State Govt.’s deep-laid conspiracy to enforce secrecy in appointment of Information Commissioners again exposed through RTI
RTI (Right to Information) Act has been enacted to ensure and enforce transparency and accountability in the administration. Since ten years of its implementation in India, RTI Act has been proved as most powerful law empowering the citizens to behave as master of the country. It has also been powerful tool in the hand of citizens to contain corruption.
But the irony is that from 2005, the State Govt. under the Chief Minister ship of Sri Nabin Patnaik has always played foul game and conspired to dilute the RTI Act. The state bureaucracy has gone to any extent of scuttling the throat of RTI in the state. The corrupt bureaucracy has not only tried to divert RTI but also made the Information Commission dysfunctional by appointing their political stooge and corrupt people as Information Commissioners. These Commissioners have not only proved their inefficiency in disposal of the cases but also shown their ignorance of law during hearing of the cases.
Being frustrated over mal-functioning of the Commission and their careless decisions, the RTI Activists and concerned Citizens reacted strongly against the Govt. and demanded to enforce transparency in the appointment of the commissioners and appoint an efficient and credible people as Information Commissioner. This reaction was also displayed at national level. While adjudicating a Writ petition, the Supreme Court gave direction to the State Govts and Central Govt. to enforce transparency in the appointment of the Commission and disclose all the information to the Information-seekers under RTI Act.
As per section 15 (5) of the RTI Act, the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media, administration and governance. A citizen has right to know from the Govt. about eminency and outstanding knowledge and experience of a person who got appointment as Information Commissioners.
But, interestingly, since beginning of the selection for the post of Information Commissioner, the State Govt. has been maintaining utmost secrecy in matter of disclosure of information about the details of candidates applied for the said post.
On 25.3.15 Sri Sachikant Pradhan, RTI Applicant had applied to the PIO, Department of Information and Public Relation, Govt. of Odisha seeking details of the applicants, their qualification, experience and expertise. The PIO denied the information. Then Sri Pradhan made first appeal to the First Appellate Authority who disposed the case on 23.6.15 denying the information under section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. This clause is not at all warranted in this case, as these information is required to be disclosed under section 4 (1) (c) and (d) of the RTI Act. Secondly, the name, address, qualification of a person is public information usually suo moto disclosed under section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act.
Now, the question comes, why the Govt. is hesitant to disclose the information about appointment. Because, there is huge corruption and irregularities in the selection of the candidates for the post without following any procedure. The Govt. has given appointment inefficient and worthless people as Information Commissioner ignoring the efficient, credible and experience candidates who have applied for the said post. If the information is disclosed under the RTI Act, the Govt. may land in trouble and the true character of Nabin Patnaik Govt. will be exposed. The State Govt. has appointed their stooges as Information ommissioners to protect their corrupt practice by favouring them in the complaint cases filed for disclosure of information due to non-disclosure of information by the erring PIO.
Pradip Pradhan, M-9937843482