Chennai RTI activists arrested for protesting cronyist appointment of Chief Info Commissioner

CHENNAI, 1 September, 2010 — RTI Activists Gopalakrishnan, Siva Elango (Makkal Sakthi Katchi) and Madhav Vishnubhatta (Association for India’s Development) were picked up by Chennai police at 1120 a.m. They were demonstrating against the unlawful swearing-in of the former Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathy as Chief Information Commissioner without an open and transparent process. The three activists stood at the entrance to the Raj Bhavan and held placards that read “Save RTI”, “No transparency in Appointments”, “Non-transparent appointment to uphold transparency??”

The DMK Government had convened a meeting of the Selection Committee under RTI on 23 August, 2010. RTI activists, including Madhav, met Ms. Jayalalithaa who is both leader of the opposition and a part of the 3-person selection committee to highlight the lack of transparency in the selection process. The selection process was not preceded by a call for applications from eligible candidates, and Mr. Sripathy’s name was revealed even before the Committee could meet. Ms Jayalalithaa’s request for information regarding the various candidates was also not honoured. Mr. Sripathy, who is known to be close to the Chief Minister Karunanidhi, is also known for his non-transparent stance on several occasions. On one occasion, he appealed a decision of the Tamilnadu Information Commission directing his office to reveal the details regarding names of IAS officers who had disclosed their assets and those who had not. During his tenure as Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Mr. Sripathy had facilitated the exemption of the Directorate of Vigilance and anti-Corruption from the purview of the RTI Act.

“How can there be a non-transparent process to appoint the keeper of the Right to Information Act. This is cronyism at its worst and spells ill for the RTI Act’s implementation in Tamilnadu,” said Madhav Vishnubhatta speaking from the police vehicle.

The three activists are being taken to Guindy Police Station.

Please write or phone the following persons demanding their immediate release.

Director General of Police, TN- 94440 77553

Chennai Commissioner of Police at Mobile No.95009 83832.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Adayar- 94450 20990.

Sudha Ramalingam

Vice-President, PUCL.
Off: Husain House, 7 Kondi Chetty Street, Chennai – 600 001.
Ph: +91 44 25392464
Res: 21 Tamil Street, Padmanabha Nagar, Choolaimedu, Chennai – 600 094.
Ph: +91 44 23613751

All three activists have been released. We received them from the police station at 5 p.m. Indian time. They were not even produced before the magistrate.

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