No rules to appoint info commissioners

Centre tells CIC that there is no fixed method for their selection, recruitment

In an interesting disclosure, the Centre told the Central Information Commission (CIC) that it has not framed any rules about the exact method to be followed for selection and appointment of information commissioners.

It was further revealed that the government may consider the name of a person even though he or she may not have applied for it.

This became known when an Right to Information (RTI) applicant sought information as to how social activist Ranjana Kumari’s name was considered for the post in 2012 even though she had not applied for it. It came out that the search committee had included her name without any formal application from her side.

RTI activist Subhash C Agrawal filed the application with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Cabinet Secretariat and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

They furnished the response that the department had no record to show that Kumari had been considered by the selection committee when it had met on February 23, 2012 for recommending the names to the President for the appointment of Information Commissioner.

During the hearing before the CIC, both the parties stuck to their stand.

However, after going through the records, the transparency committee noted that the DoPT had put up a list of 11 names before the selection committee when it met on February 23, 2012.

It was out of this list of 11 names that the selection committee had recommended three names to the President for appointment.

“And this list of 11 did not include the name of Ranjana Kumari. It further appears that after this exercise was over, the department had put up another list of nine names including the name of Ranjana Kumari before the selection committee which never considered these names,” the CIC said.

In his queries, Agrawal asked as how her name was included in the list and if there was some rule on it.

“From the submissions made by the respondents during the hearing, it is quite clear that there are no such rules. The RTI itself does not lay down any such procedure and the Centre has not framed any rules about the exact method to be followed for selection and appointment of Information Commissioners,” said Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra while disposing Agrawal’s plea.

The prime minister had in September 2011 constituted the search committee with Union Cabinet Secretary as its chairperson for selection of five vacancies of the Central Information Commission.

On directions from the search committee, the DoPT invited applications for the posts for which 214 people applied.

Agrawal alleged that contrary to the norms, the DoPT decided to consider name of Kumari also for the post. The DoPT had written to the director to seek inputs on her.

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