Central Information Commission
#GS2 #Statutory Bodies #Right to Information
Context: The Supreme Court of India has directed the Union Government and all State Governments to file status reports on the latest developments regarding vacancies and pendency in their respective Information Commissions.
What’s the issue?
- A plea has sought directions to the government authorities for implementing the Supreme Court’s directions in the 2019 judgment.
- By its 2019 order:
- The apex court had passed a slew of directions to the Central and State governments to fill vacancies across Central and State Information Commissions in a transparent and timely manner.
- The court had given three months to the Centre to fill the vacancies that existed in the CIC.
About Central Information Commission (CIC):
- The CIC was constituted with effect from 12th October 2005 under the RTI Act 2005.
- Its jurisdiction extends to all central public authorities.
- It is not a constitutional body.
- The CIC is headed by the Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners are there for the assistance of CIC.
- They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
- The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They are not eligible for reappointment.
Role of CIC:
- To receive and inquire into a complaint from any person regarding information requested under RTI, 2005.
- It can order an inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo-moto power).
- The commission has the power to examine any record under the control of the public authority. All such records have to be given to the Commission during the examination and nothing shall be withheld.
- Secure compliance of its decisions from any public authority.
- The CIC also submits an annual report to the GOI on the implementation of the provisions of the Act. This report is then placed before both the Houses of Parliament.
State Information Commission:
- It is constituted by the State Government.
- It has one State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) and not more than 10 State Information Commissioners (SIC) to be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Appointments Committee headed by the Chief Minister.
- They should be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance. They should not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory. They should not hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business
- The information commissioner is eligible for the post of state chief information commissioner but can be in office for a maximum of 5 years including his tenure of information commissioner.
Issues with Information Commissions:
- Delays and Backlogs: In October 2017, the CIC had 24,287 appeals and complaints pending before it. In October 2020, this figure had increased by 52% to 36,894.
- On average, the CIC takes 388 days (more than one year) to dispose of an appeal/complaint from the date it was filed before the commission.
- Inability to file an RTI or refusal to give information.
- Despite repeated directions from the court, there are still three vacancies in the CIC.
- Lack of Transparency: The criteria of selection, etc., nothing has been placed on record.
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