Heeralal Samariya Becomes First Dalit Chief Information Commissioner
In a significant development, Heeralal Samariya, a senior bureaucrat, has been appointed as the chief of the Central Information Commission (CIC). President Droupadi Murmu administered the oath of office to Samariya, making him the first Dalit person to hold this esteemed position. The vacancy had arisen after the completion of YK Sinha’s term on October 3.
Heeralal Samariya has had an illustrious career in public service and previously served as the Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment. His appointment brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the transparency panel.
The Central Information Commission is headed by the Chief Information Commissioner and can have a maximum of 10 information commissioners. The Supreme Court, in its directive on October 30, had urged the central and state governments to fill the vacant positions, emphasizing that failure to do so would render the 2005 Right to Information Act ineffective.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) was mandated by the Supreme Court to collect information from all states regarding the number of authorized information commissioners in State Information Commissions (SIC), the current vacancies, and the total number of pending cases. The Chief Justice DY Chandrachud-led bench highlighted the importance of addressing the matter, stating that the Right to Information Act of 2005 would become obsolete otherwise.
In December 2019, the Supreme Court had instructed the central and state governments to fill all information commissioner vacancies at the CIC and SICs within three months. This directive aimed to establish guidelines that would prevent the misuse of the Right to Information Act.
Heeralal Samariya’s appointment as the Chief Information Commissioner marks a milestone in Dalit representation in top government positions. This move is expected to bring a fresh perspective and promote transparency and accountability within the Central Information Commission.