A bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer in the Supreme Court asked the Centre as to why only retired or sitting bureaucrats were being shortlisted by the search committee for appointment as information commissioners. The bench also observed that the search committee comprises of civil servants only.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, said that search committee has recommended 14 names for consideration to the selection committee for appointing information commissioners. “In these 14 names, apart from bureaucrats (retired or sitting) is there anybody else?,” the bench asked. To this, the ASG said one of the 14 persons is a retired judge while rest are bureaucrats. “Their (petitioners) objection is that only civil servants are there. Ultimately, you do not find even a single person other than bureaucrats,” the bench told the ASG.
The apex court is hearing a plea filed by RTI activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retired) and Amrita Johri who have claimed that over 23,500 appeals and complaints are pending with the CIC as posts of information commissioners are lying vacant. Advocate Pranav Sachdeva, appearing for the petitioners, said that the government was appointing only retired or sitting civil servants as information commissioners but names of persons like activists, scientists, journalists, lawyers and others should also be considered for appointment.