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AG office not a public authority under RTI Act: ASG

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akhilesh yadav

AG office not a public authority under RTI Act: ASG

Reported by zeenews.india.com On Nov 2, 2012

AG office not a public authority under RTI Act: ASG

New Delhi: The office of the Attorney General of India is not a public authority under the RTI Act but an advisor to the government and hence is not supposed to respond to information seeking pleas, Additional Solicitor General Siddarth Luthra on Thursday argued before the CIC.

He said the Attorney General was not an "authority" but an advisor to the government whose work is stand alone and 'sui generis' (unique) in nature.

Quoting Article 76 of the Constitution, Luthra said even though Attorney General is appointed by the President, his role is to give advice to the government upon legal matters.

Central Information Commission today convened a full bench comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioners Annapurna Dixit and M L Sharma to decide whether Attorney General is a public authority or not.

The case came before the CIC after the plea of activist Subhash Agrawal and two other applicants was not responded to by the Attorney General's office.

Agrawal on the other hand argued that "public authority" means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by or under the Constitution. He said since Attorney General is appointed under Article 76 of the Constitution, it becomes a public authority.

He said since a notification is also issued by the government on the appointment of the Attorney General which brings it under the ambit of the RTI Act.

After hearing the arguments for nearly an hour, the bench reserved its decision.

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smbhappy

Every person wearing a dirty linen wants to be out of RTI ambit. The message is clear and loud "We are the untouchables".

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Prasad GLN

When every body wants transparency and why some big people wanted exception to their own departments whihc is not even available to Hon. President or Hon. Prime Minister.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Shyamlal Yadav in Indianexpress.com on Dec 13, 2012

AG office beyond RTI Act: CIC - Indian Express

 

Office of the Attorney General of India is not a public authority under RTI Act and, therefore, is not obliged to answer queries under the transparency law, the Central Information Commission has said.

 

In a landmark order, the CIC further says the AG is “sui generis” — or unique — since “he is standalone counsel of the Government of India”. “He renders legal advice to the Government of India which is not binding in nature,” it says. “There is a lawyer-client relationship between the AG and the Government of India and not that of servant and master.”

 

The CIC’s conclusion is based on Article 76(1) of the Constitution, which says that “the President of India shall appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed a judge of the Supreme Court to be AG of India”. While this Article says “a person”, Section 2(h) of RTI Act says, “Public Authority means any authority or body or institution or self governance established or constituted....”

 

The CIC order says, “The term ‘body’ or ‘institution of self government’ cannot be made applicable to the AG for India as AG for India is neither a ‘body’ nor an ‘institution of self government.”

 

The CIC bench, which had Chief Information Commissioner Satyanand Mishra and Information Commissioners ML Sharma and Annpurna Dixit, took this decision on the second appeals filed by Subhash Agrawal, Ajitabh Sinha and Maniram Sharma. While there was no response on Agarwal’s earlier queries, the AG office had stated on other appellants queries that “AG for India is not a public authority as per RTI Act”.

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prasad.dhirendra

This judgement requires dygnosis and pathology in Supreme Court of india as my legal camera perceives A.G. is a public servent.

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dr.s.malhotra

Plz replace the abbreviation AG with Attorney General in title of news as it confuses readers - AG could be Accountant General , Advocate General etc.

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sabharwal786

The orders of the CIC are as under:

 

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

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

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

 

In view of the above discussion, we hold that the office of Attorney General is sui generis. He is a standalone counsel of the Govt. of India. He renders legal advice to the Govt. of India which is not binding in nature. He is not a public authority u/s 2 (h) of the RTI Act. Therefore, the complaints referred to hereinabove have no merit and are

Orders.pdf

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Zeenews.india.com on February 23, 2013

Bring attorney general under RTI: Petitioner

 

New Delhi: A petition was filed in the Delhi High Court asking it to declare the office of the attorney general of India as a public authority falling within the ambit of the Right To Information Act, 2005.

 

Filing the petition, RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal challenged the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that earlier dismissed his complaint seeking certain information from the office of Attorney General of India (AGI).

 

The CIC in its order dated Oct 12, 2012 had held that the AGI is not a public authority within the ambit of RTI Act 2005.

 

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who filed the plea for Agarwal, said that as far as the attorney general at the centre and advocate generals at the state level are concerned, they are public authorities and come under the RTI.

 

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"Authorities established under any law or under any notification are covered by the definition of public authority. As far as law officers of the government are concerned, their office being established under appropriate notification, are all public authorities under the RTI Act," the plea said.

 

Bhushan said that attorney general being a law officer of the government of India, is governed by rules framed for law officers. Since there have been complaints about breaking of rules by law officers, these, including the attorney general, should be covered by the RTI Act.

 

The plea said that the subject matter of Agarwal's RTI petition before the CIC was about an episode "where present attorney general (then solicitor general) is alleged to have advised the then union communication minister (refer correspondence between prime minister and A Raja) on the 2G issue directly without taking approval of union law ministry, as is mandatory for law officers of the government of India."

 

The petition said: "There have been other instances also where law officers of government of India were found breaking rules, at times making union ministries ask union law ministry for change of advocate as was admitted in an RTI response, where an Additional Solicitor General had to be replaced at the request of union petroleum ministry because the said law officer did not stick to brief given by the Union Law Ministry. Attorney General may therefore be made accountable to public through provisions of RTI Act."

 

Agarwal Nov 2011 had filed an RTI application seeking certain information, addressed to the public information officer at the office of the attorney general. That application got no response, as "there is no CPIO in AG's office".

 

He then, in Dec 2012, filed a complaint before the CIC, which dismissed the complaint saying the attorney general was not a public authority.

 

Agarwal moved the high court seeking that the CIC order be set aside, and asking that the office of the attorney general be declared a public authority falling within the purview of the RTI.

 

The matter will come up for hearing Feb 26.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Zeenews.india.com on February 26, 2013

Centre opposes plea in HC to bring Attorney General under RTI

 

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday opposed in the Delhi High Court the plea to bring the office of Attorney General (AG) under RTI ambit on various grounds including that the advice rendered by him to the state and its authorities is protected under the law.

 

"The Attorney General of India has a lawyer-client relationship with the Government and its instrumentalities and in any case, the advice rendered is protected under the law," Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Ministry of Law and Justice, told Justice GS Sistani.

 

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Besides this, the Attorney General also has a "fiduciary" (a relation of trust) with the government, the ASG said, adding that moreover, "there is no establishment attached with the office of the AG."

 

"In any case, we (law officers) do not maintain records of pieces of advice rendered," he said.

 

The court was hearing an appeal filed by Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal against a decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) holding that the office of Attorney General is not amenable to the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

Earlier, Pranav Sachdeva, appearing for Aggarwal, contended that the AG is appointed under Article 76 of the Constitution and hence, the office of AG is a public office and should be brought under the RTI Act.

 

Responding to a query of the court, he said, "the question that what information can be given (by AG) to an information seeker is different from the plea that the office be declared a public office under the RTI."

 

The court then asked the Centre and Aggarwal to file short written submissions in support of their pleas and fixed the matter for hearing on March 13.

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ambrish.p

As reported in Dainik Jagran on 27/02/13

 

अटार्नी जनरल को आरटीआइ में लाने का प्रावधान नहीं

 

नई दिल्ली : अटार्नी जनरल को सूचना के अधिकार कानून (आरटीआइ) के दायरे में लाने के लिए दायर याचिका पर मंगलवार को अटार्नी जनरल ने दिल्ली हाई कोर्ट में जवाब दाखिल करते हुए विरोध जाहिर किया। अटार्नी जनरल ने कहा कि राज्य व उसकी अथॉरिटी को सूचना के अधिकार अधिनियम से संरक्षण प्रदान किया गया है। ऐसे में उन्हें इस कानून के अंतर्गत नहीं लाया जा सकता। अब इस मामले की सुनवाई 13 मार्च को होगी। हाई कोर्ट के समक्ष अटार्नी जनरल की ओर से पेश हुए एडिशनल सॉलीसिटर जनरल सिद्धार्थ लूथरा ने कहा कि उनका केंद्र सरकार से वकील व ग्राहक वाला रिश्ता है। उनके बीच होने वाली गोपनीय बात या उनके द्वारा सरकार को दी जाने वाली कानूनी सलाह को कानून के अनुसार आईटीआइ के दायरे में शामिल नहीं किया जा सकता।

 

Source: http://in.jagran.yahoo.com/epaper/article/index.php?page=article&choice=print_article&location=13&category=&articleid=111762871072536888

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Sandhya Jain in Niticentral.com on March 8 2013

RTI should apply to Attorney General | Niti Central

 

Former Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja has thrown the gauntlet before the Congress that dominates the UPA coalition by threatening to go on hunger strike on the Parliament premises if he is not permitted to appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee which is examining alleged irregularities in allocation of 2G spectrum during his tenure. The party is now stuck between a rock and a hard place.

 

Should chairman PC Chacko refuse permission for fear that the DMK MP may implicate Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the JPC would appear to be privileging Attorney General Ghulam Vahanvati over the former Minister. Raja recently clashed with Vahanvati in the special court hearing the 2G matter, calling him a ‘liar’ when the latter denied having vetted the Press release that was actually released on the spectrum tender.

 

Vahanvati was Solicitor General when he gave the Raja opinion in the infamous 2G spectrum allotment case. Since Vahanvati has deposed before the JPC and also served as CBI witness in the special court, the principle of natural justice demands that Raja be permitted to present his version before the JPC. The BJP, the DMK, and the CPI-M support Raja’s demand to be heard.

 

Last month, Vahanvati told the special court that a draft Press release he approved on January 7, 2008, while serving as Solicitor General, originally had a paragraph that was missing when it was issued three days later on January 10, 2008. The CBI claims that the former Telecom Minister struck this para off and accuses him of cheating and forgery. Vahanvati previously gave the same testimony to the JPC.

 

However, legal experts have previously observed that by giving Raja an opinion with respect to the drafting of the Press note, Vahanvati violated rule 8(e) of the Law Officers (Service and Conditions) Rules 1987. These prohibit Law Officers of the Union Government from giving any advice to any Government department/Ministry unless requested through the Union Ministry of Law and Justice. Thus, Vahanvati’s being in the consultation process on allotment of 2G spectrum (he admitted to seeing the file) is in violation of law, and if his word is allowed to prevail while Raja’s voice is muffled, it will be tantamount to a mockery of law and justice.

 

Given the importance of the matter, observers feel that the office of the Attorney General should be brought under the ambit of the RTI Act, as he has been appointed under provisions of the Constitution and through an official notification, is Government-funded and governed by Law Officers (Service and Conditions) Rules 1987 and is thus a public-authority under section 2(h) of RTI Act.

 

The Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, notification No. F.18(1)/86-Judl. dated January 1, 1987, regulates the remuneration, duties and other terms and conditions of the Attorney-General for India, the Solicitor General for India and the Additional Solicitor General for India. These enunciate the duties of a Law Officer, which may broadly be stated as, to advice the Government of India upon legal matters and to perform duties of a legal character, as referred or assigned by the Government of India; and to appear before the Supreme Court or any High Court on behalf of the Government of India in cases where the Government of India is a concerned party or is otherwise interested. The notification also specifies the retainer, fees and allowances to be paid to the Law Officers.

 

The notification specifically states that a law officer shall not “advise any Ministry or Department of Government of India or any statutory organisation or any Public Sector Undertaking unless the proposal or a reference in this regard is received through the Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs”.

 

It is further stated that, “Where the Central Government is of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do, it may, by order, and for reasons to be recorded in writing, relax any of the provisions of these rules”. It is, however, stipulated that these provisions “shall not be relaxed in relation to any matter where the Government of India or any Central Government instrumentality is or is likely to be affected”.

 

Given the complexity of the 2G issue and the contradictory statements of all involved in the case, it would be in the fitness of things for the Government to allow Raja to testify before all relevant bodies hearing the 2G matter, if only to avoid the public perception of a grand cover-up.

 

Finally, future Parliamentary reforms could include giving the post of chairperson of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to a Member of the main Opposition party, as in the case of the Public Accounts Committee.

 

This would impart a certain gravitas to the committee and ensure better performance as both the chair and the committee would be unfettered by the political constraints of the ruling party or coalition.

 

The present system, where the JPC is formed on basis of proportional representation of the parties in both Houses of Parliament, with the chairperson’s post occupied by the ruling party, can never effectively probe scams pertaining to the ruling party or coalition itself. It is thus a huge waste of public money. Bofors is one example. The proposed JPC on the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, which has been opposed by the main opposition BJP and other parties, is expected to end as another farce.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Business-standard.com on April 4, 2013

Plea to bring AG under RTI; HC asks law officer to respond | Business Standard

 

The Delhi High Court today sought a response from the Attorney General on a plea that the office of the law officer be declared a "public authority" under the RTI Act as the appointment is according to the Constitution.

 

"Issue notice to the office of the Attorney General. Reply be filed within six weeks," Justice G S Sistani said.

 

The court was hearing an appeal filed by Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal against a decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) holding that the office of AG is not amenable to the RTI Act.

 

Initiating the arguments, Aggarwal's counsel Prashant Bhushan said the question that what information can be given (by AG) to an information seeker is different from the plea that the office be declared a public office under the RTI.

 

"Instead of seeking information from the Attorney General's office, a person may seek information from the persons (government and its departments) to whom advice has been rendered," the court said, adding it has also been argued that AG has a lawyer-client relationship with the government and his advice is protected against revelation under the law.

 

Bhushan said the issue as to whether the office of AG falls under the RTI or not is "different from the issue as to what information may or may not be given under the RTI".

 

The court then asked Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the AG's office, to file the reply and fixed the matter for hearing on August 18.

 

Earlier, the Attorney General had opposed the plea on various grounds including that the advice rendered by him to the state and its authorities is protected under the law.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Niticentral.com on August 14, 2013

Plea to bring Attorney General’s office under RTI, judge recuses himself | Niti Central

 

A Delhi High Court judge on Wednesday recused himself from hearing a plea seeking to declare the Attorney General’s office a public authority under the RTI Act as the appointment of the highest law officer is according to the Constitution.

 

Without citing any reason, Justice VK Jain said ‘let the matter be transferred to another bench’ and posted the matter for August 22.

 

 

Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal had moved the high court in appeal against a decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) holding that the office of AG is not amenable to the RTI Act.

 

 

On April 4, Justice GS Sistani had issued notice to the office of the Attorney General seeking a reply to the appeal.

 

 

In his plea, Aggarwal has said any attempt to keep the office of AG out of the RTI Act would defeat the fundamental right of citizens to get information about a public authority.

 

 

Aggarwal’s counsel Prashant Bhushan had earlier argued the issue as to whether the office of AG falls under the RTI or not is “different from the issue as to what information may or may not be given under the RTI”.

 

 

The Attorney General had opposed the plea on various grounds including that the advice rendered by him to the State and its authorities is protected under the law.

 

 

The ASG had also said the AG has a ‘fiduciary’ (a relation of trust) with the Government and moreover “there is no establishment attached with the office of the AG”.

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karira

[h=1]Attorney general's office comes under RTI: Delhi HC[/h]

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday held that the office of the Attorney General of India carries out public function and it comes within the ambit of the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

 

 

Justice Vibhu Bakhru also said that the top law officer performed public functions and his appointment was governed by the Constitution, and so it falls under the RTI Act.

 

 

"The office of the AGI is an office established under the Constitution of India. The incumbent appointed to that office discharges functions as provided under the Constitution. Article 76(2) of the Constitution expressly provides that the AGI would perform the duties of a legal character and also discharge the functions conferred on him under the Constitution or any other law in force," the order said.

 

 

"It is not disputed that the functions of the AGI are also in the nature of public functions. The AGI performs the functions as are required by virtue of article 76(2) of the Constitution," said the court.

 

 

"... A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court held the office of the AGI to be a public office. In this view also, the office of the AGI should be a public authority within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act."

 

 

It also said that only those documents which fall under section 8 (exemption from disclosure of information) of RTI are excluded from disclosure.

 

 

The court's order came on two pleas filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal and R.K. Jain seeking to declare the Attorney General's office as a public authority under the RTI Act on the ground that the top law officer's appointment was governed by the Constitution.

 

 

One of the pleas also challenged the Central Information Commission's decision holding that the office of the Attorney General was not covered by the RTI Act.

 

Read More: Attorney general's office comes under RTI: Delhi HC | Business Standard News

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akhilesh yadav

[h=1]Order bringing AG’s office under RTI stayed[/h]The Law Ministry has appealed against a single Bench order

 

 

A Delhi High Court order that had brought the Attorney-General’s office within the ambit of the Right to Information Act was stayed by a Division Bench on Wednesday, on an appeal by the Union Law Ministry.

 

 

The court said it needed to go through the decision of the single judge Bench and stayed the order until the next date of hearing on April 27.

 

 

“We will hear the appeal filed by the Law Ministry and we have to stay the order of the single judge, otherwise the purpose will not be served,” said the Bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw.

 

 

On March 10, stating that even under common parlance, the office of the Attorney-General has always been understood to mean a “constitutional authority,” the single Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru had refused to accept that this office was outside the ambit of the Right to Information Act and further directed the Attorney-General’s office to reconsider the RTI application that it had rejected on these grounds.

 

 

The ruling came on a hearing of a petition challenging an order by the Central Information Commission (CIC) .

 

 

The CIC had held that the office of the AGI was not a public authority under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The petition also challenged a letter by the AGI refusing all information to the petitioner under the RTI Act.

 

 

“An office that is established under the Constitution of India would clearly fall within the definition of Section 2(h) (definition of public authority of the RTI Act). Even in common parlance, the AGI has always been understood as a constitutional authority,” the single judge had said.

 

 

The judge also referred to a precedent of the Supreme Court which held the office of the AGI to be a “public” office. “In this view also, the office of the AGI should be a public authority within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act,” the court had said.

 

Read at: Order bringing AG?s office under RTI stayed - The Hindu

 

 

 

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karira

HC stays order to bring Attorney General of India's office under RTI

 

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Wednesday stayed till April 27 a decision of its single judge to bring the Attorney General of India's (AGI) office under the RTI Act.

 

 

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw said that the single judge's findings "require consideration" and it will hear the appeal filed by the Centre against the ruling.

 

 

In its appeal the law ministry argued that the AG is not a "public authority" as defined under the Act and the single judge erred in extending the ambit of the transparency law to the AG.

 

 

In its order, earlier this month, the single judge held AG's office to be a public authority on the ground that he performs functions by virtue of Article 76(2) of the Constitution of India. The single judge reversed a December 2012 CIC order that AG is not a public authority.

 

 

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain maintained that AG's position is unique since he is a lawyer for the government and also renders sensitive legal opinion on matters of policy.

 

 

Earlier the single judge had refused to consider the government's argument that there was a practical difficulty in providing information under the Act as the office of the AG does not have the requisite infrastructure. It gave the ruling on the petitions of RTI activists Subhash Agarwal and R K Jain, who demanded that the office of the AG must be brought under the transparency law.

 

 

The court had directed the AG to reconsider the RTI application of Jain as his plea for information was denied on basis of the CIC order that the office of AGI is not a public authority. The CIC, in its 2012 order, had expressed the opinion that the AGI was only a person and could not be considered as an "authority" and, therefore, fell outside sweep of section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

 

 

Section 2(h) of the Act defines 'public authority'. While setting aside the CIC order, the court had noted that the expression 'authority' under RTI Act would include all persons or bodies that have been conferred power to perform the functions entrusted to them and those performing advisory functions cannot be excluded.

 

Read More: HC stays order to bring Attorney General of India's office under RTI - The Times of India

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