HC stays order of SIC taking serious view of non-appearance of High Court PIO

SRINAGAR, SEP 13: In a petition filed by J&K High Court seeking staying the operation of the order of the State Information Commission in which State Information Commission observed that this second appeal was listed for hearing before the State Information commission today on 16th August, 2017. N.A Beigh, counsel for the respondents attend the hearing. Neither the PIO nor the appellants, Ajay Kumar attended the hearing. The Commission has taken a serious view for non-appearance of the PIO of J&K High Court in the hearing of 2nd appeal. The case is adjourned with directions to registry to convey the observations of the State Information commission (SIC) to the PIO J&K High Court for his non- appearance before the Commission and impressed upon him to ensure his attendance in hearings of the Commission as and when the cases/ 2nd appeals pertaining to J&K High Court are listed for hearing. The 2nd appeal may now be listed for hearing on the next available date.”
Justice M K Hanjura, after hearing counsel for the High Court observed that the Information Commissioner has to weigh the pros and cons of each appeal on its own merits and form a rational and objective opinion before passing any order. The State Information Commission is not vested with in bridled powers to pass sweeping orders like the one detailed above. The State Information Commission has to pass individual orders in each and every appeal and such orders need to be in consonance with section 15 (3) of Right to Information Act which provides that the State Information Commissioner has the power to summon and enforce attendance of persons only for purpose of giving oral or written evidence on oath and for producing documents, requiring discovery and inspection of documents receiving evidence an affidavit: requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any Court or office, issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents and any other matter which may be prescribed. In the instant case nothing of this nature was required to be done by the Public Information Officer or First appellant Authority of the High Court. The direction of respondent No 1, prima-facie appeared to be without jurisdiction. Therefore, taking an overall view of the matter, subject to the objections of the other side and till next date of listing before the Bench, the operation of the impugned order, dated 16-08-2017, insofar as it directs that the Commission has taken a serious view for non-appearance of PIO of J&K High Court in hearing of the 2nd appeal and the case is adjourned with directions to registry to convey observations of the State information commission (SIC) to the PIO J&K High Court for his non-appearance before the Commission and impress upon him to ensure his attendance in the hearings of the Commission as and when the cases/2nd appeal pertaining to J&K High court are listed for hearing shall stay. (JNF)