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Meet fails to decide on Odisha info panel appointments

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 3:

The uncertainty over the selection of new commisioners, including the chief information commissioner (CIC), of the Odisha Information Commission (OIC) showed no signs of vanishing in a hurry with the much awaited meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik failing to clear the mist on Saturday.

odisha information commission

Under the existing rules, the state government can appoint up to 10 commissioners, including the CIC, but for now, it has started the process for appointing only two commissioners, including the CIC, since the Commission would soon become defunct for all practical purposes in the absence of any commissioner.

The meeting, attended by Leader of the Opposition in the Odisha Assembly Narasingha Mishra and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh, which was expected to finalise the names of the new incumbents, remained inconclusive.

“The decision on the appointment of Information Commissioners will be taken in the next meeting,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Arukh said after the meeting without divulging what exactly prevented a consensus on the issue.

“The selection process is on. The names will be announced after they are finalized. The process is on; names from among the applicants are being considered and it’s not over yet,” said Mishra keeping everyone guessing about what could have transpired at the meeting. .

Official sources said forty candidates had applied for the two posts and six of them have been shortlisted. But a veil of secrecy surrounds th six names that have been short listed.

While Jagadananda retired as the Information Commissioner in 2013, Outgoing CIC Tarunkanti Mishra had informed Governor SC Jamir of his resignation from the post onMarch 4 well in advance on January 5. Mishra’s term would have ended on August 1 in the normal course.

Currently Pramod Mohanty is the lone Information Commissioner in the OIC. Mohanty’s term will end in July.

Meanwhile, the Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan, an apex organisation of RTI activists, has demanded a ‘transparent procedure’ in the appointment of the new commissioners.

The Abhijan demanded that  the state government should issue a detaile,d written and transparent procedure  in respect  of  appointment of the Commission,  publicly declare the names of the  applicants, their  background, experience and expertise, details of the  search Committee, inviting public view on the final list  for the post of  Information Commission prior to sending the name to the Governor of Odisha   for appointment.

It also demanded the modification of the advertisement published by the government inviting applications of the posts of commissioners and include the provision of recommendation by the public.

RTI Activists presented a memorandum containing these demands to the Governor of Odisha SC Jamir seeking direction to the state government in this regard.