Friday, September 14, 2012

Rules SC:Judges will head RTI panels now

The Central Information Commission (CIC) as well as State Information Commissions will now be headed by judges, courtesy a Supreme Court controversial judgment on Thursday that ended the actual tradition of retired bureaucrats gracing the actual statutory bodies constituted under the actual correct to Information 2005.

Going by the actual rule that the actual functions of the actual CIC as well as the actual State Information Commissions was necessarily judicial in nature, the actual apex court held, “Chief Information Commissioner at the actual Centre or State level shall only be a person who is or has been a Chief Justice of the actual High Court or a referee of the actual Supreme Court,” said a bench of Justices AK Patnaik as well as Swatanter Kumar. Such appointment shall be in consultation along the actual Chief Justice of India, it added.

The court further ruled that the actual Commissions at Centre as well as States would keep sittings in benches comprising of two members each, one being a judicial member as well as the actual other an expert member, drawn between persons of public eminence having wide knowledge as well as experience in law, science as well as technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media, or administration as well as governance. By stating so, the actual court held that the actual Centre may preferably consider appointing judges as well as lawyers as Information Commissioners as well.

While the actual slew of directions would require the actual Centre to suitably amend the actual RTI Act, particularly Sections 12(5), 12(6), 15(5) as well as 15(6) of the actual 2005 Act, the actual court directed the actual Centre to undertake this exercise at the actual earliest to bring it in consonance along the actual Constitutional mandate. It upheld the actual validity of the actual upward Sections of the actual Act with along the actual recommended changes.

The order of the actual court came on a PIL filed by one Namit Sharma, who pointed out that the actual role of CIC as well as State commissions under RTI being largely judicial work, interest of justice demanded having judicial members to head such bodies. Currently, none of the actual eight CIC members have a judicial background.

It found the actual duties of these statutory bodies to be largely adjudicatory in nature. It said, “They are required to distribute watch to the actual parties, proposal them the actual opportunity of hearing as well as pass reasoned orders.” In doing so, the actual court held, the actual authorities want to strike a stabilize among freedom under Article 19(1)(a) — correct to know, as well as Article 21 relating to correct to privacy.

Regarding appointment of expert members, the actual bench suggested drawing higher a panel of persons empanelled by DoPT or the actual concerned State Ministry, three months prior to the actual creation of vacancy.
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