Three IAS officers -- PS Meena and Shyam Wardhane (who retired on July 31) and former Amravati division commissioner Prakash Mahajan -- are in the race for three vacant posts of information commissioners, according to sources in Mantralaya.
Although the shortlisting of names is expected to be done by a high-power committee headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the next few days, questions are being raised over whether the government is following the directives of the high court. The appointment is done after the governor’s nod.
The posts in Aurangabad and Nashik divisions have been vacant for a year, while the Amravati division has been vacant for five months. Of the 24 people who applied for the post, more than 60% are retired government servants and six are retired IAS, IPS and IFS officers. Sources said other two retired IAS and IPS officers, who have applied, are unlikely to be appointed as they have crossed the 62-year age limit.
“The committee which appoints information commissioner includes leader of opposition in state Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, senior minister Chandrakant Patil and the CM. Three meetings on the issue that were to be held during the monsoon session were rescheduled for various reasons. One of the meetings was scheduled the day the Mahad accident took place. Coincidently, the appointment procedure began soon after the officers, who are frontrunners, retired from service,” said an official.
“The Bombay high court and various other courts have directed the government to maintain transparency in the appointment by issuing advertisements and putting the record of eminence in public domain. The state has completely failed in doing so on in the past and is unlikely to do it this time too,” said activist Vijay Kumbhar.
Kumbhar’s petition over the powers of the chief information commissioner to transfer a commissioner is pending in the HC. He moved court when Amravati commissioner Ravindra Jadhav was transferred to Pune last year. The petitioner claimed although the HC has not restrained the state from appointing new commissioners, the new appointments were not made in compliance with court directives.