CIC gives in to parties’ defiance

While accepting that political parties were in violation of its order, the Central Information Commission recently said it was unable to take any action against them, a move that the petitioners called “an abdication of its responsibilities.”

  • Faced with the only such case of non-compliance in the RTI’s history, the CIC suggested that further action be taken by the Union government or by courts.

Background:

  • Eighteen months have passed since the CIC in June 2013 deemed national parties to be ‘public authorities’ under the RTI Act, to whom the provisions of the Act would now apply.
  • Yet, despite not having challenged the CIC’s order before the Commission itself or before a court or even in Parliament, all the parties refused to comply with the Act.
  • They have not replied to the CIC’s notices and never appeared before it.

What has the CIC said?

  • The CIC has asked for a copy of its order to be sent to the Department of Personnel and Training for taking action as deemed appropriate for addressing the legal gaps and issues that have come to light during the hearings.
  • It has also said the petitioners are free to approach courts.

CIC:

  • The Central Information Commission (CIC) is set up under the Right to Information Act and is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission, the body that hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—
    1. The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
    2. The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
    3. A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

CIC will be appointed for a term of 5 years from date on which he enters upon his office or till he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. CIC is not eligible for reappointment.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, PIB.

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