In a Press Release, the NCPRI has urged citizens to file RTI applications
In a Press Release, the NCPRI has urged citizens to file RTI applications raising the issue of delay in appointment of the chief information commissioner. The prime contents of the press release are given below:
NCPRI launches ‘Use RTI to Save RTI’ campaign
On the 9th anniversary of the RTI Act, the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) has launched the ‘Use RTI to Save RTI’ campaign urging people to file RTI applications on various issues of transparency and accountability which are being neglected by the government. NCPRI has identified the non-appointment of the Central Chief Information Commissioner, the delay in enacting the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Act, the non-appointment of the Lokpal and the lack of movement on introducing the Grievance Redress Bill as the key issues which will be taken up during the campaign.
As part of the campaign, Wajahat Habibullah, the first Central Chief Information Commissioner of India, filed RTI applications to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) regarding the post of the Chief Information Commissioner being vacant in the CIC. In his RTI applications, Habibullah sought copies of all documents/records held by the PMO and the DoPT related to the appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner in the Central Information Commission. He also asked whether the selection committee to appoint the Information Commissioner had been set up. It is for the first time since the enactment of the RTI Act in 2005, that the Commission is headless.
Former Central Information Commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi, also filed an RTI application to the DoPT seeking copies of proposals, correspondence, file notings or any other record held by the DoPT regarding the appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner for the Central Information Commission. Gandhi said that the performance of the government on issues of transparency will be judged on its actions and not mere words and speeches.
RTI activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Subhash Chandra Aggarwal also filed RTI applications. Anjali Bhardwaj filed RTI applications to the PMO and the DoPT, while Nikhil Dey filed an RTI application to the President’s office, to seek information on the action taken by the authorities on representations sent by concerned citizens on the issue of the appointment of the Commissioner. The activists said that the government was turning a blind eye to the various representations and had not replied to any of the letters. Subhash Chandra Aggarwal filed an RTI application to the Central Information Commission seeking information on the revised allocation of work since the retirement of the previous Central Chief Information Commissioner in August 2014. Several key public authorities including the PMO, Parliament, Supreme Court, all High Courts, Cabinet Secretariat, CVC, CAG and ministries of Power, Steel, Defence and HRD were assigned to the Chief Information Commissioner. Even today, the website of the CIC (cic.gov.in), states that RTI appeals and complaints against these public authorities will be heard by the Chief. As per information available on the website, it appears that in the absence of the Chief, these public authorities are being allowed to go scot-free for violating the RTI Act.
Over the coming few days, NCPRI will encourage people to file RTI applications on problems in the RTI regime and also the non-implementation of the Whistle Blower’s Protection Act, Lokpal Act and the delay in bringing in a comprehensive legislation for grievance redress.
An online petition addressed to the PM asking him to appoint the Chief Information Commissioner, has garnered almost 16,000 signatures (chn.ge/ZtKosE ). Vacancy in the Central Chief Information Commissioner’s post is unprecedented and unhealthy for the RTI regime in India. The NCPRI urges the government to immediately take steps to appoint the Chief Information Commissioner and ensure that peoples’ fundamental right to information is protected.
For any further information, please contact Amrita Johri (9810273984).