Polity & Governance Prelims 2021 Prelims cum Mains

Sinha Takes charge of CIC

In News:

  • Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha was appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).

About RTI Act 2005

  • Right to Information Act 2005 is an Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities. 
  • The basic objective of the Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense.
  • With this Act, an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed.

Public Authority:

  • The RTI Act in section 2(h) defines “public authority” as any authority or body or institution of selfgovernment established or constituted
    • by or under the Constitution
    • by any other law made by Parliament
    • by any other law made by State Legislature
    • by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government,
  • and includes any—
    • (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
    • (ii) non-Government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;

Commissions:

  • The RTI Act 2005 provides for the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions in each state.

About: Central Information Commission

  • The CIC has been constituted in 2005 under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.
  • The Commission has certain powers and functions that broadly relate to:
    • adjudication in second appeal for giving information
    • direction for record keeping and suomotu disclosures
    • receiving and enquiring into a complaint on inability to file RTI etc
    • imposition of penalties etc.
  • The decisions of the Commission are final and binding.

Information Commissioners:

  • The Central Information Commission shall consist of:
    • the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC)
    • such numbers of Central Information Commissioners (ICs), not exceeding ten, as may be deemed necessary
  • Eligibility: The members shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
    • The CIC or IC shall not be an MP or MLA or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
  • Oath: The Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall before he enters upon his office make and subscribe before the President or some other person appointed by him in that behalf.
  • Appointment: The members of the commission are appointed by a committee consisting of the PM (as Chair), Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister appointed by the PM.
    • If no party wins enough seats to get the position of LoP in Parliament, the leader of the single largest opposition party shall be deemed to be the LoP for this purpose.
  • Resignation: The CIC or an IC may, at any time, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign from his office.
  • Removal:
    • The CIC or an IC may be removed from office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, reports that he/she should be removed on the grounds mentioned.
    • The President may also remove them from office if such a person is adjudged insolvent, convicted for certain offences etc.

RTI (Amendment) Act, 2019:

  • In July 2019, Parliament passed the Bill to amend Section 13 and Section 16 of the RTI Act to review the terms of the CIC/ICs of the Centre and states.
  • Tenure: The amendment changed the period of office of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner as for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government (from earlier fixed term of five years).
  • Salary: The amendment gave rule making power to the Central Government to determine the pay, allowances and service conditions of Information Commissioners (earlier they were paid salaries equivalent to the Election Commissioners).

News Summary:

  • Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha was appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).
    • Before the appointment, he has been serving as an Information Commissioner (IC) in the Central Information Commission since January 1, 2019.
  • He was administered the oath of office by the President.
  • Sinha was short-listed for the post by a three-member committee headed by Prime Minister
  • Three other persons were also appointed as Information Commissioners (IC) in the Central Information Commission. They were administered the oath of office by the CIC.
  • With their induction, the strength of Information Commissioners will be eight, against the sanctioned strength of up to ten members. 

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