Even as a section of activists continued to protest his appointment, Vilas Patil was sworn in as the new state chief information commissioner (CIC) at a function in Raj Bhavan on Thursday.
While governor K Sankaranarayanan administered the oath to Patil, a group of activists were seen staging a protest outside the Raj Bhavan. Unmoved, the new information commissioner said his priority was to ensure speedy disposal of right to information (RTI) applications in the state.
When asked about the controversy over his selection, Patil refused to comment.
“As a public servant, I am just following the government’s directions. To change or not to change the selection procedure is not for me to decide,” he said.
Stating that his priority was to ensure that the act was implemented more smoothly, Patil said: “The focus will be on effective and speedy of disposal of applications. This will help in ensuring that people continue to be confident about the act.”
Before taking over as the state CIC, Patil was information commissioner for Nagpur region. Asked what he would want to change in the current act, Patil said, “I have been studying it for some time now. I will soon send my suggestions on how can the act be strengthened.”
During his service, Patil served in the state legislature and was closely associated with the process of passage of several state laws. Considered as an authority on legislative proceedings, Patil retired as principal secretary of state legislature.
A state panel comprising chief minister Ashok Chavan, deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, and opposition leader Eknath Khadse had met last week and selected Patil as the state CIC and some other retired bureaucrats as the state information commissioners.
The appointments were surrounded by controversies as several RTI activists alleged that the process was not transparent. They as well as activist Anna Hazare have been pleading with the state to amend the selection procedure.
Krishnaraj Rao, a city-based activist, had even staged a nine-day fast to protest against the government’s decision.