Caught between the contradictory judgments by the Delhi and Patna high courts on whether the Central Information Commission (CIC) can frame its rules to hear RTI appeals, the information panel has decided to approach the Supreme Court for a final verdict.
The national transparency watchdog, in its weekly meeting attended by all the nine information commissioners and chaired by Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, decided to move the SC to end confusion on the issue.
The move was triggered by a Delhi high court verdict on May 21, declaring that the commission had no power to set-up benches for hearing RTI appeals or form inquiry committees.
The court, in its judgment, quashed the information watchdog’s 2007 regulation that empowered it to set up benches to hear RTI disputes and appoint inquiry committees.
The judgment, however, is in stark contrast to the Patna HC verdict on a similar issue, delivered in November last year.
“In view of the contradictory judgments on the issue, the commission in its latest meeting decided to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court for the sake of finality in the matter,” Habibullah told HT.
“Earlier our view was not to move the top court, but taking into account the views of our colleagues we have decided to go ahead,” he said.
The Patna court had ruled that the RTI Act, 2005, permitted a state information commission to allow any information commission to sit in a single bench and decide the RTI appeals.
“Section 15 (4) of the RTI Act makes it clear that the state information commissioner shall have all the powers and would be competent to take any functional decision. It is not necessary that all members of the commission must jointly
participate. It is for them to decide,” the Patna high court had ruled.