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Court issues notice, Is CIC empowered to prosecute for perjury?

The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to the Department of Personnel Training (DOPT) on a plea seeking its direction on whether the Central Information Commission (CIC) was legally empowered to prosecute an entity or a person for the offence of perjury if false documents are filed before the commission.

A Delhi-based lawyer, Shanmuga Patro approached the Delhi High Court after being refused by CIC to initiate a criminal complaint against the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, its aides and affiliates, who, according to him, misled CIC by filing forged and fabricated documents in evidence and succeeded before CIC.

Justice V.K. Shali hearing the matter sought response from DOPT before the next date of hearing March 16, 2012.

Through the petition, Patro raised the issue as to whether the CIC could be treated as a court for prosecuting persons for the offence of perjury or not.

Patro, the petitioner, argued: ?If a person or entity is permitted to give false documents and evidence before CIC with impunity, then how can CIC be expected to enforce Right to Information??

The petitioner said that in June 2011, he approached CIC to institute proceedings under Section 340 of CrPC and sought initiation of criminal case against the foundation, its aides and affiliates for filing forged and fabricated documents in evidence before the panel.

In December 2011, CIC had refused to initiate prosecution for the offence of perjury against foundation and ordered that ?it has no powers to take action for perjury under Section 340 of CrPC?.

Based on the information and reports filed by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the CIC had in October 2010 declared that Rajiv Gandhi Foundation is not a `Public authority? in terms of RTI Act and is not bound to provide information under Right to Information Act.

Patro, however, alleged: ?While Rajiv Gandhi Foundation informed CIC that only about 4 percent of its revenue is received from Government, in reality it receives a greater percentage of its revenue from Government.

Being aggrieved with CIC?s order of expressing inability to examine whether Rajiv Gandhi Foundation committed perjury or not, Shanmuga Patro approached the Delhi High Court.

Outcome of this case will decide CIC?s powers to commence criminal cases against parties who have been committing perjury, offences against public justice and offences relating to documents given in evidence before CIC,? said Patro.

The petitioner in his petition also raised the question whether the Information Commissioners, including the CIC, could be treated as “public servants” within the definition of section 195 of the CrPC.



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