GUWAHATI, Oct 27 � The Assam RTI Forum today again made an appeal to the State government to immediately appoint the State Chief Information Commissioner and at least two State Information Commissioners so as to ensure speedy disposal of RTI appeals and complaints.
The forum expressed concern that the State Information Commission is defunct for more than seven months now since the retirement of last Information Commissioner MC Malakar.
�Non appointments of Information Commissioners have led to a complete paralysis of the functioning of the State Information Commission,� said the forum.
Debajit Goswami, secretary of the Assam RTI Forum regretted that ever since the inception of the RTI Act in 2005, the State government has never appointed a full bench of Information Commissioners.
�The State Information Commission in Assam, which has provisions to appoint two Commissioners apart from the CIC, has been mostly functioning with just one Commissioner. This clearly indicates indifference or perhaps the lack of will on the part of the State in providing a transparent and accountable governance to the people,� said Goswami, observing that while citizens strongly feel that the RTI is like a second independence to them and an important tool to fight injustice and corruption, the State government was indifferent in implementing the Act compelling everyone to think that this government has either things to hide or do not have any respect for law.
Goswami further said that the appeals and complaints at the State Information Commission has been piling up and at present around 5,000 cases are to be heard.
�From sources at Dispur, we have confirmed that HS Das, IAS who is presently working as Additional Chief Secretary, Finance Department, Govt of Assam, is going to be appointed as the State CIC once the formalities of his voluntary retirement is over. Das is to be retired in Nov, 2015,� revealed Goswami pointing out that Section 15(5) of the RTI Act, 2005 says that the State Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
�As per the Act, persons from administration and governance are the last choice for the post of Information Commissioners. However, the present Congress government of Assam has always appointed retired bureaucrats to the post of Information Commissioners which showcase the lackadaisical attitude of the government of not preferring persons from other fields as information commissioners,� said Goswami.