CIC has no power to order jails to pay damages: Delhi HC

NEW DELHI
27 Jan 2017

Central Information Commission (CIC) does not have the power to direct Tihar Jail to develop a system of compensating inmates who have been incarcerated beyond their period of sentence, Delhi High Court has held. "Prima facie, this power does not vest in the CIC," Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said while staying operation of the September 29, 2016 decision of the Commission asking Tihar Jail authorities to frame a policy to resolve disputes regarding remission and paying compensation to prisoners who lost their personal liberty due to detention beyond the sentence awarded to them. The court's order came on a plea by jail authorities who contended that the transparency panel has exceeded its jurisdiction under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 and appeared to have exercised the powers of a court. CIC's decision had come on a plea by RTI applicant Om Prakash Gandhi who had claimed that he had spent four days more in Tihar Jail than what was ordered by the court. The commission had directed that Gandhi should be paid a token compensation by the prison authorities at the rate of Rs 2500 per day along with an additional Rs 1000 for costs borne by him. "Perusal of the order, prima facie, shows that the CIC has sought to exercise powers beyond those conferred on it under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The CIC, by the impugned order, had assessed compensation calculated per day of the alleged extra detention of the respondent and directed the petitioner to frame a policy or guideline or regulations for a system of resolving disputes regarding remission and payment of compensation to prisoners whose release is delayed on account of certain reasons. It also issued notice to Gandhi and sought his response by May 1, the next date of hearing. The court, however, clarified that "the pendency of the present petition and the order will not come in the way of respondent No.1 (Gandhi) seeking appropriate remedies in law before an appropriate forum".(PTI)