The Supreme Court on Friday said the post of a chief information commissioner is at a higher level than that of a chief election commissioner and that the appointment process for the CIC should at least be on the same terms as that of a CEC, reported PTI.
The court also told the government to fill existing vacancies in the state and central information commissions within six months. The court added that the process of filling the vacancies for information commissioners must begin two months before these places are filled, NDTV reported.
The bench, comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice S Abdul Nazeer is hearing a plea filed by Right to Information activists Anjali Bhardwaj, retired Commodore Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri. The activists allege that over 23,500 appeals and complaints are pending with the Central Information Commission, owing to the vacancies.
In July last year, the Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to file an affidavit containing its schedule for filling up positions in the Central Information Commission. It also ordered the governments of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Kerala, Odisha, and Karnataka to do the same for vacanices in the State Information Commissions.
‘Look beyond bureaucrats’
In December, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to disclose the process of appointment of the members of the Central Information Commission, and to maintain transparency in the process.
On January 30 this year, the court told the government that the commission and other bodies related to the Right to Information Act cannot exclusively be staffed by bureaucrats. Justice AK Sikri said the RTI Act mandates that people from various fields serve as information commissioners.
On Friday, the court again stressed this, saying the government needed to look beyond bureaucrats to fill the posts of information commissioners.