Panel comprises Chief Minister, Leader of Opposition, and Deputy Chief Minister

The Goa government has convened a meeting of the three-member high level committee headed by the Chief Minister on July 29 to take a decision on the appointments of the Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioner (SIC) for the Goa State Information Commission (GSIC). Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told presspersons here on Wednesday that the committee comprised himself, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Pratapsing Rane, and Deputy Chief Minister Francisco D’Souza.

The issue assumes significance in the wake of the indefinite fast undertaken by RTI activist Rajan Ghate at the Azad Maidan from Tuesday. It has been backed by Goa RTI Forum and other social groups. Both the posts are vacant for well over a year causing a huge pendency of appeals and complaints at the GSIC.

The State government had invited applications and recommendations for the posts. Already a three-member scrutiny committee at the secretary level had been set up to scrutinize and shortlist names. The Chief Minister, however, said on Wednesday that though his government had followed a wider process of inviting applications and recommendations through public advertisement and set up a scrutiny panel to shortlist the names, in the larger interest of transparency, he argued that the three-member committee had full powers to go beyond these names and appoint somebody else as per the provisions in the Act.

Meanwhile, Shrikant Barve, secretary, RTI Forum told The Hindu on Wednesday that they had not received any communication on the issue from the government and Mr. Ghate would continue his hunger strike. The forum and RTI activists would meet on Thursday morning to take stock of the situation. Vivek Velankar, an RTI activist from Pune, expressed dissatisfaction at Mr. Parrikar’s “passive outlook” in appointing the Information Commissioners and said that he had high hopes from the Chief Minister in delivering justice to the common man.

Mr. Velankar, who arrived here on Wednesday, was addressing presspersons at the venue of the Mr. Ghate’s hunger strike. He expressed surprise that the person, who exhaustively used RTI, when in the Opposition, was creating hurdles in the implementation of the RTI now that he was in power. He promised to brief Anna Hazare and Aruna Roy from the NCPRI on this front and seek their support and action.