The Uttar Pradesh Information Commission has set a dubious record of sorts. It tops the chart in terms of public dissatisfication. The UP Governor received 107 complaints and Chief Minister received 140 complaints against its Information Commissioners, most of the complainants demanding their removal.
A RTI query was filed with all Chief Ministers, state governors, PMO, DoPT and President’s Secretariat asking for copies of all complaints received against Information Commissioners. The President received 14 complaints since RTI Act became effective. TN, Uttarakhand and Haryana Governors received five, four and seven complaints. Those in HP and most of the North-Eastern states received none.
The complaints have been filed against Information Commissions complaining either about misbehaviour or about the illegality of their orders.
As for action taken on these complaints: The President and most governors forward these complaints to the government. The governments either sit on it or seek explanation from the commissioner. The commissioner defends his actions. The complaint is then merely filed.
The Act says a commissioner can be removed by the President or Governor if on enquiry by the Supreme Court, the charges of misbehaviour or incapacity are proved. However, these complaints are not even being forwarded by the President or Governors to the SC. They are being forwarded to the government causing direct conflict of interest.
The Governments may opt to proceed against a commissioner or just keep action on complaints pending. That is what is happening in UP.
In a rare case, complaints against former Chief Information Commissioner Justice M.A. Khan were forwarded to the SC. Pending enquiries by the SC, the chief commissioner was suspended.
Interestingly, whereas Governors of most other states have provided copies of the complaints, UP Governor’s office refused to provide them quoting some sections of RTI Act.
Section 27 requires governments to make rules to implement provisions of the Act. However, neither the state governments nor the Centre has made any rules on how such complaints would be dealt with.