Apex court stays verdict on CIC appointment

Apex court stays verdict on CIC appointment

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of its verdict making it mandatory to appoint only serving or retired chief justice of a high court or a Supreme Court judge to be the chief information commissioner (CIC).

The CIC heads the panel at the Centre or state level for deciding complaints as well as appeals under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.

A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and Arjan Kumar Sikri passed its order staying the September 13, 2012, directions, while hearing the review petition filed by the Union government challenging the judgment.

The court also put on hold its orders directing the panel to function in the bench of two-members with one being a judicial member and preference for the appointment of either sitting or retired judge of a high court as information commissioner.

The court’s order came on an interlocutory application filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and social activist Aruna Roy.

The application contended that the apex court’s judgment on a PIL had caused uncertainty in the functioning of the information commissions across the country and a virtual freeze on the appointments.

It claimed that commissions in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh and Goa had stopped functioning in the absence of clarity.

However, the bench refused to stay the operation of the entire judgment.

“We make it clear that subject to orders that may be finally passed after hearing the review petitions, the competent authority will continue to fill the vacant posts of information commissioners in accordance with the (RTI) Act and in accordance with the judgment in except sub-paras 108.8 and 108.9 which we have stayed.

This is to ensure that functioning of the information commissioners in accordance with the Act and the judgment is not affected during the pendency of the review petitions,” the bench said.

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