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Friday, March 05, 2021

Mumbai: Thackeray-led panel yet to approve final names for 3 vacant posts of information commissioner

Officials said while the post in Nashik had been vacant since February 2019, Pune has not had an information commissioner since November 2018.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
February 13, 2021 11:07:57 pm
Sources said the general administration department (GAD) has sent multiple reminders seeking the chief minister's time in the last four months, but there has been no response so far. (Express File)

THE PROCESS of filling up three vacant posts of the information commissioner (IC) has been delayed further as the committee, led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, is yet to approve final names from the shortlisted candidates. Sources said the general administration department (GAD) has sent multiple reminders seeking the chief minister’s time in the last four months, but there has been no response so far.

The GAD invited applications from interested candidates in June 2019 for three posts of IC in Nashik, Pune and Nagpur bench of State Information Commission (SIC), sources added.

An official said applications were put up before the three-member search committee headed by Justice (Retd) Mohit Shah, former chief justice of Bombay High Court, with the central information commissioner and the chief secretary as its members. The panel shortlisted 15 names for three posts, the official added.

The official further said after making a shortlist, the committee which also comprises a senior cabinet minister and the leader of opposition, gives the final names for the posts. “We have written multiple times in the last four months seeking the CM’s time for the appointments. In one of our reminders, we have also flagged off a petition filed by RTI activists in the Bombay High Court over the delay in the appointment of information commissioners. Now, we are hoping to receive a response soon,” the official added.

Officials said while the post in Nashik had been vacant since February 2019, Pune has not had an information commissioner since November 2018. The post in Nagpur has been vacant since June 2018, officials added. As on December, over 62,000 appeals and complaints are pending with all the benches of state information commissioners.

Ashish Kumar Singh, additional chief secretary from the CM’s office, was not unavailable for a comment.

Anil Galgali, an RTI activist, said he had written to the CMO seeking time to fast-track the appointment of the three ICs. “But, there has been no response from the CM’s office. In the previous BJP-led government, retired bureaucrats were appointed as information commissioners. We don’t know whether this government is also waiting for some bureaucrat to retire to make the appointment. The CM speaks about transparency in the government. He should make the appointments immediately, which will also bring transparency,” Galgali said.

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