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Delhi HC impact: CIC emerges divided house

The Delhi High Court`s decision on the working of Central Information Commission has divided the panel.



New Delhi: The Delhi High Court`s decision
on the working of Central Information Commission has divided
the panel as some commissioners have favoured suspension of
work till government clears the issue of constitution of
benches, while others rejected the demand.

A meeting of all the Information Commissioners was
convened by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah
Tuesday where some senior-most commissioners said that hearings
should be stopped till the issue of benches is clarified by
the government, sources privy to meeting said.

When contacted, Habibullah refused to comment on the
proceedings of the meeting but said there would be no change
in the working of the Commission.

"We have sought legal opinion on the order. I have been
told that there was nothing in the order which barred the
hearing by individual commissioners. We will abide by the High
Court order and will approach the government seeking clarity
on the matter but the work will continue," Habibullah said.

The Delhi High Court on Friday struck down `The Central
Information Commission (Management) Regulations, 2007`
framed by the Chief Information Commissioner for deciding
appeals under the RTI, saying the CIC has no power to enact
such regulations under the transparency law.

The court order was seen by some Information
commissioners as a question mark over the legality of the
manner in which appeals are heard before it, sources said.

At present, appeals are heard by individual commissioners
or a group of commissioners in Division or Full Bench
depending on the matter.

Two senior-most commissioners said hearings should be
stopped as continuation in the present manner would mean
contempt of court. The view did not get support of the Chief
Information Commissioner and two other members who said
stopping work would not be in public interest, they said.

Meanwhile, rest of the members remain indecisive about
continuing the hearing.

When the meeting was about to end the members demanding
suspension of hearings asked Habibullah to issue an order for
continuation of work and said in case there is a contempt of
court, he must own responsibility for the same.

"The constitution of benches has nothing to do with the
rules that have been struck down by the Delhi High Court. CIC
was working in this manner even before these rules came into
being in 2007. The order does not say that hearing appeals in
such a way is illegal or should be stopped," they said.

PTI

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