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IC elections to get transparent


Atul Patankar

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Priyal Dave at afternoondc.in on October 13, 2010

 

A committee will be soon formed to oversee the appointment

 

Here’s some good news that will definitely bring smile to the faces of the Right To Information (RTI) activists. Persistent efforts of the activists across the state to get a transparent selection procedure for the Information Commissioner (IC), a committee comprising people from the state, judiciary and activists themselves is likely to be formed soon.

 

The General Administration Department (GAD) in its communication to social activist Anna Hazare had asked him to set up guidelines that will help in the transparent selection of the IC as well as lay down the manner in which the IC is supposed to discharge his/her duty.

 

Confirming the same Anna’s aide, Anil Sharma, explained, “We have asked the GAD to come up with a committee, which involves people who have knowledge of law as well as RTI, so that guidelines formed by the committee do not have any discrepancies and are not interpreted in any way other than the way they have been formed.”

 

Anna has proposed that Activist Arvind Kejriwal and Vinita Deshmukh, Secretary Law, Secretary GAD, Chief Secretary and Hazare himself should constitute the committee, though a formal government order on the same is yet awaited.

 

Meanwhile, RTI activist Krishnaraj Rao, who is on an indefinite hunger strike until the state gives up in going ahead with the unfair appointment of Vilas Patil as the new Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra is back in the city. Rao has been on the strike for a week now. Anna along with other activists will be meeting Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, today, at Ralegan Siddhi to deter him from giving his approval for the appointment of Vilas Patil as the new CIC

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As reported by Anil Singh in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 15 October 2010:

Babus face handicap in Hazare's formula for choosing info chief - The Times of India

 

Babus face handicap in Hazare's formula for choosing info chief

 

MUMBAI: If the Maharashtra government were to accept social activist Anna Hazare's suggestion for selecting information commissioners, just-retired bureaucrats would be at a handicap. Almost all information commissioners around the country are ex-bureuacrats, which RTI activists say is an unhealthy trend.

 

Hazare has written the CM that if a person has worked as a bureaucrat in a state, it would lead to direct conflict of interest if he\she becomes information commissioner in the same state. So, either he\she should apply in some other state or there should be some cooling off period.

 

According to Hazare, a list of objective criteria should be made. These should be finalised in consultation with the public. The government may, in advance, give weightage to each criteria. Some criteria could be number of years of experience of that person, arm's length principle (cooling off period or posting in another state), etc.

 

The government should screen all applications on the basis of these criteria and give marks to each individual against each critieria. All this information should be put on the web.

 

Hazare has also suggested a screening committee consisting of heads of certain institutions and individuals holding certain positions who shall be treated as ex-officio members of this committee. List of such institutions should be finalized in consultation with the public.

 

The committee should consist of members from law, science and technology, social service, legislature, health, management, journalism, mass media or administration, education, business etc.

 

Hazare was only summarising the recommendations that came of a joint meeting of RTI activists led by Aruna Roy and Arvind Kejriwal and officers of information commissioners at the Indian Institute of Public Administration on August 4 in New Delhi.

 

The recommendations say that the process for filling up an information commissioner's post should start a few months before it falls vacant and applications should be invited through an open advertisement in newspapers.

 

The meetings of screening committee should be open for public and media, who can only attend it but not intervene at any stage. The meetings shall also be video recorded.

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