Two Info Commissioners stop work after HC order

A N Tiwari and Deepak Sandhu did not carry out hearings

PTI | May 26, 2010



At least two Information Commissioners at Central Information Commission today postponed the hearing of appeals till the government clears the air on the constitution of benches at the panel.

Information Commissioners A N Tiwari and Deepak Sandhu did not carry out hearings today. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah is out of station at present.

When contacted, offices of both the Commissioners confirmed that hearings have been postponed because of last week's Delhi High Court decision on the working of the transparency panel.

Rest of the Commissioners carried out hearings of scheduled cases.

Ramesh Tripathi, whose case was scheduled for hearing before Tiwari through video-conferencing from Jharsuguda, Orissa, said he travelled nearly 40 kilometres for the hearing only to be told that it has been postponed.

"My appeal was against an RTI reply sent by Coal India. I was scheduled to report at 11 am today. But I was told that the hearing has been postponed without giving any reasons," Tripathi told PTI.

The move was expected as some Commissioners wanted suspension of work in the wake of a Delhi High Court decision which struck down 'The Central Information Commission (Management) Regulations, 2007' framed by the Chief Information Commissioner for deciding appeals under the RTI.

The Chief Information Commissioner had convened a meeting of all the Information Commissioners yesterday to discuss the repercussions of the High Court decision where some Commissioners have expressed reservations over continuing hearing of appeals.

They had said continuation of work would mean contempt of court as the decision raises a question mark over the legality of hearing process at the panel, sources said.

The view did not get support of Habibullah and other members who said stopping work would not be in public interest, they said.

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

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

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