The apex court bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice A.K. Sikri said, "...only persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in the fields mentioned in Sections 12(5) and 15(5) of the act be considered for appointment as information commissioner and chief information commissioner."
"We further direct that persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in all the fields..., namely law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance, be considered by the committees...for appointment as chief information commissioner or information commissioners."
"As the judgment under review suffers from mistake of law, we allow the review petitions, recall the directions and declarations in the judgment under review and dispose" the review petition, the court said.
Sections 12(5) and 15(5) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, say that the chief information commissioner and information commissioners both at the centre and in states "shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance".
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Patnaik said: "We also direct that wherever chief information commissioner is of the opinion that intricate questions of law will have to be decided in a matter coming up before the information commission, he will ensure that the matter is heard by an information commissioner who has wide knowledge and experience in the field of law."
Details about experience of information commissioners and chief information commissioners must be "accessible to the citizens as part of their right to information under the act after the appointment is made", the court said.
The court said under the Right to Information Act, 2005, members of parliament and legislatures, or a person holding any office of profit or carrying on any business or profession or associated with any political party are not barred from becoming chief information commissioner or information commissioner.
Such people would discontinue being associated with legislative body, office of profit, business or profession, as the case may be, upon becoming chief information commissioners or information commissioners.
The apex court, while recalling its earlier controversial order that held that only people with legal/judicial background could be appointed to CIC, clarified that there was no longer any such requirement of knowledge of law for holding the post.
--IANS (Posted on 03-09-2013)