Contempt notice to Centre for failure to fill CIC



New Delhi: The Delhi High Court sought on Wednesday the Centre's stand on a plea to begin contempt proceedings against it for its failure to comply with a court order to fill all the vacant posts of information commissioners in the Central Information Commission.

Issuing notice to the secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on the plea by a tranparency activist R K Jain, Justice Vipin Sanghi asked the official to file a status report by July 30, the next date of hearing.

Jain's contempt petition, filed through advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, accused the government of not complying with the court's February 15 and March 20 orders to fill up CIC vacancies.

Jain's petition said despite mounting backlog of cases and high court orders, the Centre till March was able to fill only three of the five posts, which fell vacant out of a total 10 posts of Information Commissioners (ICs) in the CIC. The remaining two posts were to be filled immediately, as per directions of the high court so that the RTI panel's work would not suffer but nothing has been done, the petition said.

Another commissioner is due to retire in July and the number of vacant posts will become three, the petitioner said.

While hearing the PIL earlier, the court had directed the Centre to fill all the ICs' posts after it told the court that it had filled up three out of the five vacant posts and sought more time for framing of recruitment rules for appointment of subordinate staff in the CIC.

Though the court granted it a month's extension for framing the rules, it emphasized that the remaining two posts of IC be filled up immediately.

The petition said "despite two letters written by the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the panel is not complete with total number of commissioners."

The PIL had sought filling of posts of ICs and subordinate staff, including secretarial staff, in a time-bound manner.

PTI