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HC order blow to info free flow

Ranchi, July 7: Jharkhand High Court today clamped a stay on the operation of a directive issued by the state information commissioner who had asked the high courtís public information officer (PIO) to hand over certain documents sought by an applicant under the Right to Information Act.

The court of Justice R.R. Prasad issued the order.

The PIO-cum-assistant registrar, A.K. Kaul, had landed in a tight spot when state information commissioner (SIC) and former high court judge D.K. Sinha asked him on February 24 to hand over the documents in question to former Ranchi University professor Shyama Raman Pandey or face imposition of a penalty.

Pandey had sought information from the high court pertaining to a writ petition. In his application, the petitioner wanted to know the date of filing of the petition and the status of the case. He also sought for a progress status of the case.

The high court had denied the information to Pandey, informing him that information cannot be given in files and cases that are pending and subjudice. Dissatisfied with the information of the high court, Pandey moved the SIC, which issued notices to the high court.

The PIO appeared before the SIC and informed that the high court was governed by the Jharkhand High Court Right to Information Rules, which say that information in pending matters cannot be divulged to applicants concerned. The PIO also mentioned that though information cannot be sought under the RTI Act, other details with regards to the orders passed in the case can be obtained by applying for certified copies.

The SIC was not convinced and passed an order on February 24, directing the PIO to furnish the information sought by Pandey. It said the high court might be penalised for not adhering to the directive.