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Critical Analysis of Supreme Court Judgements on the RTI Act, 2005 - Chief Information Commissioner Vs. State of Manipur AIR 2012 SC 864

ashakantasharma

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Critical Analysis of Supreme Court Judgements on the RTI Act, 2005

By Shailesh Gandhi,
Former Central Information Commissioner

Judgment : Chief Information Commissioner Vs. State of Manipur AIR 2012 SC 864

The main issue before the Court: Whether the Information
Commissioner can direct the disclosure of information when a
complaint is made u/s 18 of the RTI Act.

The observations of the Court: Para 36: “This Court accepts the
argument of the appellant that any other construction would render the
provision of Section 19(8) of the Act totally redundant. It is one of the
well known canons of interpretation that no statute should be
interpreted in such a manner as to render a part of it redundant or
surplusage.”

Para 37: “ We are of the view that Sections 18 and 19 of the Act serve
two different purposes and lay down two different procedures and they
provide two different remedies. One cannot be a substitute for the
other.”

The Court held that: No information can be ordered to be given in
complaints made u/s 18 of the RTI Act.

Our analysis of the judgment: The information which was sought by
the applicant was regarding magisterial enquiries. A complaint was filed
since no response was received. The Commission ordered information to
be provided. A single judge of High Court upheld the Commission’s
order. This was challenged before a division bench, which held that in a
complaint under Section 18 the Information Commission cannot pass an
order to release information.

The Supreme Court adopted a literal interpretation of the RTI Act and
refused to consider whether a purposive interpretation would have
served the purpose of the Act better. This is in contrast to the Allahabad
High Court judgement in AP 3262 (MB) of 2008 which said, ‘“We are
also of the view that the Commission while enquiring into the complaint
under Section 18, can issue necessary directions for supply/disclosure of
the information asked for, in case the Commission is satisfied that the
information has been wrongly withheld or has not been completely
given or incorrect information has been given.”

By this judgement an RTI applicant who files a complaint will have to
file a separate appeal for the same matter to obtain information. If a PIO
refuses to accept an RTI application the applicant will have to first go in
a complaint to the Commission and perhaps get the PIO penalised if she
is lucky. After this if the PIO takes her application but denies the
information saying it is ‘unrelated to transparency and accountability in
the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption’, she
can be denied her fundamental
 

satyamevajayate.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Analysis-of-Supreme-Court-judgments-on-RTI.pdf



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