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Full Bench Hearing of CIC - on DoPT related matters


karira

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CIC has announced a Full Bench hearing on DoPT related issues on 20 October 2008.

 

S C Agarwal v/s DoPT

 

The issues to be decided are:

 

(i) Whether the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and High Court are

also covered under RTI Act;

(ii) The criterion for declaring Birth Days of departed leaders as gazetted

holidays;

(iii) Whether the DoPT Government of India has issued guidelines for

Govt. Officials to seek Govt. clearance before accepting any

international award;

(iv) Information about names of payees to be endorsed on pay

orders/drafts etc towards RTI fees for various Public authorities

covered under the RTI Act.

 

Written submissions should reach the CIC before 1700 Hrs. on 17 October 2008.

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The term "Full Bench" has been clarified in item 13 of the CIC (Management) Regulations 2007:

 

13. Posting of appeal or complaint before the Information

Commissioner:-

 

(i) An appeal or a complaint, or a class or categories of appeals or

complaints, shall be heard either by a Single Information

Commissioner or a Division Bench of two Information

Commissioners, or a Full Bench of three or more Information

Commissioners, as decided by the Chief Information Commissioner

by a special or general order issued for this purpose from time to

time.

 

(ii) Where in the course of the hearing of an appeal or complaint or

other proceeding before a Single Information Commissioner, the

Commissioner considers that the matter should be dealt with by a

Division or Full Bench, he shall refer the matter to the Chief

Information Commissioner who may thereupon constitute such a

Bench for the hearing and disposal of the matter.

 

(iii) Similarly, where during the course of the hearing of a matter before

a Division Bench, the Bench considers that the matter should be

dealt with by a Full Bench, or where a Full Bench considers that a

matter should be dealt with by a larger Bench, it shall refer the

matter to the Chief Information Commissioner who may thereupon

constitute such a Bench for the hearing and disposal of the matter.

 

It will be interesting to find out :

 

1. How many Hon'ble IC's are there in the full bench for this hearing as well as the Supreme Court hearing (requirement is minimum of 3) ?

2. Who are the IC's on the bench ?

3. Whether any of the new IC's are on the bench ? If yes, which ones ?

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The order has now been uploaded on the CIC website.

 

Can any member please read the attached order and try to make out what has the Full Bench of the CIC "ordered" or "decided" ?

 

What was the need for a full bench to be set up, comments called for from all parties, postpone the hearing and then pass a order like this ?

FB-05112008-01.pdf

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As reported in rediff.com on 12 November 2008:

Info on national holiday a threat to sovereignty?

 

Info on national holiday a threat to sovereignty?

 

Will revealing information about the criteria behind B R Ambedkar's birthday being declared as a national holiday be detrimental to sovereignty and integrity of India? Yes, it seems so if one went by the reply of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in response to a RTI plea.

 

'There shall be no obligation to give any citizen information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, therefore, under the provisions of act, no information can be provided,' the DoPT said.

 

RTI activist Subash Chandra Agrawal had approached the DoPT with an application asking the department to disclose the details and rules in regard to declaring the Dalit icon's birthday on April 14 as a holiday since 1990.

 

The department also refused to show the file notings in this regard saying that as per guidelines they do not come under information, hence cannot be provided.

 

But, the explanation did not augur well for the officials, who received flak from the Central Information Commission, which termed DoPT's reply as 'flippant and vexatious'.

 

A three-member bench of CIC comprising chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioners Annapurna Dixit and M M Ansari summoned the DoPT officials so that the identity of 'errant official', who issued the orders, can be determined and further action can be initiated.

 

Taking an exception to the response given by the DoPT, the CIC said 'the reasons given for refusal, giving weight to departmental instructions over the law as ruled, in a series of decisions of this Commission unchallenged by the errant public authority through Writ in any court, the response can only be described as flippant and vexatious'.

 

Agrawal in his application has asked about the procedure (in detail and with copy of documents) followed to declare the birthdays of eminent personalities as holidays.

 

He also wanted to know from DoPT why the birthdays of leaders like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose or Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru were not declared as national holidays on the lines of birthdays of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr BR Ambedkar.

 

"Is it fair that birthdays of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi or Ambedkar are made holidays contrary to their noble ideas of hard work," he asked.

 

In its first reply, the department said that Ambdekar's birth day was not one of the regular annual holidays. 'However, since 1990 the day has been declared as a holiday for all Central Government administrative offices,' the reply said.

 

CIC said that question of validity or otherwise of declaring holidays in memory of eminent citizens was beyond its jurisdiction but found that it was a case of clear refusal to provide information.

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