Ad-hoc appointment of Information Commissioners in Gujarat SIC
To clear the backlog of appeals before the Gujarat State Information Commission (SIC), a bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala of the Gujarat High Court has directed the state government to fill the vacant posts of Information Commissioner in the SIC on an ad-hoc basis within two months.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Prafull Desai wherein directions were sought from the High Court to fill up all posts of Information Commissioners to enable the quick disposal of appeals, the HC ordered the state government to appoint the Information Commissioners for the disposal of the large volume of appeals filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
A committee headed by the Chief Minister and including the leader of the opposition in the state legislature finalises the names of the candidates and recommends them to the governor for appointment. The Gujarat SIC has three information commissioners including the Chief Information Commissioner, and two posts are vacant.
On confirmation from the government that there is no provision for settlements in the RTI Act, the High Court sought the explanation from the government on conducting Lok Adalats to settle appeals filed under the RTI Act.
In our view, the Gujarat state should make use of this order and expedite the process to appoint the Information Commissioners for the full term as ad-hoc appointment would dilute the implementation of the Act. The other states should also ensure that vacancies are filled at the earliest.