New Delhi: The Central government has formally appointed Information Commissioner Heeralal Samariya – an IAS officer of the 1985 batch – as the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). President of India Droupadi Murmu administered the oath of office to Samariya at a function held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday, thus making him the first Dalit person to hold the coveted post.
#WATCH | President Droupadi Murmu administers the Oath of Office to Heeralal Samariya, the Chief Information Commissioner at Rashtrapati Bhavan. pic.twitter.com/tPaDthy1qn
— ANI (@ANI) November 6, 2023
Heeralal Samariya took over the post after the retirement of former CIC, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha on October 3. Samaria was appointed as an Information Commissioner in the Central Information Commission on November 7, 2020.
Even after Samariya’s appointment as the Chief Information Commissioner, there still exists a vacancy of eight Information Commissioners. At present, there are two Information Commissioners in the Commission.
Samariya was born in a remote and small village Pahadi in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur District. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. His areas of expertise include administration and governance.
Civil Service Career
The former IAS officer served as Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment. He was also a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers. After the term of YK Sinha ended on October 3, the top post of the CIC had been lying vacant.
Appointment After SC Expresses Concern Over Vacant Posts
Samariya’s appointment comes after the Supreme Court had on October 30 directed the Centre and the State governments to take steps to fill the vacancies in the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions (SICs). A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra observed that the 2005 law on the Right to Information (RTI) will become a “dead letter” if vacancies are not filled.
It further directed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to collect information from all States on several aspects including the sanctioned strength of SICs, vacancies and the total number of pending cases there.
Central Information Commission
The Central Information Commission has been constituted with effect from October 12, 2005, under the Right to Information Act, 2005 for adjudication in the second appeal for giving information; direction for record keeping, suo motu disclosures receiving and enquiring into a complaint on inability to file RTI etc; imposition of penalties and Monitoring and Reporting including preparation of an Annual Report. The Commission is headed by the Chief Information Commissioner and can have a maximum of 10 Information Commissioners.
The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.