The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why the Central Information Commission and other bodies related to the Right to Information Act, were staffed almost exclusively by bureaucrats. Justice AK Sikri said the RTI Act mandates that people from various fields serve as information commissioners, The Hindu reported.

“A range of people could be appointed to the Information Commissions, but only retired bureaucrats are appointed,” Sikri told Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, who represented the government. He said out of 280 applications for the Information Commissioner’s post, 14 were shortlisted, and they were almost all bureaucrats. “There were names who were not bureaucrats, but not one of them were appointed,” he added.

The bench, also comprising Justice Abdul Nazeer, was hearing a petition by RTI activist Anjali Bharadwaj, on vacant posts in information commissions and pending cases there. The petitioner has also called for people from other fields to be appointed to information commissions.

In response, Anand said that the appointments were “not done in a hurry” and those appointed are “eminently suitable people”.

Sachdeva said that in West Bengal, cases filed in 2008 are being decided now, PTI reported. He added that as per Supreme Court orders in December, the Centre should have put on the commission’s website the names of members of selection panel, candidates who have been shortlisted and the criteria which was followed for selection. However, he said this was done only after four information commissioners had been selected. “Transparency in the entire process is required,” he added.

The bench asked the counsels for West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh to file affidavits within three days, giving details of the steps they have taken to fill up vacancies in information commissions.