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Govt to score an own goal on CIC monitoring

By IndianMandarins- 02 Apr 2019


The government has set out to score an own goal by reportedly proposing to establish official committees that would sit and decide on complaints against the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs).


A proposal to this effect was reportedly sent to the CIC late last month to solicit its views on the issue.


The CIC has reportedly opposed the move on the ground that enough provisions exist to check any misdemeanor on its part. Section 14(1) of RTI Act provides safety to the CIC and ICs by stipulating that they can be removed only by the President after the Supreme Court, on a Presidential reference, has, on inquiry, called for the removal.


Under the proposal mooted, two committees - one, to receive and decide on complaints against the CIC and a second one for complaints against Information Commissioners - may be constituted.


The committee to monitor the CIC functioning is proposed to include the Cabinet Secretary; Secretary, DoPT; and a retired CIC. For ICs, the committee will include Secretary (Coordination) in the Cabinet Secretariat; Secretary, DoPT; and a retired IC.


The present convention is that when there is a complaint against any Information Commissioner, it is placed in the Commission’s meeting. Normally, the CIC attends to complaints against ICs and if there is a complaint against the CIC, it is attended to by the sitting Information Commissioners.


Reports said on March 27, the full Commission — the CIC plus at least five ICs — discussed the proposal sent by the DoPT and rejected it unanimously.


The Information Commissioners, including the CIC, carry the same status as judges of the Supreme Court and are appointed by the President of India based on recommendations of a committee chaired by the Prime Minister and including the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the PM.

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