Why only bureaucrats as info chiefs, SC asks Centre

Why only bureaucrats as info chiefs, SC asks Centre

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre why only retired or sitting bureaucrats were being shortlisted by the search committee for appointment as information commissioners.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer was told by the government that chief information commissioner and four information commissioners have already been appointed while the process for appointing other information commissioners was underway.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, said that search committee has recommended 14 names for consideration to the selection committee for appointing information commissioners.

“In these 14 names, apart from bureaucrats (retired or sitting) is there anybody else,” the bench asked. To this, the ASG said one of the 14 persons is a retired judge while rest are bureaucrats.

“Their (petitioners’) objection is that only civil servants are there. Ultimately, you do not find even a single person other than bureaucrats,” the bench told the ASG.

The bench also pointed out that the search committee comprises civil servants only.

The apex court reserved its judgement on a plea filed by the RTI activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retired) and Amrita Johri who claimed that over 23,500 appeals and complaints are pending with the CIC as posts of information commissioners are lying vacant.

They also sought direction for disclosure of criteria as well as names being considered for the post in transparency panel.