High Court denies urgent hearing to plea seeking LoP’s appointment in Lok Sabha

The Delhi High Court Wednesday refused an urgent hearing to a plea for asking the Lok Sabha speaker to appoint a leader of opposition (LoP) in the House.

A vacation bench of justices Jyoti Singh and Manoj Kumar Ohri said “looking at the relief sought, there is no urgency”. The bench instead listed the petition for hearing by an appropriate bench on July 8.

Advocates Manmohan Singh Narula and Susmita Kumari, who filed the petition, said the Speaker was not performing his statutory duty of appointing the LoP.

They argued in the petition that recognising a member of the house as the leader of opposition was “not a political or arithmetical decision, but a statutory decision”.

“The speaker has to merely ascertain whether the party claiming this post is the largest party in the opposition,” they said in the petition, which also sought framing of a policy for appointment of the LoP.

Denying the second largest party in Parliament — the Congress — the leadership of the opposition sets a wrong precedent and dilutes democracy, they added..

West Bengal’s Behrampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has been elected as the leader of the Congress parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha.

The petition said under the Salaries and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act of 1977, the person who is leader of the numerically biggest party in opposition to the government is considered as the LoP.

“That in the new Lok Sabha, with 52 members, the Congress is the largest party in the Opposition, and is therefore the rightful claimant to this post under the law,” it said.

The petition also contended that there is no condition in the Salaries and Allowances of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Act that the party in opposition has to have a strength of 10 per cent of the total MPs in the house for its leader to be recognised as LoP.

The petitioners have claimed that “the Speaker is legally bound to recognise the leader of that party as the leader of the opposition as per the statute passed by the Parliament.

“Since the speaker is performing a statutory duty in recognising the leader of the opposition, she or he cannot exercise any discretion in the matter,” the petitioner said.

Notice to government on plea for appointments in RTI ambit

The Delhi High Court Monday sought the central government’s response on a petition challenging a single judge’s ruling that information pertaining to the appointment of top bureaucrats cannot be revealed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to the department of personnel and training (DOPT) and sought its reply by July 14 on an appeal filed by RTI activist and Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal against the single judge’s order, given in July 2010.

Kejriwal had requested the government to provide him the information on the ground that people had the right to know the grade assigned to an officer who was empanelled.

In his petition, he said that he was allowed to inspect files pertaining to appointment of secretaries, deputy secretaries in different ministries but he was not supplied with photocopies of the documents.

Kejriwal had approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which had rejected the the government’s argument that the disclosure would amount to invasion in the privacy of an officer, and June 12, 2008 asked the DOPT and the cabinet secretariat to disclose details pertaining to selection of officers for the posts of secretaries and additional secretaries.

However, the central government approached the Delhi High Court against the CIC’s order.

The single judge had set aside the order and rejected Kejriwal’s plea that information relating to appointment of secretaries in different ministries falls within the ambit of the transparency law and justice.

‘This court holds that the CIC was not justified in overruling the objection of the centre and directing the government and the DoPT to provide copies of the documents as sought by Kejriwal,’ the single judge had said.

Court to hear plea on Doordarshan appointments

Delhi High Court Thursday agreed to hear a petition filed by Prasar Bharati challenging an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) quashing the appointment of 25 TV news anchors and reporters in Doordarshan News.

A bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog fixed Oct 26 for the next hearing.

The bench also asked Harikesh Bahadur Singh, on whose petition the CAT passed the order, to file a response on the appeal of the public broadcaster.

Prasar Bharati Wednesday approached the court against the CAT order.

A CAT bench headed by Chairman V.K. Bali Sep 13 cancelled the appointment of the journalists on the ground that rules for appointment were changed arbitrarily at the interview stage to pave the way for selection of some candidates who did not perform well in the written test.

The tribunal noted that the number of journalists to be called for interview was increased from 30 to 35 to accommodate Yashvi Tirath (daughter of union Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath) who ranked 33 in the written exam.

The tribunal further said another candidate Anita Kalra Kalha was arbitrarily recommended when she had not applied for the post and had not appeared in the audition test for it.

Appointments of senior officials not under RTI: Court

The Delhi High Court Friday said that information pertaining to appointment of top bureaucrats cannot be revealed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Justice S. Muralidhar passed this order while dismissing the plea of RTI activist and Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal, seeking disclosure of the information on the ground that people had the right to know as to what was the grade assigned to an officer who was empanelled.

The court also set aside the order of the Central Information Commission which had held that information relating to appointment of secretaries in different ministries falls within the ambit of the transparency law.

‘This court holds that the CIC was not justified in overruling the objection of the centre and directing the government and the DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training) to provide copies of the documents as sought by Kejriwal,’ the judge said.

Setting aside the contention of the central government that the disclosure would amount to revealing details of an officer, the CIC had directed the department and the cabinet secretariat to disclose details pertaining to selection of officers for the posts of secretaries and additional secretaries.