Heeralal Samariya takes oath as Central Information Commission chief
His appointment follows a directive from the Supreme Court, emphasizing the need to fill this key position, as well as other vacancies in state information commissions (SICs). Samariya brings extensive experience to the role, having served as the Secretary in the Ministry of Labour & Employment in the Indian government before retirement.
Heeralal Samariya took the oath of office as the Chief of the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Monday, a position that had remained vacant following the conclusion of Y K Sinha's term on October 3. The swearing-in ceremony was conducted by President Droupadi Murmu at a function held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Samariya, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, previously served as the Secretary in the Ministry of Labour & Employment in the Government of India before retiring. He brings with him a wealth of experience, with a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and expertise in Administration and Governance.
With Samariya's appointment as the Chief Information Commissioner, the CIC now faces a vacancy of eight Information Commissioners. Currently, the Commission comprises two Information Commissioners, and it can accommodate a maximum of ten Information Commissioners in total.
This appointment is significant as it follows a directive from the Supreme Court, issued on October 30, which called upon both the Central and state governments to take immediate steps to fill the vacant post. The Court expressed concerns that the 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act could become ineffective if these positions remained vacant.
The Supreme Court, led by a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, not only highlighted the vacancies in the CIC but also emphasized the issue of vacancies in state information commissions (SICs). It directed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to gather information from all states regarding various aspects, including the sanctioned strength of information commissioners in the SICs, the current vacancies, and the total number of pending cases.
The Supreme Court's previous order from December 2019 mandated the filling of all information commissioner vacancies in the CIC and SICs within three months. The Court recognized the importance of having adequate staff to address RTI-related matters and to establish guidelines to prevent the misuse of the RTI Act.