State Information Commission: Composition, Power and Functions
The State Information Commission will be constituted by the State Government through a Gazette notification. It will have one State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) and not more than 10 State Information Commissioners (SIC) to be appointed by the Governor.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 provides for the creation of State Information Commission at the State level.
Composition of State Information Commission
The Commission consists of a State Chief Information commissioner and ten State Information Commissioners. They are appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the committee consisting of the Chief Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and a state Cabinet Minister nominated by the Chief Minister. They should be person of eminence in public life and should not hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
Tenure and Service
The State Chief Information Commissioner and a State Information Commissioner hold office for a term of 5 years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They are not eligible for reappointment.
Powers and Functions of the State Information Commission
- The commission submits and annual report to the state government on the implementation of the provisions of this act. The state government places this report before the state legislature.
- The commission can order inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds.
- The commission has the power to secure compliance of its decisions from the public authority.
- It is the duty of the commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person
- 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.
While inquiring, the commission has the power of the civil court in respect of the following matters:
- Requiring the discovery and inspection of documents
- Issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents and any other matter which may be prescribed
- Summoning and enforcing attendance of persons and compelling them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce documents or things.
- Receiving evidence on affidavit
- Requisitioning any public record from any court or office.
- When a public authority does not conform to the provisions of this act, the commission may recommend steps which ought to be taken for promoting such conformity.
A Critical Evaluation
Similar to the centre, these commissions are also overburdened with backlog cases. Backlog cases are adding due to short staff and vacancies not being filled. In October 2014, the maximum number of appeals and complaints were pending in Uttar Pradesh. But, there are also examples such as Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura which don’t have any backlogs. The powers of the commission are limited only to give information and not to take any action, even if there are anomalies.
However, State Information Commissions are playing a vital role in ensuring transparency in public life. Thus, these are helping in combating corruption, nepotism, oppression and misuse of the authority.