- March 14, 2017
- Press Release
Ms. Mehbooba Mufti
Chief Minister, J&K
November 24, 2016
Subject: Appointment of Chief Information Commissioner & other information commissioners in the J&K Information Commission
Dear Ms. Mufti,
The Jammu and Kashmir Information Commission has not been functional since November 17, 2016 as it has been without any information commissioner. The Chief Information Commissioner retired in February 2016 and the last serving commissioner, Mr. Nazir Ahmed, retired on November 17, 2016. No appointments have been made to fill the vacancies. We are writing to express our concern about the current situation as the fundamental right to information of the people of J&K is being frustrated by the non-functioning of the information commission. We request you to immediately look into the matter and ensure that appointments of the Chief and two information commissioners are done without further delay.
The Supreme Court of India has, in many judgments, held that the right to information is a fundamental right flowing from Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The J&K RTI Act 2009, was enacted to provide a practical regime for people to exercise their fundamental right to information. Under the law, the J&K Information Commission is the final appellate authority and is entrusted with the crucial task of deciding appeals and complaints of persons who have been unable to secure information in accordance with the RTI Act or are aggrieved by violations of the Act. The Information Commission has the power to impose penalties on Public Information Officers for violations of the RTI Act as per the provisions of Section 17 of the Act. In the absence of a functional information commission, information seekers have no reprieve if they are unable to access information as per the provisions of the law. We therefore urge you to take appropriate steps to ensure the urgent appointment of the Chief and other information commissioners.
Further, we request you to ensure that the short-listing and selection of the information commissioners is done in a transparent manner, including disclosure of the process and criteria for selecting candidates and putting the qualification and background of short-listed candidates in the public domain. The Supreme Court has also underlined the need for transparency in the appointment of information commissioners in Review Petition (C) No. 2309 of 2012 in Writ Petition (C) No. 210 of 2012 (Union of India Vs. Namit Sharma) decided on 03.09.2013, wherein it held that under the Central RTI Act, 2005, the selection committee while making its recommendation to the President or the Governor, “must mention against the name of each candidate recommended, the facts to indicate his eminence in public life, his knowledge in the particular field and his experience in the particular field and these facts must be accessible to the citizens as part of their right to information under the Act after the appointment is made.”
The RTI law has empowered people to hold the government accountable for delivering services and entitlements. A properly constituted Information Commission is critical to the working of the J&K Right to Information Act, 2009, and in order for people of the state to effectively exercise their fundamental right to information.
We hope you will take necessary steps to immediately appoint the Chief Information Commissioner and other information commissioners of the J&K Information Commission in a transparent manner.
Anjali Bhardwaj, Shailesh Gandhi, Nikhil Dey, Venkatesh Nayak, Dr. Sheikh, Balvinder Singh, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Vipul Mudgal, Amrita Johri, Rolly Shivhare, Ashish Ranjan, Pradip Pradhan
(On behalf of the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information- NCPRI)