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The Supreme Court today 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.
In the PIL filed by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, the Bench of Justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer issued some general directions for the process.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared for the petitioner.
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.
In order to ensure that a post does not lie vacant for a long time, the Court has directed for the process of filling up of a vacancy to be initiated two months prior to the date on which the post is likely to be vacated.
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.
In its affidavit filed on August 27, the Centre stated it has published an advertisement calling for applications for the posts of Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission at New Delhi.
As regards its failure to make appointments pursuant to a 2016 advertisement, the Centre has included in the affidavit an extremely vague reply. Suffice to say, it did not answer the question.
Quite surprisingly, the affidavit instead made a reference to the Centre’s intention to amend the RTI Act, a move that did not go down well with civil society.
Read the judgment below.