Chowdary is new CVC; Vijai Singh new CIC

A PIL has raised objections to K.V. Chowdary’s appointment  

The Modi government on Monday appointed former chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes K.V. Chowdary as the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and Information Commissioner (IC) Vijai Singh as the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), filling two vacancies that are key to the institutional framework for accountability.

The CVC’s appointment is subject to the approval of the Supreme Court, which is hearing a public interest litigation petition for transparency in appointments to the post and that of vigilance commissioners. Additionally, counsel for the PIL petitioners — Prashant Bhushan and Ram Jethmalani — have raised objections to Mr. Chowdary’s appointment on the premise that he does not have a “clean record.”

As for Mr. Singh, the main question that Right to Information (RTI) activists are asking is why the government delayed his appointment by advertising the post of CIC if they had to anyway appoint him.

“Why this delay?”

“He was the seniormost IC. The government could have just followed the practice of elevating the seniormost IC as CIC when the post fell vacant in August 2014. Why wait 10 months,” asked activist Anjali Bhardwaj.

Add to this fact that Mr. Singh is due to retire on December 1 this year when he will turn 65. Another activist Lokesh Batra pointed out that it took the government 292 days to find a CIC who is left with 174 days to serve before retirement. “At this rate the government must start looking for the next CIC from now itself,” he said.

Ever since the RTI Act was enacted by the first UPA government, this was the first time the CIC’s post had been vacant, resulting in a high rate of pendency. Several RTI applicants were denied information by key offices like the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defence Ministry. “The CIC is the final adjudicator in such cases and nothing could be done with these applications because of the vacancy; even re-allocation was not possible as only the CIC can do that,” an activist said.

Govt. took 292 days to find a CIC who is left with 174 days to retire, says activist