The Congress on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of crippling the Central Information Commission (CIC) by skewing the selection process and getting on board people of his own choice.In the wake of a host of RTI activists objecting to the "arbitrary" appointment of Information Commissioners, particularly of former Law Secretary Suresh Chandra, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused Modi of running the government by "subterfuge" by eliminating eligible people from the selection panel."One way of appointing wrong people to influential posts is by using your brute majority. Examples of that are CVC and the CBI. But now Modi has found a better way of doing that... Why bother about Selection Committee which may have a judge or an opposition leader?"Modi's new way is to instruct government departments which constitute the search panels to put in names which are skewed and exclude the desirable and the eligible," Singhvi told the media here.
He referred to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) files which reveal that Chandra, appointed as Information Commissioner in January, was not on the list of 280 applicants."Chandra himself has admitted that his name was among the people shortlisted for the job despite having not applied for it," said Singhvi."Modi has reduced the CIC into a cripple where eligible applicants are excluded and those close to a Minister or with obvious links are being selected at the behest of the Prime Minister," added Singhvi.Recently, a host of RTI activists including Anjali Bhardwaj and Aruna Roy, had written to the Selection Committee and the CIC expressing their "strong reservations" about the appointment process.In a letter to the panel headed by Modi, the activists urged for rectifying the "flawed and defective" process.They contended that the advertisements and the accompanying notifications inviting applications for the posts were not in keeping with the RTI Act as they did not specify the salaries, allowances and other conditions of the service and tenure of Information Commissioners, as provided for in the law.