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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Latest Info Commission​er Selection: PMO played fair, Oppn Leader played foul

15 May, 2012: There is good news: documents procured by activists GirishMittal and Lokesh Batra under RTI indicate that the latest batch of CentralInformation Commissioners (Rajiv Mathur, Vijai Sharma and Basant Seth) wereselected by a more transparent process than earlier. The central government hasdefinitely mended its ways and set a good precedent for state governments.  By calling for applications and having applicationsscreened by a Search Committee, the government has yielded to two long standingdemands of RTI activists.

However, Leader ofOpposition Sushma Swaraj short-circuited the process, it seems. She put up twonames that were not selected by the Search Committee, and one of them became aCIC. New CICs Rajiv Mathur and Vijai Sharma were on a shortlist of nine personsafter a screening process for 214 contenders. But new CIC Basant Seth waseliminated by the Search Committee, and re-entered the shortlist as SushmaSwaraj’s candidate, it appears from the below documents.

THE PROCESS FOLLOWED THISTIME:

1)      OnOct 29, 2011, DOPT issued this circular inviting applications from all eligiblepersons, including civil society: http://tinyurl.com/DOPT-Circular-Nov2011

2)      Fromthe applications received before the final date, a list of all 214 applicants wasdrawn up: http://tinyurl.com/List-CIC-Applicants-Apr2012

3)      TheSearch Committee seemingly evaluated 214 applicants “on the basis of width,diversity, relevance and length of experience of the applicants, with some preferencefor legal background and strategic exposure”. Also, inputs were sought fromIntelligence Bureau and Central Vigilance Commission. All this is stated in theminutes of the Selection Committee meeting on 23 February 2012: http://tinyurl.com/MOM-PMs-Selection-Cmte-Feb2012

IT WILL BE WORTH GETTING THESE DETAILS UNDER RTI:

a)     Copies of all correspondence betweenDOPT and PMO concerning constituting Search Committee, defining its terms ofreference, etc.

b)     Copies of documents showing the criteriaand procedure used by the Search Committee for screening the 214 names andarriving at the shortlist of nine names.

c)     What inputs were solicited and receivedby the PMO, Selection Committee and/or Screening Committee from IB and CVC?Copies of all correspondence, reports received etc.

d)     Copies of all correspondence by OppositionLeader Sushma Swaraj with PMO, Search Committee, Selection Committee andcandidates for the CIC’s post.

WHAT IS A SEARCHCOMMITTEE?

Search     Committees guidelines 1994: http://tinyurl.com/Search-Cmte-Circ-1994  

Search     Committee guidelines 2007: http://tinyurl.com/Search-Cmte-Circ-2007

IMPROVEMENT OVER EARLIER SELECTIONS:

Notwithstanding possible deficiencies of the process followed inthis round of selections, it is far better than earlier selections when A N Tiwari (now retired) and Satyananda Mishra (now the Chief CIC), whowere both DoPT Secretaries, selected themselves for the post of InformationCommissioner.   Tiwari and Mishra disregarded dozens of applicationsaddressed to them and made the shortlist list so short that it reduced thePrime Minister’s Selection Committee into a mere rubber stamp. Girish Mittal’sRTI findings revealed this shocking abuse of position:  http://tinyurl.com/ANT-SM-Self-Selection

To understandethical and legal issues in selecting CICs, read this: http://tinyurl.com/CIC-Selections-legal-issues

The present changes in selection procedure are the result of anongoing struggle since 2009. Background material: http://tinyurl.com/CIC-Selections-background

Warm Regards,
KrishnarajRao
98215 88114
thebravepedestrian@gmail.com

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