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RTI : Supreme Court Directs States To File Status Reports On Vacancies & Pendency In State Information Commissions

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
18 Aug 2021 10:21 AM GMT
RTI : Supreme Court Directs States To File Status Reports On Vacancies & Pendency In State Information Commissions
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the States to file status reports indicating the vacancy positions and pendency of appeals in the State Information Commissions.A bench comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari issued the direction in an application filed by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj seeking compliance on the part of the states with respect to the the directions issued...

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the States to file status reports indicating the vacancy positions and pendency of appeals in the State Information Commissions.

A bench comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari issued the direction in an application filed by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj seeking compliance on the part of the states with respect to the the directions issued by the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered in February 2019 as regards the posts and vacancies in SICs.

Today, the bench considered the position of various states on individual basis.

State of Maharashtra

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, informed the bench that Maharashtra was directed to increase the posts in SIC as 11 by the Supreme Court in the 2019 judgment. However, the SIC has only 8 posts and out of which 4 are remaining vacant. Bhushan further said that the pendency has risen to around 75,000 cases from around 40,000 in 2019.

The bench pulled up the State of Maharahstra for not filling the vacancies of State Information Commission. The bench told the state's counsel to ensure that the vacancies are filled within 3 weeks. On failure, the Chief Secretary will be summoned, the Court warned.

State of Karnataka

The State of Karnataka informed the bench that 8 out of 11 posts in SIC are filled and advertisements for the rest 3 vacancies have been published. The Court directed a status report to be filed on next date.

State of Odisha

The bench noted that the State of Odisha has created only 2 additional posts of Information Commissioners, though the Court directed creation of 3 additional posts. 4 ICs are working, and advertisements for CIC and one IC are published, the state's counsel submitted. The bench sought a  status report on next date.

State of Telangana

The bench noted that post of CIC in Telangana lying vacant for one year. When the state's counsel said that it is "due to COVID",  the bench expressed unhappiness. "COVID is only for your state?", bench asked. It directed Telangana to ensure appointment of CIC by next date.

State of Kerala

The State of Kerala told the bench that all posts (1 CIC + 5 ICs) in the SIC are filled. The bench asked why Kerala has not increased the posts to 11 as directed by the Court.

"Kerala needs more information commissioners. It is the most literate state. So there will be more RTI queries", the bench observed. The bench sought a status report from Kerala as well.

State of West Bengal

Noting that the State of West Bengal has not filed any affidavit, the bench directed filing of status report on pendency in SICs. It warned that it will impose costs or will summon Chief Secretary on its failure to file the report.

State of Nagaland

The bench noted that the post of Chief Information Commissioner is lying vacant since January 2021. The bench directed the filling up of the vacancy soon and file status report within 3 weeks.

State of Jharkhand

Adv Prashant Bhushan submitted that the  the Information Commission in Jharkhand has become "defunct" completely. The bench warned the Jharkhand counsel that it will summon Chief Secretary if it fails to fill the vacancies by the next date.

As regards State of Jharkhand, a separate writ petition was also filed seeking directions to fill up the SIC vacancies.  Advocate Tishampati Sen, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the SIC had become dysfunctional. The bench sought the state's response in the writ petition too.

State of Andhra Pradesh

The State of Andhra Pradesh informed that there are no vacancies in SIC. The bench asked for an affidavit to be filed.

The bench directed all other states to file the status reports on vacancies and pendencies in SICs. The matter will be heard next after three weeks.

(Case Title : Anjali Bhardwaj and others v.Union of India and others, M.A 1979/2019 in WP(c) 436.2018)

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