The Supreme Court of India (File Photo)
The Supreme Court of India (File Photo)

RTI activists file plea in SC saying government not filling up vacancies in CIC, SICs

ANI | Updated: Nov 01, 2019 23:54 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov 1 (ANI): RTI activists have filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking directions for Centre to take immediate steps to fill the vacancies in the Central Information Commission (CIC) by making the appointment of four Information Commissioners in a transparent and time-bound manner.
The application has also stated that state governments of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha be directed to take immediate steps to appoint State Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners of respective State Information Commissions (SICs).
On February 15, the apex court had directed the Centre to appoint Information Commissioners from 'all streams, not just bureaucrats' in order to fill the vacant posts at the centre and state level Information Commission within six months.
The apex court had also directed the government to bring transparency in the appointment process. It had ordered the Search Committee to make the selection criteria in choosing the candidates public.
The court was hearing a plea filed by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retired) and Amrita Johri who had stated that over 23,500 appeals and complaints are pending with the CIC (Central Information Commission) as posts of Information Commissioners are lying vacant.
Now, the RTI activists have filed a fresh application before the top court contending that Centre has not complied with February 15 order of the Supreme Court as timely appointments of CICs and SICs against existing vacancies have not been made.
"The rational and objective 'shortlisting criteria' to be followed by the Search Committee has not been made public. Particulars of the applicants who applied for the advertised posts be not been made public. Details of the members of the 'Search Committee' and 'Selection Committee' have not been made public," plea added.
The Selection Committee of the CIC consists of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister. The Selection Committee of the SIC consists of the Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and a Cabinet Minister nominated by the Chief Minister.
The RTI activists have sought direction to the Centre to place in the public domain details regarding the appointment process, particularly the names of members of 'Search Committee' and 'Selection Committee', details of applicants, criteria followed for short-listing, names of shortlisted candidates.
"At present, four posts of Information Commissioners are lying vacant in the CIC. As of September 4, 2019, nearly 32,500 appeals and complaints were pending before the Commission.
Out of the four vacancies, three arose out of routine and scheduled retirement of Information Commissioners upon the expiry of their five-year tenure or upon them attaining the age of 65 years. These vacancies arose more than 9 months ago. The final vacancy occurred when one of the existing Information Commissioners were appointed as the Chief of the CIC with effect from January 1, 2019," the application stated.
"The present petition is filed seeking directions for the timely and transparent appointment of Chief and Information Commissioners of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and State Information Commissions (SICs) in order to secure the fundamental Right to Information and the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005," it added. (ANI)