Central Information Commission
The Central Information commission was established in 2005 by the Government of India under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (2005). The Central Information Commission is plays an important role in maintaining transparency in the system of the governance which is essential in the democracy. Such kind of transparency is necessary to check corruption, nepotism, oppression and misuse or abuse of the authority.
Composition of Central Information Commission
The Central Information Commission consists of the Central Information Commissioner and more than ten Information commissioners. The President of India appoints the Chief Information commissioner and the information commissioners on the recommendation of the committee consisting of the Prime Minister as chairperson, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and union cabinet ministers nominated by the Prime Minister.
They should be persons of eminence in public life with experience and knowledge & Law, management, journalism, science & technology, administration & governance, mass media and social service. They should not be members of legislative assembly of any state or Union territory. They should not be connected with any political party or carrying any business, they should not hold any office of profit or pursuing any other profession.
Tenure and Service
The Chief Information commissioner and an information commissioner holds office for five years or until they attain the age of 65 years. They are not eligible for reappointment.
Functions and Powers of the Central Information Commission
Following are the powers and functions of the Central Information Commission:
a. The commission can order inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds.
b. The commission has the power to secure compliance of its decisions from the public authority.
c. The commission may recommend steps which ought to be taken for promoting such conformity, if public authority does not conform to the provisions of this act.
d. It is the duty of the commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person:
i. Who has not received response to his information request within the specified time limits;
ii. Who thinks information given is incomplete, misleading or false and any other matter relating to obtaining information.
iii. Who has not been able to submit an information request because of non-appointment of a Public Information Officer;
iv. Who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable;
v. Who has refused information that was requested.
e. During the inquiry of a complaint, the commission may examine any record which is under the control of the public authority and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds. In other words, all public records must be given to the commission during inquiry for examination.
f. While inquiring, the commission has the powers of a civil court
g. The commission submits an annual report to the central government on the implementation of the provisions of this act. The central government places this report before each house of Parliament.
Right to Information Act (RTI Act) was legislated, so that seeking information becomes simple, easy, time bound and cheap which makes the legislation successful, powerful and effective. The powers of the commission are limited only to give information and not to take any action, even if there are anomalies. The commission is short-staffed and is over-burdened with the cases. The vacancies in the commission are not filled on time. Due to these reasons, there is a huge backlog with the commission.
The RTI Act applies only on government institutions and not on private enterprises. Even some public institutions such as BCCI claim that they don’t come under the ambit of law. The political parties are reluctant to share information regarding their funding and other activities with the public.
Therefore, the vacant position in the commission should be filled at the earliest. A critical review should be done to see the number of people required to efficiently run the commission. All the public institutions should be made answerable to the public under the RTI Act. People should be able to seek information from political parties, so that become more responsible and their sources of funding more transparent. This would also check use of black money in the elections. Moreover, those private firms should also come under the ambit of the act which is involved in public works.