The Delhi High Court Tuesday stayed two CIC orders directing the Centre 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 put on hold the two orders by the Central Information Commission (CIC) on two separate pleas moved by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation through central government senior panel counsel Rahul Sharma and advocate CK Bhatt.
The court, which heard the matter physically instead of via video conference, also issued notice to the RTI applicants on whose separate pleas the two CIC orders were passed and sought their stand on the ministry's petitions, Bhatt said. Bhatt also confirmed that the court stayed the CIC orders of September 16, 2018 and October 16, 2018 by which the commission 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 Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds by MPs by accumulating the money released each year of their five year term, and spending it only in the final year for political gains.
In its appeal challenging the CIC orders, the ministry has contended that the commission acted beyond the power and jurisdiction it has under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The government has claimed that 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. The court listed the matter for further hearing on April 22, 2021.