756 aspirants in fray for CIC, IC posts

New Delhi:  A total of 756 aspirants are in the fray for the positions of CIC and IC — 203 for the post of Chief Information Commissioner and 553 who are looking to be Information Commissioners at the transparency panel, which has been working headless for over four months now, official sources said.

Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth
Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth
The scrutiny committee led by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth today met to draw up a shortlist of candidates who are seeking appointment in Central Information Commission.

The names of the candidates shortlisted by the scrutiny panel will be sent to the selection committee chaired by the Prime Minister, which will then finalise candidates for appointment, they said.

Besides Seth, the committee has as its members the Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary (Personnel), Home Secretary, Secretary (Department of Expenditure) and Professor Ramesh Chand, Director of the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy.

In a departure from the practice so far, the government did not appointed the senior-most Information Commissioner (IC) in CIC as its chief after the position fell vacant in late August and instead chose to advertise the vacancy.

Among the 203 applicants for the chief’s post, 89 are bureaucrats and 37 are law experts while 28 are from the field of management, 21 from science and technology, nine from social service, three journalists, five from mass media, along with 11 others.

Among the applicants for the post of Information Commissioner, 233 are in administration and governance category, 98 in law, 70 in management, 64 from science and technology field, 29 from journalism, 27 in social service and 13 in mass media, along with 19 others.

CIC has been operating without a chief ever since Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur completed his tenure on August 22 of last year.

The chief of CIC is appointed by the President upon the recommendation of a three-member selection committee headed by the Prime Minister and comprising the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister as its members.

At present, there are seven Information Commissioners — Vijai Sharma, Basant Seth, Yashovardhan Azad, Sharat Sabharwal, Manjula Prasher, MA Khan Yusufi and Prof Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu — as against its strength of 10. All the above seven have applied for the post of Chief Information Commissioner.

CIC is mandated to resolve appeals and complaints filed against government departments or public authorities by information seekers under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The vacancy in CIC has led to the piling up of cases and, as per the latest data, a total of 37,143 of them — 29,706 appeals and 7,437 complaints — are pending disposal by the transparency watchdog.