Monday, August 23, 2010

RTI activists ask Jaya to stop CS taking over as SIC

RTI activists ask Jaya to stop chief secy taking over as SIC

Jeeva, TNN, Aug 23, 2010, 05.20am IST

CHENNAI: Appointment of a new chief information commissioner for Tamil Nadu is likely to be a complex task for the State government as right to information (RTI) activists have stepped up their campaign to prevent the appointment of KS Sripathi to the post.

With the meeting of the selection committee for the appointment of the new SIC scheduled on Monday, a group of activists on Sunday met AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa who, as a opposition leader, is part of the three-member selection committee headed by chief minister M Karunanidhi. The other member of the committee is a minister deputed by the chief minister.

The activists - V Madhav of Association for India's Development, Nityanand Jayaraman of Tamil Nadu Right To Information Campaign and K Saravanan of Corporate Accountability Desk told Jayalalithaa that the name of chief secretary KS Sripathi was doing the rounds as the next CIC even before the meeting of the selection committee.

"We told the opposition leader that it was when Sripathi was the vigilance commissioner that Tamil Nadu Vigilance Commission (TNVC) pushed for the exemption of directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption (DVAC) and TNVC from the purview of RTI Act. Moreover, as the chief secretary, Sripathi had challenged the order of the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission which directed the government to disclose details as to whether IAS and IPS officers have disclosed their assets,'' Madhav said.

Jayalalithaa assured the activists that she would do her best. However, it is not known whether she would participate in the selection committee's meeting on Monday.

While the present Tamil Nadu chief information commissioner S Ramakrishnan's term is to end this month, RTI campaigners started their campaign last year itself. Some of the activists inspected, under the RTI Act, records of appointment of the present chief and other information commissioners and found the procedure followed was arbitrary.

The campaign gathered momentum last month when activists from several parts of the state applied for the CIC post to have a locus-standi to legally challenge the selection if it was not done in a transparent manner.

"We want the state government to prescribe rules for the appointment. It should call for applications by giving advertisement through media, prescribing minimum educational qualification and experience for the candidates. It should also test the capability and integrity of the applicants and shortlist the candidates and invite public objections, if any, before sending the panel of names to the selection committee,'' said H Krishnaraj Rao, an activist.

On August 4, about 50 RTI activists from across the country including Arvind Kejriwal and Aruna Roy met in New Delhi and discussed how governments at the Centre and the states could be pressured to evolve a clear eligibility criteria and transparent selection process for the appointment of information commissioners to the state and the central information commissions.

As per Section 15 of RTI Act, "the state chief information commissioner shall be a person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.'' SIC can hold office for five years but not beyond the age of 65.


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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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