is followed

transparency would emerge which would also maintain the

integrity of the decision making process."

 

There is absolutely no indication that this procedure of meeting with

the dissent by one member of the selection committee - the Leader

of the Opposition - was followed in this case.

(5).If one has to treat the case as a fresh recommendation by

the committee appointed by the state government- news reports

indicate that this in fact is the case as the selection committee

has met a few days ago - the absence of the leader of the opposition

in the said recommending committee is a fatal flaw, as laid down

by judicial pronouncements.

The High Court of Madras, in"S.Vijayalakshmi v. State of Tamil Nadu and Ors.",

quashed appointment of three State Information Commissioners.

Here, the leader of opposition did not attend the selection committee meeting.

It may be noted that the Court held that even the fixation of the

date of the ‘Selection Committee meeting’ cannot be done

“without the consent of the Leader of Opposition”:

There is no merit in the resubmitted proposal of the Chief Minister,

who has stuck to his old, improper and illegal recommendation, and

wants to push it through again without any material change of facts,

or of law.The recommendations made to you earlier and repeated

now are essentially made on political considerations, but are sought

to be justified by a colourable exercise of power taking advantage

of the fact that someone has a law degree, or a journalist. None

of them can be called experts in their field as required by the very

same judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Namit Sharma.

 

I am attaching herewith a small note which gives details of the

pleadings and case laws cited above in support of my plea to you.

 

Taking into account all the above submissions, I humbly urge you

to reject the recommendations for appointment oi these

four persons made to you.

 

I would also request you to give me and a small delegation

of citizens and RTI activists to meet you to represent the case

in person.

 

With High Regards

Yours Sincerely

C J Karira

Note on appointment of SICs-Feb.pdf

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akhilesh yadav

RTI activists oppose appointment of new Information officers

 

Reported by timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Fab 04, 2013

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/RTI-activists-oppose-appointment-of-new-Information-officers/articleshow/18327264.cms

 

HYDERABAD: Opposing the impending appointment of new information officers with political affiliations, RTI activists across the state are planning massive protests. They said they are afraid that the biased information officers would not provide important information.

 

Activists are now trying to get an audience with governor ESL Narsimhan, to convince him about the issue.

 

Activists said the whole procedure was clear contempt of Supreme Court orders as it clearly specifies a candidate with political affiliation cannot be selected. Activists are now planning to approaching court.

 

"What the state government has done is totally illegal, arbitrary and a motivated action," said senior RTI activist C J Karira, who shot off a letter to the governor on the issue. "The state government has intentionally misinterpreted the Act for its own benefit. The Act makes it clear that those who have political connections cannot be considered for the posts but the state government is trying hard to make it look as if these candidates will terminate their political ties immediately upon selection," he said.

 

It may be recalled that in the past, the governor had rejected names of Imtiaz Ahmed, L Tantiya Kumari, M Vijayanirmala and V Venkateshwarlu, since they had direct political affiliations with one party or the other and were opposed by RTI activists.

 

Surprisingly the same names have been okayed by a selection committee, headed by chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and sent back to the governor recently. There were doubts on selection committee meeting not following laid down criteria as well.

 

"The selection committee consisting of chief minister, another cabinet minister and the leader of opposition should meet and finalise the names. But TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu is busy with his padayatra. If he (Naidu) was not part of this meeting, how was it constituted? In the past, the Madras high court had rejected appointments on similar grounds because the leader of opposition was not part of the meeting." he said.

 

Recently, the Supreme Court said that information commissions should be headed by a retired judge and each bench should work with two members, a judicial member and a non-judicial member.

 

While this order has created confusion and still needs be resolved, the state government's hasty decision has surprised many. "It is a clear contempt of Supreme Court orders as the state government is not following the guidelines for the selection procedure," said former IFS officer and RTI activist M Padmanabha Reddy.

 

B Ramakrishna Raju, convenor, united forum for RTI campaign said if these candidates were selected for the posts of information commissioners, it would be difficult for the RTI activists to work. "How can the state government again recommend the names that have already been rejected. Government should consider the peoples sentiments and respect their opinion also," Raju added.

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munirathnam

All these things happens with the loop holes present in the system. And there is not machnism in the system to create fear to the implementor (beaurocrats and politicians) for misusing the law and there is no definition of such misusing the power.

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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 06 Feb 2013:

The Hindu : NATIONAL / ANDHRA PRADESH : Selection of Info chiefs faulted

 

Selection of Info chiefs faulted

 

RTI activists threaten legal action if State appoints Info Commissioners whose names were rejected by the Governor

RTI activists have made it clear that they would approach the Court with a Public Interest petition, if the State Government went ahead with the appointment of the four Information Commissioners (ICs) , whose names were earlier rejected by Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan.

The Government’s unprecedented move to recommend the same four names to the Governor amounted to presenting him a fait accompli, B. Ramakrishna Raju, convenor of the United Forum for RTI and other activists, C. J. Karira and D. Rakesh Kumar said while addressing a press conference here on Tuesday.

They charged the Government with selectively interpreting the Supreme Court and High Court judgments relating to the appointment of Information Commissioners and violating their guidelines.

 

Guidelines

These guidelines include selection of ICs from among the persons empanelled by Department of Personnel and Training in the case of Centre and the concerned Ministry in the case of a State. The selection process should commence at least three months prior to the occurrence of vacancy.

The panel has to be prepared after due advertisement in the media and placed before the high powered selection committee for final recommendation to the President (in the case of Central ICs) and to the Governor (for State ICs). The Courts have also made it clear that this committee should adopt a fair and transparent method of recommending the names. The High Court of Madras had in a judgment stated that even the date of the selection committee would have to be fixed in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

Apparently none of these norms have been followed by the State Government and sent the names, three of them with political background, without even convening a meeting of the selection committee and ensuring participation of the Leader of the Opposition.

 


Government charged with violating guidelines relating to appointment of Info Commissioners

 

State government recommended three names with political background

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karira

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by T S Sudhir in Firstpost.com on Feb 7, 2013

Kiran Reddy wins battle against Governor, RTI the casualty | Firstpost

 

Kiran Kumar Reddy has re-defined RTI. In his dictionary, ‘Right to Information’ means right to have information commissioners of his choice. And for once, he has managed to get the better of Governor ESL Narasimhan. Of course, aided by the Constitution of India.

 

Last February, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister sent a list of eight names for the posts of Information commissioners to the Governor. Narasimhan gave his nod to four of them but returned the rest to the cabinet for reconsideration. His objection was that the four had a political background. Narasimhan was right to point this out, since a Supreme court order states that those who were in active politics should not be appointed as Information Commissioners. But now, since the Governor is bound to okay the names once the file is sent to him for the second time, Reddy has had his way.

 

In fact, the profile of all the eight information commissioners makes for some interesting reading. The ‘political’ commissioners are Imtiaz Ahmed, Vijaya Nirmala, Tantia Kumari and V Venkateswarulu. Imtiaz Ahmed contested the 2009 Assembly elections as a Telugu Desam candidate against Kiran Kumar Reddy. Once he lost, he joined the Congress. Vijaya Nirmala contested the 2009 elections as a candidate of Praja Rajyam – Chiranjeevi’s party that merged with the Congress. Tantia Kumari is the daughter of former deputy CM of Andhra Pradesh, Koneru Ranga Rao while Venkateswarulu has been a Youth Congress leader.

 

Even among the four whose names were cleared by the Governor, two are former IPS officers and one an ex-IFS officer. The criticism against them is that people who are trained not to divulge information more than what is necessary, would not fit the role of Information commissioners, a job that calls for a willingness to be more open about matters of public importance. In fact, of the nine information commissioners, including the chief information commissioner, four are former bureaucrats, four are politicians and one journalist. None has a track record of civil society activism.

 

What is surprising is that Chandrababu Naidu who is on the selection panel in his capacity as the Leader of Opposition, did not vociferously oppose the names during the meeting. It was only after RTI activists opposed the selections that Naidu sent a dissent note. Since Naidu is on padyatra presently, the CM along with the Deputy chief minister (the third member of the selection panel) decided to send the file to the Governor again, ignoring the TDP chief’s note.

 

On its part, the government defended its move to send the file back to Narasimhan with the same names, claiming it has obtained sworn affidavits from the four `political’ candidates stating that they would not take part in any political activity in future. But surely the government could have selected people who would bring value to the office instead of reducing the office of the information commissioner to a rehabilitation centre.

 

Interestingly, now the four new commissioners are described by the government in a manner that doesn’t highlight their political antecedents. Tantiya Kumari is an advocate while Venkateswarulu is a social worker. Imtiaz Ahmed is described as a former senior civil judge, while Vijaya Nirmala is said to be an educationist.

 

Even as RTI activists plan to move the Supreme Court in protest against the appointments cleared by the Governor, it is clear that the latter isn’t likely to take kindly to this snub. Narasimhan and Kiran share an uncomfortable relationship with the chief minister’s camp not too happy with the Governor’s direct line to the UPA leadership. Kiran’s supporters suspect he does not send very flattering reports about the CM and his administration to Delhi. And the Governor’s decision to return the file and ask Kiran to reconsider the four names, had embarrassed the chief minister.

 

Therefore it is interesting that the CM has chosen to take on the Governor over this issue. The sentiment gaining ground is that Kiran is on a stronger wicket this spring compared to last year. He has been bragging about the success of the Congress in the cooperative society polls, where it managed to win more societies than the TDP and YSR Congress in Seemandhra regions and did better than the TRS in Telangana. His stock has also gone up in the Delhi durbar, where even his critics now see him as someone who managed to ensure the Telangana agitation did not get out of hand as compared to the Rosaiah regime, when the government looked helpless.

 

Kiran’s choice of information commissioners is unlikely to bring him any political dividends but the underlying political message is not lost on anyone. That slowly and surely, the chief minister is asserting himself. He would certainly not mind if this information reaches far and wide.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Deccanchronicle.com on Feb 09, 2013

PIL against RTI Commissioners | Deccan Chronicle

 

Hyderabad: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed against the appointment of RTI Information Commissioners by Andhra Pradesh government.

 

Former Union Home Secretary Padmanabhaiah has filed the petition against the appointment of four persons with political affiliations as Information Commissioners.

 

The Governor had earlier sent back the file of four names for reconsideration as the selected candidates have political affiliations. The State Government has again sent the file with the same names for approval and the Governor had summoned Advocate General before giving the nod.

 

Padmanabhaiah in his petition contended that all the four persons have had active political career and this serves as a disqualification to the candidature.

 

Moreover, when the decision was taken to send the file for the second time, leader of opposition N Chandrababu Naidu was not present in the meeting. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and Leader of Opposition Chandrababu Naidu are the members of the committee that recommends the names.

 

Padmanabhaiah had earlier said that there was a precedence when the Tamil Nadu court has stayed the appointment as Leader of Opposition was not present when the decision of Information Commissioners was taken.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Newindianexpress.com on 12th February 2013

Andhra HC subjects new information postings to PIL verdict - The New Indian Express

 

The state government’s decision to appoint four persons as information commissioners is subject to the outcome of the public interest petition filed on the issue, the High Court made it clear on Monday.

 

A division bench comprising chief justice PC Ghose and justice Vilas V Afzulpurkar was dealing with a petition filed by K Padmanabhaiah and two others, seeking stay of the appointments.

 

The HC directed the state government to file a counter affidavit in two weeks and also served notices on the four persons appointed as information commissioners recently to respond on the matter.

 

The hearing was adjourned by two weeks.

 

The petitioners sought suspension of GO 75, dated February 6, appointing Varre Venkateshwarlu, Lam Thanthiya Kumari, S Imtiaz Ahmed and M Vijaya Nirmala as information commissioners.

 

They argued that the appointments, which were made without an advertisement or without preparation of panels, was contrary to Section 15(3)(4) and (5) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, and contrary to the Supreme Court judgment in Namit Sharma vs Union of India case.

 

As per the RTI Act, information commissioners should be drawn from a wide range of persons of professional backgrounds, they contended.

 

They further contended that the recommendation made by the committee consisting of the chief minister, deputy chief minister and the leader of the opposition for the appointment of the above four persons was rejected by the Governor, who returned the file.

 

The re-circulation of the file by the government without placing it before the committee was illegal and the selection was based on extraneous considerations.

 

Principa l secretary (GAD), secretary to AP State Information Commission and the four persons who were appointed to the posts have been named as respondents.

 

Meanwhile, Jana Chaitanya Vedika president V Lakshma Reddy asked the newly appointed information commissioners not to take up any official works till the court’s final verdict on the petition.

 

It would be better for them to step down from the posts in view of the court’s directions, he added.

 

On Friday, chief information commissioner Jannat Hussain administered the oath of office to the four newly-appointed state information commissioners.

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karira

As per news reports, the appointment of the last 4 ICs (V Venkateshwarlu, Lam Tantiya Kumari, Viajaya Nirmala & Imtiaz Ahmed) has been quashed by the AP High Court

 

The judgment regarding the other 4 ICs (P Vijay Babu, Prabhakar Reddy, M Rattan & Madhukar Raj) which was earlier reserved by the HC is likely to be pronounced tomorrow.

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