RTI Act Current Affairs - 2019

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Government Proposes Committees to decide on complaints against CIC and ICs

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.

RK Mathur sworn in as 8th Chief Information Commissioner

Former Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur (62) has sworn in as the eight Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of the Central Information Commission.

He was administered the oath of office by the President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

Mr. Mathur as the CIC will have tenure of about three years i.e. till 2019 till he attains the age of 65 years. He succeeds Vijai Sharma as he has retired after completion of his tenure.

Background

  • In December 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee had approved the appointment R K Mathur as CIC after receiving proposal of Prime Minister led selection committee as per The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
  • The selection committee included Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Chairman), Leader of the Largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha, Mallikaarjun Kharge and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

About R K Mathur

R K Mathur is a retired IAS officer of Tripura cadre. He had served as Defence Secretary for two years. He also had served as Secretary Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Defence Production and Supplies.