Shimla, March 31 (IANS) A Right to Information (RTI) plea has revealed that the Himachal Pradesh government lacks information about the personal details of a battery of legal eagles representing the state in the high court.
“The public information officer of the advocate general provided me the names of the recently selected candidates only. This means the advocate general did not have information about all the additional and deputy advocate generals,” RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya told IANS Sunday.
He said that since the lawyers deal with sensitive cases, it was obligatory on the part of the government to select candidates after proper scrutiny.
The state has so far appointed 15 additional and eight deputy advocate generals.
As per the normal procedure, the department of home issues the selection notification and after that, officers join the office of the advocate general.
Bhattacharya said he filed an RTI application Jan 8 and sought details of the names and address of each selected candidate, their experience and a copy of their latest income tax return.
“When I did not receive full information from the office of the principal secretary (home), I filed a first appeal to its appellate authority March 11,” he said.
He said the deputy secretary (home) directed the advocate general’s office March 22, saying: “Since the desired information was not available with the government, hence the information sought by the applicant can easily be procured from all the individual officers. The relevant information can be supplied to the applicant accordingly well in time”.
The RTI activist said the information gathered so far indicated that the government did not have basic information of all candidates, necessary for selecting them for important assignments.
“It’s surprising that the advocate general’s office has been directed to collect information from the already selected candidates,” he said.
He said that although these are political appointments and co-terminus with the government, even then, these candidates are supposed to assist judges in the discharge of judicial functions.
“There should have been proper scrutiny of the antecedents of the candidates, which is ironically missing,” he said.
“For these posts, the minimum required legal practice is five to seven years. It’s to be seen how many of the selected candidates fulfill this criteria,” the activist added.