Time-bound CIC-verdicts necessary after completion of hearing/s ; Subhash Chandra Agrawal
Much has been said about need of time-bound decisions after filing of petitions with Central Information Commission (CIC) where backlog at times brings turn of petitions fixed for hearing after several years of filing. Even though every effort should be made to reduce such late hearings, yet it may not be practically possible to fix any deadline to fix dates of hearings.
But shockingly some Commissioners at CIC have a usual tendency to announce verdicts after many months of completion of hearing with such delayed decisions being quite different from what has been orally decided during the hearing-proceedings example being a verdict dated 26.07.2015 in appeal-number CIC/VS/A/2014/000242 for which review-petition had to be filed. Even it is quite difficult for Commissioners to recall proceedings held months before the verdict.
There are Commissioners at CIC who in most cases are dictating verdicts during the hearing itself with other details pre-typed on desktops. Such a system should be ideally with each of the Commissioner. Verdicts may be reserved only in exceptional cases that too with a limit of say one week for single-bench decisions, and one month for full-bench or division-bench verdicts after completion of hearing/s. All this must not be difficult because registries of all the Commissioners at CIC are now well-equipped with staff including even assisting legal-interns. Extra-ordinary delay in decision in appeal-number CIC/CC/A/2015/001530 relating to declassification of files relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for which verdict is yet to be delivered made priority hearing held on 26.08.2015 of no use!