Noted RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi has urged the Maharashtra government to immediately announce a successor to Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad who is set to retire by the month-end.
Gandhi, a former Central Information Commissioner, has written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, urging him to appoint the next State CIC by this month-end and also name three more Information Commissioners (in addition to existing 7) to help dispose of pending RTI applications.
Gaikwad’s five-year term as CIC will end on May 31.
“There is a huge backlog in some of the benches of the State Information Commission. This is partly due to not appointing information commissioners in a timely manner since 2005,” Gandhi said in the letter sent to the CM’s Office on Thursday.
Currently, about 40,000 cases are pending before the Maharashtra State Information Commission.
“Most commissioners in the country dispose of around 3,000 cases a year. The Maharashtra Information Commissioners are reported to be disposing of about 5,000 cases per year,” the letter claimed.
He said the situation is “grave” in Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Amravati divisions, which have more than 5,000 cases pending with each of them.
Gandhi said the Right to Information Act permits appointment of up to 11 information commissioners in a state.
Hence, steps should be taken to appoint three more commissioners in order to clear the huge backlog of cases in the state.