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Gujarat govt "not transparent" in appointing information commissioners: Top RTI activist

By Our Representative
Top Right to Information (RTI) activist Anjali Bharadwaj has accused the Gujarat government of failing to be transparent in the appointment of information commissioners, saying, despite clearcut Supreme Court order to fill up vacancies within a month transparently, things remain extremely secretive and nobody knows what it is doing.
"Currently, there are just two commissioners in the state information commission as against the total eight posts. Even the Gujarat government has sanctioned five posts, yet it does not seem to be doing anything to appoint them", Bharadwaj, who is co-convener of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), and was in Ahmedabad in connection with a civil rights organizations' meeting, said.
The civil rights organizations' meeting, organised by well-known human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi in Ahmedabad under the banner of India Inclusive, was held to mark the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's historic Dandi march. Called India Unites Convention on Nonviolence, among those who addressed the meet included Justice Kurien Joseph, former Supreme Court judge.
Talking on the sidelines of the seminar, Bharadwaj, accompanied by Pankti Jog, co-convener of NCPRI from Gujarat, told newspersons, the result of non-appointment of commissioners is there for all to see. Thus, the delay in clearing RTI pleas a year ago was five months, it has now go up to one year and two months. The number of pending RTI pleas have almost doubled to 5,600.
"Following the Supreme Court order for the entire country, the Gujarat government should have appointed a search committee and made known the names of those who are its members, it should have declared the names of candidates that it might have decided to shortlist after advertising the posts. All this does not seem to have been done", they asserted.
Official Gujarat government sources, when contacted, said, while it is true that information commissioners have not been appointed and the pendency of cases has gone up, "one post was advertised in March 2018, and another was advertised in May 2018, though things did not move thereafter."

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