Delhi HC sets aside CIC order to gag complainant
New Delhi: While deciding a writ petition filed by an employee with the BHEL, Hon’ble Delhi High Court has recently set aside the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) imposing the cost on the “information seeker/ complainant”. CIC has held that the complainant, Praveen Kumar Jha employed with the Education Management Board of BHEL, is in the habit of filing “frivolous applications” and hence suggested to the public authority to take disciplinary action against him and also recover the cost incurred on the transportation of the Central Information Officer for coming to Delhi to attend the hearing at the Commission. The Commission further directed the Board to recover the cost from the salary of the complainant. While challenging the decision of the CIC, Jha alleged that the Commission holds no such power to impose any cost on the complainant. He also pleaded that while deciding the complaints filed by him, the Commission overstepped its powers in imposing cost on him and directing the Public Authority to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him, without giving any opportunity to the petitioner. The bench headed by Justice S Murlidhar set aside the order of the Commission imposing cost on the complainant and recommending disciplinary proceedings against him. Justice Murlidhar held that the Commission has been given some powers of a Civil Court under Section 18 (3) of the Right to Information Act, but the Commission has not been vested with all inherent powers of a civil court. In absence of any such power, there is no legal basis for imposing cost on and directing disciplinary action against the complainant. For details, please contact Mr Divya Jyoti Jaipuriar, Adv. on +91-9868002365. Copy of the order of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court is enclosed herewith for reference.