They operate from a cramped floor in a commercial building near Bhikaji Cama Place in Delhi,and work on a heavy roster of hearings day in and day out. However,the five posts of information commissioners in the Central Information Commission have drawn applications from all categories of people from scientists,lawyers and journalists to,most of all,retired or soon-to-be retired bureaucrats.
Despite the heavy workload and its low-profile nature,the job comes with the pay and perks of a Supreme Court judge and a guaranteed five-year tenure.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT),which invited applications for the five vacant posts in the CIC for the first time,has received a virtual flood,including Alka Sirohi,who was secretary in the department until last month. (She has since been named member of the Union Public Service Commission.) Subhash Chandra Agarwal,the man behind many of the RTI applications that have unearthed scams in the government,also wants the job.
Of the 214 who applied,nine names have been shortlisted and forwarded to a high-powered selection panel comprising the prime minister,the leader of the opposition and law minister for approval. The selection meeting,sources said,has not yet been scheduled.
With the past information commissioners not distinguished by any particular specialisation and coming from all walks of life,many have their hopes up. Some names:
* From the IPS: Recently retired officers such as former Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Mathur and former BSF director general Raman Srivastava,as well as the serving Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau O P S Malik and current Director General of National Human Rights Commission,Sunil Krishna.
* IAS: Food Secretary B C Gupta,Secretary of Department of Agriculture P K Basu,Secretary in the Law Ministry D R Meena and NHRC Secretary General Rajiv Sharma have applied,as well as the retired Surendra Singh Khanna (former chairman,Railway Board) and Brahm Dutt (former Road and Transport secretary,now an adviser).
* IRS: Recently retired Chief of Central Board of Direct Taxes Mukesh Chandra Joshi has sent an application. Laxman Das,who was Chief Commissioner of Income Tax in Delhi when applications were invited,has since been promoted as Chairman,CBDT.
* Others: Journalists Satya Prakash,Law Kumar Mishra,Prakash N Bhargava and Sudhanshu Ranjan have applied,as well as retired bankers,DRDO scientists and members of government tribunals such as Central Administrative Tribunal,Income Tax Appelette Tribunal and National Green Tribunal. Former deputy comproller and auditor general Rekha Gupta is also among the applicants.
Rajiv Mathur (former IB chief)
Subhash Chandra Agarwal (RTI activist)
O P S Malik (DG,Narcotics Control Bureau)
D R Meena (Secretary,law ministry)
Mukesh Chandra Joshi (Former CBDT chief)
Raman Srivastava (former DG,BSF)
Raghu Menon (former secretary,I&B ministry)
B C Gupta (Secretary,food)