A setback for CM
The selection committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, comprising leader of the Opposition and a Cabinet Minister, did not follow the...
By setting aside on Thursday the appointment of four Information Commissioners, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has given a strong backing for the RTI and the spirit behind the legislation. In a historic judgment, Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sen Gupta and Justice KC Bhanu have directed the State government to appoint new Commissioners in place of those who have been disqualified. People of the State have to thank the judiciary besides the three petitioners who prevented dilution of the democratic institution. For Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, it is a setback. The arrogance of power he exhibited was bad in taste and in law. He deserved the rebuke.
The selection committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, comprising leader of the Opposition and a Cabinet Minister, did not follow the set regulations. A proper advertisement has to be released to newspapers and all applications have to be examined and the selection has to be based on relative merit.
Opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu had attended the first meeting at which he did not raise any objection, but after coming out of the meeting he complained that the procedure was not followed. He also suggested appointment of a screening committee. Governor ESL Narasimhan had returned the file to the government on the ground that some of the candidates were politicians. After a few months, the State government sent the file back to the Governor recommending the same names. The second meeting of the selection committee was not attended by the Opposition leader.
It was a very clear case of a Chief Minister unilaterally appointing persons, for extraneous considerations, to a very important democratic institution which was created by Right to Information Act, 2005. It was a remarkable legislation personally engineered by Sonia Gandhi and the Chief Ministers appointed by her show scant respect for it. This has been particularly true of the appointments made by AP government.
YS Rajasekhara Reddy did not select the best of the available talent and experience. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s selection was even worse. One of the appointees was a candidate who had contested against the Chief Minister in the 2009 elections. The three others were also of the same caliber and from the same background. The Act clearly stipulates that persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in various faculties shall be appointed as Information Commissioners. It should not be treated as an institution meant for rehabilitating politicians.