Central Information Commission – UPSC

Central Information Commission was set up in 2005 by the Central government under the Right to Information Act 2005. It is a non-constitutional body constituted through an Official Gazette Notification under the provisions of RTI Act 2005. It’s a high-powered independent body needed for the smooth functioning of democracy and good governance. The Central Information Commission looks into the complaints made to it and decides the appeals. Its Jurisdiction extends over all the Central Public Authorities.

Composition of the Commission

The Central Information Commission consists of a Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners.

Appointment

  • The President of India appoints the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners on the recommendation of a committee, consisting of:
    • Prime Minister as Chairperson.
    • Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
    • Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with knowledge and experience in law, science & technology, management, social service, journalism, administration, and governance.
  • They should not be a Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly of any State or connected with any political party.
  • They should not hold any office of profit, or doing any business, or pursuing any profession.

Term of Office

  • The Right To Information (Amendment) Act 2019 laid down the Central Government will notify the term of office through rules.
    • The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. (Before this Amendment, their tenure was fixed for five years)
  • They are not eligible for reappointment.
    • Information Commissioner is eligible to be appointed as Chief Information Commissioner but cannot hold office for more than a total of 5 years, including his term as Information Commissioner.

Removal

The President of India can remove the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner from the office under the following circumstances:

  • If he is adjudged as Insolvent; or
  • If he is unfit to continue in office because of the infirmity of mind or body; or
  • If he engages in any paid employment outside his official duties during his term of office; or
  • If he has been convicted of an offence that involves moral turpitude (in the opinion of the President); or
  • If he is found interested in financial driven activity or other interests which can likely affect his official functions prejudicially.

In addition, the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner also be removed by the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity. However, in such cases, the President has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court of India for inquiry. After inquiry, if the Supreme Court upholds the cause of removal and advises, the President can remove him.

Salary and Service Conditions

  • The Right To Information (Amendment) Act 2019 laid down the Central Government will notify the quantum of salary through rules.
    • The salary, allowances, and other service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner shall be such as prescribed by the Central Government; but cannot be varied to his disadvantage during service.

Powers and Functions of the Commission

  • The Central Information Commission receive and inquire into the complaints from any person:
    • who has been unable to submit a request for information because of the non-appointment of a Public Information Officer;
    • who has not received any response to his information request within a specified time limit;
    • who believes the information given is incomplete, misleading, or false;
    • who has been refused access to any information requested;
    • who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable;
    • any other matter relating to obtaining information.
  • It can order an inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo-moto¬†power).
  • During the inquiry of any complaint, the Central Information Commission may examine any record under the control of the public authority, and no such record may be withheld from it on any ground. All public records have to be given to the Commission during inquiry for examination.
  • While inquiring into any matter, the Central Information Commission has the power of a civil court in respect of the following:
    • Summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons, and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and produce documents or things;
    • Receiving evidence on affidavits.
    • Requiring the discovery and inspection of documents.
    • Requestioning the public record from any office or court.
    • Issuing summons for the examination of documents and witnesses.
    • any other matter which may be prescribed.

Report of the Commission

Central Information Commission submits an annual report to Central Government on implementation of provisions of the RTI Act 2005. The Central government further places this report before both Houses of Parliament.

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