Raj Bhawan has asked the state government whether background checks were conducted before recommending names for appointment of state information commissioners (SICs). The development comes a week after the state government sent the names to governor BL Joshi for his approval.
The Raj Bhavan communiqué has sent the state government in a tizzy as the names of the SICs were based mainly on recommendations from politicians and sent without background checks. Sources said there may be three to four names whose backgrounds need to be checked.
Senior officers of the state government remained unavailable or refused to comment as the Raj Bhavan communique may cause an embarrassment to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his government.
"Raj Bhavan is examining the file relating to the appointment of the state information commissioners. Background check is a normal procedure before making appointments. This should have been followed for the appointment of SICs as well," an officer said on condition of anonymity. "The state government is examining the points raised in the Raj Bhavan communiqué and a reply will be sent," he said.
The communiqué has come at a point when the names of some controversial persons are doing rounds as the possible contenders for the posts of SICs.
The 11 member commission had eight vacancies. As per the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, "the state information commissioners shall be appointed by the governor on the recommendations of a committee comprising of chief minister (chairperson), the leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly and a cabinet minister nominated by the chief minister."
The state government had sent the names for the appointment of the SICs after a meeting of the selection committee on August 23. The chief minister had presided over the meeting that was attended by Swami Prasad Maurya, the leader of the opposition in the Vidhan Sabha and Ahmad Hasan, the health and family welfare minister.
Also, a petition about the appointment of information commissioners has been filed in the Supreme Court. The plea requests the court to make it mandatory for those appointed information commissioners in the central information commission to have a legal background. The Supreme Court is yet to pass its final orders in the case.