Indian Group Asks Modi to Appoint Chief Commissioner

4 September 2014

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) has called for an end to the delay in appointing a new chief information commissioner.

The new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has postponed a decision “ostensibly because of the deadlock over leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha,” a letter to Modi notes, going on to say that this should not prevent an appointment.

Although the opposition leader is supposed to be involved in the selection process, the letter points out that the RTI Act “clearly specifies that in case no Leader of Opposition has been recognised, the leader of the single largest party in opposition in the Lok Sabha shall be deemed to be Leader of Opposition for the purpose of selecting Information Commissioners.”

The post has been unfilled since Aug. 22, the first vacancy since the law was passed in 2005.

The letter quotes Section 12(4) of the RTI Act about the duties of the chief information officer, commenting, “Clearly, the aforementioned section implies that the role of the Chief Information Commissioner is critical for the functioning of the Central Information Commission. The post of the Chief Information Commissioner being vacant, therefore, has the potential to adversely impact the effective functioning of the Commission.”

It adds, “Already there is a huge backlog in the Central Information Commission with close to 25,000 appeals and complaints pending in the Commission. Often people have to wait for more than a year for their appeals and complaints to be heard. The lack of a CIC will cause the pendency in the Commission to further increase.”

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