Central Government has reportedly appointed Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha as the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).
Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha is a retired officer of the Indian Foreign Service and has previously served as India’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and to Sri Lanka. Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha was appointed as a member of the Central Information Commission in January 2019.
The Commission is the highest appellate authority under the Right to Information Act, and consists of a Chief and up to ten Commissioners. It has been headless twice this year, due to a two month delay in appointing the last chief Bimal Julka, and another two month period since he retired at the end of August. It has not functioned at full strength for almost four years, and currently has only five Commissioners, leading to a backlog of almost 37,000 pending cases.
The decision was taken after an October 24 meeting of the high-powered selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is also a member of the panel, is learnt to have submitted a dissent note for appointment of Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha.
The Opposition leader objected to the manner in which the shortlisting process was carried out, alleging a failure to follow the Supreme Court’s transparency guidelines, issued in a February 2019 case brought by RTI (Right to Information) activist Anjali Bhardwaj. Mr. Chowdhury also objected to the fact that journalist Uday Mahurkar had been shortlisted for a Commissioner position although he had not been on the list of applicants.
As per a media report, 155 applications were received for the post of CIC.
Sinha was sworn in as Information Commissioner in January 1, 2019. He is a former diplomat who was appointed as High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.
The previous CIC, Bimal Julka, demitted office on August 26.