How to appoint a CIC even if there is no Leader of the Opposition

A Committee comprising PM and the Leader of Opposition, recommends CICs names. Since, at present there is no Leader of Opposition, a recently-retired CIC has not been replaced. How to get around it?

 

There is some discussion about the fact that the replacement for the Chief Information Commissioner who retired last week cannot be appointed since the Leader of Opposition is missing. This is flawed since Section 12 (3) of the RTI Act clearly says :

 
 

(3) The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—

  1. (i) the Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
  2. (ii) the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
  3. (iii) a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
Explanation.—For the purposes of removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that where the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People has not been recognised as such, the Leader of the single largest group in opposition of the Government in the House of the People shall be deemed to be the Leader of Opposition.
Hence the leader of the single largest group can certainly be chosen and the government should stop dithering on this.
 
 
However it may be useful to consider the caliber of Commissioners appointed by this process and question it. The present Commissioners are not delivering and presently they are usually selected as a reward in dispensation of patronage.  The average disposal per Commissioner is less than 2300 annually, though its website states that there is a norm of clearing 3200 cases by each commissioner.  There is a need to set up a transparent rational process for selecting commissioners and getting them to be accountable. We should also demand that atleast 30% of the commissioners should be well recognized RTI activists so that the citizens perspective remains in the commission.  The writer suggests the following process for selection:
 

1. The Government should advertise openings to appoint Information Commissioners depending on the need atleast six months in advance. Some proper criteria must be developed for this. Eminent individuals could apply or be nominated by others.
 
2. A pre-selection committee consisting of (possibly) two members of Parliament, Chief Information  Commissioner, one Vice Chancellor, one Supreme Court judge and two RTI activists could be formed to shortlist a panel which could be three times the number of Commissioners to be selected. These could be announced with the minutes of the meeting at which the short listing is done.  
                                 
3. An interview should be conducted by the search committee in public view, to give citizens and  media the opportunity to hear the views of the prospective candidates. Citizens could give feedback and views to the pre-selection committee. Subsequently the comittee could present its recommendation for twice the number of Commissioners to be appointed. Based on these  inputs, the final decision to select the Commissioners could be taken by the Committee as per the Act consisting of Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and one Minister.  (A similar process could be adopted for State Commissions with MLAs instead of MPs and High Court  judge instead of Supreme Court judge).

 

(Shailesh Gandhi served as Central Information Commissioner under the RTI Act, 2005, during 18 September 2008 to 6 July 2012. He is a graduate in Civil Engineering from IIT-Bombay. Before becoming a full time RTI activist in 2003, he sold his packaging business. In 2008, he was conferred the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Award for civil liberties.)

Comments
Capt Edgar Sylva
7 years ago
Why not Shailesh Gandhi as CIC- he was a IC who was approved by all parties so where is the problem.
VijayTrimbakGokhale
7 years ago
It is incorrect to say that a Committee comprising PM and the Leader of Opposition, recommends CICs names.

As per Sc. 12(3) of RTI act 2005 the members of the recommending committee are PM, Leader of opposition and a Union Cabinet minister to be nominated by PM.

It is also incorrect to say that the replacement for the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), who retired last week cannot be appointed since the Leader of Opposition (LoP) is missing. RTI Act by way of explanation to above section clarifies that for the purposes of removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that where the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People has not been recognised as such, the Leader of the single largest group in opposition of the Government in the House of the People shall be deemed to be the Leader of Opposition. So in so far as appointment of CIC/ICs is concerned there is no difficulty .
shailesh gandhi
Replied to VijayTrimbakGokhale comment 7 years ago
I have made an error in my piece and am grateful to Mr. Vijay Trimbak Gokhale for giving the correct position. I apologise for my error
Dev
7 years ago
The opposition leader should be a leader from the combined opposition and not of a leader of the single largest party.
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