PATNA: The State Information Commission (SIC) originally was intended to facilitate the Right to Information of common citizens. But now it appears that it has become an institution for accommodating retired IAS officers post retirement.
Following its inception in 2006, all but two – first Chief Commissioner Justice Shashank Singh and senior journalist Farzand Ahmed – of those who headed the SIC were civil servants.
Two former Chief Secretaries, Ashok Chaudhary and R J M Pillai became Chief Information Commissioner, incidentally both were earlier appointed as Chairman of BPSC and were close to former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
S Vijayraghavan, a 1973-batch IAS officer, who retired as Development Commissioner and later served as Advisor (investment) to the CM had been an incumbent. He too was considered close to former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. P N Narayanan, another IAS officer became Information Commissioner while still in service.
Quite recently the state government appointed another retired IAS officer B K Verma as new Information Commisioner.
The selection to the post is jointly made by the Chief Minister, Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Leader of Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha. The process makes it clear that the politicians by and large still trust bureaucrats the most. Interestingly, the government never invites applications for this post.
It appears that the appointment of loyalists give a clear cut signal that commitment and loyalty particularly to the Chief Minister may get suitably rewarded as post retirement assignment. Most of these officers were considered close to the Chief Minister and instrumental in taking some crucial administrative decisions.
Chaudhary allegedly involved in the medical admission scam always exonerated Govt officials when some probe by him was ordered.
“Over 45,000 cases are lying pending in the State Information Commission and it takes more than two years for any appeal to come up for hearing” said Shiv Prakash Rai, an RTI activist.
“Most of the retired IAS officers try to protect the government officials by not providing information to the common public” alleged Rai. He even accused them of working as government agents in the Commission,
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had alleged that the government was deliberately weakening the institution created to fight against corruption. He claimed that fake cases were imposed on 454 persons, who sought information under RTI.