Memorandum submitted to Governor, Odisha Seeking High-level Enquiry into huge irregularities, corruption, malpractice and favouritism noticed in appointment of Odisha Information Commissioners.
On 16.7.15, Hon’ble Governor of Odisha assured a four-member delegation ( Pradip Pradhan, Sudhir Mohanty, advocate, Sri Debesh Das, retired bureaucrat and Sri Sanjay Panda, RTI Activist) to order to the State Government to enquire into allegation of non-supply of information by the Department of Information and Public Relation about the details of procedure followed for selection and appointment of Information Commissioners.
A Mass Dharana was organised by RTI Activists under banner of Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan (a State-level Forum spearheading campaign for effective implementation of RTI Act in Odisha) demanding high-level enquiry into huge irregularities, malpractice, favouritism made in the appointment of Odisha Information Commissioners by corrupt bureaucrats, disclosure of all information in public domain about details of procedure followed, criteria taken up for short-listing candidates, details of applicants and proceedings of the Selection Committee and withdrawal of anti-people Odisha RTI Rules, 2005.
After declaration of the name of two useless candidates for the post of Information Commissioners on 16.5.15, the Civil Society Groups and RTI Activists submitted memorandum to Governor, Odisha on 18.5.15 appealing him not to give appointment to these people who have been arbitrarily selected by the Govt. without following any transparent procedure. After that series of RTI Applications were submitted to the PIO, Department of Information and Public Relation to provide details of procedure followed for appointment of Information Commissioners. Though about two months have passed, the PIO has not responded the RTI Application. It is clear that the PIO with malafide intention and to keep secret the corruption and irregularities involved in appointment has denied the information.
It needs to be mentioned here that on 30.4.15, we the RTI Activists holding Dharana at Raj Bhawan had submitted a memorandum to His Excellency to direct the State Govt. to issue detailed written transparent procedure in respect of appointment of the Commission, declare publicly name of the applicants, their background, experience and expertise, details of search Committee, inviting public view on the final list for the post of Information Commission prior to sending the name to the Governor of Odisha for appointment etc.
Similarly, on 18.5.15, a good number of representatives of Civil Society Organisations and RTI Activists had gathered at Raj Bhawan and submitted a memorandum to His Excellency for quashing the arbitrary decision of the state government for selection of two persons for appointment in the post of State Information Commissioners by the Selection Committee headed by Chief Minister on 16.5.15 on the ground of noncompliance of section 4(1) C of RTI Act and non-transparent procedure.
As per section 15 of the RTI Act, the Information Commission is an independent adjudicating authority empowered to hear, enquire and dispose the cases of violation of RTI Act, impose penalty on erring PIO and dispense justice to the complainant-citizens. The Commission is also required to enforce transparency and accountability in the administration. So, the appointment of the Commission should be transparent and the people who are being appointed in the Commission must be above suspicion. But it is matter of regret that the State Government has maintained utmost secrecy in the appointment of the Information Commissioners.
As per section 4(1) (c ) of the RTI Act, the concerned public authority is obligated to disseminate show motto all relevant information relating to adoption of any important policy or decision that effect public interest. As you might further know the selection committee for the appointment to State Information Commission being a public authority within the meaning of section 2 (h ) of RTI Act ought to have disclosed show-moto the information relating to procedure of the selection of the Information Commissioners prior to taking such decision.
It deserves to be mentioned here that while adjudication the Writ Petition No. 210/2012 and Review Petition No. 2309/2012, the Supreme Court has given direction to both Central Govt. and State Govt. that the Committees under Sections 12(3) and 15(3) of the Act while making recommendations to the President or to the Governor, as the case may be, for appointment of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners must mention against the name of each candidate recommended, the facts to indicate his eminence in public life, his knowledge in the particular field and his experience in the particular field and these facts must be accessible to the citizens as part of their right to information under the Act after the appointment is made.”
It has been decided in Dharana by RTI Activists to block the office of the Commission, if the information is not provided within 15 days of the order of the Governor, Odisha.
Pradip Pradhan, M-9937843482, Date- 17.06.15