<TABLE width="100%" bgColor=#d0f0ff border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>"The proceedings are quasi-judicial" </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission's decision denying information regarding petitions filed against the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and other MPs in the office of profit cases has shocked the person who sought it under the Right to Information Act.
In its communication to Amit Sen Gupta, the Commission said it could not supply copies of documents like the petition submitted to the President through which the question of disqualification of MPs in the office of profit issue was raised.
Dr. Sen Gupta had sought a copy of the petition filed by Mukul Roy, general secretary of the All India Trinamool Congress, against Mr. Chatterjee, Mohammed Salim, Hannan Mollah, Nilotpal Basu, Tarid Baran Topdar and other Communist Party of India (Marxist) MPs. He wanted authenticated copies of all documents including the petition; records in this connection in possession of the Commission; and orders made by it.
Having filed it with the requisite fee under the Right to Information on March 27, Dr. Sen Gupta said he saw "no logic" in his request being rejected by the Commission on April 13 on the plea that in such cases it has to give its opinion to the President alone after conducting such enquiry as considered necessary. "The proceedings in such reference cases are quasi-judicial in nature." "What about transparency?" he said.
The Commission said that the copies of documents, decisions or pleadings related to such reference cases cannot be supplied until opinion was tendered and the President's order in the matter was published.
Dr. Sen Gupta said what was surprising was that he was denied information by the Commission that the Chief Election Commissioner otherwise shared in a press conference. He said the CEC had referred to Mr. Roy's petition as also the one against Rashtriya Lok Dal MP Anuradha Chowdhury from a Muzzafarnagar advocate.
In that, the CEC said adequate information needed to issue a notice was not there.
So it decided to ask the petitioner to furnish all these details to enable the Commission to proceed with the petition. Dr. Sen Gupta said he now planned to appeal against the Commission's decision.