New Delhi: The appointment of three Information Commissioners at the Central Information Commission will be made only after the Supreme Court’s verdict on a petition filed by the Centre in the matter.
“The government will wait for the Supreme Court decision in the case which is tentatively listed for January 4,” a senior official in Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.
The CIC, which is mandated to hear complaints and appeals from information seekers under the RTI Act, comprises a chief Commissioner and ten Information Commissioners. At present, there are seven Information Commissioners–Basant Seth, Yashovardhan Azad, Sharat Sabharwal, Manjula Parasher, M A Khan Yusufi, Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu and Sudhir Bhargava.
The government has been facing criticism from RTI activists over the delay in filling up the vacancies in the transparency watchdog.
The DoPT had in 2014 called for the advertisements to fill vacant posts of Chief Information Commissioner and Commissioners. Instead of filling all the posts from the applications received in response to these advertisements, the DoPT in September this year again invited applications for the posts.
In between, a panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on December 16 this year selected former Defence Secretary R K Mathur as the Chief Information Commissioner, breaking from the convention of appointing senior-most serving Information Commissioner as chief of the transparency panel.
After a High Court November six order that directed the central government to appoint CIC and ICs within six weeks from among the 553 applicants who had applied for the posts in response to its advertisements last year, the DoPT moved the apex court challenging it.
The Prime Minister-led selection committee has Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and leader of Congress Party in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge, as its members.
As per RTI Act, CIC is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the selection committee.
The Central Information Commission had been headless twice since the BJP government came into power in 2014. Earlier, it was without a chief for nearly 10 months after completion of the tenure of the then Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur in August 2014.
A total of 33,613 complaints and appeals are pending at the Commission, as per latest data.