‘6 vacancies and 36,000 cases’: Activist moves SC for urgent hearing of plea on timely appointments to CIC
It is stated that the Centre is resorting to issuing fresh advertisements instead of filling all the advertised vacant posts, thereby causing undue delay in the appointments
An application for urgent hearing has been filed in the plea before the Supreme Court which seeks for timely and transparent appointment of Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission under the Right to Information Act, 2005, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.
Filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of activist Anjali Bhardwaj, the application asserts that six posts, including that of the Chief Information Commissioner, remain vacant as of 15th October, 2020.
"With the retirement of the Chief on 26.08.2020 and another commissioner demitting office in the end of September, 2020, currently 6 posts, including that of the Chief are lying vacant and the pendency of the appeals/complaints has risen to over 36,600", contends the application.
The application also refers to the non-compliance by the Central government of the order dated 16th December, 2019, wherein the Supreme Court had given three months to the Centre to fill the vacancies that existed in the CIC and directed for the matter to be listed
before the court on 25th March, 2020. It is submitted in the application that the number of vacancies has increased to 6, thereby frustrating the order of the Supreme Court as well as the citizens' fundamental right to information. It is also stated that the Centre is resorting to issuing fresh advertisements instead of filling all the advertised vacant posts, thereby causing undue delay in the appointments. "No reasons have been furnished by the Respondents as to why 4 vacancies were not filled pursuant to the advertisement dated 12.12.2019 and the order of this Hon'ble Court dated 16.12.2019 and instead after filling only one vacancy now this new advertisement dated 12.07.2020 has been put out," it says.
The application further underlines the failure of the State governments to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court rendered in judgment dated 15.02.2019 and refers to how State Information Commission of Maharashtra is functioning with only 5 Commissioners and there is a backlog of nearly 60,000 appeals/complaints. Similar situation exists in State of Odisha, it says. In light of the above, the application seeks for urgent hearing of the matter.