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Dismal picture of Information Commissions (ICs) in India

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    14th Oct, 2023

Context:

The 'Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India 2022-23' by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) provides a dismal picture as the number of states with defunct Information Commissions, Pendency rising and headless commissions.

Findings of the Report:

  • Period: The analysis of the criteria was from a period between July 2022 and June 2023.
  • Defunct ICs: Showed that Information Commissions are "completely defunct" in Jharkhand (37 months), Tripura (27 months), Telangana (7 months) and Mizoram (ten days).
  • Headless states: The CIC and Information Commissions in five states;
    • Manipur (56 months),
    • Chhattisgarh (since December 2022),
    • Maharashtra (since April),
    • Bihar (since May) and
    • Punjab (since September)
  • Pendency of Cases: West Bengal with a pendency of 11,871 cases would take around 24 years and one month to dispose of an appeal filed on July 1 this year.
    • Uttar Pradesh which has 27,163 pending cases may take seven months to clear an appeal and
    • Karnataka with 41,047 pending cases may take one year and 11 months.
    • Maharashtra with the highest pendency of 11 lakh cases may take four years.
  • Reasons: One of the primary reasons for the backlogs is the failure of central and state governments to take timely action to appoint information commissions to the Central Information Commission and state information commissions.
  • Penalties: The report also noted that Information Commissions did not impose penalties in 91 per cent of the cases where penalties were potentially imposable.
    • In terms of penalty imposition, of the 23 commissions which provided relevant information, penalty was imposed in a total of 8,074 cases.
    • Penalty amounting to Rs.15.37 crore was imposed by 23 commissions during the period under review.
  • State-wise Appeals and Complaints: The SIC of Karnataka registered 30,207 appeals and complaints, while Uttar Pradesh registered 29,637 and the CIC registered 20,083 appeals/complaints.

About Information Commissions (ICs):

  • CIC is a statutory body constituted under section 12 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • Similar to CIC, SIC is also a statutory body constituted under section 15 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • The Central Information Commission shall consist of the Chief Information Commissioner and such number of Central Information Commissioners not exceeding 10 as may be deemed necessary.

What does Information Commission do?

The main objectives of CIC and SIC are:

  • To exercise the powers conferred on them under the RTI Act, 2005.
  • To receive and inquire into complaints from any citizen (Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005).
  • To receive and decide upon the second appeal from any citizen (Section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005).
  • To perform the duty of “Monitoring and Reporting "(Section 25 of the RTI Act, 2005).

Features

CIC

SIC

Composition

 

CIC consists of a Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners.

SIC consists of a State Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten State Information Commissioners.

Appointment

 

They are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.

They are appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of a committee consisting of-Chief Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, and a State Cabinet Minister nominated by the Chief Minister.

 

Removal

 

 

The President can remove the members of CIC and the Governor can remove the members of SIC from the office under the following circumstances:

  • If the member is adjudged as an insolvent
  • If the Central government (for CIC) /Governor (for SIC) holds him responsible for an offense involving moral turpitude/ or he is convicted for such an offense.
  • If he engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office
  • If he is declared unfit by reason of infirmity of mind or body, by the President (for CIC)/Governor (for SIC).

The President/Governor can also remove the members on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. In such cases, the President (for CIC)/Governor (for SIC) has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry. After the enquiry, if the Supreme Court upholds the cause of removal and advises so, then the President (for CIC) /Governor (for SIC) can remove him.

During the inquiry by the Supreme Court the President (for CIC)/Governor (for SIC) may suspend the member from office or prohibit him from attending the office.

Verifying, please be patient.

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