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PIL FILED IN GUJARAT HIGH COURT FOR APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF IC AND ICs


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I am attaching judgment of Gujarat HC for appointment of 2 information commissioner temporarily to clear backlog.

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akhilesh yadav

RTI activists see hope in HC order to appoint 2 more ICs

 

 

Reported by Kumar Anand in indianexpress.com on August 23, 2012

RTI activists see hope in HC order to appoint 2 more ICs - Indian Express

 

Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) on August 14, the Gujarat High Court (HC) directed the state government to appoint two more information commissioners (IC) at the office of the state Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) to clear the piling-up secondary appeals and complaints under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

This was not for the first time the HC ordered the state government to fill the vacant posts at CIC office. Since 2005, when the RTI Act came into effect, the office has started functioning with minimal strength, resulting in the number of unresolved cases under RTI having now swelled to 10,080, which RTI activists say include some crucial informations and reflects state government’s non-committal attitude towards transparency in governance.

With the government now asked to make two additional appointment of the state information commissioner, the strength for the office of the state CIC will go up to five, including the CIC. For the state that started the office with just one CIC in 2005, this will be the highest number so far.

“Other states of similar size have six to nine officers to look after appeals and complaints filed under the RTI,” Prafull Desai, a senior citizen, whose PIL resulted in the HC directing the government to fill vacant posts, said, adding, “Even in Goa, a relatively smaller state, there are four officers.

 

As per RTI Act, a maximum 10 information commissioners can be appointed by the government based on the requirements.

“The government is not transparent because it has stalled the process of giving information. By keeping inadequate strength of commissioners, the process of giving information is stalled, resulting in a huge number of secondary appeals and complaints under RTI Act pending for five years or more,” Desai said.

The first PIL to this effect was filed by an RTI activist Amit Jethwa in 2008, resulting in the HC directing the government to appoint two information commissioners, taking the total strength at the office of the CIC to three. Jethwa was murdered in 2010 for seeking transparency in governance and blowing lid off corrupt practices of political leaders.

When in 2011, the then state chief information commissioner Rabi Narayan Das retired, the post fell vacant for nearly five months. During the same period, one of the two state information commissioners also retired, resulting in the department being run by just one state information commissioner.

In September 2011, another PIL seeking appointment of the vacant post was filed, but the government appointed two vacant posts during the course of proceedings. The PIL sought appointment of seven more officers, looking at the rising arrears of complaints and appeals, which then stood at around 8,000.

The latest PIL, filed in February 2012, sought appointment of additional information commissioners to clear backlog, which resulted in the High Court directing the government to make two more appointments.

“It’s a way of denial of information by state government,” RTI activist Rohit Prajapati said. “When information is not shared under RTI Act within the stipulated 30 days, one is forced to appeal to the CIC office, where there is no time limit to seek information. The applications languish there for years, eventually becoming irrelevant,” he said.

“A large number of secondary appeals pending with the CIC office seek some crucial informations pertaining to powerful government officials and industrialists, many seeking information from Chief Minister’s Office itself,” he said.

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