Many quarters across the country is trying to thwart the right to information. The country had barely been saved from attempts to dilute the Right to Information Act recently. It is said that the amendment did not go through because of intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
However, one way to destroy a system is to destroy the institution set up to uphold it. Many attempts had been made at the Central and State level to put partisan and unfit people as information commissioners. Now the problem has reached Kerala. The Selection Committee chaired by Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan has recommended appointment of a politician as State Information Commissioner.
The Act envisages appointment of eminent persons in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance as information commissioners. It also bars legislators and persons occupying offices of profit and those connected with political parties or businesses from appointment as commissioners.
The person recommended for the in Kerala was a national leader of the youth wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI) who has not since risen above the district level in the CPI. He has articles to his credit but was never been a professional journalist, though his nomination is said to be as a media person. He does not fit into any category of eminent people who can be considered for the post.
It may not be surprising that Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy, who is a member of the Selection Committee, did not oppose the CPI leader’s nomination for the post. Most probably, this is what he would also want to do if he is returned to power.
While this is happening, the information commissions are finding the going tough. They find it difficult to enforce their orders. Though the Supreme Court has laid down that the right to information is a fundamental right, courts themselves have been resisting release of information pertaining to them. Kerala’s Chief Information Commissioner has been hauled up for breach of privilege of the Kerala Assembly for ordering the release of a video recording of its proceedings.