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Why only bureaucrats on information panels, asks SC

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  2. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

 

Why only bureaucrats on information panels, asks SC

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About CIC- key facts.
  • For Mains: Issues associated, association of govt employees with the institution, the need for reforms.

 

Context: Supreme Court has observed that the Central Information Commission (CIC) and State Information Commissions have been places of government employees and their retired counterparts.

 

What’s the issue?

  1. There’s “official bias” in favour of bureaucrats and government employees in the process of appointment.
  2. In fact, the selection committee, which shortlists candidates for appointment, is itself composed of government employees.
  3. This is against the fundamental principles of the Right to Information Act of 2005 which itself requires people from varied domains to man the Commissions.
  4. Besides, the entire RTI mechanism has been choked by rising pendency and growing number of vacancies of Information Commissioners.

 

What next?

RTI law was enacted to ensure accountability in governance. The Commissions are meant to be the law’s eyes and hands to provide information to ordinary people.

Therefore, the apex court has directed the government to look beyond bureaucrats and appoint professionals from “all walks of life,” including eminent persons with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism as Information Commissioners.

 

About Central Information Commission (CIC):

Established in 2005 by Central Government under provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act (2005).

It acts upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests due to either the officer not having been appointed, or because the respective Officer refused to receive the application for information under the RTI Act.

Composition: The Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India.

Appointment: CIC and members are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

 

Sources: the hindu.