AP Governor seeks the opinion of AG on appointment of Information Commissioners
The selection of Information Commissioners for the Andhra Pradesh State Information Commission (SIC) has taken another twist with the state government again recommending the same names which the Governor had returned a year ago following strong opposition from civil rights activists and RTI campaigners. The high level committee headed by the Chief Minister had recommended the names of retired civil judge S. Imtiaz Ahmed, erstwhile Praja Rajyam leader M. Vijaya Nirmala, L. Tantiya Kumari and V. Venkateswarlu for the second time. Civil society organisations had opposed the selection decrying it as an attempt to turn the Information Commission into a “political rehabilitation centre” claiming that all the four had active political connections and two of them had contested the previous elections. As per the constitution of India, the governor can send back the file to the government only once.
On the file from the office of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy recommending names for appointment as Information Commissioners under the Right to Information Act, Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan has sought the advice of Advocate General A. Sudarshan Reddy. The Supreme Court in the Namit Sharma case, has laid down certain criteria for the selection of the Information Commissioners and a review petition is pending on the issue.
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has condemned the state government’s move and threatened to move the high court, challenging the appointment of individuals with political background as information commissioners.
In a letter addressed to the Governor, the state secretary of Samachara Hakku Prachara Ikya Vedika, Kota Prasada Siva Rao has claimed that Imtiyaz Ahmed contested against Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy in last elections on the Telugu Desam ticket and later joined the Congress. Ms. Kumari is daughter of late former deputy chief minister Koneru Ranga Rao who has served as ZPTC member in the Krishna district as Congress candidate. Likewise, Mr. Venkateswarlu and Ms. Vijayanirmala contested on Praja Rajyam ticket in the last elections.
Former IFS officer and RTI activist M Padmanabha Reddy has said "It is a clear contempt of Supreme Court orders as the state government is not following the guidelines for the selection procedure." RTI activist C J Karira has opposed the move and said "What the state government has done is totally illegal, arbitrary and a motivated action." Activists are seeking an audience with governor ESL Narsimhan, to convince him about the issue.