Title: Allahabad HC RTI rules not in conformity with the Act - CIC
Agencies - Posted: Aug 23, 2010 at 1610 hrs IST
New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has taken strong exception to the Allahabad High Court's rejection of RTI applications which sought details of action on complaints against judges of subordinate courts on grounds that the disclosure of such information was not a rule or practice.
The Right to Information Act allows a public authority to frame RTI rules for the processing of information sought by applications. These rules may include fee, process adopted for the facilitation of information, the officials who need to be contacted among others.
One such rule of the High Court says, "Notwithstanding anything contained anywhere in these Rules, the applicant will be furnished with the information, requested for, if and only if, the furnishing of such information is not otherwise against any law or practice."
The rule was cited by the High Court while rejecting the RTI applications of Onkar Sharma who sought to know the action taken on his complaint against Civil Judge Veena Chaudhry and Ajay S Jajodia who wanted details of action initiated on his complaint against Civil Judge of Varanasi Aniruddha Maurya.
"If the High Court has established a practice of refusing such information which would justify recourse to Rule 20 (v), this practice is clearly in violation of the law and the CPIO is hereby directed to ensure necessary changes in this practice to bring the management of such records into compliance with the RTI Act 2005," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in Sharma's case.
In the case of Jajodia, Habibullah said, "If, on the other hand, it has been the practice in the High Court of Allahabad not to disclose such information this practice is ultra vires of the RTI Act 2005."
The CIC directed the High Court to bring its rules "in conformity with" the transparency law. The Commission also took exception to the fact that the High Court Registrar had asked Jajodia, the reason for seeking the information.
"the stand taken by the Registrar General, High Court of Allahabad is in direct contravention of Section 6(2) of the RTI Act which states without ambiguity 'An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him," Habibullah said.
He said any information could only be denied if any of the sub-clauses of section eight to the RTI Act were applicable on it. The section lists several categories where disclosure is exempted.