Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha takes oath as Chief Information Commissioner

Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha. File   | Photo Credit: AP

Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha was sworn in as the country’s new Chief Information Commissioner on Saturday, two and half months after the position at the top transparency watchdog fell vacant.


President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office to Mr. Sinha in a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, according to an official statement. Later, the new CIC in turn administered the oath to three newly selected Central Information Commissioners: former Labour Secretary Heera Lal Samariya, former Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General Saroj Punhani, and journalist Uday Mahurkar.


Mr. Sinha, a former diplomat, has served as a Commissioner for almost two years, and will hold the position of CIC for another three years, until he turns 65.


The Central Information Commission is the highest appellate body under the Right to Information Act. The new appointments will take its strength to six members, plus one Chief, which still leaves four vacancies. In fact, the Commission has not functioned at full strength for almost four years, and is currently facing a backlog of more than 37,000 pending cases.

Also read: Mr. Sinha was short-listed for the post by a three-member committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As The Hindu had reported last week, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is a member of the selection panel which chooses Commissioners, submitted a dissent note objecting to the appointment of Mr. Mahurkar, who was not on the list of applicants for the job, and also protesting a wider lack of transparency in the shortlisting process. The Prime Minister and Home Minister are other members of the panel.


In a February 2019 judgement, the Supreme Court had directed that information about the applicants, the search committee and their criteria for shortlisting candidates all be placed in the public domain. However, the Centre has declined to make such information available with regard to the recent appointments.


“Lack of transparency in the selection process raises doubts in the minds of the public undermining faith in the institution,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, an RTI activist with the Satark Nagrik Sangathan, who is one of the petitioners in the SC case mentioned.


She also expressed disappointment that all positions in the Commission have not been filled. “It is unfortunate that despite vacancies arising due to routine retirement of incumbent commissioners, the central government has been consistently failing in ensuring timely appointment of commissioners,” she said.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 11:03:41 PM |

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