Centre asks apex court to review info panel order

The review petition,citing the apex court’s verdict,said the only situation in which the court could issue directions was when an act or rule is silent on a subject.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: October 12, 2012 1:05 am

Asserting that the court cannot issue directions to the legislature to amend an act or rules and that it is the responsibility of Parliament,the Centre Thursday asked the Supreme Court to review its verdict on amending the RTI Act to ensure “only” serving and retired judges of the apex court and chief justices of high courts could head the central and state information commissions.

The review petition,citing the apex court’s verdict,said the only situation in which the court could issue directions was when an act or rule is silent on a subject. “That is not the case here. Section 12(5) and 15(5) of the act clearly lay down the norms relating to qualifications of the chief information commissioner and information commissioners at the Centre and at the state level respectively. Various directions given by this hon’ble court in the impugned judgment are contrary to the provisions of the RTI Act,” the plea said.

Claiming that the September 13 judgment “sought to complicate a simple statute,” it said that certain directions were in violation of provisions of the RTI Act,thus damaging the smooth functioning of the act. “These contrary directions have the potential to create disarray in the functioning of the central and state information commissions. Such directions amount to a clear error apparent on the face of the record,being in absolute disregard of the provisions of the act,” said the petition,drafted by counsel Anoopam N Prasad,for the Department of Personnel and Training. The plea referred to the RTI Act,according to which the chief information commissioner and a information commissioner can hold office for a five-year term until he or she turns 65 years. However,the court’s verdict said that only a serving or retired SC judge or HC chief justice could head a info panel.

“The retirement age for a judge of the Supreme Court being 65 years,it naturally follows that no retired judge of the Supreme Court can be considered for appointment to the post of chief information commissioner. This direction,contrary to the provision in the act,is a patent error on the face of the record,” the plea said.

The DoPT said the court ought to have clarified whether two-member benches had to start functioning immediately,or when the necessity arises.

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