- Notice over vacant posts of Information Commissioners
- Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Kerala among states served notice
- The vacancies have created a huge backlog in RTI responses
The centre and eight states were pulled up today by the Supreme Court over a delay in appointing top officials who are expected to oversee requests under the Right to Information law. The vacancies have created a huge backlog in RTI responses.
"Why are appointments are not made despite huge backlog?" the Supreme Court asked, demanding that the states and the Centre file their response.
The petition in the case alleged that the Centre and the states -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha, and Telengana -- were trying to "stifle" the landmark transparency law by neglecting to fill up the vacancies.
The petition said there is a "backlog of more than 23,500 appeals and complaints" pending before Central Information Commission. The CIC website shows that even appeals and complaints filed in 2016 are currently pending for disposal by the commission.
The petitioner pointed out that the Information Commission (SIC) of Andhra Pradesh is completely non-functional as a single commissioner has not been appointed.
Maharashtra alone has a backlog of nearly 40,000 appeals. The Commission there has four vacancies. In Karnataka, there are 6 vacancies even though nearly 33,000 appeals and complaints are pending.
In Kerala, the Commission is functioning with only a single commissioner and has more than 14,000 pending appeals and complaints.
In Bengal, the Commission has only two commissioners and is hearing appeals filed a decade ago.
Backlog of cases has been a persistent problem in the Information Commissions both at the Centre and the state level, RTI activists have alleged.