Voluntary group alleges appointment process for CIC top posts non-transparent

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (PTI) Citizens' group Satark Nagrik Sangathan has alleged that 'lack of transparency' in the appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners by the government was in violation of the Supreme Court's directives, even as it welcomed the appointment to the top post at the headless transparency panel.

In a statement issued on Saturday, activists Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri of the organisation said the Supreme Court had issued detailed guidelines to maintain transparency in the appointment process of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners.

Bhardwaj who was one of the petitioners in the case said the Supreme Court had directed that the names of members of the search and selection committees, the agenda and minutes of committee meetings, the advertisements issued for vacancies, particulars of applicants, names of shortlisted candidates, file notings and correspondence related to appointments, be placed in the public domain.

The Court in its final directions also noted, “it would also be appropriate for the Search Committee to make the criteria for shortlisting the candidates, public, so that it is ensured that shortlisting is done on the basis of objective and rational criteria', the statement from Satark Nagrik Sangathan said. Other than the advertisement issued for vacancies, none of the other information is available in the public domain, it said.

The Department of Personnel and Training had also denied to provide the information under the RTI Act citing the exemption clause pertaining to personal information and saying the process was still underway, it said. 'The denial is not in keeping with the law as there is no provision under the RTI Act to deny information merely because the selection process is underway, especially in light of the fact that there are specific directions of the Supreme Court on transparency in the process of appointment,' it said.

The Centre has appointed Yashwardhan Kumar Sinha as the Chief Information Commissioner besides three other Information Commissioners -- journalist Uday Mahurkar, former Labour Secretary Heera Lal Samariya and former Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General Saroj Punhani. Sinha has been appointed two months after the previous chief information commissioner Bimal Julka retired. Three vacancies for the position of Information Commissioners still exist at the Central Information Commission.

In the statement, the voluntary group welcomed the appointment as the Commission was headless and was working at less than 50 per cent capacity which was seriously affecting its functioning, with more than 37,000 appeals and complaints pending before it. PTI ABS RDM RDM