Central Information Commission Current Affairs - 2019

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CIC Annual Report tabled in Lok Sabha

The Central Information Commission tabled its annual report for the year 2018-19 in Lok Sabha on 20th November, 2019. The same report was also tabled in Rajya Sabha on 21st November, 2019.

Highlights of the report

The report said that in the year 2018-19, around 13.70 lakh applications were received by the Central Public Authorities of the commission. It says that the numbers are 11% more than the previous year 2017-18.

Out of applications received, only 4.7% were processed by the commission. This has come down from 5.13% as compared to the previous year 2017-18.

The highest number of applications were rejected by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. It has rejected 26.5%. It was followed by the Ministry of Home Affairs that rejected 16.41%.

In the period 2018-19, the CIC disposed around 17,188 second appeals and complaint cases.

Central Information Commission

The commission was set up under Right to Information Act in 2005. There are 10 Information Commissioners and one Chief Information Commissioner. The commissioners are appointed by the President of India. The President appoints the commissioners based on the recommendation of a committee. The committee consists of Prime Minister, the opposition leader and a cabinet minister nominated by the prime minister.

EVM is ‘information’ under RTI Act: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that the EVM machine is information under the Right to Information Act and directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to respond to appellant who had sought an EVM.

What was the case?

The applicant Rajaak Khan Haider had sought an EVM from the Election Commission. The Election Commission had rejected the application saying the EVMs held by it do not come under the definition of “information”.

The applicant had approached Central Information Commission with the argument that as per Section 2(f) and 2(i) of the RTI Act, the definition of ‘information’ and ‘record’ also includes ‘any model or any sample’ held by a public authority, calling the rejection as wrong.

The Information Commission even though upheld these arguments noted the contention of Election Commission of India that the software installed on these machines is an intellectual property of a third party, the disclosure of which would harm its competitive position.

Section 8(1)(d) exempts information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.

The CIC did not give any view whether it was upholding or rejecting the EC’s position on commercial confidence leaving a grey area

Highlights of the Ruling

EVM can be demanded by an applicant from the Election Commission of India on payment of Rs 10. The Election Commission has to respond to an RTI application seeking the EVM either by providing it or refusing it under exemption clauses in the Act. The verdict of the Election Commission of India can be contested before the CIC, the highest adjudicating authority in RTI matters.