Protest against non-appointment of Information Commissioners

Eight of 11 posts of Information Commissioners are vacant, says Anjali Bhardwaj

December 27, 2018 01:52 am | Updated 01:52 am IST - New Delhi

Members protest under the banner of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Members protest under the banner of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Following non-appointment of Information Commissioners, a demonstration was organised on Wednesday under the #SaveRTI banner to protest against “undermining of the Central Information Commission (CIC)”.

“Eight of 11 posts of Information Commissioners, including the Chief Information Commissioner, are vacant. The previous chief retired on November 24 and the CIC has been without a chief since then. This shows that the CIC is headless right now and being undermined,” said RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, who is associated with the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) .

Ms. Bhardwaj said the CIC has been functioning “at a reduced strength” since the first vacancy arose in December 2016.

“The government has not filled a single vacancy in the Commission, unless people have petitioned the court and the courts have had to intervene. Fewer Information Commissioners hearing cases leads to increased pendency, resulting in people having to wait for a long time for their appeals and complaints to be heard by the CIC,” said Ms. Bhardwaj.

Stating that there is need for urgency in appointing Information Commissioners, the RTI activist added, “Currently, nearly 27,000 appeals and complaints are pending before the commission. Some of these were filed more than two years ago.”

Raising issues pertaining to the “poor track record of the current government on issues of transparency and accountability”, those gathered at the protest said the government’s proposed amendments were a bid to “weaken the independence of Information Commissioners”.

Further, Ms. Bhardwaj added, “Following PILs filed, the Supreme Court took note of the defective advertisement issued by the government, which did not specify the salary and tenure of the post of Commissioners even though these are defined in the RTI Act. The Centre has been directed to put on the website, names of the search committee, names of the candidates who have been shortlisted as well as the criteria which is followed for selection.”

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