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RTI replies not very reliable- Observation by a Bench of Justice - Supreme Court

Prasad GLN

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RTI replies not very reliable, do not cite RTI documents:" Supreme Court observes

The observation was made by a Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna while hearing an appeal against an order of the Allahabad High Court.

 Information obtained through Right to Information Act (RTI Act) need not necessarily be reliable and lawyers should refrain from citing the same as authorities while arguing cases, the Supreme Court orally remarked on Friday (Ashish Kumar Saxena vs State of UP)                           

 The observation was made by a Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna while hearing an appeal against an order of the Allahabad High Court.

"Do not cite a RTI reply. It is not very reliable as per our experience. If the letter ends with some other authority, the reply is something completely different," said Justice AM Khanwilkar.

The order under challenge before the top court was in the context of a demolition process.

The appellant told the Court that he has an RTI reply from the development authority saying that the master plan demarcates it as residential.

However the bench was not inclined to accept the same.

The appellants submitted that illegal demolition was carried out by the authorities in their privately owned land. The plea stated that the Gorakhpur Development Authority carried out demolition on their land and if the process is not stopped then six families with twenty-five persons in total, will lose their shelter.

The appellant contended that as per information obtained under RTI, the concerned plot is reserved for the land use of residential and block park as per the master plan.

"This information was also issued by GDA i.e. the act under the Urban Planning and Development act," argued the appellant.

However, the top court asked the appellant not to rely on RTI replies.

"Do not cite RTI documents," the Court reiterated.

Advocate Udayaditya Banerjee represented the appellants. The case will now be taken up next in August.

(Note:  This is not a finding but stated as an ‘observation’  in proceedings)

Source: Bar and Bench – Link:  https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/rti-replies-not-very-reliable-do-not-cite-rti-documents-supreme-court-observes

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That means if we get any information through RTI will not stand in the Courts. In that case the RTI ACT 2005 and the authorities who provide information will be careless. Since there is no punishment on providing the wrong information under RTI ACT. There should be a provision that the courts should penalize the authorities for providing wrong information. This will make RTI ACT stronger.

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That is a comment/passing general observation and not a part or finding or judgment.  TO clear such doubts, I have mentioned in the note.  Unless it is a finding, ruling or judgment that casual comments are not to be construed as final law.  As per Indian Evidence Act, any document obtained under prevailing law is a valid documentary evidence.  Sec.75 & 76 also states about documents obtained from authorities are Public record.  The observation is partially correct as I have seen many such cases where PIOs and parties colluded and conspired to provide incorrect information and such authorities never provide inspection of such original records.

There is no need to worry as this is not finding and even if it  is a finding it is against laid down law.

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