Vijai Sharma tipped to be new CIC; K V Chowdary may be CVC
New Delhi: Senior most Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma is tipped to be new Chief Information Commissioner, while former CBDT chief K V Chowdary is understood to be in the running for the Central Vigilance Commissioner's post.
These names are understood to have been cleared in the meetings that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had today with leader of largest opposition party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.
While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attended the meeting on selection of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Home Minister Rajnath Singh attended the other meeting on Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh was also present in the meetings.
There was no official word on the subject but sources indicated that 64-year-old Sharma could be named as the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), a post that has been lying vacant for over nine months.
In the race to the other top post, 61-year-old Chowdary is said to be the top contender while acting CVC Rajiv is also in the running, they said.
"The panels have met and their recommendations have been sent to President's office. All the names against the vacant posts have been sent to the President. I cannot tell you the names. The meeting was confidential," Kharge said after the meeting.
To a question whether there was disagreement on the names, he said there is no question of agreement or disagreement on the names as of now.
A formal announcement of the names will take place after President Pranab Mukherjee, to whom the recommendations have gone, gives his assent. The President is away on a five-day visit abroad, till Thursday.
Earlier last month, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi had attacked the Prime Minister over the delay in the appointments of chiefs of CIC, CVC and Lokpal saying the government feared transparency.
Many RTI activists have also questioned the delay in the appointments. Sharma, a former Environment Secretary, has been working as Information Commissioner in the Central Information Commissioner since 2012. Sharma, if appointed as chief of the transparency watchdog, will have a tenure of about six months till he attains the age of 65 years on December 2.
Chowdary, who retired as CBDT chief in October last year, has been working as adviser to Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), that is probing black money cases.
The two meetings also cleared the names for three vacant posts of Information Commissioners and at least one Vigilance Commissioner.
The last meeting of the panel held here on May 23 had remained inconclusive.
The CIC, which is mandated to resolve appeals and complaints filed against government departments or public authorities by information seekers under the Right to Information Act, has been working without a chief for over nine months, after the tenure of CIC Rajiv Mathur ended on August 22, 2014.
Three posts of information commissioners in the CIC are also vacant. Besides former IAS officer Vijai Sharma, Basant Seth, Yashovardhan Azad, Sharat Sabharwal, Manjula Prasher, MA Khan Yusufi and Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu are other Information Commissioners working in the transparency watchdog.
Sources said there are 203 applicants for the post of the Chief Information Commissioner and 553 for the post of Information Commissioners. Under the RTI Act, the CIC has one chief and 10 Information Commissioners.
In CVC, the term of Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar had ended on September 28 last year, while Vigilance Commissioner J M Garg completed his tenure on September 7.
The government has received about 130 applications for the two vacant posts at the anti-corruption watchdog, they said.