Reforms necessary in appointment-procedure of Central Information Commissioners

MADHU AGRAWALGuinness Record Holder for letters in Newspapers
It was for the first time that Central Information Commission (CIC) became a headless body after Rajiv Mathur retired on 22.08.2014. Media-reports that decision on a new Chief Information Commissioner could not be timely taken because of absence of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha are not correct, because RTI Act provides leader of largest opposition-party in Lok Sabha (and not a recognized LoP) as member of three-member selection body also comprising of Prime Minister and another minister.

CIC in past less than a year witnessed three Chief Information Commissioners of short durations which also included their absence for availing LTC, personal leave and tours, thus giving very short days of their actual working making work at CIC suffer a lot. Since no fresh work-allocation was done during tenure of Rajiv Mathur as Chief Information Commissioner because of his short tenure, his retirement without a successor virtually resulted in increased pendency of cases at CIC with workload of two Commissioners. Since Chief Information Commissioner is also involved in various administrative manners, work at CIC almost came to a standstill in absence of a Chief Information Commissioner.

Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) should adopt a system whereby Chief Information Commissioners may be appointed by rotation for one year from amongst serving Central Information Commissioners according to seniority like the system exists at Faculty of Management Studies (Delhi University) in appointment of Dean of the Faculty.

With heavy pendency at Central Information Commission and ever-increasing popularity of RTI Act, Central Information Commission should always work with full sanctioned strength of eleven Commissioners including Chief Information Commissioner. New Central Information Commissioners should be appointed much in advance of retirement of any Commissioner, like exists in system for appointment of Election Commissioners.

Rather Chief Justices of Supreme Court and High Courts should also be appointed by rotation amongst judges for one year by seniority to avoid cases like tenure of Chief Justice of India varying from very short 17 days to extra-long 2696 days!