Centre Files report on CIC Selection

Prelims level : Statutory bodies and appointments. Mains level : GS-II “Statutory, Regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies”.
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  • Petitioners asked to file response
  • The government on Tuesday handed over a status report to the Supreme Court on the progress in the process of appointment to the Central Information Commission (CIC) even as PIL petitioners alleged that the procedure followed was arbitrary.
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Justice A.K. Sikri, took the status report on record and ordered that a copy be handed over to RTI activists-petitioners Anjali Bhardwaj, Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva. They have agreed to file a response to the report in three days.
  • The government may file a rejoinder to the petitioners’ reply by January 28. The court scheduled the next hearing for January 29.
  • During the hearing, the petitioners submitted that the appointment process of Information Commissioners to the Central Information Commission happened in an “arbitrary manner as the search committee, had in violation of its mandate, short-listed persons who had not even applied for the post in response to advertisements.”

No rational criteria’:

  • They argued, through Mr. Bhushan, that the “minutes of the search committee revealed that no rational criteria were adopted on the basis of which the short-listing was done.” Further, the minutes showed “the completely ad hoc manner of functioning of the search committee,” they said.
  • People who were appointed members of the committee, also applied for the post and had to be subsequently replaced, they submitted. One of the persons who has been appointed, Suresh Chandra, had not even applied for the post, they argued.

‘‘Defective ad’

  • The petitioners also alleged that the government has “once again issued a defective advertisement on January 4, 2019 for the remaining four vacant posts in the CIC.” “The advertisement/notification did not specify the salaries and tenure of information commissioners, even though these are defined in the RTI Act,” Ms. Bhardwaj said.
  • The government’s status report said the names of the members of the search committee, the names of the shortlisted candidates, the criteria followed for selection, files of the appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners have been uploaded on the DoPT website in compliance with a December 13, 2018 order of the Supreme Court.

Appointment of CICL:

  • CIC was established in 2005 by Central Government under provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act (2005).
  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission.
  • The general superintendence, direction and management of affairs of Commission are vested in Chief Information Commissioner who is assisted by Information Commissioners.
  • CIC hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.
  • CIC submits annual report to Union government on the implementation of the provisions of RTI Act. The central government in turn places this report before each house of Parliament.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee.
  • The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

Functions and Powers of CIC:

  • It can order inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds.
  • It can secure compliance of its decisions from the public authority.
  • It can recommend steps to be taken for promoting such conformity, if public authority does not conform to provisions of RTI Act.
  • It receives and inquire into a complaint from
  • It examines any record which is under control of the public authority and which may be withheld from it on any grounds during the enquiry. While inquiring, it has powers of civil court.
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