Central Information Commission goes headless again

New Delhi: Country’s transparency watchdog Central Information Commission has gone headless again with incumbent Chief Vijai Sharma completing his tenure yesterday and no appointment made by the Central Government.

Central Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma was completing his tenure yesterday.
Central Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma completed his tenure yesterday.

The situation has arisen second time since the BJP Government came into power in 2014. The appellate body remained headless for nearly 10 months after the then Chief Information Commission Rajiv Mathur retired in August 2014.

Sharma, who was appointed on June 9, 2015, attained the age of 65 yesterday and demitted office.

The Chief Information Commissioner is the administrative head of the Commission and as per convention s/he decides the formation of benches, administrative and financial matters of the Commission besides distribution of workload which comes to halt in the absence.

During the 10 months without Chief, over 35,000 cases were accumulated before the panel.

Activist Subhash Agrawal said the government should start a process of appointment well in advance before the tenure of Chief Information Commission comes to an end so that such situations can be avoided.

Former Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said even in the absence of their Chief, other Information Commissioners can start taking decisions jointly and distribute work load among themselves.

“First the government must ensure that Chief Commissioner is always there. It is complete carelessness and neglect of their job. Having said that, I do not think that Chief Commissioner is doing anything great and really speaking Commission can function without its Chief. For other Commissioners to use it as an excuse is also not correct,” he said.

Hyderabad-based activist C J Karira took a dig at the outgoing Chief saying “Looking at the Commission’s performance in the last one year, I think it is better that Commission is headless rather than an incompetent person as Chief Information Commissioner.”

Karira said Commission now needs a good administrator.

Another activist Lokesh Batra said government has recently incorporated 30 years of experience for the post of Chief Information Commissioner which was arbitrary and cuts out young persons for becoming eligible for the post.

In a recent PIL filed through lawyers, eminent jurist Prashant Bhushan had sought filling up of posts of Chief IC and subordinate staff in a time-bound frame.