A group of right to information (RTI) activists here Wednesday demanded a set of rules and procedures for appointment of information commissioners under the transparency law.
RTI activists Arvind Kejriwal, Subash Chandra Agrawal and Raaj Mangal Prasad showed to reporters documents obtained under the RTI Act which revealed intense lobbying and complete arbitrariness in appointment of information commissioners.
‘There is intense lobbying which goes on for this post. If we have to save the RTI Act and keep it relevant, a proper mechanism should be set in place and the onus of selection should not belong to the department of personnel and training (DOPT),’ Kejriwal said.
The main worry of RTI activists is that information commissioners selected by lobbying and recommendations ‘are weak and, due to them, information is blocked and RTI cannot achieve effectiveness in states.’
‘Those who talk about amending the act to stop information, now have a better way to select some weak candidate, as there is no proper procedure. A weak candidate will himself render RTI defunct,’ said Prasad.
One of the models which was recommended by RTI activists was the one followed in Indonesia.
‘Look at the models being followed in Indonesia and South Africa, they are more transparent. Independent advertisements are given out in paper for the post. People have to give written examination and their pictures are posted on websites for public views and comments on them and then there is a live national telecast of their interview,’ explained Kejriwal.
Copies of files related to all earlier appointments of Central Information Commission that were obtained from the DOPT and the prime minister’s office (PMO) were the main highlights of the interaction between the RTI activists and reporters.
‘The files show who lobbied for whom, therefore, indicating to a strong need for setting up a proper procedure before next set of appointments take place,’ Kejriwal said