CIC Current Affairs - 2019
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The government has proposed setting up bureaucrat-led committees that would sit and decide on complaints against the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs).
The government has proposed setting up of two committees:
- One to receive and decide on complaints against the CIC. The committee would include the Cabinet Secretary; Secretary, DoPT; and a retired CIC.
- Second one for complaints against Information Commissioners. The committee would comprise of Secretary (Coordination) in the Cabinet Secretariat; Secretary, DoPT; and a retired IC.
Why the move is opposed?
Section 14 (1) of the RTI Act states that Commissioners can be removed only by the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity based on the reference made to the Supreme Court by the President.
Further Section 14 (3) lists the other grounds for removal which includes:
- If he/she is adjudged an insolvent,
- Has been convicted of an offence which involves moral turpitude.
- Engages during his/her term of office in any paid employment outside.
- Is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
- Has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the CIC or an IC.
The bureaucrat dominated committee proposed by the government is seen as an attempt to skew checks and balances in favour of the political executive. The committee is also criticised as an attempt by the political dispensation to influence the working of the ICs and it will take away the independence of an institution that has served the citizen’s demand for more transparency in the government by making the Commission more vulnerable to government pressure.
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.