NEW DELHI—The government will not delay the appointment of information commissioners to the Central Information Commission (CIC), said Jitendra Singh, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office and personnel.
Singh was speaking at the annual convention of the CIC in New Delhi on Friday.
The CIC is the final adjudicating authority for Right To Information (RTI) applications. RTI users file appeals with the CIC when lower public officials do not provide information.
The government is “very conscious” of the fact that four positions, including that of the Chief Information Commissioner, will be vacant soon, said Singh.
Chief Information Commissioner RK Mathur is set to retire in November.
“We are very conscious that we should go ahead with this exercise (of appointing commissioners). We are not going to hold back or delay such appointments,” said Singh.
The issue of appointments at the CIC has been a cause for concern, and civil society groups and activists have accused the government of not appointing information commissioners fast enough, allowing the backlog of appeals to pile up at the CIC. This, critics say, has rendered the RTI ineffective. The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information has moved court on the issue and the Supreme Court is currently considering the matter.
Singh also requested RTI users to avoid filing “avoidable” RTIs.
Wary of repeating last year’s controversy, which erupted soon after he said RTI was being turned into a “nuisance”, this time he said, “I have a request. Can we conceive a possibility where the avoidable RTIs could be avoided?”
This, he said, would improve the disposal rate of RTI applications and decrease pendency rate.
“While filing an RTI application, one should introspect, in all conscience, is it a case of RTI for the sake of RTI?” said the minister.