SC warns states over vacancies in Info Commission

SC warns states of action for not filling up vacancies in Info Commission

The court asked all states to file a status report including pendency of cases within four weeks

Supreme Court of India. Credit: Reuters File Photo

The Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure over failure of several states, including Karnataka, to fill up vacancies in the information commission, despite the 2019 judgement directing prompt actions in this regard.

A bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari warned states of strict action over noncompliance of its February 15, 2019 judgement, delivered in the case of Anjali Bharadwaj. In a recent hearing, the court asked all states to file a status report including pendency of cases within four weeks.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that in Maharashtra, as of May 31, 2021 the pendency of the cases before the State Information Commission was about 75,000. Only four State Information Commissioners, inclusive of the Chief Information Commissioner, are working at present against the sanctioned strength of eight, though the judgement had favoured raising the strength to 11 officers.

In Karnataka, the total sanctioned strength is a Chief Information Commissioner and 10 Information Commissioners. There was also an issue relating to providing supporting office staff and infrastructure to the Commission. 

Advocate V N Raghupathy, appearing for Karnataka, submitted that out of the total sanctioned strength of 10 Information Commissioners, seven are working. An advertisement has already been issued for filling up three vacancies of Information Commissioners. The court, however, asked the Chief Information Commissioner to file the status report with regard to the office staff and infrastructure.

So far as Odisha was concerned, the state counsel submitted that two more posts of Information Commissioners have been created after the judgement. As of now four Information Commissioners are working and they have advertised for filling up the post of Chief Information Commissioner and one Information Commissioner. However, as per the observations of this court, at least three more posts of Information Commissioners should have been created, the bench noted.

Telangana State counsel, for his part, said the post of Chief Information Commissioner is lying vacant for the past year. He sought time to take instructions in this regard. He also submitted that four posts of Information Commissioners were filled up. The court gave him four weeks time to file a status report.

Similarly, in Nagaland, it was pointed out to the court that the post of Chief Information Commissioner was lying vacant for the past six months. 

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