The Supreme Court has directed the Central government to place on record the latest information on the appointment of Information Commissioners, vacancies and pendency of cases in the Central Information Commission (CIC).
About Central Information Commission (CIC):
- The Central Information Commission is a statutory body,
- It set up under the Right to Information Act in 2005 under the Government of India to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not have been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the Right to Information Act.
- it is not a constitutional body.
- The Central Information Commission is a high-powered independent body which inter alia looks into the complaints made to it and decide the appeals. It entertains complaints and appeals pertaining to offices, financial institutions, public sector undertakings, etc., under the Central Government and the Union Territories.
- The commission includes one chief information commissioner and not more than ten information commissioners who are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson,
- the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister. Two women have been chief information commissioners: Deepak Sandhu (fourth chief information commissioner overall) and Sushma Singh (fifth overall).
- The Commission consists of a Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners.
- The Commission, when constituted initially, had five commissioners including the Chief Information Commissioner. At present (2019), the Commission has six Information Commissioners apart from the Chief Information Commissioner.
- They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
- They should be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
- They should not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory.
- They should not hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
TENURE AND SERVICE CONDITIONS
The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain the age of 65 years,
whichever is earlier. They are not eligible for reappointment . The President can remove the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner from the office under the
- if he is adjudged an insolvent; or
- if he has been convicted of an offence which (in the opinion of the President) involves a moral turpitude; or
- if he engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
- if he is (in the opinion of the President) unfit to continue in office due to infirmity of mind or body; or
- if he has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his official functions.
In addition to these, the President can also remove the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. However, in
these cases, the President has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry. If the Supreme Court, after the enquiry, upholds the cause of removal and advises so, then the President can remove him.
The salary, allowances and other service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall be such as prescribed by the Central Government. But, they cannot be varied to his disadvantage during service.
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS
The powers and functions of the Central Information Commission are:
- It is the duty of the Commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person:
- who has not been able to submit an information request because of non-appointment of a Public Information Officer;
- who has been refused information that was requested;
- who has not received response to his information request within the specified time limits;
- who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable;
- who thinks information given is incomplete, misleading or false; and
- Any other matter relating to obtaining information.
- The Commission can order inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo-moto power).
- While inquiring, the Commission has the powers of a civil court in respect of the following matters:
- summoning and enforcing attendance of persons and compelling them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce documents or things;
- requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;
- receiving evidence on affidavit;
- requisitioning any public record from any court or office;
- issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents; and
- any other matter which may be prescribed.
- During the inquiry of a complaint, the Commission may examine any record which is under the control of the public authority and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds. In other words, all public records must be given to the Commission during inquiry for examination.
- The Commission has the power to secure compliance of its decisions from the public authority. This includes:
- providing access to information in a particular form;
- directing the public authority to appoint a Public Information Officer where none exists;
- publishing information or categories of information;
- making necessary changes to the practices relating to management, maintenance and destruction of records;
- enhancing training provision for officials on the right to information;
- (f ) seeking an annual report from the public authority on compliance with this Act;
- requiring the public authority to compensate for any loss or other detriment suffered by the applicant;
- imposing penalties under this Act ; and
- rejecting the application.
- The Commission submits an annual report to the Central Government on the implementation of the provisions of this Act. The Central Government places this report before each House of Parliament.
- When a public authority does not conform to the provisions of this Act, the Commission may recommend (to the authority) steps which ought to be taken for promoting such conformity.
Source: The Hindu