The Central Information Commission is an important authority in India needed for the smooth functioning of democracy and good governance. In this article, you can read all about the CIC for the IAS exam. The Chief Information Commission (CIC) is the authorised body in India to act upon complaints received from individuals who have been unable to submit requests of information to a Central or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not having been appointed, or the respective officer refused to entertain the application under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act). The CIC was constituted with effect from 12th October 2005 under the RTI Act 2005. Its jurisdiction extends upon all central public authorities.
Central Information Commission Composition
The CIC is headed by the Chief Information Commissioner. He/she is assisted by ten Information Commissioners. The Chief Information Commissioner holds the office for five years.
The commissioners are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee comprising of: Prime Minister (Chairperson), Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the PM.
Role of the Central Information Commission
- Order enquiry into any matter on reasonable grounds only.
- Secure compliance of its decisions from any public authority.
- Receive and inquire into a complaint from any person:
(i) Who has not received any response to his request for information within a specified time
(ii) Who deems the information given to him/her incomplete, false or misleading, and any other matter related to securing the information Who has been unable to submit a request for information due to the non-appointment of an officer
(iii) Who considers the fees so charged unreasonable
(iv) Who was refused the information requested
- The commission has the power to examine any record under the control of the public authority. All such records have to be given to the Commission during the examination and nothing shall be withheld.
- During inquiries, the CIC has the powers of a civil court, such as the powers to: (i) Summon and enforce the attendance of persons, and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and produce documents or things
(ii) Require the discovery and inspection of documents
(iii) Receive evidence on affidavit
(iv) Requisition public records or copies from any office or court
(v) Issue summons for the examination of documents or witnesses
(vi) Any other matter that may be prescribed
- The CIC also submits an annual report to the GOI on the implementations of the provisions of the Act. This report is then placed before both the Houses of Parliament.
Tenure and Service
The Chief Information commissioner and an information commissioner holds office for five years or until they attain the age of 65 years. They are not eligible for reappointment.
Functions and Powers of the Central Information Commission
Following are the powers and functions of the Central Information Commission:
- The commission can order inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds.
- The commission has the power to secure compliance of its decisions from the public authority.
- The commission may recommend steps which ought to be taken for promoting such conformity, if public authority does not conform to the provisions of this act.
- It is the duty of the commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person:
(i) Who has not received response to his information request within the specified time limits;
(ii) Who thinks information given is incomplete, misleading or false and any other matter relating to obtaining information.
(iii) Who has not been able to submit an information request because of non-appointment of a Public Information Officer;
(iv) Who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable;
(v) Who has refused information that was requested.
- During the inquiry of a complaint, the commission may examine any record which is under the control of the public authority and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds. In other words, all public records must be given to the commission during inquiry for examination.
- While inquiring, the commission has the powers of a civil court
- The commission submits an annual report to the central government on the implementation of the provisions of this act. The central government places this report before each house of Parliament.
Right to Information Act (RTI Act) was legislated, so that seeking information becomes simple, easy, time bound and cheap which makes the legislation successful, powerful and effective. The powers of the commission are limited only to give information and not to take any action, even if there are anomalies. The commission is short-staffed and is over-burdened with the cases. The vacancies in the commission are not filled on time. Due to these reasons, there is a huge backlog with the commission.
The RTI Act applies only on government institutions and not on private enterprises. Even some public institutions such as BCCI claim that they don’t come under the ambit of law. The political parties are reluctant to share information regarding their funding and other activities with the public.
National Commissions / Central Bodies and the Related Ministries