Mango Man

Selection of Central Information Commissioners Deferred Again

By Subhash Chandra Agrawal

It refers to deferment of selection of Chief Information Commissioner and other three Information Commissioners at Central Information Commission (CIC) again when Appointment-Committee headed by Prime Minister could not make selection in a hurriedly called meeting on 23.05.2015 because Opposition Leader wanted extra time to go through the names put before the Committee. Despite selection-process for nine-month old vacancy being in progress for so many months, Opposition Leader was not timely briefed about shortlisted names made by search-panel headed by Union Cabinet Secretary.

It seems that meeting was called in a hurry because of a reserved verdict by Delhi High Court subsequent to hearing held on 21.05.2015 on the Public-Interest-Litigation (PIL) filed on the matter. Earlier the Court had observed that it had become a trend to make such important appointments only after intervention of the courts. Vacancy at these posts is resulting in ‘Information Delayed is Information Denied’. Another High Court verdict should set a trend whereby senior-most Commissioner at CIC may handle petitions relating to Chief Information Commissioner in case of vacancy at that post.

Best is to adopt a system whereby Commissioners at CIC may become Chief Information Commissioner according to seniority for one year. In case any senior-most Commissioner cannot complete one year as Chief Information Commissioner due to retirement-age, then next senior-most Commissioner may be given chance to become Chief Information Commissioner. Short-term Chief Information Commissioners are liability on the system when they devote much of their tenure as Chief Information Commissioner in availing Leave-Travel-Concession (LTC), utilising remaining leaves or attending conferences leaving only very few days for sitting at chair of Chief Information Commissioner.

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