Can't penalise political parties as they have no CPIO: CIC

Can't penalise political parties as they have no CPIO: CIC

 Expressing its helplessness in implementing its order bringing six political parties within the purview of the RTI Act, CIC has said it cannot impose any penalty on them as they have not appointed any Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) against whom such an action can be taken by it.

The order given on a complaint of RTI activist Subhash Agrawal and the Association of Democratic Reforms will have far-reaching effect on the writ of the Central Information Commission (CIC) to enforce its orders as bodies declard by it as public authorities may choose to ignore its orders citing this decision.

A Bench of three former bureaucrats -- Vijai Sharma, Manjula Parashar and Sharat Sabharwal -- passed this order yesterday. All three have applied for the position of Chief Information Commissioner, which has to be decided by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and a Cabinet Minister.

"It is clear that the respondents have not implemented, as public authorities, the directions contained in the Commission's order. In this light, the provisions for penalty and compensation were examined.

"It is felt that though the respondents have not taken any step towards compliance, the legal position is such that in this case imposition of penalty and award of compensation cannot be considered," the Bench said in its order.

The Commission has powers of a civil court under Section 18(3) while deciding on complaints to summon and enforcing the attendance of persons (which need not be CPIO) and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things. It can also use the powers under the Act on "any other matter which may be prescribed". However, such powers were not exercised by the Bench.

"Being a statutory body, if its orders are not complied, CIC can approach a criminal court under provisions of CrPC and file a complaint that its orders are not being followed. It is true that CIC has limited powers but it can always approach a court to get its orders enforced," former Chief Information Commissioner A N Tiwari said.

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