The Bombay High Court on Monday ruled that nothing in the Right to Information Act, 2005 empowers the State or Central Information Commission to constitute any committee or conduct any enquiry on its behalf and stayed the implementation of an order passed by an Information Commissioner directing the Department of Economic Affairs to conduct an enquiry.
Division bench of Justice KK Tated and Justice SV Kotwal was hearing the case of Chief Public Information and Anr vs Chief Information Commissioner and Anr wherein the CPIO had challenged an order passed by the Information Commissioner dated April 28, 2017 directing the CMD and the Joint Secretary (Currency), Department of Economic Affairs to conduct a detailed inquiry into the case at hand and submit its inquiry report to the Commission.
Court stayed the implementation of the said order passed by Bimal Julka, Information Commissioner, CIC.
Petitioner's counsel Yogesh Bhate submitted that the impugned order passed by the IC is beyond his jurisdiction. In support of his contention, he relied on the judgment of the Delhi High Court in the matter of Delhi Development Authority Vs. Central Information Commission & Anr. In the said judgement, High Court had ruled-
"In so far as provisions of Section 19, which pertain to appeals, are concerned, the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission in its decision in an appeal, has the power to, inter alia, require the public authority to take such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of the RTI Act which obviously includes the provisions of Section 4 which spells out the obligations of the public authorities. Section 19(8)(a)(vi) clearly indicates that the information Commission with an annual report in compliance with Clause (b) of Subsection (1) of Section 4.
There is nothing in Section 19 which empowers an Information Commission, be it the Central or the State Commission, to constitute any committee to initiate or conduct any inquiry for and on its behalf.
None of the rules deal with the powers of inquiry of the Central Information Commission. Therefore, there is nothing prescribed either in the Act or the Rules made thereunder, whereby the Central Information Commission could be said to have been empowered to delegate its power of inquiry under Section 18 to some other person or a committee of persons."
Thus, accepting the argument advanced by the petitioner's counsel and citing judgement of Delhi HC in Delhi Development Authority Vs. Central Information Commission & Anr, Court admitted the writ petition and allowed prayer clause (b) which sought a stay on the Information Commissioner's order pending the hearing of the present petition.