`CIC candidates should be chosen by consortium headed by CJI`

The probables for the post of Chief Information Commissioner should be chosen from a pool of eminent citizens prepared by a "consortium" headed by CJI, incumbent Wajahat Habibullah said Sunday.

Last Updated: Sep 12, 2010, 14:45 PM IST

New Delhi: The probables for the post of
Chief Information Commissioner should be chosen from a pool of
eminent citizens prepared by a "consortium" headed by Chief
Justice of India with representatives from the government and
public, incumbent Wajahat Habibullah said Sunday.

The selection of Information Commissioners at the
transparency panel has sparked controversy with civil society
groups alleging that the Centre and the state governments were
obliging people loyal to them by giving them these positions.

Habibullah, who will be demitting office on September 30
after a five-year stint in which he gave a number of remarkable
judgements like disclosure of file notes and declaration of
assets by judges, was not in full agreement with the views of
NGOs but accepted that selection process was not transparent.

"Those who are actually responsible for the appointment
(of the CIC) like the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition
and Union ministers, these are the supreme authorities to be
the representatives of the people because they have actually
been brought there through a regular democratic process while
NGOs and others have not been brought there by regular
democratic process.

"Given that, it is also true that the process (of
appointment) is not transparent," he said.

The selection for the post of Information Commissioners
is done by a three-member panel of the Prime Minister, the
Leader of Opposition and a Union minister. But the list of
candidates for the consideration of the selection panel is
prepared by Department of Personnel and Training.

Several RTI replies from Department of Personnel and
Training have shown that bureaucrats have allegedly ignored
people with recommendation and instead placed totally new
names on the files. In some cases the sitting secretaries of
the department have forwarded their own names for positions in
the Central Information Commission.

Armed with these replies civil society groups had
demanded changes in the selection process of Information
Commissioners and Chief Information Commissioner. They started
applying themselves for these positions and also demanded that
the government should come up with prescribed eligibility
criteria for these positions.

"It is not a job that you need to apply for it. It is
something that is conferred in recognition to your standing in
the society and that is how I would like to see it. The only
flaw that I see here is who should recognise the standards,
what are the base standards, what are the norms," Habibullah