SC ticks off govt for seeking review of verdict on CIC

The Supreme Court on Monday warned the Centre that it would “throw out” its petition seeking review of a recent order on appointment of Chief Information Commissioners (CIC), if its queries were not addressed with “intellect”.

A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar told additional solicitor general A S Chandhiok that he should point out “errors apparent” in the verdict delivered on September 13.

The Union Government approached the court seeking review of its verdict making it mandatory to appoint only serving or retired chief justice of a High Court or Supreme Court judge as Chief Information Commissioners at the Centre and state levels for deciding complaints as well as appeals under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.

Calling the court’s direction “contrary to law,” the department of personnel and training (DoPT) had submitted that the verdict, changing the status of the CIC to a judicial panel and directing it to have two members, at least one with judicial background, would cause delays as well as disenchantment among the information seekers.

The ASG submitted that a decision taken by a ‘competent authority’ under the RTI Act on whether to disclose information to an applicant or not on a particular query, cannot be challenged before an Information Commissioner.

“Can an Information Commissioner decide an appeal against a ‘competent authority’s’ decision? No, jurisdiction is only with the ‘competent authority’, as defined under the RTI Act, to decide whether or not an information could be provided. Section 8 of the Act mentions  ‘competent authority’ and not Information Commissioner,” he said.

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