Appointment of Information Commissioners at CIC likely to be taken up soon
The NDA government at Centre has decided to go ahead with the appointment to the key statutory bodies like the Central Vigilance Commission, Lokpal, Central Information Commission and National Human Rights Commission following a communication from the Lok Sabha secretariat on the status of the Leader of Opposition (LoP). The Lok Sabha secretariat has informed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) that there is no recognised LoP in the Lower House.
The appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners is done by the President based on the recommendation of a three member Committee headed by the Prime Minister, wherein the LoP is a member. However, the CVC Act provides for the government can go ahead with these appointments even if the LoP is not recognised. Section 4 of CVC Act, 2003 says that “No appointment of a Central Vigilance Commissioner or a Vigilance Commissioner shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy in the Committee.” Nominations have been invited from eligible candidates as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar and Vigilance Commissioner J M Garg are due to retire this month.
The country is working without any Chief Information Commissioner since August 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. when Rajeev Mathur relinquished charge as his term had come to an end. However, the government has enough room to go ahead with the appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners as the RTI Act 2005 categorically points out that the leader of the single largest party in the opposition will be deemed as LoP.
Section 12 (3) of the RTI Act, 2005 provides that “The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of -
(i) the Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
(ii) the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
(iii) a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
Explanation to section 12(3) says, “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.”
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, too hint that “No appointment of a chairperson or a member shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy in the selection committee.”