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Sanjog maheshwari

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RTI Act to prevail over Evidence Act: Decision of CIC

In a R.T.I. Case the P.I.O of the Tis Hazari Courts, refused to supply the certified copies of “suit files and suit records” of a certain judge for the period from26-02-93 to 31-03-93 to one Mr. Vinay Kumar, the Info. Seeker on the grounds that the information/ records may be sought via the processes prescribed under the Evidence Act instead of those under the R.T.I.Act. The Information Commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi, however, trashed the contention of the P.I.O. Deciding in favour of the Info. Seeker, he ruled that the Court will have to provide the information/ documents demanded, unless the same is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act itself. He held that the RTI Act-the newer Act- will have an over-riding affect on any other law, in this case the Evidence Act, and there is an obligation on the public authority to disclose information requested under it. Accordingly the Commissioner ruled,” If a public authority has a process of disclosing certain information which can also be accessed by a citizen using RTI Act, it is the citizen’s right to decide which route he wishes to use. The existence of another method for accessing information can’t be used to deny a citizen the right to information. It is a citizen’s right to use the most convenient and efficacious means available to him”, and ordered the P.I.O of Tis Hazari Courts to supply the required information etc. To Mr. Kumar in 15 days time. It will be interesting to note that the P.I.Os reasoning that the request should be made under the Evidence Act was upheld by the first appellate authority forcing Kumar to go in for the second appeal to the CIC u/s 19(1) of the RTI Act.

Contrast this decision with that of given on in an otherwise identical case No.CIC/PB/A/2008/01322/LS decided by the Central Information Commissioner, M.L.Sharma. The CPIO, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) New , was , inter-alia, requested to (i) indicate the daily progress made BY the applicant’s earlier application dated 05-12-2007 addressed to Hon’ble Mr. Justice M.B. Shah, President NCDRC i.e. the date(s) on which it was received in the Registry of the Commission and perused by the addressee etc. and requested for the supply of copy or print out of the relevant portions of records, which contained details of the receipt and the of the aforesaid application, copies of the file notings, orders, instructions etc passed on it with supporting rule or order on a judicial procedure. In his decision dated 27-04-09, the Information Commissioner M.L.Sharma observed, " The CPIO appears to have rightly held in decision dated 22-4-08, that section 4 (I) (d) of the RTI Act is not applicable in regard to the judicial proceedings held by NCDRC. Needless to say, the relief lies elsewhere and not before this Commission. DECISION 5. In view of the above, the appeal is dismissed being legally unsustainable."

 

 

The Information Commissioner who decided the earlier case is Mr. Shailesh Gandhi. The commodity called justice must come unpolluted- free from all such clusters of undesirable material.

 

ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THE INFORATION SEEKER? HOW SHOULD HE PROCEED FURTHER?

 

-SANJOG MAHESHWARI

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SANJOG MAHESHWARI

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There is a sea of difference in the decisions given in the two identical cases. While in the former case I.C.Gandhi infuses meaning and substance to the RTI Act, upholds its dignity and honour besides investing it with the pride of place it richly deserves in the statute book, IC Sharma, in the latter does just the opposite. A thorough study and a threadbare analysis of both the cases right from the stage of" request for info. and copies of documents" through to the "decisions" would be very revealing, enlightening and interesting. It will also throw light on how the" bureaucratic mind" as against the "free mind" works in India. -SANJOG MAHESHWARI

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SANJOG MAHESHWARI

Posted

There is a sea of difference in the decisions given in the two identical cases. While in the former case I.C.Gandhi infuses meaning and substance to the RTI Act, upholds its dignity and honour besides investing it with the pride of place it richly deserves in the statute book, IC Sharma, in the latter does just the opposite. A thorough study and a threadbare analysis of both the cases right from the stage of" request for info. and copies of documents" through to the "decisions" would be very revealing, enlightening and interesting. It will also throw light on how the" bureaucratic mind" as against the "free mind" works in India. -SANJOG MAHESHWARI

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