RTI Activist Dr. Nutan Thakur has moved the Allahabad High Court, Lucknow bench, seeking directions to the state to immediately fill the vacancy of Chief Information Commissioner having arisen in the UP Information Commission after retirement of CIC Javed Usmani on February 16.
The Petitioner has asserted that since the CIC's hearing Chamber S-1 is empty, many litigants are being affected. For instance, she submitted, she and her husband were directly getting affected by this vacancy.
"On 19/02/2020, 05 Second Appeals of the petitioner's husband could not be heard because of this vacancy, while on 27/02/2020, there are 07 Second Appeals (01 belonging to the petitioner and 06 to her husband) listed for hearing in Chamber No S-1 which shall not be heard merely because of this vacancy. There are many other cases presented by the petitioner and her husband which are pending before the CIC, which will remain unheard, due to the above mentioned vacancy," the plea read.
She pointed out that ever since Usmani's appointment as CIC in 2015, the State Government was aware that he will retire on February 16, 2020. Thus, it was expected on the part of the State Government to undertake all necessary steps to select the next CIC well in advance, so that he could be appointed immediately with the creation of this vacancy.
"This situation has arisen only because of the inaction and lack of proper and timely action of the State Government on this extremely important issue. Thus the State Government has failed in its legal and statutory duty of making appointment of CIC in the Commission within the stipulated time so that vacancy of CIC has got created," the Petitioner asserted.
She further pointed out that in Anjali Bhardwaj v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 205, the Supreme Court passed certain general directions for CICs and SICs, one of which stipulated timely appointment of CICs by short listing the prospective candidate well in advance. It read as under:
"We would also like to impress upon the respondents to fill up vacancies, in future, without any delay. For this purpose, it would be apposite that the process for filling up of a particular vacancy is initiated 1 to 2 months before the date on which the vacancy is likely to occur so that there is not much time lag between the occurrence of vacancy and filling up of the said vacancy."
Nevertheless, the seat of CIC lay vacant due to the State government's cavalier attitude.
On a broader aspect she pointed out that none of the other directions issued by the Supreme Court in the said case, viz. publication of all necessary information including issuance of the advertisement, receipt and applications, particulars of the applicants, composition of Selection Committee etc. on the website, were being adhered by the State Government.
"Few of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court need to be complied with while the selection process is still going on, which are not being followed by the State Government, including presenting the details of the candidates on the website etc. There are other directions that need to be followed by the Selection Committee at the time of decision making and by the respondent after the selection, including making the details and criteria of selected candidates public and initiating the process much ahead of vacancy, which need to be kindly followed in appointment of CIC and other future appointments of ICs and CICs.
Each of these directions are such that they help and assist in selection of much better candidates for CIC and ICs in a huge way, through a much more reliable, transparent and open manner," she asserted.
Thus, it has been prayed that the state be directed to appoint a CIC as per the SC directions, in a time bound manner. She has also sought that the State be directed to strictly follow the SC directions in the future.
The matter is likely to be listed for hearing tomorrow.
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