New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday directed the government to appoint three commissioners at the Central Information Commission (CIC) within six weeks from among the 553 applications received in response to two notifications issued last year, as the vacant posts have led to a massive backlog of cases.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said the September 9 circular of the Department of Personnel and Training inviting applications for appointment of Chief Information Commissioner (Chief IC) and Information Commissioners (ICs), shall be confined to the post of the transparency panel's head which would fall vacant from December 2.
Noting that apart from the three vacant IC posts, a fourth one is likely to fall vacant by December 2 if an IC is promoted as Chief IC, the court said the vacancy which would arise should also be filled up from the applications received in response to the circular.
"Instead of setting aside the notification dated September 9, we consider it appropriate to issue direction that the selection process that has already been commenced vide notifications dated February 25, 2014 and July 16, 2014 shall be finalised within six weeks from today and the three vacancies of Information Commissioners existing as of today shall be filled up from amongst the 553 applications that were received in response to the said two notifications.
"The selection process pursuant to the circular dated September 9 shall be confined for selection and appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner in the vacancy that would arise with effect from December 2, and one Information Commissioner which is likely to arise with effect from December 2, 2015,"the bench said.
In June this year, the senior-most IC Vijay Sharma was appointed as the Chief of the Commission and in his place, Sudhir Bhargava was appointed as the IC. The post of Chief IC was lying vacant for over 10 months.
The court's order came on a PIL filed by RTI activists R K Jain, Lokesh K Batra and Subhash Chandra Agarwal, who had alleged that no action has been taken on the issue despite two "distress" letters written by CIC to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).