Two information commission posts lying vacant for a year

RTI activist writes to government over delay in appointments of Information Commissioners and shrinking transparency

GN Bureau | September 4, 2017


#RTI   #information commissioners   #CIC   #DoPT  

 Two positions of information commissioners are lying vacant for a year, said an RTI activist who pointed out that there is delay in appointment despite the huge pendency in cases.

The posts fell vacant after the retirement of ICs Basant Seth on February 17 and MA Khan Yusufi on December 31, 2016. 
 
Commodore (retd) Lokesh Batra, an RTI activist from Noida on September 2 wrote an open letter to Dr Jitendra Singh, minister of state (independent incharge) Prime Minister Office and Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions citing the appointment and transparency issues with the CIC.  
 
“Sadly, even after one year of advertising the two posts of ICs in CIC, the government has failed to select and fill these posts while an RTI revealed that 225 persons have applied for these two posts,” writes Batra.
 
The commission has a chief information commissioner and ten information commissioners (ICs). Each commissioner is allocated the responsibility of handling queries from more than a dozen departments and ministries. They can summon officials, inspect documents, receive evidence on affidavits, ask for any public record or copies from any court or government office, initiate an inquiry and even penalise the PIO.
 
The RTI activist mentions about 2015 Delhi High Court order in connection with delay in appointments. The court observed, “We are of the view that it is necessary for the court to monitor the steps that are being taken (by government) for filling up the vacancies in question so as to ensure that all the vacancies are filled up within timeframe.” 
 
“The pendency in CIC still stands at 24,338 cases and that too when commission has been returning back about 35-40 percent cases due to faulty documentation,” writes Batra.
 
Since June the data of cases being returned by the commission is not showing on CIC’s website. “It is not only frustrating but also defeating the objectives of “Transparency Law” where law-makers had made provision for furnishing information within 30 days of RTI request,” says the activist. 
 
He writes, “Unlike  many years  when information on appointment of ICs, was easily shared with citizens under the RTI Act, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has suddenly decided to become opaque, calling this information as ‘cabinet papers’ by overturning its own First Appellate Authority’ (FAA) past order and even ignoring CIC order.”
 

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