KATHMANDU, Dec 9: Amid controversy Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe has recommended the office bearers at the National Information Commission (NIC), a quasi-judicial body responsible for hearing on cases against public bodies on demand for right to information from the citizens.
Former government secretary Mahendra Man Gurung has been recommended as chief commissioner of the commission while advocate Kamala Oli Thapa and journalist Ratna Prasad Mainali (Deepak) has been recommended commissioners on Sunday.
Five-year term of the present office bearers of the commission including chief commissioner Krishnahari Baskota and commissioners Kiran Pokharel and Yashoda Timilsina is expiring on January 9, 2020. According to the NIC Act, the recommendations at the commission should be made at least one month before the expiry of the term of present office bearers.
The law has specified speaker of the House of Representatives as chair and minister or state minister for Communication and Information Technology and president of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) as members in the recommendation committee. Although the existing laws state that only the speaker can head such a committee, Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe had initiated recommendation at the commission last month in the absence of House speaker. Article 91(4) of the constitution states that 'the deputy speaker shall, in the absence of the speaker, chair the House of Representatives' but it has not given the other rights of speaker to the deputy speaker.
“The committee has recommended head and members at the commission from among other two dozen applicants,” said a member of the committee requesting not to be named.
Chief Commissioner designate Gurung had retired as secretary of the Ministry of Communication and Information Ministry a few months ago. Commissioner designate Oli, who hails from Jhapa district is a close relatives of Prime Minister K P Oli and spouse of former minister Karna Bahadur Thapa. Chief Editor of Samayabadda weekly newspaper Mainali hails Kavre district from where Minster for Information and Communications Gokul Baskota belongs.
The government will appoint the chief commissioner and commissioners at the NIC upon the recommendations of the recommendations committee. Three former secretaries including Gurung, Krishna Prasad Devkota and Bhupendra Paudel had applied for the chief commissioner position while various 22 applications had been received for the two commissioner positions.