Priyanka’s land deal: Himachal HC summons state CIC

Shimla, Aug 7:

The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday summoned the state chief information commissioner and also stayed the proceedings in connection with information on the land purchase by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra near this popular hill station.

Priyanka Gandhi
Priyanka Gandhi

A division bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice P.S. Rana, which was hearing a contempt petition of Vadra, issued a showcause notice to Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Commissioner K.D. Batish.

It asked them why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for deliberately disobeying the high court orders of July 7, whereby the proceeding of state information commissioner were stayed.

The bench directed them to appear in the court on September 11, the next date of hearing.

The information commission on July 23 rapped government officials, including Deputy Commissioner Dinesh Malhotra, and summoned them and the records related to the land deal on August 20.

The officials are facing penalty proceedings for withholding information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

In her contempt petition, Priyanka Vadra said the contemnors had violated high court orders willfully, whereby the execution and operation of the order passed by the information commissioner was stayed.

The petition said that despite a stay order by the high court, the information commissioner summoned the records from the deputy commissioner for August 20.

Earlier, the high court stayed a directive of the information commission to the government to provide information about the land purchase by Priyanka Vadra.

The bench 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 challenged the information commission’s June 29 order 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 on the ground that Priyanka Vadra was a high-profile person and providing information could have a direct bearing on her security provided by the Special Protection Group.

Vadra’s cottage, just 15 km uphill of state capital Shimla, is coming up at a height of more than 8,000 feet. (IANS)

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