Why is Habibullah still information chief, ask RTI activists:
A group of Right to Information (RTI) activists has served a legal
notice on the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) over Wajahat Habibullah
continuing as chief information commissioner
Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah, who resigned last year to
head the Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission (JKSIC),
says he will continue in his present post and has met Chief Minister
Omar Abdullah to convey the decision.
decision that has disappointed many rights activists in Jammu and
Kashmir, Habibullah told Abdullah that the central government had
been unable to "relieve" him and asked to him to appoint information
commissioners for the state's newly set up Right to Information (RTI)
Confirming the development, Habibullah told IANS: "Yes, I will be
continuing at CIC only. I met Chief Minister Omar Abdullah yesterday
(Sunday) and informed him about this decision."
who became the first chief of CIC in 2005, resigned from the post in
October last year to head the JKSIC following Abdullah's request for
properly implementing the RTI Act passed by his government.
Though nearly four months have passed since he submitted his
resignation to President Pratibha Patil, the central government had
been unable to find a "right successor".
told him that as the centre has not been able to relieve me, he
should look for other information commissioners for Jammu and
Kashmir's State Information Commission where the new RTI act is
suspended in the absence of information commissioners," said
"According to the RTI act, whether I am here or there, I have to
retire at the age of 65. And even if the central government relieves
me now, I would have got only seven months at JKSIC which would not
have been enough to set things properly," he explained.
"Initially, when I had resigned in October, I had one year to set
things at Jammu and Kashmir but now a lot of time has passed."
1986 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official, Habibullah
has served in Kashmir in several capacities. He was divisional
commissioner of nine districts in the state between 1991 and 1993.
assignment was abruptly terminated by a near fatal road accident
while negotiating with militants occupying the Hazratbal shrine in
Srinagar in October 1993.
news that Habibullah would not be joining the JKSIC has come as a
disappointment to many RTI activists.
am receiving calls since morning about this. Habibullah Sahab not
coming to Jammu and Kashmir is our bad luck. Both the common people
and activists wanted him to come here," Srinagar based RTI activist
Sheikh Ghulam Rasool told IANS.
decisions at CIC like declaring the office of the chief justice of
India a public authority are commendable," Rasool said.
Activist Muzaffar Bhatt, also based in Srinagar, added: "We are very
sad as Habibullah is not coming. He has given a lot of good
decisions and is a strong person... The chief of the JKSIC should be
one who does not bow to political pressure and takes good and bold
the search will start again and the government will take time in
selecting someone with a proven track record. It may take another
few months. Meanwhile, appeals are piling up here," Bhatt told IANS.
CIC is appointed by a committee comprising the prime minister,
leader of the opposition of the Lok Sabha and a cabinet minister.
such meeting took place last year between Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party's L.K. Advani and Law Minister M.
However, it remained inconclusive as Advani expressed reservations
about the selection process of the new CIC chief. The decision was
deferred after that.