Political Appointments in Indian State Stir Objection

10 February 2012

The appointment of eight information commissioners in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has sparked objections that they are unqualified.

Four of the announced commissioners are politicians in the ruling Congress party. The others include three retired or current civil servants and a senior journalist with party ties, according to media summaries.

One media report, in India Today, said, “RTI activists across the state are up in arms against the Congress government for virtually converting the commission into a political rehabilitation centre.”

The current status of the nominations appears uncertain. After a group of RTI activists and opposition party members met with Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, The Times of India reported that Reddy said there would be no changes but that they would not venture into politics. But after meeting with Governor E S L Narasimhan one attendee said he promised to study the matter, according to another Times article.

More than 150 candidates applied for the RTI commissioner jobs, which had been unfilled for 15 months.

India Today reported further:

No wonder there was such huge competition, as RTI commissioners enjoy the rank of Chief Secretary with a salary of about Rs.1.15 lakh per month, besides facilities like a fully- furnished government bungalow, vehicle, personal assistants and other perks,” says RTI activist D Rakesh Reddy.

RTI activists say none of the new commissioners fit into the guidelines fixed under the RTI Act. As per the Section 15 (5), commissioners should persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge of law, science, technology, social service, management and mass media. Similarly, as per Section 15 (6), they should not hold any other office of profit or be connected with any political party. “How can persons, who contested the elections, be appointed as RTI commissioners?” asks Rajesh. He said it was unfortunate that government had taken caste, regional and political considerations in the appointments.

Former Union energy secretary E. A. S. Sarma also questions the propriety of appointing civil servants as RTI commissioners. “What will they do, if they are called upon to adjudicate on the disclosure of information relating to the respective departments in which they served?” he asked.

Those appointed as ICs are: C Madhukar Raj, IFS (Retd), S Prabhakar Reddy, IPS (Retd), P Vijaya Babu, Editor of Andhra Prabha Telugu daily, Varre Venkateswarlu, social worker, Lam Tantiya Kumari, advocate (daughter of former deputy chief minister Koneru Ranga Rao), S Imtiaz Ahmed, retired civil judge, M Vijaya Nirmala, academician and M Ratan, currently Director General of Police (Vigilance and Enforcement).

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under: What's New