The Delhi High Court has sought response of Information Commissioner M A Khan Yusufi on a plea challenging his decision to bar appearance of a lawyer before his bench and directed that none of the cases represented by the advocate will be listed before Yusufi.
The High Court also stayed the orders issued by Yusufi against lawyer P Roychaudhuri who had alleged before the High Court that he was not allowed to give any explanation by the Information Commissioner and was asked to “get out of the room” at the beginning of hearing.
“Respondent no.3 (Yusufi) is directed to give his comments to the writ petition on the administrative side…. In the meantime, learned CIC is directed to list all cases of the petitioner before an Information Commissioner, other than respondent no 3,” Justice Manmohan said in his order.
Yusufi had “banned” the appearance of Roychaudhuri before his bench on the ground that he was not discharging his duties as an advocate.
Earlier, some RTI activists like Subhash Agrawal and R K Jain have got all their cases transferred to different bench at the Central Information Commission alleging Yusufi was arrogant and made unwanted, sarcastic remarks during hearings.
According to experts, the Right to Information Act, under which Central Information Commission has been set up and derives its powers from, does not empower Information Commissioner to take steps such as banning a lawyer from appearing for a public authority.
“It is incorrect and impractical. RTI Act does not give any power to Information Commissioners to ban a lawyer from appearing. There are ways and means to handle errant lawyers but certainly they cannot be banned from pleading a case before the Commission,” former Chief Information Commissioner A N Tiwari.
In the case of Roychaudhuri, Yusufi had passed the order
underlining that the lawyer, appeared before him “without complete official records” of the case and he was not accompanied either by the CPIO concerned or First Appellate Authority despite directions in his earlier orders.
He had said it is “admitted and even proved” that Roychaudhuri has not been discharging his duties as an advocate, assigned under the provisions of Advocate Act 1961.
“In view of this, the Commission feels that, in the interest of work and even after observing the principles of natural justice, it would be appropriate and even justified to ban the appearance of Roychaudhuri, Learned Advocate, before this Bench, forthwith.
“Therefore, the appearance of P Roychaudhuri, Learned Advocate, before this Bench, is hereby banned henceforth,” he said in the controversial order.
( Source – PTI )