In a bid to make the functioning of the country's transparency watchdog Central Information Commission (CIC) transparent, the Delhi High Court has directed it to maintain a record of daily proceedings and upload it within three days of the hearing a case.
The order came after the CIC told the High Court that most of the cases were decided on the basis of a single hearing and hence, there was no requirement for maintaining the record of daily orders.
"This submission is ex-facie unacceptable. The functioning of the CIC must be transparent, and it is necessary that a record of daily proceedings be maintained," a high court Justice Vibhu Bakhru said in a recent order.
He said even if the hearing is concluded on a single date, the order sheet maintained on that day should clearly reflect that the hearing has concluded, even though the decision is rendered subsequently.
The case pertained to RTI activist R K Jain who had challenged an order of former Information Commissioner Sushma Singh, alleging that during the hearing of his case, his plea was allowed.
But the written order, which came after over nine months, was completely opposite and did not factor in the arguments, submissions and observations made during the hearing.
He also claimed that no record of the proceedings or order sheet of the hearings is kept by the Information Commissioner.
Jain had also cited the case of another activist Subhash Agrawal, where the final order was completely different from the directives and observations made during the hearing.
In his plea, he had sought directions from the High Court for the CIC to maintain and keep the records of proceedings or order sheet of the hearings.
Justice Bakhru pointed out that in March 2016, the CIC had shown willingness to maintain the daily order sheets and prayed for some time from the High Court to evolve a procedure.
"Thus, sufficient time has been provided to the CIC to put in place a procedure for recording of order sheets; however, even today, the learned counsel (of CIC) is not in a position to inform this court, the procedure for ensuring recording of order sheets," the court said.
"In view of the above, the CIC is directed to maintain the order sheets for each hearing...The said order sheet would also be uploaded as expeditiously as possible and in any case not later than three days from the date of hearing," the high court directed.
It also asked the Central Information Commission ensure that all the systems are accordingly modified to accommodate its directions.