Friday, December 8, 2023

Delhi HC issues notice to CIC for misinterpreting RTI Act provisions

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The Delhi High Court has issued notice in response to a petition filed by the Central government seeking the quashing of the order passed by the Central Information Commission alleging that it has misinterpreted the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Hearing the petition through video conferencing, a single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla noted, “There shall be a stay on the operation of the order till the next date of hearing.”

The petition filed by the Centre has alleged that CIC was not empowered to pass such directions and the same was without it’s jurisdiction. The CIC had directed the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) Division to make necessary changes to publish MP-wide, Constituency Wise and work-wise details with names of beneficiaries and reason for delay, if any, after duly procuring from the sources holding such information including the concerned district administration to ensure its voluntary disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act.

The petitioner contended that the CIC also directed it to collect information from concerned district authorities and furnish the information sought as far as their MP is concerned within one month, and publish it in their official website also. 

The plea has alleged that the directions given to petitioner are beyond the scope and the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and is ultra-vires the powers vested with the Central Information Commission under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The petition further averred that the issue as to whether political parties are under the ambit of Right to Information Act 2005, is pending adjudication/consideration before the Supreme Court. It said the parliamentary parties do not fall within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. 

The two petitions filed by the Central Government was against the two orders which were passed by the CIC. The first order which was passed by the CIC was in an appeal of RTI filed by Ram Gopal Dixit.

The filed RTI had sought information related to work initiated, pending and completed by Rajesh Kumar Diwakar, MP, Hathras Constituency, Annual Report, the agencies involved in the construction/ initiation/ completion of various projects of Public Welfare in Hathras Constituency, funds spent on such work etc. in  Hathras Constituency, Uttar Pradesh.

The second matter was filed against the CIC order on an appeal of RTI filed by Vishnu Dev Bhandari seeking information with reference to a letter of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation as which report has been sent to the Ministry in response to your above-noted letters. Provide a certified copy of the report, which order was passed by the Ministry on the report on the report sent by District Planning Officer, Madhubani. Provide a certified copy of the order and if the report has not been received, then what action has been taken again for compliance of the above-noted orders of the Ministry? Provide a certified copy of the action taken. 

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The Delhi High Court has listed the matter for further hearing on April 22, 2021.

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