Sunday, July 30, 2017

Haryana CIC favours disclosure of attendance record of MLAs

The Indian Express: Chandigarh: Sunday, July 30, 2017.
Haryana’s Chief Information Commissioner Yash Pal Singal has recommended to the State Legislative Assembly Speaker to take appropriate decision on making public the lawmakers’ attendance records, after a Right to Information (RTI) request was declined by the Assembly’s information officer saying the revelation would be breach of privilege of the House.
Using his powers under Section 25 (5) of the RTI Act, Singal, in his judgment on an appeal filed by the Gurgoan-based RTI activist Harinder Dhingra, has asked the Assembly’s Public Information Officer (PIO) to reconsider its decision, while observing that the attendance of even the members of Parliament and many State legislatures were already in public domain. The Commission, however, has not passed any direction or ordered the Assembly to provide the information, saying it is up to the Speaker and the House to decide whether there is a question of privilege in a matter.
Dhingra, in his RTI application in February, had sought information on the number of working days in the then Assembly session, number of times the Assembly was adjourned, the attendance record of the sitting Assembly members and the expenditure on running the legislature since the formation of new government in 2014.
The first appellate authority and deputy secretary, Dr Purushottam Dutt, during the hearing of the case, told the Commission that the information on attendance of members was denied after the Speaker gave orders for its non-disclosure of the information while referring to Rule 118 of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Assembly.
The Commission in its orders has also directed the Assembly authorities to provide the information on total budget and total expenditure for the year 2014-15 to 2016-17 to the RTI applicant within a month. The information on the expenditure had been denied saying no specific information was sought by the applicant.