Saturday, May 14, 2011

SC can't deny info if plea filed under RTI Act. In a conflict, RTI Act will prevail over Supreme Court rules: CIC

SC can't deny info if plea filed under RTI Act: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has overturned its own decision and ruled that the Supreme Court cannot deny information on judicial matters if an applicant has asked for it under the Right to Information Act.
As of now, information disclosure related to a person's own case could be applied to the Supreme Court under the RTI Act. But in case the information related to judicial matters of a third party, the SC had ruled that application must be made under court rules. Rule 2 of the SC Rules says the applicant must establish "good cause" before disclosure is made, which according to the CIC goes against the RTI Act.
In his order, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said that he disagreed with former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah's decision.
His order said, "This bench further rules that all citizens have the right to access information under Section 3 of the RTI Act and PIOs shall provide the information sought to the citizens, subject always to the provisions of the RTI Act only."
He added, "It is the citizen's prerogative to decide under which mechanism, that is under the method prescribed by the public authority or the RTI Act, he would like to obtain the information."
The decision came after Gurgaon resident R S Mishra had asked for information related to letters he had written to the SC. The apex court had denied the information on the argument that the SC had a specific provision by which information was furnished under Order XII of the SC Rules and hence, information relating to judicial matters could be provided only under that provision. The SC PIO further argued that since the then chief information commissioner had upheld this contention, their arguments before this commission were already covered under the said decisions.


The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that in a conflict between the Right to Information Act and the internal rules of a Public Authority, the RTI Act must prevail. It would prevail even if the internal rules pertain to the Supreme Court.
CIC Shailesh Gandhi passed this order in a case, in which information on certain judicial records was sought from the Supreme Court under the RTI Act. The First Appellate Authority (FFA) in the court held that any information on judicial records could be accessed only under Order XII of the Supreme Court rules.
The judicial records pertained to letters written to judges by R.S. Misra, appellant in the case. Mr. Misra, who wrote the letters in connection with a Special Leave Petition filed by him, wanted to know their status and filed an application under the RTI Act.
Mr. Gandhi held that the Supreme Court could not cite internal rules to deny information if it had been sought under the RTI Act. Further that information could be denied only if the information sought was prohibited under the RTI Act itself.
"The right to information is a fundamental right of the citizen of India. This has been clearly recognised by the Supreme Court in several decisions and subsequently codified by Parliament in 2005. The RTI Act was enacted with the spirit of ensuring transparency...Section 3 of the RTI Act lays down that subject to the provisions of the RTI Act, all citizens shall have the right to information… Further Section 22 of the RTI Act expressly provides that the provisions of the RTI Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than the RTI Act. In other words, where there is any inconsistency in a law as regards furnishing of information, such law shall be superseded by the RTI Act. Insertion of a non-obstante clause in Section 22 of the RTI Act was a conscious choice of Parliament to safeguard the citizens' fundamental right to information…If the PIO has received a request for information under the RTI Act, the information shall be provided to the applicant as per the provisions of the RTI Act and any denial of the same must be in accordance with Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act only.."

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Don't bring kids to court, Bombay high court tells couple

Don't bring kids to court, Bombay high court tells couple

Saturday, May 14, 2011, 4:10 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The Bombay high court on Friday, admonished a couple fighting for the custody of their two sons during their summer holiday.
Vacation bench of justice Mridula Bhatkar and justice RG Ketkar were hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Shanti Mirchandani (name changed). “It is in the interest of children never to be seen in courts,” they added.

The principal of Prudence International School, Panvel, gave custody of the boys, aged 6 and 9 years, to their paternal uncle Satish (name changed) on a written request by the father Shyam (name changed).Shanti’s advocate Manjula Rao argued that in the absence of the father, the mother is the natural guardian. She said the whereabouts of the children are unknown.

Satish’s advocate countered that Shyam who works in Dubai will be returning to India on May 21, and wants the custody of his children since Shanti had taken them for the past two summer and winter vacations. “She vanishes with the children and deprives their father of meeting them,” he added.Rao submitted that it was done “due to a mutual agreement between the father and mother”.
“You (uncle) have no case. You are not the father,” said justice Bhatkar.“Don’t treat children as stooges to settle your dispute,” she added.

The judges took note of the fact that the Mirchandanis have neither filed a petition for custody of the children nor divorce proceedings for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act. “This is the first petition before this court in respect of custody,” they noted in the order.

In a “workable solution”, the judges directed Satish, who resides in Bhayander, to “peacefully” handover the children to Shanti on Friday evening without the involvement of police.

They took note of Shanti’s undertaking to the court not to take the boys outside the limits of the court’s jurisdiction.Since it is a habeas corpus petition to produce the children, the judges posted the matter to May 23, 2011 with an explicit direction, “Don’t produce the children inside the court.”