The Delhi High Court on Friday came down heavily on the Central Information Commission (CIC) and its chief on its order against the DDA Vice-Chairman after he failed to appear before it with regard to an RTI matter, saying they had exceeded their powers.

“This is a case where the Central Information Commission and Chief Information Commissioner have travelled beyond their boundaries of power and have thereby transgressed the provisions of the very Act which created them,” said a Division Bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Veena Birbal.

The Bench set aside the CIC’s September 2009 order against the senior-most officer of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and said “no adverse inference could have been drawn for the absence of Vice-Chairman, DDA.”

The Bench said CIC “is a creature of the statute and its powers and functions are circumscribed by the statute.”

It could call any person to be present in the hearing before it for the purposes of giving evidence—oral or written or for producing any document.

“The Vice-Chairman, DDA was not summoned for either giving oral evidence or written evidence or to produce any document or things in his possession. He was directed to be present for other reason, that power is not there with the CIC,” the Court added.

The Court also set aside the Commission’s order appointing an enquiry committee to go into the details of servicing of the RTI Act by all wings and sections of DDA.

On September 22 last year, the CIC had formed the Committee comprising Director Ministry of Urban Development Shujata Chaturvedi, Dunu Roy from Hazards Centre and Pankaj KP Shreyaskar, Joint Registrar, and sought a report within 45 working days from the date of order.

The CIC order had come after Secretary DDA V M Bansal was not able to clarify various points raised by the Commission while hearing the plea of an RTI applicant Sarbajit Roy who had complained of poor implementation of RTI Act at the Authority.

Keywords: RTI Act

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