Wednesday, June 07, 2017

NCPRI writes to PM on CIC posts lying vacant

The Hindu: New Delhi: Wednesday, June 07, 2017.
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern at the delay in filling two positions of information commissioners at the Central Information Commission (CIC).
MA Khan Yusfi and Basant Seth retired as information commissioners on December 31, 2016 and February 17, 2017 respectively. However, “while the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had invited applications for the posts in September 2016, well before the vacancies arose, no appointments have been made till date,” stated the NCPRI letter, dated June 5, 2017.
Noting that the CIC has been functioning at a reduced strength for nearly five months, the letter pointed out that “the vacancies are hindering people’s fundamental right to information as guaranteed under the RTI Act, 2005 as fewer information commissioners hearing cases leads to increased pendency resulting in people having to wait for a long time” to be heard by the CIC. According to the CIC website, nearly 27,000 appeals and complaints were pending before the CIC as of June 1, 2017.
The letter also expressed concern at the lack of transparency in the appointment of information commissioners, noting that the DoPT had denied an RTI application seeking information about the process adopted for short-listing candidates. The DoPT also refused to disclose the names of those who had applied in response to its circular inviting applications, the letter said.
Pointing out that the Supreme Court has underlined the need for transparency in the appointment of information commissioners and has even struck down several appointments of information commissioners on account of lack of transparency in the appointment process, the letter urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the two information commissioners are appointed at the earliest and that the “the process and criteria for selecting candidates” are made public.
Under the RTI Act, information commissions are the final appellate authority. They are entrusted with the task of deciding the appeals and complaints of persons who have been unable to secure information in accordance with the RTI Act or are aggrieved by violations of the Act.