NEW DELHI: Former Defence Secretary R K Mathur has been appointed as Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), breaking away from the convention of appointing the head from among the serving Information Commissioners.
The post had fallen vacant after Vijai Sharma completed his tenure on December 1.
"R K Mathur has been selected as Chief Information Commissioner," Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh told PTI.
He will have tenure of about three years, till he attains the age of 65 years.
62-year-old Mathur, a retired IAS officer of Tripura cadre, was made Defence Secretary for a fixed two-year term on May 28, 2013.
Mathur, who did his graduation from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and post graduation from IIT, Delhi, has held various positions in his cadre state and at the Centre.
He had been Secretary in both Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Defence Production and Supplies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee, which has Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and leader of Congress Party in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge, as its members, had on Wednesday finalised Mathur's name.
President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent for appointment of Mathur as CIC, official sources said.
As per RTI Act, CIC is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the selection committee.
The Central Information Commission had been headless twice since the BJP government came into power in 2014. Earlier, it was without a chief for nearly 10 months after completion of the tenure of the then Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur in August 2014.
At present, there are seven Information Commissioners--Basant Seth, Yashovardhan Azad, Sharat Sabharwal, Manjula Prasher, M A Khan Yusufi, Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu and Sudhir Bhargava.
As per convention, the senior most Information Commissioner is chosen as chief. Presently, Seth is the senior-most Information Commissioner.
The Commission comprises of one chief and ten Information Commissioners. There is still vacancy of three Information Commissioners.
A total of 33,724 complaints and appeals are pending in the Commission, as per official data.
"It is for the first time that government has appointed somebody other than a serving Information Commissioner to the post," said Commodore (Rtd.) Lokesh Batra, RTI activist.