CIC may go headless from tomorrow

Central Information Commission, the country`s transparency watchdog, is likely to go headless from tomorrow as no decision on the successor of Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has been taken.

New Delhi: Central Information Commission,
the country`s transparency watchdog, is likely to go headless
from tomorrow as no decision on the successor of Chief
Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has been taken.

The new Chief Information Commissioner will be chosen by
a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of
Opposition and a minister of the Union Cabinet. The committee
has not met to decide on the issue.
Habibullah, who demits office today, told PTI that Chief
Information Commissioner is the administrative head of the
transparency panel and all related works will come to a
standstill until his successor is appointed.

The Chief Information Commissioner will, however,
authorise some Information Commissioner to keep hearing
appeals and complaints against the departments which were
under him.

Habibullah is looking after the CBI, Cabinet
Secretariat, the CIC, the CVC, Higher Education, PMO, Supreme
Court and High Courts among others.

According to the RTI Act, the Chief Information
Commissioner can only be selected by the Committee hence the
charge cannot be handed over to any other Information
Commissioner at the CIC even temporarily.

When contacted, the Prime Minister`s Office said that no
meeting on the issue has been scheduled as of now.

Meanwhile, all but one Information Commissioners have
passed a resolution saying the new CIC should be from among
them.
"The Commissioners wish to reiterate and emphasise that
the successor to Shri Habibullah should be found from within
the Commission," the resolution passed by seven Information
Commissioners said. It did not get the support of Information
Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi who put his dissent on record
while Habibullah abstained.

"If the Chief Information Commissioner were to be
appointed from outside the Commission, it will not only run
contrary to the healthy conventions established in such
collegial bodies as the Supreme Court, CEC and UPSC , but will
also be extremely demoralising for those already serving the
Commission with the exemplary dedication," the resolution
said.

It said selection of any one as the CIC from outside the
Commission would also amount to uncritical acceptance of the
loud clamour of certain vociferous interested groups as
rational wisdom.

If any of the Information Commissioners is appointed
from within the CIC the term of their office shall not be more
than five years in aggregate as the Information Commissioner
and the Chief Information Commissioner.

PTI

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