New Delhi: The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the Centre’s plea to review its judgement which had stipulated that only sitting or retired chief justices of high courts or a Supreme Court judge can head the Central and state information commissions.
A bench of justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar decided to hear the review petition in open court. The review petitions are normally decided by judges in their chambers and litigants and their counsel are not allowed to be present there.
The Centre had moved the apex court seeking a review of its September 13 verdict saying it is against the provisions of the transparency law. The apex court had in its judgement said that like other quasi judicial bodies, people from judicial background be also appointed as members of the Central and state information commissions and this should be done after consulting the CJI and chief justices of the respective high courts.
It had directed the government to amend RTI Act for it. ”Chief Information Commissioner at the Centre or state level shall only be a person who is or has been a chief justice of the high court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India,” the court had said.
The bench had passed the order on a PIL challenging section 12 and 15 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 enumerating the qualifications needed for the appointment of members of the commissions.
The bench, however, had refused to quash the sections but asked the government to modify it so that people from judicial background are also preferred for the post.
Currently, none of the eight members of the Central Information Commission (CIC), including the Chief Information Commissioner, is from judicial background. The CIC comprises one Chief Information Commissioner and 10 Information Commissioners.