Former bureaucrats who did not even apply were appointed information commissioners while those who wanted the job were not considered by a committee headed by the Prime Minister, a reply to an RTI application has revealed.
In August 2008, the Department of Personnel and Training recommended its secretary S.N. Mishra, Annapurna Dixit, Ashok K. Mohapatra, R.B. Shreekumar, M.L. Sharma and Shailesh Gandhi for appointment as information commissioners in the Central Information Commission.
Except Gandhi, whose name was proposed by several Right to Information activists, names of the others were not recommended by anyone. But their bio-data got included in the proposal for appointment of information commissioners.
On the other hand, three persons — Ravi Shankar Singh, Sudhanshu Ranjan and Dr Krishna Kabir Anthony — who applied and were also recommended by politicians did not find a place in the agenda for the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister. There were 12 others like them.
“Someone in the DoPT decided to reject these names,” said Arvind Kejriwal, who got these documents under the RTI act. “It appears the DoPT has become the de facto selection committee and the selection committee provided under the law has been reduced to an endorsement committee.”
The government will be appointing 22 commissioners this year. Of the 22 commissioners who are retiring, six are with the Central Information Commission, including its chief Wajahat Habibullah, who also did not apply for the job.
Kejriwal said that under the RTI law, the DoPT has powers to frame rules for appointment of commissioners but it had not done so because at least two secretaries were appointed central information commissioners.