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Chief Information Officer is not a Court for the purpose of Contempt of Courts Act
4. First and foremost, I am of the opinion that the Chief Information Officer is not a Court for the purpose of Contempt of Courts Act. Section 18 of the Right to Information Act cloths the said authorities with certain powers of a Court. In Sub-Section (3) of Section 18, it is provided as under:- "18(3) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be shall, while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters, namely:- (a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things; (b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents; (c) receiving evidence on affidavit;
(d) requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any Court or office;" Section 20 of the Right to Information Act pertains to penalties, which can be imposed when it is found that the Public Information Officer or the Public Information Officer has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under Sub-Section (1) of Section 7 or malafide denied request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information, which was the subject matter of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing information.
It can thus be seen that all acts or omissions connected with information which is mala fide withheld or information supplied is incorrect or incomplete or misleading, are dealt with under Section 20 by making such action penal. In this context, if one peruses Section 18, it clearly emerges that Information Commission is entrusted with the powers of Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for specified purposes such as summoning and enforcing attendance of persons and to compel them to give evidence, requiring the discovery and inspection of documents, receiving evidence on affidavit, requisitioning any public record or copies for issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents. Such powers cannot be construed as converting the said authority into a Court for all purposes much less for the purpose of Contempt of Courts Act.