By:Mohan Lal Verma
The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday summoned the state Chief Information Commissioner and also stated the proceedings related to providing information about the land purchase by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra near Shimla.
A division bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice P.S. Rana, which was hearing the contempt petition of Vadra, issued a notice to Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Commissioner K.D. Batish asking them about the delay in proceedings and disobeying the High court orders of July 7, whereby the proceedings of State Information Commissioner were stayed.
The bench directed them to appear in the court on 11th September for the next date of hearing. The information commission on 23rd July rapped up government officials, including Deputy Commissioner Dinesh Malhotra, and summoned them the records related to the land deal on 20th August. The officials are facing penalty proceedings for withholding information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Vadra in her contempt petition said the contemnors have violated the orders passed by the High Court willfully, whereby the execution and operation of orders passed by the Information Commissioner were stayed. The petition said despite the stay orders passed by the High Court the Information Commissioner has summoned the records from the Deputy Commissioner for 20th August. Earlier, the High Court had stayed a directive of the information commission to the government to provide information about the land purchase by Priyanka Vadra.
The bench had said the Information Commission “has not interpreted rightly” Section 8 (1) (g) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act that speaks about the disclosure of information which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.
Vadra’s counsel had challenged the information commission’s 29th June orders that directed the Deputy Commissioner of Shimla to provide within 10 days details about the land purchased by Priyanka Vadra.
The information under the RTI Act was sought in July 2014, but was denied by the Deputy Commissioner saying that Priyanka Vadra is a high-profile person and providing information could have a direct bearing on her security provided by the Special Protection Group.