Appointments of SICs under HC scanner

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court issued notices to the state government on Friday on a writ challenging the appointment of two information commissioners in the Odisha Information Commission.

The HC had been moved by an aspirant Pradeep Kumar Pradhan who alleged that scrutiny, selection and appointment of the information commissioners was not as envisaged under section 15(3) of Right to Information Act of 2005.

Holding a preliminary hearing, Justice B R Sarangi issued notices to the state commissioner-cum secretary of I & PR department and to the two state information commissioners – Laxmi Narayan Pattanayak and Sashiprava Bindhani, who have also been made respondents to the petition, asking them to file their individual counters within two weeks.

This comes two days after an interim stay on the appointment of the state commissioner for persons with disabilities.

The government had appointed Pattanayak, an eminent administrator of justice and governance, and Bindhani, a prominent social worker as state information commissioners (SICs) in May last year.

Their names, along with four others, were shortlisted by a four-member high-level scrutiny committee headed by the then Development Commissioner U N Behera for selection to be appointed from among 44 applicants.

Later, the selection committee, headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Arukh and Opposition leader Narasingha Mishra, selected the SICs in a majority view with a note of disagreement from the Leader of the Opposition.