For a first year law student, internship at CIC is strongly advisable! Read on!
I worked at the Central Information Commission under Mr. Shailesh Gandhi, Information Commissioner in the year 2009 for a period of 6 weeks. The overall experience of working with the Commission was wonderful and I definitely got a good grasp on the functioning of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The Commission office is located in the Old JNU Campus near the IIT flyover. It is a minute away from the vibrant SDA market which houses one of the LST franchises where I attended classes for my law entrance exams. Being near IIT, it certainly was accessible using the Bus system. The same was not true for the Metro seeing as there was no connectivity via Metro nearby. Thus, distance could be a problem if you are not from around South Delhi.
The work in office is essentially what you expect from a government office in terms of the hours that need to be put in. For a fresher like me it was certainly interesting as my work involved continuous use of the RTI Act; be it in drafting responses to letters from Public authorities and information applications or making briefs of the matters to be heard by the Commissioner.
The most fascinating part of my internship was definitely attending the hearings in which the details of the files pored over by me culminated swiftly into a final decision. People might not like the work in the Commission owing to the fact that it was largely clerical.
After a while, processing letters and responding to them became a little monotonous. Luckily, I dabbled in updating the online RTI forum maintained by the Commission wherein the recent decisions and actions taken were posted.
Owing to Mr. Shailesh Gandhi’s tireless efforts, the Commission under his charge was not only most efficient but also very professional as well. I saw little evidence of the stereotypical bureaucratic dilly-dallying that we lambast our government offices for. Mr. Gandhi’s work ethic ensured that his staff gave it their all as well. In my time, there was a healthy mix of young law students and appointed officers who were manning the Commission.
He even managed to attract a Rhodes Scholar to continuously improve work standards! The balance between exuberance and experience ensured that the office was always buzzing. The good vibes accounted for letters being processed and responded to faster and consequently, the implementation of the Act in an efficient manner.
Firstly, do try and intern for as long a period as possible. I noticed that I got more varied work because of the fact that I interned for 6 weeks over someone who did it for 4 weeks. This included the chance of getting work out of the office when I was sent to Delhi University as the Commission’s representative to try and facilitate faster compliance with the proactive disclosure clauses of the RTI Act.
Secondly, the CIC is wonderful for interning in your first year. With every successive year however, an intern would be of more assistance owing to him having a greater depth of legal knowledge.
Finally, Mr., Gandhi is an exceptional Commissioner and particularly famous for setting standards when it comes to the rate of disposal of cases. Do not do him and yourself a disservice by shirking work.