The state government has defended its decision to nominate former bureaucrat and serving information commissioner from Nagpur, Vilas Patil, for the post of state chief information commissioner. Chavan told the HT, “We have gone strictly by the Act while nominating the candidate. There is no controversy or lack of transparency in our selection.”
A panel comprising Chavan, deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal and leader of Opposition, Eknath Khadse, had picked Patil for the job. The appointment is awaiting the governor’s formal approval.
Right to information activists had taken up cudgels, claiming the appointments were unfair because the government did not advertise for the posts or seek applications. Activists say the government has been favouring officials instead of non-officials like activists, journalists or lawyers for the post.
However, Khadse said the RTI Act, 2005, did not call for advertising of the post or seeking applications. He said Patil was selected because in his stint at Nagpur, he had no pendency of cases.
Now, social activist Anna Hazare’s is the latest voice to be raised in strident protest against the nomination. On Tuesday, Hazare dashed off a complaint letter to chief minister Ashok Chavan. The letter states, “Appointing a bureaucrat makes a mockery of the Act, as the Act was necessitated because of officials not giving out public information.”
He has also questioned Patil’s appointment, specifically pointing to certain complaints against him in his earlier role as Nagpur’s election commissioner. Hazare has called for a rethink on the issue saying the utmost transparency is a must before such appointments.
Hazare recently put his weight behind the Right to Information activists, who have termed the appointment of the state information commissioners as ‘non-transparent’.
He is also expected to take up the issue with the governor, K Sankarnarayan, who will visit Hazare at Ralegaon Siddhi on Wednesday. The governor’s office has received over 100 representations seeking more transparency in the CIC appointment process.