Skip to main content

Information Commissions: Apex Court seeks status of vacancies from Centre, 8 states

By Our Representative
The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Government of India and eight state governments to file a status report regarding compliance with the judgment it gave on February 15, 2019 in a petition filed by senior Right to Information activist (RTI) activist Anjali Bhardwaj, Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri regarding vacancies in information commissions set up under the RTI Act. The next hearing is scheduled for December 16.
An apex court bench of justices SA Bobde, S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari gave the order after hearing a petition filed in September 2019, represented through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan and advocates Pranav Sachdeva and Rahul Gupta. They argued argued that the Supreme Court directions on appointing information commissions had not been complied with by the Centre and eight states – Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat.
On February 15, 2019, the SC gave directions regarding timely and transparent appointment of information commissioners, insisting, the objective of the RTI Act is to ensure time-bound access to information and, therefore, commissions should dispose of appeals/complaints in a timely manner. In order to achieve this, the SC held, all information commissions should have adequate number of commissioners based on the workload.
SC opined that where there are large backlogs of appeals/complaints, the commissions should function at full strength i.e. one chief and 10 information commissioners. It asked Central and state governments to make appointments to commissions in a timely and transparent manner, even as directing them to make public the names of the members of the search and selection committees, the agenda and minutes of committee meetings, the advertisement issued for vacancies, particulars of applicants, names of shortlisted candidates, file notings and correspondence related to appointments, be placed in the public domain.
Status report has been sought from the Centre and Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat
Currently four posts of information commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC) are vacant and more than 33,000 appeals/complaints are pending, says a communique issues on behalf of the petitioners. On the directions of the apex court, the Central government issued an advertisement in January 2019, inviting applications for filling the 4 vacancies. “However, the appointments have not been made till date”, the communiqué said. 
“Further”, the communiqué said, “The central government has failed to follow the directions of the Court in terms of transparency in the appointment process. The government has not disclosed the composition of the search committee or selection committee, details of applications received in response to the advertisement or the criteria adopted for shortlisting of applications. 
In fact, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) denied access to this information under the RTI Act, claiming that these were exempt under section 8(1)(i) which deals with cabinet papers and is not related to such matters.”
The apex court, referring to large number of pending cases in the Maharashtra State Information Commission (SIC), said, it should function at full strength of 11 commissioners (chief and 10 information commissioners). “However, the state government has failed to make appointments. Currently the SIC is functioning with only 5 commissioners even as more than 50,000 appeals/complaints were pending as of September 30, 2019”, the communiqué said.
“The SIC of Andhra Pradesh has been functioning without a chief ever since an independent commission was set up for the state in 2017 following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana”, it added.

Comments

TRENDING

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

No Election Commission safeguard against electromagnetic hacking of EVM: Study

Counterview Desk  Releasing a new study simultaneously in Chennai and Kolkata in view of the forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) – a civil society initiative – has regretted “lack of integrity of EVM voting”, pointing out, the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not appear to safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices through electromagnetic and other methods.

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.

NAPM extends support to Indian, Aussie citizen groups 'opposing' Adani ventures

#StopAdani action in Australia  Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), extending solidarity to the global campaign by the Youth Action to Stop Adani (YAStA), held in recently in Australia and India, has said that the effort was to bring more attention to the struggle aboriginal, indigenous peoples, farmers, working class and other oppressed communities against allegedly anti-people multinational corporate conglomerates.