The state government’s decision to appoint four persons as information commissioners is subject to the outcome of the public interest petition filed on the issue, the High Court made it clear on Monday.
A division bench comprising chief justice PC Ghose and justice Vilas V Afzulpurkar was dealing with a petition filed by K Padmanabhaiah and two others, seeking stay of the appointments.
The HC directed the state government to file a counter affidavit in two weeks and also served notices on the four persons appointed as information commissioners recently to respond on the matter.
The hearing was adjourned by two weeks.
The petitioners sought suspension of GO 75, dated February 6, appointing Varre Venkateshwarlu, Lam Thanthiya Kumari, S Imtiaz Ahmed and M Vijaya Nirmala as information commissioners.
They argued that the appointments, which were made without an advertisement or without preparation of panels, was contrary to Section 15(3)(4) and (5) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, and contrary to the Supreme Court judgment in Namit Sharma vs Union of India case.
As per the RTI Act, information commissioners should be drawn from a wide range of persons of professional backgrounds, they contended.
They further contended that the recommendation made by the committee consisting of the chief minister, deputy chief minister and the leader of the opposition for the appointment of the above four persons was rejected by the Governor, who returned the file.
The re-circulation of the file by the government without placing it before the committee was illegal and the selection was based on extraneous considerations.
Principa l secretary (GAD), secretary to AP State Information Commission and the four persons who were appointed to the posts have been named as respondents.
Meanwhile, Jana Chaitanya Vedika president V Lakshma Reddy asked the newly appointed information commissioners not to take up any official works till the court’s final verdict on the petition.
It would be better for them to step down from the posts in view of the court’s directions, he added.
On Friday, chief information commissioner Jannat Hussain administered the oath of office to the four newly-appointed state information commissioners.