SC gives centre six weeks to appoint three central information commissioners

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to appoint three information commissioners, within six weeks, from among the applicants who responded to two advertisements issued in 2014 and a notification issued on September 9, 2015.

Giving six weeks time as sought by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi for making the appointments, a bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice C. Nagappan said: “We have given you the time you have asked for, please try to make sure appointments are made.”

The court directed the listing of the matter after six weeks as counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for respondent R.K.Jain, told it that the central government had made a similar statement before the Delhi High Court also but actually made just one appointment of information commissioner as the senior most information commissioner was elevated as Chief Information Commissioner.

“Despite several clear assurances given to the Delhi High Court, they did not appoint and left three vacancies,” he said. At this, Justice Khehar reassuringly told him that now the matter was before the apex court.

At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General Rohatgi referring to section 12 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 told the court that the RTI act envisages “maximum of 10” central information commissioners as may be necessary and not the ten posts of the information commissioners.

Apparently unimpressed by the submission, Justice Khehar observed then “you can have one, two or even none”.

“Technically, the answer is yes,” Rohatgi said adding that things don’t happen that way.

Despite doubt expressed by Bhushan about the seriousness with which the central government was going about the matter, the court agreed to give six weeks’ time as the attorney general said that all those who had applied in pursuance to two advertisements issued in 2014 and in the wake of September 9 notification would be considered to fill the three vacancies.

The central government had moved the apex court challenging the Delhi Court’s November 6, 2015 verdict asking it to appoint three information commissioners within six weeks from the 553 applications who had applied for the post in pursuance to the February 25 and July 16, 2014 advertisements.

“The selection process pursuant to the circular dated September 9, 2015, shall be confined for selection and appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner in the vacancy that would arise with effect from December 2, 2015, and one information commissioner which is likely to arise with effect from December 2, 2015,” it had said.

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