Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meeting with the P&AR Secretary regarding transparent appointment of TN ICs

Sometime back I had sought an appointment with the Secretary of the Personnel and Adminsitrative Reforms Department, wanting to discuss the issue of appointment of Information Commissioners. I was hoping that the letter that was sent sometime back (can be seen here http://www.box.net/shared/v88kpb0zc0) would elicit a response. But since that did not happen, I had sought an appointment with him. Yesterday somebody from the department had called up and told me that I was given an appointment at 11 today. Almost exactly, 24 hours notice. So the people I tried to get to accompany me were busy and could not make it, and moreover, the Secretary had said that only 2 people can accompany me. So I couldnt find people to go with me, though I took a friend, Bhaskar, along with me. Here is what happened.

During the meeting, I had referred to the Indonesian model of appointments of Information Commissioners and also the appointments of Judges in UK. He kept repeating "If you have a suggestion, then I will consider it". But I tried to make the point of how the existing procedure is not transparent. He refused to agree saying that the committee is making the appointments as per the RTI act. I told him that since the P&AR department sends the list of candidates, this list needs to be prepared on a transparent basis. He said that there were no such lists sent by the P&AR department. Immediately, I showed him the list that was sent the last time to the appointments committee and told him that these people had applied for the post and hence their names were listed. To this, he said that he did not know this, but said that there is no compulsion that the committee should choose only those within the list sent by the P&AR and that they can choose their own people. To this I replied that we cannot expect the CM, the Leader of the opposition and the Minister to act like a Search Committee and that they can only choose from the list given by P&AR. Then he again asked me if I have a specific suggestion. I gave him a letter with contained references to the way Indonesiation Information Commissioners and South African Judges were appointed.

The meeting lasted just 10 minutes. I brought up the issue of the letter sent in February and asked him if anything happened on that. He said that holding a public consultation is not possible, but asked me if I had a specific suggestion. I told him that I wanted the procedure to be a result of a public feedback process. But he said he cannot do it. At the end, I told him that I will come up with an appointment process after talking to people and he confirmed that saying "you hold a public consultation and come up with a draft and that can be considered".

So what I am considering is this. I will hold a half day public consultation of NGOs, activists and any interested citizens, the result of which should be a suggested procedure for appointment of Information Commissioners. And then this can be presented to the P&AR department and push them to implement it. I am thinking of the end of this month to hold such a consultation.

6 comments:

Satish Gupta said...

Dear Madhav: It is so important to monitor and educate Information Commissioners. Most IC do not understand the meaning of "shall". The RTI Act says that IC shall impose a penalty on PA if information is not given. In legal language it means IC MUST impose a penalty.
However ICs go on their jobs as if it is to their discretion, whether to impose penalty or not.
One possible solution is to file a writ in High Court asking the HC to ask the IC to honor the RTI Act. The writ might be admitted if you have a plaintiff whose case was approved by IC but no penalty was imposed. Then you will have to show that the IC had done the same thing in several previous cases.
Even if the writ fails it will put the ICs on notice that they cannot keep ignoring the meaning of "shall."

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kin gammi said...

Vishalji,
salute to all your noble works and mission.
If you remember about my artcle Coorruption of APPSC Itanagar regarding APPCS 2002-2003,
I did not got justice form APPSc Itanagar inspite of request from "Rastrapati Bhavan of India" and CVC, New-Delhi.
I published matters of state Newspapers and still clipping with me.
I took Advocate but did not fought for me after took money.
I approached many Office with lean pocket and no justice.

I still have my finding documents

Regards

Dr Taking Gammi
Cell No;; 9402970422
Mail;; drtakinggammi@yahoomail.com //// kinung@rediffmail.com

Peter Rajamanickam said...

It seems that PIO's are refusing to furnish information based on the decision of Tamil Nadu Information Commission Case No.8451/Enquiry/E/2013 dated 2.05.2013. The decision which is in Tamil, translated in English reads as " This Commission warns the PIO, eventhough the information sought was in the form of questions and the PIO without knowing fully well of the RTI Act 2005, had furnished information to the applicant" The name of the SIC is Tmt.Neelambigai.
Is it not funny, a Commissioner warning the PIO for supplying information to an RTI Applicant.
To my RTI Application, a PIO in his reply to me had quoted this decision of the Commission as "information" thereby tactfully refusing to furnish me the information sought by me. My First Appeal to the Appellate Authority also elicited the same response. I had filed a Second Appeal to the Tamil Nadu Information Commission against the decision of the PIO and AA, which is yet to be taken up for hearing, may be during April 2014 or May 2014.
If every PIO in this country provide the "decision" of the Commission as "information", the very purpose of enacting an RTI Act 2005 is totally defeated.