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Monday, October 11, 2010

HT & others: Anna Hazare will take on state on info chief selection

Mumbai, October 11, 2010: Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption crusader, will question the state government on the process followed for the appointment of the state’s chief information commissioner (CIC) and information commissioners (IC). Hazare agreed to intervene after Right To Information (RTI) a Neelambari Bhoge ctivists, including GR Vora and Raja Bunch, met him on the sixth day of fellow activist Krishnaraj Rao’s fast-unto-death in Ralegan Siddhi. Rao is fasting to protest the allegedly unlawful appointment procedure followed by the State.

Hazare’s aide, Anil Sharma, said: “He (Hazare) has studied the issue and decided that he’ll question the government on why these appointments were made without advertising for the posts. He will call the governor immediately and exhort him to stop the unlawful appointments.”

A state panel comprising Ashok Chavan, chief minister (CM), Chhagan Bhujbal, deputy CM and Eknath Khadse, opposition leader, met on Friday and appointed Vilas Patil, former bureaucrat and Nagpur’s information commissioner, the CIC.

The Right to Information Act, 2005, says only eminent people with ‘wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance’ shall be made the state CIC and IC.

Activists allege that the state did not invite applications from such persons or advertised the post’s vacancy. They are elated about Hazare stepping in. “It’s a big boost for us. When person of his stature is supporting us, the state will be forced to listen,” Vora said.

On Saturday night, the Parner police told Rao to discontinue his fast. “I was picked up by officers from Parner police station and taken to the tehsildar where I was asked why I had not taken permission to go on a fast inside Ralegan Siddhi,” Rao said. “They have warned me to not fast within the limits of Ralegan Siddhi.”

Rao has decided to spend the night at Parner and travel to Ralegan Siddhi ashram every morning.

Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times

TOI: 'Selection of state info chiefs flawed'

Oct 10, 2010, MUMBAI: Social activist Anna Hazare has said that he strongly opposed the recent selection of the four information commissioners for Maharashtra and that he would urge the governor not to swear them in.

Hazare said this to a bunch of RTI activists who had been camping at his village, Ralegan Siddhi, from October 6, seeking his intervention in the selection process. According to Gaurang Vora, one of the activists, Hazare told them on Sunday evening that he would speak to Governor K Sankarnarayanan, urging him not to swear in the information commissioners as they had not been chosen in an open and transparent manner.

Hazare could not be reached but his private assistant Anil Sharma said Hazare had always opposed the appointment of retired bureaucrats as info commissioners.

According to Vora, Hazare had in 2006 opposed the selection of Vilas Patil as Nagpur information Commissioner. Patil, who retired as principal secretary, has now been named as CIC in place of Suresh Joshi. The others named as information commissioners are: P D Patil (Nagpur), M S Shah (Nashik) and D B Deshpande (Aurangabad). While Pail is a retired joint registrar, the other two are former PWD secretaries.

Krishnaraj Rao, one of the RTI activists who is on fast since Oct 6 at Ralegan Siddhi, said he was thrilled at Hazare's decision but would not break his fast immediately.

RTI activists have been saying from the beginning that the state has been ignoring section 15 (5) of the RTI Act, 2005, which says that the info chiefs should be "persons of eminence in public life with wide experience and knowledge of law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media, or administration and governance."

RTI activists have also been complaining that there is no transparency in these selections and applicants are not told why they have been disqualified.

State can have 11 information commissioners but Maharashtra currently has only seven, Of these, six are retired bureaucrats, and one, Vijay Kuvlekar, is a former journalist.

Pune Mirror: ‘Make CIC’s appointment transparent’

RTI activist is on a fast unto death since October 6, protesting ‘arbitrary’ appointment of the State Chief Information Commissioner.

The government should advertise and invite applications from the citizens for this post. They should consider applications of officers who are in public services or have knowledge of public services.” —Krishnaraj Rao, RTI activist

Following in the footsteps of activists such as Mahatma Gandhi, Irom Sharmila, Anna Hazare, Mumbai-based Right to Information activist Krishnaraj Rao has started his fast unto death from October 6, 2010, in Ralegan Siddhi, in Parner taluka, Ahmednagar district.

He is demanding a transparent and lawful appointment of the State Chief Information Commissioner.

He is protesting against what he calls the arbitrary appointment of the information officers. The 45-year-old journalist and activist told Pune Mirror, “The candidate, Mr Vilas Patil, who has been selected as

Maharashtra’s new Chief

Information Commissioner, has not been appointed yet. There is still time to pressure the system to stop the illegal process of appointing the CIC. For this, all activists and right-minded citizens should write emails/letters or send via fax their requests to the state government.”

Talking about the legal way of appointing the CIC, Rao said, “The government should advertise and invite applications from the citizens for this post. They should consider applications of officers who are in public services or have knowledge of public services.

From these applications, they should shortlist applicants who fit the criteria of Information Commissioners and then this shortlist should be further trimmed by a selection committee. All we want is an end to arbitrary selection of officers.”

Mirror approached a city-based general practitioner, Dr Ajay Dhakephalkar, to find out how people can survive without food for long durations. He said, “Dedication and will power allows a person to go through his striking period successfully.

From a scientific point of view, the body has water and glucose reserves, which help in its survival. As days pass, these levels deplete, and can hamper the health of the fasting person. However, hunger strikes can deteriorate the health of a person.”

Neelambari Bhoge

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