Non-filling up of Chief Information Commissioner and other posts’

Jammu: A Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice B.S. Walia directed the counsel for the petitioners to file a proper application with regard to the issue of non-filling up of the vacancies of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioner in the State Information Commission.

When the Public Interest Litigation filed by two Social Activists Sheikh Muhammad Shafi and Prof. S.K. Bhalla came up for hearing before the Division Bench, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocate Rahul Raina submitted in the open court that the transparency watchdog of the State Government i.e. State Information Commission (SIC) has become defunct with the completion of term of Chief Information Commissioner G.R. Sufi and Information Commissioner Dr. S.K. Sharma and only one Information Commissioner Nazir Ahmed is presently discharging his duties.

Advocate S.S. Ahmed appearing for the petitioners submitted that the State Government has not initiated the process for filling up the slots of CIC and Information Commissioner with the result the State Information Commission has been rendered defunct.

Upon this the Division Bench headed by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur observed in the open court that in this PIL the Court is monitoring the 147 departmental enquiries and there is no such issue before the Court. At this stage Advocate S.S. Ahmed submitted that in this PIL the Division Bench earlier passed various orders for strengthening of various Commissions like SAC, SIC & SVC. He further submitted that because of the intervention of the State High Court in this PIL the State Government provided quorum to the anti-graft body i.e. SAC and also compelled the State to provide staff to the SIC and SVC.

After considering the submissions of Advocate S.S. Ahmed, Division Bench in the open court observed that the petitioners can file a proper application with regard to the issue projected in the Court.

The Division Bench also allowed week’s time to Advocate S.S. Ahmed to file the response of the petitioners to the various status reports filed by several Administrative Departments highlighting the progress achieved in the 147 departmental enquiries.

Pertinently, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar had impleaded 13 Administrative Secretaries of the State as party respondents in the PIL for their lackadaisical approach in finalizing 147 departmental enquiries and had directed them to file their status reports indicating the progress in the matters.

Today when this PIL was taken up Advocate S.S. Ahmed submitted that more than 20 Administrative Secretaries have already filed the status reports pursuant to the directions of the Division Bench and the petitioners are required to point out the discrepancies in the said status reports by filing their response. Advocate Ahmed prayed for some more time in filing response to the said status reports and the Division Bench while allowing the prayer extended time by one week and directed the listing of the matter in the week commencing 16, May, 2016. (CNS)


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