As reported in News Agency of Kashmir on 05 April 2009:
Right to Information: BR Singh likely to be appointed as Chief Information Commissioner

Right to Information: BR Singh likely to be appointed as Chief Information Commissioner

Jammu, April 05 (NAK): The `Man Friday’ of former chief minister and Patron National Conference Dr Farooq Abdullah, BR Singh, who retired as financial commissioner in 2008, is likely to be back with prize posting. The former IAS officer has been tipped for the post of Chief Information Commissioner, the post which has been created in the amended Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act (RTI).

Well informed sources said that the chief minister Omar Abdullah has asked the chief secretary SS Kapoor to complete all requisite formalities for the establishment of State Information Commission, which will be set up soon after the Model Code of Conduct comes to an end.

Sources, preferring anonymity, told News Agency of Kashmir that the government as per the section 12 of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, amended by the government in the budget session this year, has to establish the State Information Commission comprising one Chief Information Commissioner and two Information Commissioners.

Though the government looking for the suitable candidates for the appointment if Information Commissioner, sources said that name of BR Singh has been finalized to head the commission.

A 1971 batch IAS officer of the state cadre, Singh is known for his loyalties to Abdullah family. He retired from the government service in 2008.

It is pertinent to mention here that after facing severe criticism from all the quarters, Jammu and Kashmir government finally tabled The Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Bill, 2009 (the Bill) in the J&K Legislative Assembly on March 7, 2009. The Bill was tabled to replace the current J&K Right to Information Act, 2004 (J&K RTI Act) as amended by the J&K Right to Information (Amendment) Act (J&K RTI Amendment Act) in 2008.

The Bill contains provisions that are similar to The Right to Information Act, 2005 (Central RTI Act) enacted by Parliament. The Government has claimed that this Bill is intended to bring the erstwhile law governing people’s access to information from public authorities in J&K, on par with the Central RTI Act

Sub-section (3) of section 12 provides for a three-member committee that will select the candidates for appointment as Chief Information and Information Commissioners. The Chief Minister (CM) is the Chairperson of the Committee and the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in the J&K Legislative Assembly and a Cabinet Minister nominated by the CM are its other members. This is in line with the Central RTI Act.

Sources said that as per the amended provision the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.

The government, sources said, is also looking forward to appoint the two Information Commissioners, one each from Jammu and Srinagar. (NAK)