’36K complaints pending’: SC moved for urgent hearing on CIC vacancies

New Delhi, Oct 19 : A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking urgent listing of a matter where directions are sought for the government authorities to implement the apex court’s directions in connection with the appointment of Information Commissioners within a stipulated time and in a transparent manner.

The plea cites, as of October 15, the number of pending appeals/complaints before the Central Information Commission (CIC) is more than 36,600.

RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, in her plea, contended the December 16 order of the top court has not been complied with yet.

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In December, the top court had directed the Centre and state governments to appoint Information Commissioners within three months in the CIC and the State Information Commissions (SICs), and emphasised on evolving a mechanism to stop misuse of the Right to Information Act.

The petitioner argued that the post of the Chief Information Commissioner has been vacant since August 27, which affects the citizens’ fundamental right to information.

“With the retirement of the chief on August 26, and another Commissioner demitting office in the end of September, currently 6 posts, including that of the chief are lying vacant and the pendency of appeals/complaints has risen to over 36,600,” said the plea.

The plea argued that delayed or non-appointment of Information Commissioners has increased the backlog. “It is further submitted that it appears the UOI is resorting to issuing fresh advertisements instead of filling all the advertised vacant posts in a bid to cause undue delay in the appointments, thereby frustrating peoples’ right to information,” said the plea.

The petitioner said no reasons have been furnished by the government authorities, why four vacancies were not filled pursuant to the advertisement dated December 12, 2019 and the order of the top court on December 16, 2019, and instead after filling only one vacancy, now this new advertisement on July 12, 2020, has been put out.

Drawing the top court’s attention on state governments, the plea said the states have also failed to comply with the directions given in February 2019 verdict.

“The State Information Commission of Maharashtra is functioning with only 5 Commissioners and there is a backlog of nearly 60,000 appeals/complaints as of July 31, 2020 even though the hon’ble court in its judgment dated February 15, 2019 had directed that, ‘Further, going by the pendency, which is huge, it would be appropriate if at this juncture the SIC has a total strength of 1 SCIC and 10 Information Commissioners’,” added the plea.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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