HC stays order to make public info on land purchase by Priyanka Gandhi

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh High Court today stayed an order of the State Information Commission that detailed information about the land purchased by Priyanka Vadra, daughter of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, at Chharabra near Shimla be given to an RTI activist.

Allowing a petition of Priyanka challenging the order of the Commission, a division bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice P.S.Rana, said that "we are of the considered opinion that the petitioner has carved out a prima facie case for grant of interim relief.

"Accordingly, the operation and execution of orders passed by the second respondent (State Information Commission) on June 29, 2015, and the earlier order passed by Additional District Magistrate on November 28, 2014 are ordered to be stayed," the bench said.

Priyanka Gandhi addresses a Congress rally in Delhi. File pic

Observing that the Commission should have dealt with the issue of exemption from disclosure of the information under Section 8, more particularly, sub-section 1(g) of the Act, in detail, the bench said that the petitioner has in no "unequivocal terms" expressed apprehension of danger to her life and physical safety and also the fear regarding unwanted invasion of her privacy.

The court fixed the next hearing on August 7. The Information Commission had rejected the plea for withholding the information on the grounds that any information which cannot be withheld from Parliament or the state assembly cannot be denied to any individual.

The Commission had not only directed the PIO-cum-ADM to give the information within ten days but also issued a show cause notice to FAA and PIO-cum-ADM and PIO-cum-Tehsildar as to why penalty should not be imposed on them for causing delay in providing the information.

The Information Commission had ordered the PIO-cum-ADM to supply the information about Priyanka's land purchase to RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya.

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