Sunday, November 01, 2009

Agitate for Proper Selection of Chief CIC

The way government currently appoints Information Commissioners is itself an RTI Act violation. Poocho kaise? Section 12(5) specifies: “The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.”

To give such persons a fair chance to apply, the government must cast its net far and wide, all over India and in all walks of life. It must advertize the position, attract a good number of candidates and select the best from among them with proper screening procedures. Hand-picking people from a small inner circle at DoPT, PMO and Central Information Commission, as it is doing now, is a sure way of defeating excellence and nurturing mediocrity!

The Central Information Commission is currently dominated by Central Government bureaucrats, especially those associated with DoPT and PMO. Open the CIC website, and you can immediately see the biases towards Delhi-based government servants, especially those from DoPT, PMO etc.

How do such people join? Easy; they have friends and godfathers in the right places. A few bureaucrats who have insider information about CIC appointments tell their friends and colleagues to apply. Or a political boss, who knows in advance about vacancies, tells his obedient chamchas to apply.

As for the decision of the three-member committee headed by the Prime Minister, it usually goes in favour of the pre-selected candidate. This committee, as mandated by Section 12(3), is supposed to ensure impartiality and quality. In practice, however, this committee’s decision is nothing a formality, a rubber stamp. It puts an official stamp of respectability on an illegal act.

GRI Columnist-

Krishnaraj Rao

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