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CIC makes it easier to access court records

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As reported by Abhinav Garg of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 01 February 2009:

CIC makes it easier to access court records-Delhi-Cities-The Times of India


CIC makes it easier to access court records


NEW DELHI: In a ruling that promises to make it easier for litigants to access judicial files/records from courts, the Central Information Commission has made it clear that courts can't rebuff RTI pleas on the ground that the information asked should be asked for via Evidence Act. The Act requires a person to apply for "file inspection'' and leaves it to the discretion of courts to approve the plea. If allowed, a litigant is granted certified copies of a case document, having legal sanctity.


The Central Information Commission's ruling takes out this discretion of courts and says under RTI Act, court administration will have to provide the information demanded, unless it is exempted from disclosure under RTI itself.


With a section of Evidence Act overlapping with provisions of RTI the newer act Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi decided in favour of the information seeker, holding that the RTI Act will have an over-riding effect on any other law, in this case the Evidence Act, for instance, when there is an obligation on a public agency to disclose information. "If a public authority has a process of disclosing certain information which can also be accessed by a citizen using RTI, 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,'' Gandhi observed in a recent order, asking the PIO of Tis Hazari Courts in the Capital to supply information to one Vinay Kumar in 15 days time.


Kumar had moved CIC in appeal after his plea under RTI for judicial files from a particular court in Tis Hazari complex was shot down by court administration. A lawyer by profession, he had asked for copies of "suit files and suit disposal records'' of a judge from the period 26.2.93 to 31.3.93. The PIO declined Kumar's request saying he should apply under Evidence Act and ask for a certified copy from the copying agency, a reasoning upheld by the first appellate authority, forcing Kumar to approach CIC.


The PIO claimed before CIC that no information was "held'' by court yet maintained a copy of old record could be furnished only after court's permission, otherwise his disclosing would invite contempt action. But CIC countered, pointing out "there is no specific order of a court expressly forbidding the information from being published. PIO's plea it would constitute contempt of court is without any basis.''

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The full order of Hon'ble IC Shailesh Gandhi, referred to in the above news item, is attached to this post.


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    • crusader
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      I want to know that I have got information from Nagar nigam, Can I use it as an evidence in the court of law? What are the provisions related to that?
    • Shrawan
      By Shrawan
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      Decision No.292/IC(A)/2006
      F. No.CIC/MA/A/2006/00588


      Dated, the 21st September, 2006


      Name of the Appellant : Sh. Sharabh Dubey, 11/7 Civil Lines, Kanpur –208 001. (U.P.)
      Name of the Public Authority: The British India Corporation Limited, 14/136 Civil Lines, P.B. 77, Kanpur-208 001.
      Facts of the Case:

      The appellant is an employee of the respondent. He was transferred to another Unit of the company. The office order was challenged by him in the Court, which adjudicated on the matter. Subsequently, he has filed a few more petitions on service related matters in the Court. In this backdrop, he has sought documents relating to the legal opinion obtained by the respondent, file notings by the senior officials on the issue of transfer, letters/correspondence with other officials, etc.
      The CPIO has denied the information and sought exemption u/s 8(1)(d) & (g) of the Act.
      The case was heard on 12.9.06. The appellant could not be present. The CPIO and the appellate authority were present. In the course of hearing, the CPIO showed a copy of the petition filed by the appellant in the Court, whic hcontained almost all the documents asked for by him. The CPIO contended that the documents asked for by the appellant relate to the various petitions filed by him in the Court. He, therefore, pleaded that the disclosure of the documents might adversely affect the disputed cases. Hence, the relevant documents are treated as confidential.
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      There is a dispute between the appellant and the company on service matters, including transfer of the appellant to another unit. The matter is pending before the Court for adjudication. There is every possibility that the appellant would get opportunity for his effective defense. The information sought is in the interest of the seeker. And, as such, there is no overriding public interest, u/s 8(1)(j) of the Act, for disclosure of the information.
      The appeal is therefore dismissed.

      (Prof. M.M. Ansari)
      Information Commissioner


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