Government gets Delhi High Court contempt notice

May 9th, 2012 - 9:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued a contempt notice to the government on a petition filed by an RTI activist alleging failure to fill up all posts of Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC) in compliance with the court’s earlier order.

Justice Vipin Sanghi, seeking response from the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), directed him to file a status report by July 30, the next date of hearing.

The court order came on a contempt petition filed by RTI activist R.K. Jain through advocate Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the DoPT secretary for failure in complying with the court’s last two orders passed in February and March this year.

Highlighting the lack of transparency and accountability in the appointments in the CIC, the petitioner had sought filling up of vacancies in the panel in a transparent manner.

The contempt petition stated that despite the backlog of almost 30,000 appeals and complaints in the commission and the high court order to fill up the posts of all five Information Commissioners (ICs) out of ten - the total sanctioned strength - the government has filled up only three posts in March.

“The court had clearly directed that five Information Commissioners be appointed, but the government appointed only three, there is a deliberate contempt by flouting the order of this court,” Bhushan said while seeking immediate filling up of vacancies so that the commission’s work would not suffer.

It was also pleaded by Bhushan that another commissioner will be retiring in July and the number of vacant posts will be three, thus, instead of two Information Commissioners, three ICs need to be appointed immediately.

Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri had earlier hearing the PIL directed the government to fill all the ICs’ posts after it informed the court that it had filled up three out of the five vacant posts and sought more time for framing of recruitment rules for appointment of subordinate staff in the CIC.

The government had earlier assured the court that remaining two posts of IC be filled up immediately while seeking time to frame rules granting autonomy to the CIC for filling up within a month vacancies of information commissioners and subordinate staff.

Petitioner had alleged that there was no transparency in the selection process. It had also been alleged that the lack of timely selection of employees had led to a backlog of almost 30,000 appeals and complaints in the commission.

With almost 30,000 cases pending before the CIC, it will take two years to clear the backlog, whereas as per the RTI Act information sought by an applicant should be given within 30 days, the advocate had said.

The petition said that the vacancies of subordinate staff in the last three years had grown to 108 and there were five vacancies of information commissioners in CIC.

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