The Central Information Commission is headless today
With the Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur relinquishing his charge yesterday, the Chief Information Commission has been rendered headless. The appointment of new chief of Central Information Commission (CIC) has been kept in abeyance due to the absence of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the selection committee leaving the CIC without a head for the first time since its beginning in 2005.
As per section 12 (3) of the RTI Act, 2005, “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.
Thus, in the absence of the Leader of Opposition, the appointment of the new incumbent could not be named who would take charge from the sixth Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur. The former chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Mathur had taken charge on May 22, 2014 and relinquished the charge on attaining the age of 65.
The pressing question before the government is when the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha has not been recognised as such, should the leader of the single largest group in opposition of the Government be taken on board as a part of the selection committee? The delays in appointment of important positions in the statutory bodies would prove costly for the system and a workable solution has to be found at the earliest.
Appointment of Lokpal too requires the presence of LoP and in this regard, a bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha of the Supreme Court has asked the Government to clarify its stand. The bench has asked a reply in two weeks about the issue of interpreting the provision of LoP in the matter of selection of statutory bodies when there is no recognised LoP.