Information Commissioner A. N. Tiwari will take over as the new Chief Information Commissioner on Thursday, succeeding Wajahat Habibullah. He will, however, hold the job only till December 19 this year when he is due to retire, and this is, therefore, virtually a stop-gap arrangement, official sources said,

Mr. Tiwari's name was cleared after consultations with the BJP, the principal Opposition party. A 1969 batch IAS officer and former Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, his name has been forwarded to President Pratibha Patil for appointment as successor to Mr. Habibullah, who demitted office on Wednesday.

A year's indecision

Mr. Tiwari's appointment comes after a year of indecision on who should succeed Mr Habibullah. While the government was keen that he should be replaced by a bureaucrat, civil society groups had been putting forward names of various activists.

The crunch came last October, when Mr. Habibullah resigned in order to set up an information commission for the violence-racked Jammu and Kashmir at Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's invitation. But the Centre refused to relieve him as it could not think of a suitable successor. In the end, Mr. Habibullah completed his full term as CIC at the Centre, and Jammu and Kashmir still has no Information Commission – something the State clearly needs badly. And now that Mr. Habibullah is 65, he cannot take on that job.

Government sources added that it has till December to think of Mr. Tiwari's successor as the Information Commission cannot be left headless for even a day, as then, as per the rules guiding its creation, it would be dissolved.

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