Monday, April 26, 2010

Demand transparent appointment of Information Commissioners

Krishnaraj Rao of Mumbai and I, have initiated a campaign demanding transparent appointment of Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission and Tamil Nadu State Information Commission. Here is a bit of background on why the campaign is crucial. The rest of the details are available at (appointments to Central Information Commission) (appointments to the TN State Information Commission)


1. Right to Information was legislated to bring in transparency thus moving towards a cleaner and more effective governance. This places the obligation on every government department to give information whenever it is demanded.

2. But when a department refuses to part with information or tries to evade supply of information you can complain to Information Commissioners who have the power to take action (impose penalty and recommend disciplinary proceedings) against the erring officers.

3. But these Information Commissioners are themselves appointed by a committee comprising of the PM, Leader of the Opposition in parliament and a cabinet minister in the central government (for Central Information Commission) and by the CM, Leader of the opposition in state assembly and a minister in the state government (for the State Information Commission). This committee is given a list of names to choose from by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in the Centre and Personnel and Administrative Reforms (P&AR) Department in the State.

4. But the DoPT and P&AR do not adopt any transparent procedure right now to choose its commissioners. In fact, two DoPT secretaries themselves and one P&AR secretary have become Information Commissioners. Such nepotism and self appointment is only expected from a non transparent procedure. This leads to an ironical situation where upholders of transparency themselves are appointed in a non-transparent way. But there are more serious problems. For the most part an Information Commissioner's work involves passing orders against the Government. Since the present process is non transparent, people are appoinbted because they are close to the higher ups in the power hierarchy. Such a person would hesitate to pass orders against the Government. Moreover nontransparent appointments also lead to inefficient and incapable people being appointed as Information Commissioners. And this will kill the RTI act.

Hence this campaign to bring in transparency in appointments. The anticipated benefits of a large number of people applying and other details can be seen in the pages below. I am looking at a target of 100 applications to the Central Commission and 100 to the State Commission. Anybody reading this blog, I request you to take some time out and do this. If indeed the appointments become transparent, RTI would have taken a great step forward.

1 comment:

vtgokhale said...

Great initiative. All the best.

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