Transparency activists on Friday found fault with the government's approach towards filling four vacancies in Central Information Commission (CIC) and urged the Prime Minister-led Selection Committee to take steps to suitably rectify the "flawed and defective" process.
The activists said the advertisement issued seeking applications for filling the remaining four posts of Information Commission were not in keeping with the RTI Act as they did not specify the salaries, allowances, other conditions of service and tenure of information commissioners, as provided for in the law.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Selection Committee members Arun Jaitley and Mallikarjun Kharge, they said, "we are shocked to note that, once again, the advertisement and accompanying notifications issued by the government on January 4, 2019, for the remaining four vacant posts in the CIC are flawed and defective."
The activists had last month written a similar letter when a similar advertisement was issued.
"Despite our letter pointing out the serious flaws, the selection of four information commissioners and the Chief was finalised without any corrective action being taken. We are shocked to note that, once again, the advertisement and accompanying notifications issued by the government on January 4, 2019, for the remaining four vacant posts in the CIC are flawed and defective," the letter said.
Signed by former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Anjali Bhardwaj among others, the letter said this makes a "complete mockery" of the appointment process.
"The vagueness of the advertisement appears to be a deliberate attempt to undermine the selection process. It would be unreasonable to expect people of eminence to apply for a post without knowing the terms and conditions of service," the letter also signed by activists Shekhar Singh, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Venkatesh Nayak, Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog, Pradip Pradhan, Commodore (Retd) Lokesh K Batra and Amrita Johri said.
The letter said the Supreme Court had taken serious note of the subversion of the appointment process resulting from "issuing of flawed advertisements and complete lack of transparency in the process of selection.
It was a "matter of grave concern" that the government did not comply with the Supreme Court order, which mandated that it should publicise online the names of the search committee members, names of the candidates short-listed and the criteria followed for selection "for almost a month", the letter said adding the information was uploaded on the website only after the appointments were already made.
"Opacity and vagueness in the process of appointments seriously erodes public trust in institutions. We urge the committee to take immediate steps to ensure that the government suitably rectifies and re-issues the advertisement for the post of four information commissioners... so that the committee may have the benefit of selecting from a comprehensive list of appropriate and eminent candidates," the letter said.