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Activists, celebs root for Kiran Bedi as new CIC

Nov 02, 2009 10:44 PM IST India India

New Delhi: The post of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has been vacant after the resignation of Wajahat Habibullah. Among the many prospective successors to fill the post is India’s first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi whose name is being proposed by well-known personalities such as Aamir Khan, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. To spearhead the biggest transparency movement in the country, the civil society is rooting for Kiran Bedi, a person famous for her upright and transparent ways. As this crusade gains momentum, many ask if it makes the appointment process transparent. Section 12 (5) of the Right To Information (RTI) act states that the CIC and the commissioners under him shall be persons of eminence in public life with a wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism and mass media and/or administration and governance. However, the ground reality is different. Six of the eight information commissioners of India are former bureaucrats and so is Kiran Bedi but her supporters say she is one who did not fall for the trappings of power. RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said, "Information commissioners are appointed not because of their commitment to transparency, but as gifts for political loyalties. That's the reason that they are soft on offenders." Meanwhile, the high-decibel celebrity bid for Kiran Bedi has some former bureaucrats fuming. Ex-Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian said, “In the first place I saw Subhash Chandra of Zee and Aamir khan, well if they constitute civil society in India, then I am a Dutchman, clearly they don’t represent the common man. "The post should be advertised like they do in Australia and the UK. If I want transparency, I should want a transparent process," said, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi.