The Supreme Court on Tuesday required the Centre to explain how, in the appointment of Information Commissioners, the Selection Committee has shortlisted names of those who did not even apply for their candidature to be considered.
Before a bench headed by Justice A. K. Sikri, it was contended that the appointment of information commissioners to the Central Information Commission (CIC) had transpired in the most arbitrary manner with the search committee, in violation of its mandate, having short-listed persons who had not even applied for the post in response to the advertisements. It was pointed out that in its affidavit in the apex court dated August 27, 2018, the DoPT had itself stated that the search committee devises the modalities for the shortlisting of candidates out of the applications received.
It may be noted that speculation has been pouring in from several quarters regarding the absence of any rational criterion in the short-listing process and the completely ad-hoc manner of functioning of the Committee since the appointment of former Law Secretary Suresh Chandra to the CIC earlier this month. Chandra had himself acceded that he had not forwarded a formal application in respect of the post.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing on behalf of the petitioners- RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj and others- also drew the court's attention to how the Secretary, Department of Expenditure, who declared that he had himself applied for the post of Information Commissioner and who was subsequently shortlisted, initially came to be on the Search Committee itself.
Further, it was highlighted that the government had once again on January 4 issued a defective advertisement for the remaining 4 vacant posts in the CIC, with The notification not specifying the salaries and tenure of the information commissioners, even though these conditions are specified in the RTI Act.
The top court on Tuesday required the Central government to file a report in respect of the issues raised, scheduling the matter to be next heard on January 29.
Read the Additional Affidavit filed by Petitioners