The Himachal Pradesh high court on Friday admitted Priyanka Gandhi’s contempt plea in a land case and issued show-cause notice to chief information commissioner Bhim Sen and information commissioner KD Batish.
The HC asked the two officials as to why contempt proceeding should not be initiated against them for deliberately disobeying the court’s order.
Special double bench comprising justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and justice PS Rana also stayed further proceedings pending before the state information commission in the matter pertaining to land purchased by Priyanka at Charabara near Shimla for construction.
Listing the case for September 11, the court directed both Bhimsen and Batish to remain present during the next hearing. The court had on July 7 stayed the commission's June 29 order directing Shimla district administration to divulge information on land purchased by Priyanka to RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya.
Priyanka had also filed an application before the court demanding a stay on different orders of division bench of Sen and Batish that directed deputy commissioner (DC), additional district magistrate (ADM) and sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) to reveal the information on land bought by her. She also submitted that the matter was interlinked to the previous petition that was filed to challenge the SIC’s June 29 order.
Batish had argued, "Even top political figures such as the Prime Minister and former PMs with SPG protection provide information about their immovable and movable assets in their election affidavits.”
Despite stay, the state information commission on July 23 heard Shimla DC and other officials in the case and asked why information was not given in time to the activist. Priyanka’s counsel submitted that the high court had put a stay on proceedings, but the commission maintained that it was not committing any contempt.
On July 23, the commission had directed the Shimla district administration to file a reply on delay in giving the information the under RTI Act. On July 25, the commission again issued notices to the Shimla additional district magistrate and the staff concerned for ‘concealing' the information in the case.
Nov 19: RTI activist moves state information commission to seek info on land purchased by Priyanka near Shimla, files second appeal
June 29: State information commission directs DC to divulge information
July 6: Priyanka moves HC against order
July 7: HC stays information panel‘s order
July 23: Panel issues notice to DC, ADM and SDM over delay in providing information to RTI activist
July 25: Shimla ADM gets another notice for ‘concealing’ information
Aug 3: Priyanka files plea in HC seeking stay on panel’s notices to DC and others
Aug 4: Priyanka files a contempt plea
Aug 7: HC issues show-cause notices to both information commissioners