HC strikes down appointment of Information Commissioners
By Express News Service | Published: 13th September 2013 09:27 AM |
The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday set aside the appointment of four Information Commissioners, M Vijaya Nirmala, L Thanthiya Kumari, V Venkateswarlu and S Imtiaz Ahmed, and directed the State government to take steps for fresh appointments to the posts within six weeks. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta and Justice KC Bhanu delivered the verdict on public interest petitions filed by K Padmanabhaiah and other social activists challenging their appointment. Significantly, it agreed with the petitioners’ contention that the appointments were politically motivated. The bench advised the government to take into consideration the Supreme Court order in the Namit Sharma case while appointing Information Commissioners.
The petitioners argued that the four Information Commissioners belong to the ruling party and failed to produce documents to prove they have dissociated themselves from politics at the time of their appointment.
They argued that the appointments, which were made without an advertisement and preparation of panels, was contrary to Section 15(3)(4) and (5) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and to the Supreme Court judgment in the Namit Sharma vs Union of India case.
Besides, the petitioners pointed out, the recommendation made by a committee consisting of the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition for appointment of the four persons was rejected by the Governor. The re-circulation of the file by the government without placing it before the committee was illegal, they contended.
The bench observed that the counter filed by the government does not state that the four have given an affidavit on dissociating themselves from political activity.
It further said there was no averment in the counters filed by the four persons that they had distanced themselves from political connections.