The Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday issued notice to the Haryana government on a petition seeking immediate stay on the ongoing process for recruitment of three information commissioners in the State Information Commission.
A lawyer has challenged the “arbitrary selection process” being adopted by the State to fill up the posts at the commission, which is a quasi-judicial body under the Right to Information Act. The government has said there is no need for any fixed criteria to select the commissioners.
According to a government response to the petition, 229 candidates have applied for the posts and a search committee has to recommend the suitable names for the posts. Among the recommended names, the commissioners will then be selected by a panel headed by the chief minister. However, advocate Pardeep Kumar Rapria — the petitioner — has said there is an “arbitrariness, opaqueness and vagueness in the criteria being adopted for the search and selection of the information commissioners”.
Haryana government, in its response, has placed on record a 2013 notification before the High Court according to which “the search committee of the day shall devise its own principles while arriving at the procedure…while making suitable recommendations”. The notification further read that there would be “no requirement” to adopt a fixed set of the principles and procedure to be adopted and “the search committee in its own wisdom may fix and/or vary the said principles, procedure and criterion at any time”. In his application seeking stay on any process being undertaken by the State in pursuance of an advertisement for the posts issued in June 2018, Rapria told the court Monday that the government response is self explanatory and “does not disclose any objective criteria and process for selecting the most qualified ‘person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge’ in the fields specified in the RTI Act, as an information commissioner”.
“The pay and perks to the information commissioners from the exchequer amounts to conferment of state largesse…,” Rapria said in the petition.