Though the Kerala State Information Commission (KSIC) decided to resume its hearing on Tuesday on the basis of the legal opinion received from the advocate-general, the Right to Information (RTI) activists are apprehensive of its repercussions.
The KSIC had suspended its operation for the past couple of days in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment that all information commissions must function as two-person benches, with one person being a judicial member possessing a legal background.
The hearing was called off to avoid contempt of court as the State Information Commission did not comprise members who possess legal background.
The RTI activists said the Department of Personnel and Training, which is the nodal agency to implement the Right to Information Act in India, should have gone for a review or a clarification petition in the Supreme Court.
“One possibility is that if it approaches the Supreme Court with a review petition, it would definitely ask for a stipulated time within which the authority could bring in the amendment which would in turn put burden on the system. We fear that seeking legal opinion is to shirk off this huge responsibility,” they said.
Besides, though the apex court has come up with a laudable judgment, the Central Government is yet to respond to it, they added.
D B Binu, state general secretary, RTI Federation, said the RTI legislation was considered as a landmark legislation passed by the current UPA government. “It has brought to light many corruption cases that have hit the country. The Centre’s silence to the Supreme Court order is shocking,” he said.
Binu added that deviating from the proper course to address this issue would only topple the RTI system which has evolved through years.
M N Gunavardhanan, State Information Commissioner, said they are resuming the hearing as the advocate-general has given the legal opinion that the State Information Commission can resume its hearing.
“According to the advocate-general’s advice, the apex court order has not come into effect till now. Hence we decided to resume the hearing,” Gunavardhanan added.