Supreme Court directs Centre, States to file status reports on appointment of Information Commissioners
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Supreme Court directs Centre, States to file status reports on appointment of Information Commissioners

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today directed the Central government and eight states to file status reports regarding the filling up of vacancies of Information Commissioners.

The respondents have also been directed to file compliance and status reports with respect to the judgment of the Supreme Court dated February 15, 2019.

The order was passed by a Bench of Justices SA Bobde, S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari. 

Advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared for the petitioner, RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj.

He submitted that vacancies have not been filled despite directions by the Supreme Court to this effect, laid down in its the judgment of February 2019.

The Court, therefore, sought compliance status reports from the respondents states.

In its February 15 judgment, the Supreme Court had issued directions to bring in transparency in the process of appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners at the Central and State level.

With respect to the present vacancies, the Court has recommended for the same to be filled within six months.

As regards making the process of appointment of Information Commissioners transparent, the Court has directed for the details of the process to be uploaded on the website to make it public.

The Court has also directed the Search Committee to make the criteria for appointment public to ensure that the appointments are made objectively.

Another crucial direction pertains to the fields from which the candidates are selected. The Court stated that the shortlisted candidates should be from across various fields and not just from bureaucracy.

When the matter came up for hearing before Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan on July 27, the Centre was directed to file an affidavit indicating how many posts it proposes to fill up, as well as the time schedule within which the posts are to be filled up.

Apart from this, the Centre was also directed to reveal why it did not make any appointments to the CIC pursuant to an advertisement made back in 2016. Moreover, the Court also directed the Centre to give its response to a few prayers made in the petition, including revealing a short list of candidates.

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