Sunday, June 06, 2010

HC snubs CIC, says it can't set up probe committees

In the biggest snub so far to the Central Information Commission (CIC) from the higher judiciary, the Delhi High Court on Friday ruled that its chief commissioner had no power to set up benches or inquiry committees. The court quashed the information watchdog's 2007 regulation that empowered it to set up benches to hear RTI disputes and appoint inquiry committees. The court order puts a question mark over the legality of various benches of the CIC functioning in the capital, apart from the main bench headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah. It comes at a time when there are at least 10,000 cases pending before the commission. Besides, there are nine information commissioners holding separate sittings at present. The court order implies that all central RTI appeals must now be heard by all Information Commissions sitting jointly, like in the US Supreme Court. "There is no such prescription under the RTI Act or the rules validly made thereunder which provides for such benches of the Central Information Commission," said justices B.D. Ahmed and Veena Birbal.

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