Indian Panel Moving to Select Next Chief Commissioner

15 January 2015

The Indian government is moving to choose a new Central Chief Information Commissioner, a post vacant for almost five months.

A search committee created by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has received more than 200 responses to an advertisement. All seven serving information commissioners have applied, as have many current and former high-level government officials.

The screening committee is scheduled to meet Jan. 16. The members are: cabinet secretary, Rashtrapati Bhavan (chairman); Additional Principal Secretary to PM; Secretary, DoPT; Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs; Secretary, Dept of Expenditure and Professor Ram Chand, National Centre for Agricultural Economics & Policy.

An “agenda note” for the meeting obtained by Moneylife have been divided into seven categories based on knowledge and experience.

Under Section 12 (5) of the RTI Act 2005, the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner 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.

The chief information commissioner’s post has been vacant since Aug. 22 with the departure of Rajiv Mathur. In October, the DoPT said that it is managing the CIC’s finances.

More than 36,000 right to information requests are pending before the CIC. The number of pending cases before the CIC increased by 47 per cent, from 7,655 to 11,212, in the past four months, according to a report in The Hindu on data provided to Commodore (retired) Lokesh Batra in response to a RTI query.

The newly elected Indian government delayed filing the post last year, saying it could not do so in the absence of an opposition leader, even though the RTI Act says the leader of the biggest political group should be considered to be a part of this appointment committee.

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