Governor ESL Narasimhan on Wednesday gave his assent to the four names that he rejected one year ago for appointment as information commissioners. With the governor clearing the four names, there are now eight information commissioners in the state.
On January 31, 2012, the governor had cleared four names for appointment as information commissioners and sought clarifications on the remaining four sent to him by the government.
As Narasimhan felt that the four - Imtiaz Ahmed, Varre Venkateswarlu, T Vijaya Nirmala and Tantia Kumari - had political background, he withheld his assent and sought clarification.
The government had described Imtiaz Ahmed as a retired district judge, Tantia Kumari as an advocate, Venkateswarlu as a social activist and Vijaya Nirmala as an educationist. However, Imtiaz Ahmed was in TDP and even contested the Assembly elections against chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy in 2009. He later joined the Congress.
Vijaya Nirmala had contested as PRP candidate from Nuzvid Assembly seat, while Tantia Kumari contested from Tiruvuru constituency on Congress ticket in 2009. She is the daughter of former deputy chief minister the late Koneru Ranga Rao.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who met the Governor recently, brought to his notice that it is close to one year that four of the eight posts of information commissioner were lying vacant and urged him to clear the names when they are forwarded to him.
Accordingly, the chief minister, on Feb 1, held a meeting of the three-member committee for the selection of information commissioners, which consists of himself, deputy chief minister and the leader of opposition. Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu could not attend the meeting as he was away on his padyayatra in Coastal Andhra districts. So, Kiran Kumar Reddy and deputy chief minister Damodar Rajaranarasimha held the meeting without anyone getting the wind of it and finalised the four names against whom the Governor raised objections before, and sent the file to Raj Bhavan. Prior to this, the government reportedly took an undertaking from the four applicants that they will not have any political links once they are appointed as information commissioners. Their affidavits were notarised as required by the rules governing the appointment of information commissioners.
Though the government sent the file to the Raj Bhavan on Friday after the meeting, the Governor took his own time. He discussed the matter with the advocate-general on Sunday and on Wednesday morning, he signed the file.
According to sources in the chief minister’s office, the government had no doubt over the Governor’s assent as he is required to do so constitutionally if the government sends a file for the second time to him.