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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Give roadmap for filing up top vacancies in SIC within a month: HC to Maharashtra govt

The court has asked the state government to file an affidavit within four weeks.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: August 31, 2021 1:24:20 am
Bombay HC, Maharashtra government, RTI activists, SIC, State Information Commission, SIC vacancies, indian express indian express newsA division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni issued the directives on August 26, while hearing a PIL filed by former Chief Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and some RTI activists. (File)

THE BOMBAY High Court recently directed the state government to provide a roadmap for filling up vacancies for the posts of Information Commissioners of the State Information Commission (SIC) along with other top posts within a month.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni issued the directives on August 26, while hearing a PIL filed by former Chief Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and some Right to Information (RTI) activists, through advocate Sunil Ahya.

The PIL expressed concern over pendency of RTI cases in view of the pandemic and sought direction to fill up vacancies of top posts in SIC, to expedite adjudication of the RTI pleas. In September 2020, the court had asked the state to fill up the three vacant posts for information commissioners at Pune, Nagpur and Nashik at the earliest.

On Thursday, the state government through Additional Government Pleader Jyoti Chavan submitted that selection of three candidates as Information Commissioners (ICs) is ‘on the verge of completion and it is expected that they would take charge within four weeks upon completion of all formalities.’

However, advocate Seema Chopda representing the SIC submitted that one of the ICs has retired in April 2021 and two others are due for retirement in December 2021. Therefore, she raised a concern that even if three fresh ICs are appointed within a month, the commission would still not be functional at full strength.

After hearing submissions, the court asked the state government to file an affidavit within four weeks indicating not only the developments regarding appointment of three new commissioners, but also ‘indicating the roadmap for filing the remaining vacancies as well as the anticipated vacancies.’

The HC will hear PIL next on October 4.

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