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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

From now, CIC order review only in courts

New Delhi: In a move that smacks of bureaucratic red tapism, the Central Information Commission (CIC) will no longer allow review of its decisions. A recent change in the CIC (Management) Regulations, 2007, now makes it clear that CIC’s decision can only be reviewed through a writ filed in the high court and Supreme Court.

According to chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, the rules were not in consonance with law. ‘‘We have changed the rules as under law a court cannot review its own decisions. The CIC does not have the review power unless there is an error of law or facts.’’ Habibullah said that applicants had misunderstood the rules and so a correction had been made. Information commissioners admit privately that the number of review applications had begun to rise and this was becoming difficult to handle.

The rule had earlier said that an appellant can make an application to the chief information commissioner for special leave to appeal or review of a decision or order of the case and mention the grounds for such a request. It was left on the discretion of the CIC to ‘‘consider and decide the matter as he thinks fit.’’ The decision has now been restricted to read — ‘‘A decision or an order once pronounced by the Commission shall be final’’.

RTI activists, on the other hand, have cried foul over the changes. Col Lokesh Batra said, ‘‘Now a complainant can no longer ask for special leave to review a decision.’’ Said Subhash Chandra Agarwal who has filed two review petitions that the decision will impact RTI. ‘‘In my application regarding information on Padma awardees, I had asked how it was possible for a jury spread across India to shortlist 100 names from the thousands in just one or two meetings. I had five queries but only one was answered,’’ he said.

Agarwal said that there should be a provision within the rules for a review by a larger Bench. ‘‘This will cut down on litigation costs and also bring about a consistency in the performance of information commissioners,’’ he added.

Publication: Times Of India Delhi; Date: Oct 30, 2008; Section: Times Nation; Page: 13
Himanshi Dhawan | TNN

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