Current Affairs

HC issues notice on SIC Appointment

A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice A.P.Lavande and Justice U.V.Bakre today directed that notices be issued  to the Goa Government and Dr. Pradeep Padwal.

The Court order today came after hearing of a petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues challenging the appointment of retired Deputy Director of Health Services Dr. Pradeep Padwal as the Goa State Information Commissioner.

Stating that Dr Padwal did not have any knowledge and experience of law, Adv. Aires Rodrigues has in his petition submitted that the State Information Commissioner having to necessarily discharge judicial and quasi judicial functions was required to have a judicial approach with vast knowledge and experience of law.

Pointing out that Sec 15 of the RTI Act required that the State Information Commissioner be a person of Eminence in public life, Adv. Rodrigues has also drawn the attention of the High Court that a Vigilance case was pending against Dr Padwal for having while on active duty as Medical Inspector of Factories, done a full time course of Post graduate diploma in Occupational Health without obtaining the required Government permission and without any study leave.

Alleging that the appointment of Dr Padwal was arbitrary, Adv. Rodrigues has in his petition submitted that despite other candidates possessing judicial and legal experience, yet a person, with no legal knowledge and experience of law whatsoever had been appointed to a judicial post as State Information Commissioner at the whims and fancies of the Government and without any consultation with the High Court.

Adv. Rodrigues has in his petition also stated that the Supreme Court which is considering the constitutional validity of Section 15(5) of the RTI Act had by an interim order on 19th July 2012 restrained any further appointment of Information Commissioners.

Stating that Information Commissioners must be persons with judicial experience and knowledge of law to be able to decide complex issues of law and jurisdiction arising under the RTI Act, Adv. Rodrigues has submitted that if Section 15(5) of the RTI Act was construed as not requiring knowledge & experience in law, it would be violative of Articles 14, 16, 19 (1) (g) and 50 of the Constitution of India.

Adv. Rodrigues has in his petition also stated that the manner of selection of the State Information Commissioner was violative of the Constitution and by not providing for consultation with the High Court in the matter of appointments, it undermines the constitutional scheme of division of powers between the judiciary and the executive.

Adv. Rodrigues has also stated that this was violative of the basic structure of the Constitution which requires that judicial forums like that of the Information Commission be under the supervision and control of the judiciary, requiring effective consultation with the High Court before such appointments are made.

While also pointing out that Dr Padwal’s appointment was not notified in the Official gazette as was required, Adv. Aires Rodrigues has sought a Writ of quo warranto requiring the government to show under what authority Dr Padwal had been appointed as the State Information Commissioner and to quash and set aside his appointment.

After educationist Pandurang Nadkarni backed out from the race for State Information Commissioner the Goa government by an order issued on 19th July appointed Dr Pradeep Padwal. He took over as State Information Commissioner on August 10 after being administered the oath. The State Information Commissioner is entitled to a salary and allowances on par with the Chief Secretary of over Rs 1, 20,000 a month.

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