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Govt directed to fill vacant posts of SICs

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Jabalpur, Sep 18: Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the State Government to submit a report on the action taken for appointment of vacant posts of State Information Commissioners (SICs) as per the provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

 

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Anang Kumar Patnaik and Justice Ajeet Singh while hearing the petition of Sunil Kumar Tiwari of Bhopal, challenging the State's inaction for appointment of State Information Commissioners, as per the RTI Act, issued the directives to Administration Department to file their reply within four weeks time.

 

Petitioner's counsel submitted before the Court that provisions of RTI Act states about mandatory appointment of 10 State Information Commissioners but the Information Commissioner had not made suitable recommendations for any such appointment to the appointing authority, the Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

 

The counsel contended that due to non-appointment of State Information Commissioner the pendency of appeal under RTI Act has increased and public is suffering.

 

The petitioner prayed the Court to issue directives to the officials concerned to complete the formalities and necessary procedure for appointment of State Information Commissioner to fill the vacant posts as soon as possible. In the matter, the Court on August 13 had directed the State Government to furnish details of all the required steps taken in the direction of appointment of State information Commissioners vacant posts.

 

Central Chronicle--Madhya Pradesh

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Inadequacy of ICs/other staff is one of the excuses generally possed by certain SICs. For Example in the writtem reply furnished it to me, the Kerala SIC has replied that hehas 4 ICs including its chief, a Secretary, a Legal Advisor, SPIO and ASPIO, separate staff for each ICs. I have personally seen 4 Clerks, PAs, 5 Peons, Security staff and Car Drivers, a centrally air conditioned office, a separate web site and modern office infrastructures which can make a multi-national company envy. Still complaints of more than 18 months are pendingwith them. Even my own 25 complaints/second appeals pending; some of which are more than 1 year old. When the dismal performance of theSIC is complained to His Excellency the Governor of Kerala, the "Hindu" so far silent has come out with an halfpage article painting a very rosy picture of RTI in Kerala and the next day the SIC hold a Press meeting amd re-affirm in a line what is stated in the Hindu article. In addition he claims that the complaints/second appeals are promptly attended to despite SHORTAGE OF MAN POWER. I don't think that the SIC has projected his problem to theChief Minister of Governor other than spreading disinformation justifying his dismal performance publicly Any solution to the above state of affairs ?

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Colonel Sir,

It is possible that the "Hindu" might have mistaken the plush condition of the SIC office to paint a rosy picture of RTI in Kerala. Or it might have been an "inspired" article to counter your complaint to the Governor. Did you promptly send a rejoinder to the Hindu disputing their claims. If it did not work, I think you may have to hold a press conference yourself to counter this disinformation.

 

Alternatively you can also write periodical letters to the ediors of various news papers highlighting all these dismal features. This technique was advised to me by the late Shri M R Pai (of Forum of Free Enterprise) thirty years ago when the consumer movement was in its beginning stage. In many instances, it has really worked wonders for me.

 

You can also consider moving a PIL in Kerala on the lines of Sunli Kumar Tiwari of Bhopal.

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I had gone through all those stages except PIL which I donot want to indulge for many reasons including my mindset as an old soldier. In all cases my various methods were working and I could get what Iwish to have. But in the case of RTI, nothing seems working. There appears a strong stone wall just in front of me. You maynot believe that the journalist who wrote the rosy article had earlier send words that he is keen to meet me. May be by knowing my sturn principles he dared not approach me. One year back there was a meeting arrrnged at Tellicherry where the SIC Mr.Pallat Mohanas and another IC attended. On entering the hall the first thing Mr.Palat Mohandas the SIC did was enquiring of me and coming to me. Had few niceties and he told me that I should meet his Secretary who had also accompanied him. Of cource the whole lot vanished just after he spoke givinmg me no chance to interact.

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I am very sorry to hear that you had already gone through all the other stages of external activism without any of them yieldong any fruitful result. May I venture to make one more suggestion. You have to build up an army of several youngsters to carry on this fight under your guidance(in case you had not already done it). I know an officer of your background will never give up. The present battle might have been lost. But the war is still on.

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Petitioner's counsel submitted before the Court that provisions of RTI Act states about mandatory appointment of 10 State Information Commissioners but the Information Commissioner had not made suitable recommendations for any such appointment to the appointing authority, the Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

 

 

Section 15(2) of the RTI Act states that The State Information Commission shall consist of—

(a) the State Chief Information Commissioner, and

(b) such number of State Information Commissioners, not exceeding ten, as may be deemed necessary.

So I am curious as to the basis of the reported claim by Petitioner's Counsel that the RTI Act requires the mandatory appointment of 10 SICs. Is he claiming that because of the backlog, all 10 have to be definitely "deemed necessary"?

 

Further, the statement about "the Information Commissioner" failing to recommend names is so far off from the stipulations of section 15(3) that it has to be a gross transcription error at the newspaper.

 

regards,

SomeGuy

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This is an old news report that appeared nearly two years ago. If you are really curious, you may to take up the matter directly with the peitioner's counsel and also the Central Chronicle. Good luck.

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