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Centre accelerates process of filing up the post of Chief Information Officer after nudge from Delhi High Court

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Centre, after being jabbed by the Delhi High Court, has accelerated the process of filing up the posts of chief information officer and three information commissioners at Central Information Centre (CIC).

CIC which was established as country’s chief transparency monitoring institute has been headless since Rajiv Mathur, the last Chief Information Commissioner retired. Several other posts have also been also lying vacant at the institute.

Last month a petition was filed in Delhi High Court questioning delay in the appointment of the chief information commissioner.

An affidavit has been submitted in the court, as a response to the petition, which states that the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has prepared a list of short-listed candidates for the post and the process of getting vigilance clearance is going on for the same, reported The Economic Times.

According to the affidavit, “The process of appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission is at an advanced stage. In continuation of earlier meetings held on January 16, 2015 and February 6, 2015, the search committee met on April 27, 2015 and shortlisted the applicants for the posts of Chief Information Commission and Information Commissioners.”

 

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RK Mathur appointed as new Chief Information Commissioner

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New Delhi: RK Mathur, the defence secretary has been appointed for the post of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). He will be the second longest serving CIC, serving for three years.

The eighth CIC cleared the high-level selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday and approved by President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday.

The new CIC’s appointment will also kill any chance whatsoever of most senior IC Basant Seth, who will be completing his tenure by February 15, 2017, much before Mathur’s on November 24, 2018.

From the time when the first CIC, Wajahat Habibulla was appointed it has been a convention to appoint the senior IC as CIC. Mathur is not only junior but also a fresh face on the panel.

“Seniority had become a convention. It was not a rule. The government has every right to select anybody as CIC considering his eligibility.” said Habibulla, defending the selection.

Since the new CIC is not a part of the present group of information commissioners, no new IC was not appointed because the Delhi High Court has asked the government to fill vacancies of the three commissioners from among the old applicants who applied last year and a plea against which is pending in the Supreme Court. The plea will be heard on January 4.

“I have not received the order yet, so I would not speak for now.” said Mathur.

The reasons behind the selection of a new CIC from “outside” was that the government needed a person who is there for a sufficient time so that frequent selection processes can be avoided.

The position of a CIC is equivalent to Chief Justice of India and Chief Election Commissioner and is appointed for five years or till the age of 65, whichever is earlier.

Mathur’s appointment has made the information commissioners unhappy. One of the commissioners said, “The reason of motivation for the commissioners has gone now. Why should we work hard if we have no chance of being elevated to the top post?”(IANS)

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Political parties can’t be under RTI act, Centre tells SC

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New Delhi: The central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that political parties were not covered under RTI as they were not public authorities and any attempt to bring them under the transparency law was fraught with dangers of misuse with “malicious intention” of thwarting their “smooth internal working”. “During the enactment of the RTI Act, it was never visualized or considered to bring the political parties within the ambit of the said (RTI) Act,” the government said in its affidavit. “If political parties are held to be political authority under the RTI Act, it would hamper their smooth internal working,” it maintained, expressing apprehension that “political rivals might file applications with malicious intentions to the CPIOs of the political parties, thereby adversely affecting their political working”.

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Describing as “erroneous” conclusion by the Central Information Commission that political parties were public authorities covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the affidavit said: “Political parties are not established or constituted by or under the constitution or any other law made by the parliament. “The government’s response came following the apex court’s July 7 notice, seeking its response as to why political parties should not be treated as a public authority for the purpose of bringing them in the ambit of the act. A bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu had issued notice on a plea by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) that had sought that political parties be exposed to public scrutiny under the RTI as they play an important role in national affairs.

Besides the government, the notice was also issued to the Election Commission and national political parties including Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. ADR has sought directions to all “national and regional political parties to disclose for public scrutiny complete details of their income, expenditure, donations and funding including details of donors making donations to these political parties and their electoral trusts. “The CIC by its June 3, 2013 order had held that six nationally recognized political parties were public authorities under section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The CIC had reiterated its order on March 16 this year after these political parties did not comply with its earlier order.

(IANS)

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KV Chowdary appointed new CVC, Vijai Sharma new CIC

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CIC KV Chowdary
CIC KV Chowdary
CIC KV Chowdary

New Delhi: Former Central Board of Direct Taxation chief K.V. Chowdary has been appointed the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), it was announced here on Monday.

T.M. Bhasin, chairman and managing director of the public sector Indian Bank, has been appointed vigilance commissioner, an official release said.

Seniormost Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma was named the new Chief Information Commissioner, said informed sources

The post of CVC had been lying vacant since Pradeep Kumar retired on September 28 last year, while the post of vigilance commissioner was also unfilled since incumbent J.M. Garg completed his tenure on September 7 last year.

Chowdary, a 1979 batch Indian Revenue Service officer, has also headed many high-profile income tax probes, including that of the 2G spectrum allocation case and the HSBC Geneva taxpayers’ list.

The appointments have been made for a term of four years from the date(s) on which the officials enter upon their office(s) or till they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier, the release added.

The government was under attack from the opposition for delaying the appointments and various RTI activists had also questioned the delay. (IANS)