The Right to Information (RTI) Act has formidable foes. It is only fitting that our next chief information commissioner (CIC) be equally formidable, if not more. Kiran Bedi, India’s first woman Indian Police Service officer, who is being endorsed by persons as diverse as Anna Hazare and Aamir Khan, is one such candidate.
All too often, RTI petitions fail due to a combination of bureaucratic stonewalling (firewalling is a better description) and “sympathy” of information commissioners towards officialdom. It makes sense for governments to appoint retired officials: They often display a marked lack of enthusiasm to chase the truth and great energy to save their serving friends from embarrassment. This does not make sense for citizens.
To make RTI meaningful, the recruitment pool of commissioners needs to be liberalized: Eminent persons from different walks of life should be tried and those with bureaucratic backgrounds avoided. If the government decides on another civil servant appointment, that would be unfortunate.