Court tells Kerala CIC to appear before house panel


Kochi : Kerala’s Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Palatt Mohandas was Monday told by the state high court here to appear before the state assembly privileges and ethics committee over his order slapping a penalty on the house’s information officer.

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A division bench of the Kerala High Court headed by Chief Justice J. Chalameshwar, hearing the CIC’s petition questioning the house panel’s power to summon him, asked him to appear before the panel as his petition can be taken up after he does so.

Now, all eyes are on the CIC and his deputy P.N. Vijaykumar, to see if the two appear before the committee Tuesday in the assembly complex in the state’s capital Thiruvananthapuram.

Trouble has been brewing between the legislature and the CIC since a right to information (RTI) applicant, D.B. Vinu, approached the assembly’s information officer for a copy of the speech and the video of former minister T.M. Jacob’s speech supporting the no-confidence motion moved by the then Left opposition against the Congress-led government of Oommen Chandy in July 2005.

He was given the written copy of the speech but told that the video cannot be given because it is not an official document.

Following this, he approached the state information commission in February. The commission directed the information officer of the assembly to provide the video tape to Vinu. But the officer refused to do so.

CIC Mohandas, a former chief secretary of the state, then ordered the assembly’s information officer to pay a fine at the rate of Rs.250 per day till he hands over the video copy to Vinu.

Irked by the CIC order, the committee last month decided to ask him and his deputy to appear before it for breach of privilege of the house. It concluded that there was ample evidence to ask them to appear before it.