Former CIC criticizes Supreme Court judgement

[हिंदी]The just retired Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi is quite agitated about the recent Supreme Court judgement making it necessary for Chief Information Commissioners to have a judicial background and to conduct all hearings in benches consisting of two Commissioners one of whom will have to be a person from judicial background. He put up a spirited argument why a person of judicial background was not necessary for the Information Commission. The task merely involved either taking a decision of either allowing information to be given or not. Some judicial thinking may be required to consider the cases of exemption from the Act. But such cases are rare. In the 20,000 cases that he disposed of, he said, he just encountered two which required some legal interpretation. 

He questioned when IAS officers, without any legal background can perform quasi-judicial role, why can’t the Information Commissioners? He said it was wrong for the Supreme Court to say that 75% of officers were now spending 75% of their time in providing information. According to his calculations 4.6 % of officers were spending less than 4.6% of their time on RTI. He said that the same Supreme Court which was in favour of the right to information before the Act was made was now trying to weaken it merely because it was also covered under it. He gave an example of a Supreme Court Judge who was found under RTI to have travelled to Australia via Chicago . It is probably such things which the Judges are finding 'vexatious' and which the PM thinks is 'private information.' But abuse of public money and power even by Judiciary was equally wrong.

Shailesh Gandhi was visiting Lucknow to address a gathering at Jai Shankar Prasad Sabhagar on Saturday. Retired Justice Pradeep Kant of the High Court advised caution. He said whereas he was definitely not in favour of anything which would weaken the Act or would protect the wrongdoers he would like decisions to be taken only within the framework of law.

Former legal advisor to Governor, Chandra Bhushan Pandey said only people with an activist bent of mind should be appointed Information Commissioners and further commented that people were being made Information Commissioners not on the basis of their merit but because of political connections.

Former State Information Commissioner Gyanendra Sharma and activist Naveen Tewari also spoke at the meeting. S.R. Darapuri concluded the meeting with a vote of thanks. Noted social activist and Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey was one of the key organizers.

The meeting was organised by Campaign for Right to Information, U.P. and Lok Soochnadhikar Manch.