In a major set back to the Kiran Kumar Reddy Government the appointment of Information commissioners has been rejected by the Governor for alleged political background of the government nominees.
The Andhra Pradesh governor E.S.L Narasimhan has returned the file of appointment of eight Chief Information Commissioners without ratification under the RTI Act to the Kiran Kumar Reddy Government following public furor and controversy on the quality of selections.
The Governors action has come on a day when the RTI activists were holding a people’s ballot in Hyderabad against the nominations sent by the Government after similar ballots held across the state last week.
The Samachara Hakku Prachara Ikya Vedika which is sphere heading the protest campaign against appointment of personalities with political background for the post plans to gather support of over one lakh persons against the state Government.
The Vedika staged a dharna at Indira Park during the week end protesting against alleged violation of all norms and spirit of the Right to Information Act by the Government of Andhra Pradesh while selecting eight Information Commissioners.
The former Union Home Secretary K.Padmanabhaiah who joined hands with the movement lamented that the state Government was acting against the spirit of the Right to Information Act. While the Act proposes to select distinguished public personalities in various sections of the society he said the present selection was on simple political considerations.
Those appointed as ICs are: C.Madhukar Raj, IFS (Retd), S.Prabhakar Reddy, IPS (Retd), P.Vijaya Babu, Editor of Andhra Prabha Telugu daily, Varre Venkateswarlu, social worker, Lam Tantiya Kumari, advocate (daughter of former deputy chief minister Koneru Ranga Rao), S.Imtiaz Ahmed, retired civil judge, M.Vijaya Nirmala, academician and M Ratan, currently Director General of Police (Vigilance and Enforcement).
Ratan is not alone in the office eof Information commission.The chief Information Commissioner Jannat Hussein, who earlier was Secretary to Y.S.Rajasekhar Reddy also was chosen to the post ahead of his voluntary retirement from IAS service. Following his appointment as IC, Ratan is expected to seek voluntary retirement, government sources said. The IPS officer was chosen for the IC post as he belonged to the Backward Community from the Telangana region, they said.
Among eight members recommended, three are alleged to be actively involved in politics and also contested the 2009 elections to the Legislative assembly as political party nominee .Imtiaz Ahmed; one of the nominees contested the Assembly elections twice as a Telugu Desam nominee, against the Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy himself. But he had recently joined the Congress party and has now become a candidate of the CM.
Smt.Vijaya Nirmala another nominee had contested the Nuzvid constituency seat on Praja Rajyam ticket in 2009 but lost.She is preferred now as the Praja Rajyam has merged with Congress and now a candidate of Chiranjeevi.Smt. l.Tantiya Kumari had contested from the Tiruvuru Assembly Constituency as a Congress candidate in 2009, but lost.She is the daughter of the former Deputy CM Koneru Ranga Rao.
K.Madhava Rao, former Chief Secretary and active RTI campaigner said that none of the appointed Information Commissioners were known of having any experience in civil society activism, if not on Right to Information activism.
The TDP president Sri Nara Chandrababu Naidu who was a party for the selections initially and participated in the selection committee meeting has now withdrawn his consent for the appointments. He has already sent a dissent note on the selection process and said that many of them were highly political nominees and others were bureaucrats appointed on considerations other than RTI activity.