Choosing not to veer away from the seniority principle, the Centre has cleared the appointment of Information Commissioner Yashvardhan K. Sinha as the new head of the Central Information Commission.
Sinha was sworn in as information commissioner in the CIC on January 1, 2019. A former diplomat, Sinha has served as high commissioner of India to the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka. His predecessor Bimal Julka had completed his tenure as Chief Information Commissioner on August 26, after which the appellate body had, for the fifth time in six years, become headless.
As many as 155 applications are learnt to have been received for the post of CIC. However, the government has gone with the seniority principle in appointing the CIC, opting to appoint the senior-most information commissioner to the post.
The Centre is also learnt to have cleared the name of senior journalist Uday Mahurkar as information commissioner.
While the sanctioned strength of information commissioners in the central appellate body for RTI is 10, at present, with the latest appointments, it has six commissioners. The four vacancies have persisted since November 2018. Activists have often complained about the CIC not having its full strength of commissioners and say this is especially worrisome in the face of the growing pendency of cases before the Commission. There is a pendency of around 36,000 cases in the CIC, and close to 32,000 of them are appeals while around 5,000 are complaints.