New Delhi: Former IAS officer Heeralal Samariya was on Monday sworn in as the Chief Information Commissioner by President Droupadi Murmu.
The post was lying vacant following the completion of Y K Sinha's tenure on October 3.
Samariya, the first Dalit to have been appointed to the post, was working as information commissioner in the transparency panel Central Information Commission (CIC).
A 1985-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Telangana cadre, Samariya retired after serving as the Labour and Employment Secretary in the government of India. He was sworn in as the Information Commissioner on November 7, 2020.
Samairya's swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan was attended by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh among others.
The Supreme Court had on October 30 asked the Centre and the state governments to take steps to fill the post, saying otherwise the 2005 law on the Right to Information would become a "dead letter".
Taking a serious note of vacancies in the CIC and state information commissions (SICs), a bench comprising Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra had also asked the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to collect information from all states on aspects, including the sanctioned strength of information commissioners in the SICs, vacancies at present and the total number of pending cases there.
Later on Monday, Samariya assumed the charge of chief of the transparency watchdog and administered the oath of office to two Information Commissioners -- Anandi Ramalingam and Vinod Kumar Tiwari -- at a swearing-in ceremony organised in Central Information Commission.
Ramalingam, before joining as the Information Commissioner, was holding the post of Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Electronics Ltd. She is a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Electronics and Communication Engineering.
She also has experience in the field of procurement, conceptualisation, design and development and production of equipment, technical matters and coordination with different authorities and RTI matters. Her area of expertise includes administration and governance.
Tiwari, a 1986-batch Indian Forest Service officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre, also served as Additional Secretary in the Coal Ministry.
Before joining as Information Commissioner, he held the post of Head of force-cum-Principal Chief Conservator of Forests as head of Himachal Pradesh forest department, Shimla. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Science and a Master's degree in Geology. His area of expertise includes administration and governance.
Even after these appointments, there are still vacancies of six Information Commissioners.
The Commission is headed by the Chief Information Commissioner and can have a maximum of 10 Information Commissioners. A Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners can hold the office till they attain 65 years of age.