RTI activist moves SC for filling up vacancies in CIC

An RTI activist has approached the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to fill up vacancies in the Central Information Commission and such panels in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in a transparent and time-bound manner, in conformity with the apex court's judgment.

The applicant, Anjali Bharadwaj also sought a direction for making public names of members of search and selection committees, particulars of applicants, criteria followed to shortlist candidates and names of shortlisted candidates.

Despite the Supreme Court's judgement on her writ petition on February 15, 2019, the Department of Personnel and Training had denied information on these subjects, her plea filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan stated.

“The fundamental right of citizens to access information from public authorities is being hindered by the non-appointment of commissioners in the CIC and various SICs across the country,” she said.

Four posts of Information Commissioners were vacant in the CIC out of 11 posts, even though nearly 32,500 appeals and complaints were pending before the panel on September 4. No appointment has been made against the vacancies advertised on January 4, 2019, she said.

The applicant contended the RTI Act was not followed in letter and spirit by the Centre and states in violation of the various rulings of the courts, which stated it was key for freedom of speech, good governance, and a prerequisite for the functioning of a healthy democracy.

There was no Chief Information Commissioner ever since the panel was constituted in August 2017 in Andhra Pradesh. The Maharashtra panel was functioning with only five Commissioners, even though more than 48,000 appeals and complaints were pending as on July 31, 2019.

The Odisha Commission, on the other hand, was being managed with only the CIC and two Commissioners, though more than 11,000 appeals and complaints were pending as on March 31, 2019.

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