Sunday, April 29, 2018

Pune: 40 per cent posts vacant at SICs, staff crunch hits work

Indian Express: Pune: Sunday, April 29, 2018.
The State Information Commissionerate (SIC) is facing a 40 per cent staff crunch and the high number of vacancies is affecting the functioning of the SICs, as per the annual report of the SIC that was published a few days ago. The report reveals that of the 17 sanctioned posts in the State Chief Information Commissioner’s office in Mumbai, 10 are vacant. In each of the other seven SIC benches in the state, six to seven posts are vacant.
The SIC benches in the state have quasi judicial powers as they take up cases against government officials who have failed to provide information under the RTI Act. The SICs also need sufficient number of clerical staff to ensure proper and timely functioning of the benches.
In its annual report, the SIC pointed out the various problems it faces due to the vacant posts. “Given the quasi judicial nature of the work, it is necessary for us to give dictations with explanations for the orders. Given the growing number of appeals, only two clerks are not enough and the number should be increased to four,” stated the report.
The state government is yet to take any steps to address this issue, despite being informed about the vacant posts by the SIC. “Some of the posts have been filled on a contractual basis, but the state government needs to fill the rest of the vacant posts,” the report read.
Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi claimed that the high number of vacant posts was a “deliberate attempt to weaken the RTI Act, which has played an important role in ensuring transparency in the system”.
“The fact that the state does not have a Chief Information Commissioner for over a year speaks volumes…,” he said.