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Observation - Clarification by Full Bench of CIC regarding "Public Authority" and "Authority"


MANOJ B. PATEL

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The expression ‘public authority’ has been defined u/s 2 (h) of the RTI Act but the word ‘authority’ has not been defined under the said Act. In fact, the word ‘authority’ has not been defined under any law for the time being in force.

Therefore, the word ‘authority’ requires to be construed as per the rulings of constitutional courts. It may be apt to mention that in Som Prakash Rekhi vs. Union of India (1981) 1 SCC 449, the Supreme Court observed as follows:-

“27. Control by Government of the corporation is writ large in the Act and in the factum of being a Government company. Moreover, here, Section 7 gives to the Government company mentioned in it a statutory recognition, a legislative sanction and status above a mere Government company. If the entity is no more than a company under the Company law or society under the law relating to registered societies or cooperative societies you cannot call it an authority. A ration shop run by a cooperative store financed by

government is not an authority, being a mere merchant, not a sharer of State power. ‘Authority’ in law belong to the province of power: ‘Authority (in Administrative Law) is a body having jurisdiction in certain matters of a public nature.’ Therefore, the ‘ability conferred upon a person by the law to alter, by his own will directed to that end, the rights, duties, liabilities or other legal relations, either of himself or of other persons’ must be present ab extra to make a person an ‘authority’. When the person is an ‘agent or instrument of the functions of the State’ the power is public. So the search here must be to see whether the Act vests authority, as agent or instrument of the State, to affect the legal relations of oneself or others.”

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

File No.CIC/SM/C/2011/001542

File No.CIC/SM/C/2012/000609

File No.CIC/SM/C/2011/001322

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