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Vacancies in CIC, 26,000 backlog: Supreme Court seeks status report from GoI

By Our Representative
Taking a serious view of vacancies in the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Supreme Court has expressed its concern regarding the status of functioning of CIC, asking the Government of India (GoI) to file a status report within one week and scheduled the next hearing on December 13, 2018.
During the hearing on December 3, the petitioners, Anjali Bhardwaj, Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri, pointed out that at present there were eight vacancies in CIC, including that of the Chief Information Commissioner, and the backlog of appeals/complaints had risen to more than 26,000.
The bench of Justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer -- which heard the public interest litigation urging the Supreme Court to give directions to ensure that appointments of information commissioners in a timely and transparent manner -- sought clarification on advertisement issued by the GoI for the posts of information commissioners and chief information commissioner, which allegedly did not specify the salary and tenure, even though these were specifically defined in the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While the petitioners, appearing through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, Pranav Sachdeva and Rahul Gupta, said the advertisements were not in keeping with the RTI law, the GoI counsel stated that the government was intending to amend the RTI Act, adding, the selection committee was set to meet on December 11, 2018 to finalise the appointments.
The court took on record a chart put together by the petitioners showing the commission-wise status of vacancies and pendency. The petitioners pointed out that the vacancies in the commissions across the country is systematically throttling the functioning of the RTI Act and undermining the transparency regime.
The last hearing took place on July 27, when the Supreme Court directed GoI to file an affidavit stating how many posts it proposed to fill in the commission based on the advertisement issued, the time schedule for filling the posts, why appointments were not made subsequent to a 2016 advertisement and measures to ensure transparency in the process of appointment which were highlighted in PIL.

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