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‘Delhi HC order `impinged` on the autonomy of CIC’

In a scathing criticism of the Delhi HC order scrapping the procedure followed by CIC for disposal of appeals, Information Commissioner M M Ansari on Friday said the order has impinged the autonomy in the functioning of the panel.



New Delhi: In a scathing criticism of the
Delhi High Court order scrapping the procedure followed by CIC
for disposal of appeals, Information Commissioner M M Ansari
on Friday said the order has impinged the autonomy in the
functioning of the panel.

"Not only autonomy in the functioning of the CIC has
thus been impinged upon but the future course of action, in
respect of protecting the rights of information seekers, has
been halted at the costs of jeopardizing the on-going RTI
movement launched by the civil society and strongly supported
by the UPA Government," Ansari said.
The High Court had struck down the rules framed by the
Chief Information Commissioner on the procedure for deciding
appeals before it under the RTI, saying the CIC has no power
to enact such regulations under the transparency law.
HC quashes rules framed by CIC prescribing appeal procedure

The order was passed on a plea of DDA seeking quashing of
Central Information Commission (Management) Regulations, 2007
enacted by the Commissioner to decide procedure for special
appeals before itself.

The Commissioner said the implications of the High Court
order was that a single or division bench cannot decide an
appeal before the Commission.

Contending that the order has created a crisis, he
said,"The CIC would have to decide all the appeals in a full
bench of all Information Commissioners till the RTI Act is
amended to incorporate relevant provisions for constitution of
benches."
The Commissioner said RTI Act empowers the Information
Commissions with same powers as are vested in a Civil Court
and to autonomously exercise all its powers without being
subjected to directions by any other authorities under this
Act.

When contacted Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat
Habibullah said,"These are personal views of Ansari."

In his statement, Ansari said the legality of the
procedure followed by the CIC in disposal of cases was also
not the issue before the Court.

"A large number of decisions of the Information
Commissions ? the Central and States have been challenged in
different Courts. But, the Courts, including HC of Delhi has
never before questioned the procedural guidelines followed by
the Commission," he said.

Ansari is the first Information Commissioner to publicly
air his views. He also attacked the government for not
framing rules for the functioning of the Commission, saying
this could have averted the present crisis.

He said,"Such interferences by the Government, and now
the Court, tantamount to infringement in autonomous
functioning the CIC, which has the mandate to ensure
realization of people?s rights to seek information held by the
Government."

PTI

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