Bihar government scraps two posts of information commissioners

Activists who had been demanding filling up of two vacant posts of information commissioners cry foul

By Alok Gupta
Published: Sunday 27 July 2014

image In an unusual move, the Bihar government has abolished two posts of information commissioners. The decision has rattled scores of activists in the state who are already protesting loudly against harassment of Right to Information (RTI) activists.

The state government had earlier created five posts of information commissioners. It included one chief information commissioner and four information commissioners. Two posts of information commissioners were lying vacant for a long time.

RTI activists in the state had filed a public interest petition to fill up the vacant posts. The matter is still subjudice. But the state government issued a notification, saying the two posts of information commissioners have been abolished and the information commission will comprise of three commissioner ranked officers.

22,000 RTI applications pending 

Shiv Prakash, an RTI activist who has started a campaign after brutal murder of six RTI activists and frequent harassment of information seekers, claimed that nearly 22,000 RTI applications are pending with the state information commission.
“We are baffled by the attitude of the government. Instead of expediting the process of RTI applications, state has reduced the number of information commissioners,” he said.

RTI activists also charged the state government for gagging RTI activists. Apart from a large number of unanswered RTI application, RTI activists pointed out that information from the second appeal takes an average one year.

“A large number of RTI applications in the second appeal is a delaying tactic for harassing information seekers,” said Ashish Ranjan, state coordinatior for National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.

This is not for the first time that RTI activists have approached the court. Prior to this, activists had moved court to end the state’s move for right to second appeal even if the information or decision has not been given in the first appeal.
The high court, keeping in view the provisions of Right to Information Act, ordered the state government to allow second appeal even if the decision is not given in the first appeal.

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