Invoking the Latin maxim, ‘An act of the court shall prejudice no one,’ a division bench of the Punjab State Information Commission has snubbed one of its own commissioners to decide a case in favour of a senior Punjab Police official.
The court of state information commissioner Surinder Awasthi had issued a show-cause notice to Mohali SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar for “concealing’ information sought by a Chandigarh resident, Krishan Kumar Singla.
The division bench has now issued an order in this case, after chief information-commissioner Swaran Singh Channi, transferred case from Awasthi.
In the August 6 order, uploaded on the commission’s website on Tuesday, the double bench of state commissioners Chander Parkash and Harinder Pal Singh Mann have ruled that, “Bhullar has acted in a very responsible manner to ensure the supply of requisite information to the appellant and hence, the showcause issued to him is dropped.”
The order reads, “After hearing the parties concerned and examining documents placed on record, we are of the considered view that Bhullar has acted diligently and also went to the extent of taking action against the delinquent officials, IO Sulekh Chand and the RTI clerk ASI Pawan Dev, who showed only the judicial file to the appellant, in which, some of the documents were missing that were lying in the police file; both the judicial and police files should have been produced/showed to the appellant; recommended for initiation of departmental inquiry against them.”
The case was disposed of on the first day of hearing by the division bench saying appellant Singla had given a written submission that after Bhullar took over charge of SSP, Mohali, he ensured that information was provided ‘without any delay and he is satisfied with his conduct and does not want to proceed in this case’.
Singla had knocked the doors of the commission claiming that a false FIR had been registered against him by the police in ‘connivance’ with a builder on the basis of ‘forged’ papers and information provided to him under Right to Information (RTI) Act by the police did not contain those pages.
Later, the requisite information was traced to the police files by the director, Bureau of Investigation, and given to the applicant. The response of Bhullar to the show-cause notice was taken on record on June 17 and the next date of hearing was fixed for July 14.
But before the formal orders could be put on the commission’s website, Bhullar moved the chief information commissioner Swaran Singh Channy for transfer of the case to another bench and the latter did so “in the interest of justice” and subsequently wrote to the deputy registrar to get the case file transferred from Awasthi.
But, Awasthi dug in his heels and had claimed in his letter to the chief information commissioner that the latter had no power to transfer cases from one bench to another on the basis of ‘wild and concocted’ allegations of bias and when the case was close to being decided.