Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In a petition filed by the Union of India through the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to challenge the orders dated 16-09-2018 and 16-10-2018 passed by the Central Information Commission (‘CIC’), a Single Judge Bench of Subramonium Prasad, J., held that the impugned order stood eschewed to the extent of observations made by the CIC regarding the utilization and abuse of the MPLADS funds by the Members of Parliament (‘MPs’).

The respondent filed an application for the Right to Information (‘RTI’) on 26-09-2016 before the Central Public Information Officer, Lok Sabha seeking details of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (‘MPLADS’) along with other information. A reply was given on 21-10-2016, but dissatisfied with the reply, the respondent filed an appeal and a second appeal before the CIC.

It was the case of the petitioner that the CIC had exceeded its jurisdiction by commenting upon the action taken by the Members of Parliament in spending MPLADS funds which was beyond the jurisdiction of the CIC.

The petitioner contended that the CIC should have confined itself only to the question raised in the RTI application or any other aspect concerning the RTI.

The Court stated that a perusal of Section 18 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (‘RTI Act’) revealed that the CIC could only deal with issues relating to the information sought under the RTI Act or any other issue that leads to the dissipation of information as sought for by the applicant.

Further, the Court analyzed the impugned order and noted that the CIC had commented upon the utilization of funds receivable under MPLADS funds by various MPs and said that the CIC has no jurisdiction to comment adversely upon the functioning of any public authority.

The Court stated that the scope of the RTI Act is only to ensure that information sought under the RTI Act is dissipated to secure access to information under the control of the public authorities. Therefore, the Court said that the observations made by the CIC commenting upon how the Members of Parliament are utilizing the MPLADS funds had to be expunged.

While disposing of the petition, the Court held that the extent of observations, in the impugned order, made by the CIC regarding the utilization and abuse of MPLADS funds stood eschewed/shunned. However, the Court retained the portion of the impugned order whereby the CIC had directed the public authority under Section 19(8)(a)(iii) of the RTI Act to publish the details of the funds, MP-wise, Constituency-wise, and work-wise

[Union of India v. Ram Gopal Dixit, W.P. (C) 5252 of 2020, Order dated 15-05-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Petitioner — SPC Rahul Sharma, Advocate C.K. Bhatt, Advocate Ayush Bhatt

For Respondent — Advocate Lalit Bhardwaj, Advocate Jatin Anand Dwivedi

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