Information Commission-Issuing contempt notice without being a Court?
Satbir Singh Bedi | 03 Jun 2014

Many a times we hear about an official authority doing something much beyond his legal authorities which would prima-facie be considered illegal. Police department is generally considered one of the major defaulters in this regards. Recently the Social Activist and IPS Officer, Amitabh Thakur saw something in the UP State Information Commission which is again illegal, as per his legal understanding.

As far as he knows, the Commission is not a court, at max it is a quasi-judicial body. Courts have many such rights as power to review, power of contempt of court etc. which these quasi-judicial authorities do not have.

The Supreme Court has now settled this issue by saying again and again in its decisions that courts and quasi-judicial authorities cannot be placed on the same legal footing.
Recently the Supreme Court in its review order in Union of India vs Namit Sharma said that the Information Commission does not  decide  a  dispute  between two or more parties concerning their legal rights other than their right  to get  information  in  possession  of  a  public  authority. This function obviously is  not  a  judicial  function,  but  an  administrative  function conferred by the Act on the Information Commissions. 

Information  Commission,  therefore,  while deciding this does not really perform a judicial function, but  performs an administrative function in accordance with the  provisions  of  the  Act.
Despite this CIC Ranjit Singh Pankaj and other Information Commissions are undertaking contempt proceedings without any legal rights
Amitabh Thakur came to know of this when he was presented three cases related with RTI activists Mangat Singh Tyagi, who was recently murdered and Ashok Kumar Goyal, recently arrested for allegedly creating ruckus in the Commission, where Sri Pankaj issued notice under section 345 CrPC for alleged offence under section 228 IPC.
Section 345 CrPC empowers a Civil, Criminal or Revenue Court to cause the offender of section 228 IPC and other such offences to be detained in custody and may, at any time before the rising of the Court on the same day, take cognizance of the offence and, after giving the offender a reasonable opportunity of showing cause sentence the offender to Rs 200 fine or 1 month imprisonment.  But as stated above, the Information Commission is not a court in any manner, as very clearly stated by the Supreme Court.
Hence the act to initiate contempt proceedings under section 345 CrPC seems to be prima-facie incorrect and hence Amitabh Thakur with wife Nutan have written to Governor of UP to enquire into our facts and to restrict the Information Commissioners from acting beyond their authority, if these are found correct.
Let all public authorities kindly adhere to the laws of the land for avoiding judicial chaos.