Opposition Party Slams Modi Government on CIC Vacancy

7 May 2015

Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “blatant U-turn” on the issue of transparency, according to news reports such as one in the Economic Times and another in the Hindustan Times.

She said May 6 in Parliament that Modi’s government is “deliberately” not filling the post of Chief Information Commissioner to “subvert the RTI Act.”

Ghandi “lamented that the CIC post was lying vacant for over eight months and the posts of three Information Commissioners for over a year, resulting in the backlog of 39,000 cases,” it was reported.

“The PM in the election campaign made many fraudulent promises about transparency. And continues to do so. In a blatant U-turn, his government, through the absence of a Chief Information Commissioner, has made sure that the highest offices are not accountable under the RTI Act,” she said. “Citizens no longer have the right to question the government,” she added.

The Congress president accused the government of “brutally weakening” the RTI Act.

“Information delayed is information denied. This is simply not acceptable. Protecting wrongdoers cannot be part of any government ethos,” she said, recalling Modi’s promises of transparency and good governance. Vacancies at the Central Vigilance Commission, the Lokpal (anti-corruption office) and the Election Commission were also cited.

The Delhi high court recently asked the most senior information commissioner to hear a case in the absence of chief information commissioner, according to an article in The Times of India.

The court said in the absence of the chief information commissioner, backlog will jeopardize the interest of RTI applicants, and the most senior commissioner can discharge the CIC’s duties. Justice Rajiv Shakdher granted relief to RTI applicant Sushila Kumari, who said she has been waiting to be heard at CIC since Aug. 22, 2014, when the chief information commissioner’s post went vacant.

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