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Supreme Court Urges States to Fill Vacancies in Information Commissions

Vacant Positions Hamper Right to Information Act:

The Supreme Court has directed all Indian state governments to expedite the filling of longstanding vacancies in their respective Information Commissions. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud emphasized that the persistence of such vacancies undermines the purpose of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act), potentially rendering it ineffective.

Immediate Action Required:

The Court’s directive stressed that all states must promptly initiate the selection process for the State Information Commissioners, unless these steps have already been undertaken. The Additional Solicitor General of India, Aishwarya Bhati, was tasked with compiling the responses of the states regarding this matter.

Background and Context:

This decision followed a plea submitted by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, which raised concerns about the vacancies within both the Central Information Commission and several State Information Commissions. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, highlighted that certain states, like Telangana, had nearly inactive state information commissions, and some states were not even accepting appeals in such cases.

Prior Court Interventions:

Earlier in the month, the Supreme Court had directed all state information commissions to establish a hybrid system for addressing complaints and appeals under the RTI Act. This system would allow parties the option of participating in hybrid hearings and provide video links on the cause list. Furthermore, the Court ordered that electronic filing be made accessible and efficient for all litigants.

Long-Standing Issue:

This issue of vacant positions within the Information Commissions has persisted for some time, and the Court’s recent directives emphasize the need for immediate action to uphold the effectiveness of the RTI Act, which is crucial for transparency and accountability in government actions.


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