Appointment of the state’s Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), a post lying vacant for more than a year, hit a legal hurdle on Tuesday, forcing a high-level committee headed by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to defer the process for another fortnight and invite fresh applications.
The delay was due to a legal flaw of the advertisement for the post being exactly one year old. The committee, therefore, decided to invite fresh applications to make the choice wider, and allow some other eligible applicants to compete.
Apart from the CM, the other two members of the committee are Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal and senior Cabinet minister Vidya Stokes.
Interestingly, the decision to convene Tuesday’s selection committee meeting was taken only on Monday afternoon after the retirement of Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (HPPSC) Chairman K S Tomar — a former senior media professional who is seen as a strong contender for the post. Other prominent contenders in the list are Additional Chief Secretary (PWD) Narinder Chauhan, a retired top bureaucrat, Ashok Thakur, who had served as secretary in the Union HRD Ministry and a current Information Commissioner K D Batish. There are a total 143 applicants for the post. Speculation, however, has been rife about Tomar being tipped for the post since the government had taken no initiative during past one year to make new appointment after retirement of Bhim Sein, a senior bureaucrat, in February 2016.
On Tuesday evening, the Department of Administration Reforms posted an advertisement inviting the fresh applications for the CIC’s post. The last date for applications is May 24 .
“State Chief Information Commissioner shall be a person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance, and he shall not be an MP or MLA,” the advertisement read.