The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to place before it the information it has with regard to release and utilisation of funds under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
The court issued the direction while hearing the Centre's two separate pleas against two Central Information Commission (CIC) orders directing the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to disclose on its website the "MP-wise, constituency-wise and work-wise details, with names of beneficiaries" of works undertaken under the MPLAD scheme.
Justice Navin Chawla directed the ministry to file an affidavit disclosing the information, and listed the matter for further hearing on September 24.
The order on August 14 came after the ministry said it already discloses on its website the data related to the release and utilisation of funds under MPLADS.
The court, however, said it wants to see the information the ministry collects and maintains and asked it to file an affidavit.
The ministry, in its pleas filed through central government counsel (senior panel) Rahul Sharma and advocate C K Bhatt, has contended that the CIC acted beyond the power and jurisdiction it has under the Right to Information Act.
CIC in its September 16, 2018 and October 16, 2018 orders, in two separate cases under the RTI Act, had directed the ministry to collect and disclose MP-wise, constituency-wise and work-wise details of all the work carried out under the scheme.
It had also directed the ministry to ensure that this information was voluntarily disclosed by each MP in accordance with the RTI Act.
Besides, the CIC had recommended to the ministry to take steps to prevent the alleged 'abuse' of MPLADS funds by the MPs by accumulating the money released each year of their five year term, and spending it only in the final year for political gains.
The ministry, in its appeal, has contended that the CIC acted beyond its powers and jurisdiction as maintaining records of information collected from various district authorities and MPs, with regard to MPLADS fund utilisation, was not covered under the provisions of the RTI Act.