Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission (SIC), which played crucial role in bringing transparency in the administration, has become headless from March 1 as the first ever Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of the state completed his tenure on February 29.
The post of one State Information Commissioner out of two was already vacant.
"In absence of the CIC, the Commission wouldn't be able to exercise administrative as well as financial powers to ensure its smooth day-to-day functioning," said an official.
As per Section 12 of the J&K Right to Information Act, the general superintendence, direction and management of the State Information Commission vests in the State Chief Information Commissioner and he is to be assisted by the two State Information Commissioners.
JK's first Chief Information Commissioner, G R Sufi, had assumed office on March 1, 2011, and as per the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act. He completed his five year tenure on February 29.
One Information Commissioner, Dr S K Sharma, had demitted the office on October 31, 2015, on completion of his tenure strictly as per the provisions of the Act.
Now, the three-member Commission is headless as previous PDP-BJP coalition Government didn't set any process in motion to fill the vacant post.
"Nothing can be said about how long this Commission will remain headless as the Act clearly states that Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the Governor on the recommendations of a committee consisting of Chief Minister, who shall be Chairperson of the committee, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and a Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Chief Minister as its Members," said Raja Muzafar, a renowned RTI activist and founder and convener of J&K RTI Movement.
"In the absence of democratically elected Government this vital exercise cannot be carried out as such the appointment of new Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner depends upon the formation of new Government in the State", he added.
During his tenure as CIC, G R Sufi issued some important orders like declaring J&K Bank a Public Authority. The order was challenged before J&K High Court. Sufi declared some private schools as public authorities, he directed all the IAS and KAS officers of J&K to make voluntary disclosure of their property statements. He issued orders for giving information about mass graves, custodial disappearances and other matters.
G R Sufi even summoned the then Chief Secretary Madhav Lal over non-implementation of Right to Information Act. He gave some significant orders against Public Service Commission, SSB and SKIMS. In addition, G R Sufi organized several RTI awareness programmes.