Central Information Commission UPSC: Powers, Functions of CIC, Chief Information Commissioner

By Ritesh|Updated : September 23rd, 2022

In India, the Central Information Commission is an important institution for the smooth operation of democracy and good government. The CIC was established on October 12, 2005, under the RTI Act of 2005. It has control over all central government agencies. It is made up of a Chief Information Commissioner and 10 Information Commissioners. The Central Information Commission is not a constitutional body. 

The Central Information Commission is an important topic for the UPSC Exam and has weightage both in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. The topic is covered under the Polity section of the UPSC Syllabus. The article sheds light on the various aspects of the CIC, such as the powers and functions of CIC, the Present Chief Information Commissioner, RTI Act, and CIC, etc. 

Table of Content

What is Central Information Commission?

The Central Information Commission or CIC is a statutory body established under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Section 12 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 deals with forming the Central Information Commission. The Chief Information Commission is also the watchdog of informative secrecy and denial of information. The constitution of India under Article 19 gives the right to freedom of speech and expression, but speech and expression come from knowledge and information.

The Central Information Commission is the authorized body in India to investigate customer complaints from individuals unable to submit information requests to a Central or State Public Information Officer because the officer has not been appointed or has refused to entertain the request under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) because the officer has not been specified.

>> Download Notes on CIC UPSC 

Central Information Commission: Composition

The Central Information Commission is headed by a Chief Information Commissioner and has a maximum of 10 Information Commissioners.

  • The CIC members should be people of eminent personal life with a wide knowledge of laws, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, governance, etc.
  • The president appoints the Central Information Commission on the committee's recommendation, consisting of the prime minister as head, the opposition leader in Lok Sabha, and any cabinet ministers of the union nominated by the prime minister as members.
  • The tenure of the Central Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners is decided by the central government or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They are not eligible for reappointment.
  • The salary, allowances, and service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner or Information Commissioners depend on the central government.
  • The president can remove the CIC Commissioner on the advice of the Supreme Court on the ground of proven misbehavior or incapacity.

Powers and Functions of Central Information Commission

As the Central Information Commission was established under the RTI act 2005. The Right to Information Act is a tool that has been instrumental in unearthing corruption and institutionalizing democracy.

  • The Central Information Commission is also empowered to look into the complaints about the Right to Information from governmental institutions, financial institutions, and public sector institutions.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner is also known as the watchdog of Informative secrecy.
  • The Chief Information Commission also has powers to fine Public Service with respect to negligence in giving information.
  • The Central Information Commission looks into the cases related to-
    • Non-appointment of Public Information Officer.
    • Not giving information on time.
    • Information that is given is false or misleading.
    • The fees charged that is unreasonable.
  • It has the power of civil court concerning -
    • Summoning
    • Producing documents and public records.
    • Requiring evidence on affidavits.
  • The CIC is an active body that safeguards the rights of citizens in securing -
    • Compliance and access to information.
    • Encourage proactive disclosure.
    • Ensuring that information is categorized and published.
    • How the records can be kept?
  • The Central Information Commission submits its annual report to the Government of India, which is then placed before both houses of the Parliament.

Chief Information Commissioner

The Appointment Committee for the Central Chief Information Commissioner consists of the President of India, on whose recommendation the appointment committee consists of the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, and a Cabinet Minister appointed by the Prime Minister.

Currently, the post of Chief Information Commissioner of India is held by Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha.

Chief Information Commissioner: Service Conditions and Tenure 

The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners hold the office as prescribed by the Government of India or until they age 65 years or whatever applies first. There is no concept of reappointment of the members. The president of India can remove the tenure of the Chief Information Commissioner or the Information Commissioner under the following circumstances-

  • If the member is convicted of any offense, in the opinion of the President of India.
  • If the member is adjudged insolvent.
  • If the member gets engaged during the term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of the office.
  • If the member is involved in financial activities, which are likely to affect the prejudice of the official functions.

CIC of India

The CIC of India has to fill the vacant post as soon as possible and provide transparency in the appointment of the Central Information Commission, as there is no documentation regarding the selection criteria.

  • The commission also has to work on pending cases of applicants seeking information by increasing its composition.
  • The Commission's role should be to ensure accountability to the public and also help in reducing corruption by putting a stop to the use of black money in the election.
  • The Commission should include effective grievance redressal to check corruption, nepotism, and misuse of authority.

Issues with Central Information Commission

The Central Information Commission takes an average of 388 days (more than a year) to resolve an appeal/complaint when it is lodged with the CIC. It is one of the most concerning issues.

  • There is always an issue concerning the transparency in the appointment of the Central Information Commission, as there has been no documentation with respect to the selection criteria of the CIC.
  • It is rarely seen that government officials are punished after breaking the law.
  • Despite the repeated directions from the court, there are still vacancies in the CIC.
  • Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the central government and all state governments have to give a status report of the latest developments regarding the pendency of cases and vacancies in the state information commission and central information commission.

RTI Act and Central Information Commission

The Right to Information Act has been India's tool and structural change to combat corruption. In the open and transparent governmental functioning, files have been moved with transparency and accountability.

  • The Right to Information Act of 2005 is more instrumental in bringing transparency than any other previous attempt.
  • Section 12 and Section 15 of the RTI Act, 2005 deal with the formation of the Central Information Commission and State Information Commission. Some sections of the RTI Act, 2005 related to the Central Information Commission are :
    • Section 13- Tenure, salary, allowances, and service conditions are decided by the Central government.
    • Section 14- Removal of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner. i.e. They can be removed by the President on the advice of the supreme court.
  • Central Information Commission and Right to Information Act, 2005 has monumentally changed governmental functioning and raised the level of accountability and transparency as. Transparency is an important way to address developmental failures and democratic deficits and accountability. (democracy is not a periodic or the 5-year affair but a daily plebiscite.

Central Information Commission - Draft Rules

Recently drafted rules were released by the department of personnel and training in which power, perks, etc. of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner were released like-

  • The earlier tenure of 5 years and pay and perks similar to the Election Commission has changed. Now their tenure, power, condition, perks, and pay are decided by the government.
  • According to the recent department of personnel and training, the terms of the condition of the central information commission, which includes his pay/perks, should be similar to that of the Cabinet Secretary, which is significantly lower than the Election Commission.
  • It also implies that they will be downgraded to various notches in the Table of Precedence.
  • If it is accepted, the sumptuary allowances will see a fall of Rs 10,000 per month and will also become ineligible for various other allowances available to Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner.

Central Information Commission UPSC

Central Information Commission or the CIC UPSC topic is a part of Indian Polity and is of great relevance. It is an important topic and may appear in the UPSC Prelims exam or Mains GS. To prepare the Right to Information Act, 2005 and the Central Information Commission topic, one can refer to NCERT Books for UPSC or check the list of relevant UPSC Books.

It is a part of the UPSC Syllabus and must be complemented with current affairs.

>> Central Information Commission UPSC Notes

Central Information Commission UPSC Question

Download the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to have a better understanding of what kind of questions are asked.

Question - Consider the following statement regarding the Central Information Commission.

Which of the following are members of the appointed committee?

  1. Prime Minister
  2. Opposition Leader of the Lok Sabha.
  3. Anyone cabinet minister.
  4. Home Minister

Choose the correct option

  1. 1 and 2 only.
  2. 2, 3, and 4 only.
  3. 1, 2, and 3 only.
  4. All of the above.

Answer - Option C

Question - Which of the following is/are correct regarding the Central Information Commission?

  1. CIC is the Constitutional body.
  2. Having not more than ten members.
  3. Salary, allowances and service conditions are the same as CEC/ECS.

Choose the correct option

  1. 1 only.
  2. 2 and 3 only.
  3. 1 and 3 only.
  4. All of the above.

Answer - Option A

Other Important UPSC Notes
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Masala BondsNo Confidence Motion
Financial Action Task Force (FATF)Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code [IBC]
SEBI UPSCIndia-China Relations
Attorney General of IndiaSimon Commission

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Central Information Commission [CIC] FAQs

  • The Central Information Commission [CIC] is a statutory body established under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

  • Yashwardhan Sinha is appointed as 11th Chief Information Commissioner.

  • The main functions of the CIC are:

    • Non-appointment of Public Information Officer.
    • Not giving information on time.
    • Information that is given is false or misleading.
    • The fees charged that is unreasonable.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner has the power of the civil court. i.e., he can order for:

    • Summoning
    • Producing documents and public records.
    • Requiring evidence on affidavits
  • The first Chief Information Commissioner was Wajahat Habibullah. And the first woman Chief Information Commissioner was, Deepak Sandhu.

  • The President appoints the Chief Information Commissioner on the advice of a committee that includes the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and a Union Cabinet Minister chosen by the Indian Prime Minister in the Central Information Commission.

  • The Central Information Commission, or the CIC, is an important institution for the smooth operation of democracy and good government. The topic is important from the UPSC 2023 point of view. Students can download the CIC UPSC Notes from UPSC 2023 point of view. Students can download the CIC UPSC Notes from here.

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