In what can be seen as a move to erode the independence of the Central Information Commission and intimidate Information Commissioners, the Modi government has proposed setting up bureaucrat-led committees that would receive and probe complaints made against Information Commissioners.
Huffington Post reported that in recent times, certain orders such as disclosure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and details of discussion in Reserve Bank of India (RBI) about demonetisation, by the commission have turned out to be embarrassing for the NDA government.
As reported by The Indian Express, the government has proposed two committees, one to receive and decide on complaints against the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and the other for complaints against Information Commissioners.
The first committee shall have the Cabinet Secretary, the Secretary of DoPT and a retired CIC as its members whereas the second committee shall have the Secretary (Coordination) in the Cabinet Secretariat, the Secretary of DoPT and a retired commissioner.
“This proposal is an attempt by the political dispensation to influence the working of the ICs. This will take away the independence of an institution that has served the citizen’s demand for more transparency in the government. It will make the Commission more vulnerable to government pressure,” The Indian Express quoted a top official as saying.
“The proposal was unanimously opposed by all present in the meeting. It was decided to convey the Commission’s views in a detailed note that will consider all legal, technical and administrative aspects of the proposal,” The Indian Express quoted a source as saying.
Till now, the practise has been that is a complaint is received against the CIC then it is attended by the sitting ICs and if a complaint is received against ICs then that is attended by the CIC. But, it looks like that the Modi government is not happy with this pattern and want to gain control over their functioning.