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(Rptg yesterday's Di 51)

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 6 (UNI) The Central Information Commission (CIC) has sought the opinion of the Chief Justice of India on how a citizen can access information from the apex court under the Right to Information Act (RTI) without upsetting judicial decorum.

In a ruling this week, the CIC asked the Supreme Court registrar to seek the opinion of the Chief Justice on how to help a citizen who was not satisfied with a response he got from the Apex Court registry when he used the RTI Act to know the status of a petition he had filed before the Chief Justice.

''Since the information is on the file in the Court of the Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India, the Registrar will seek the orders of Hon'ble the Chief Justice as to the manner in which the information can be accessed in keeping with the decorum vital to the administration of justice in the highest Court in the land, and the appellant suitably advised, under intimation to the Commission within 15 working days from the date of issue of this decision,'' the CIC said in its April 3 ruling.

The ruling by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioner Padma Balasubramaniam followed representations it received from the Apex Court registry and the petitioner, Delhi resident Subhash Chandra Agarwal.

Mr Agarwal had approached the CIC when the court registry informed him that his petition -- relating to action on his complaint against a High Court judge -- had been kept in the relevant High Court file.

While he prayed that this information was ''meaningless and evasive'' and demanded ''actionable information'', the counsel for the court registrar said the case was transferred to the High Court -- a separate public authority under the provisions of the RTI Act.

In its ruling on February 7, the CIC said though the information that the court gave the appellant met ''in narrow terms the requirement of Section 6(3) of the RTI Act, relating to information held by 'another public authority', it did not mention when and under what reference the application was transferred to the High Court''.

This made it difficult for the appellant to find ways to seek further information, the CIC noted, asking the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court to inform Mr Agarwal of the reference and date of the orders transferring the application to the High Court.

However, on February 23, the CPIO informed the CIC that a correct position had not been conveyed to the Commission by the counsel for the court.

The CPIO said Mr Agarwal's application was not transferred to the High Court, but was placed before the then Chief Justice, and directed to be ''kept on record in the relevant High Court file, i.e. the file pertaining to the concerned High Court, maintained in the Secretariat of the Chief Justice of India''.


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