Friday, April 21, 2017

Information commission becomes defunct in Telangana, AP?

The Hans India: Hyderabad: Friday, April 21, 2017.
The decision of the Supreme Court upholding the High Court order setting aside the appointments of four State Information Commission members is likely to create new problems for both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and end up in a peculiar situation where both the states may not have any Information commissioners and the commission becoming defunct.
Even three years after bifurcation, both states continue to have only one State Information Commission whereas to promote transparency and accountability in every public authority each state should have separate commissions.
In the backdrop of this situation with the apex court upholding the High Court order, four State Information Commission members, V Venkateswarlu, Thantiiya Kumari, Imtiyaz Ahmed and M Vijaya Nirmala will be unseated and of the remaining two commissioners M Ratan would retire on April 22 and P Vijaya Babu will be laying down the office on May 15.
As per the act, the Appointments Committee is headed by the Chief Minister including the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and one Cabinet Minister nominated by the Chief Minister.
Since there are no separate committees for the two states, the question now is who will chair the appointment committee?
The appointment committee will have to form a search committee and then finally select the commissioners. Hence unless both the states take up the matter as top priority, the State Information Commission will become a defunct body.
According to M Padmanabha Reddy, Secretary of the Forum for Good Governance, if both the governments do not take steps to constitute separate State Information Commissions and appoint new commissioners, it would not be possible to implement the RTI Act.