iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 10, 2013
The Prime Minister’s Office has rejected the Central Information Commission’s proposal to appoint the senior-most information commissioner as the Central Information Commissioner. The PMO has decided that the chief information commissioner would be appointed from the existing commissioners and may not be senior-most information commission.

Present CIC Satyananda Mishra is retiring in September and Deepak Sandhu, who would be retiring by this December, is next in the line on seniority.

The PMO in a note to department of personnel and training (DoPT), the nodal ministry for RTI matters, said that a selection committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth will decide on who would be the next chief information commission from the commissioners.

Similar committees in the past had appointed first CIC Wahajat Habibullah and his successors AN Tiwari and Mishra.

The PMO has given sanction for appointment of four information commissioners and CIC and the selection committee would short-list the candidates from a list of about 300 applicants.

The short-listed candidates would be considered by a committee headed by Prime Minister and having finance minister and leader of opposition, Lok Sabha as members.

A key change in this year’s selection process is that the committee would examine whether the person has basic degree in his or her area of expertise. The decision is result of a Supreme Court order stating that the expression “knowledge and experience” in the RTI Act means basic degree in the respective field and the experience thereafter.

“The search and selection committee should consider the requirement of basic degree in the respective field and the experience gained thereafter, while short-listing and finally selecting the information commissioners,” the department of personnel and training said in a reply to a RTI query.

The appointment of commissioners had been mired in the controversy as the government had admitted before the commission that there are no rules and guidelines for appointment of information commissioners.

Even the person who has not applied for the job can be considered by the committee headed by PM for the appointment. It had happened last when women rights activist Ranjana Kumari was considered even though she had not applied.