The senior most information commissioner can hear a case in the absence of the Chief
Hearing a writ petition filed by Sushila Kumari, Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the Delhi High Court has ruled that in the absence of the Chief Information Commissioner, the senior most Information Commissioner at the Central Information Commission (CIC) can hear the cases.
The post of Chief Information Commissioner has been lying vacant since the last incumbent Rajiv Mathur superannuated in August 2014. Thereafter, all the RTI appeals and complaints relating to PMO, defence ministry and Ministry of HRD have been pending and their number was swollen up to 14,000. The case of Sushila Kumari was one of those still to come up for hearing in the absence of Chief Information Commissioner. Justice Rajiv Shakdher ruled that "I am of the view that the present arrangement would lead to a backlog in the disposal of the matters filed before the Central Information Commission. This arrangement will, broadly, jeopardise the interest of those querists who seek information pertaining to defence matters. Therefore, the writ petition is disposed with a direction that the petitioner's pending appeal would be taken up for adjudication by the senior most information commissioner. The information commissioner will attempt to dispose of the appeal as expeditiously as possible, though, not later than 10 weeks from today.
As per Section 12(4) of the RTI Act, “The general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the Central Information Commission shall vest in the Chief Information Commissioner who shall be assisted by the Information Commissioners and may exercise all such powers and do all such acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Central Information Commission autonomously without being subjected to directions by any other authority under this Act.”