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Appointment of Chief Information Commissioner

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Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory organizations.
  2. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

 

Appointment of Chief Information Commissioner

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About CIC and ICs- appointment, eligibility and other related key facts.
  • For Mains: Issues related to appointment of CIC and issues of transparency in appointment.

 

Why in News? RTI activists have termed the appointment of former Law Secretary Suresh Chandra as a Central Information Commissioner on January 1 an “arbitrary process” as he had not applied for the position.

 

What’s the issue?

DoPT had informed the Supreme Court that the search committee was to shortlist candidates “out of the applications received.” However, later it was found that shortlisting had been done outside the list of applicants, in violation of procedure laid out by the department in their own affidavit to the Supreme Court.

However, the department defends its move by saying that the search committee is not restricted to applicants, but to deserving candidates.

 

Need of the hour:

We need transparency at every stage, and public scrutiny to prevent such an arbitrary process. Centre and states to maintain transparency in appointments of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners and upload the details of search committees and applicants on website.

 

Basics about CIC:

What is the eligibility criteria and what is the process of appointment of CIC/IC?

Section 12(3) of the RTI Act 2005 provides as follows:

  1. The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
  2. The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
  3. A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

 

Eligibility:

Section 12(5) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.

Section 12(6) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.

 

What is the term of office and other service conditions of CIC?

Section 13 of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment.

Section 13(5)(a) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Discuss the key issues and constraints faced by CIC in implementing the RTI act effectively.