The Central Information Commission has directed the Madras High Court registry to upload impugned orders of lower courts and tribunals on its website in larger public interest.
Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur said the disclosures would help the general public, litigants and stakeholders link the orders of the High Court with impugned or challenged orders.
The case pertained to activist R K Jain who had approached the Commission with a plea that several orders of the High Court and details of impugned orders had not been uploaded on the website. Jain said under the provisions of section 4 of the RTI Act, details of impugned orders were required to be disclosed by each public authority, including the High Court. Section 4 of the RTI Act stated the respondent was required to upload a class of information and not post orders in a “pick and choose” manner, he said.
A Madras High Court official said that before June 2014, under directions of the court, only those judgments which were specifically indicated or instructed for uploading were posted on the website. Jain told the commission the information he had sought from 2012 to 2014 was not available on the website.
The official said judicial records were not required to be uploaded on the website under suo motu disclosures as per section 4 of the RTI Act. A third party may take a certified copy of a judicial record by following the procedure laid down in the Rules of High Court of Madras, Appellate side, 1965, and not under the RTI Act, he said.
He submitted that if the sought for information was ordered to be provided, it would amount to directing the public authority to collate and collect the information from each file and then provide the information to the appellant. This would divert the resources of the public authority disproportionately, the court official said.
Chief Information Commissioner Mathur said the appellant was not seeking a certified copy of the impugned orders of the lower courts and that he wanted only details of the impugned orders which he stated should also have been available on the website of the High Court in larger public interest.
“Hence, Rules of High Court of Madras, Appellate Side, 1965, would not come in the picture in providing the sought for information,” he said. Mathur directed the Registry to furnish to Jain, if available, the impugned order details of the cases mentioned in the RTI requests, free of cost, within 30 days of the receipt of the order.
“The Commission recommends that the details of the impugned order of the lower Courts/Tribunal etc may be made available on the website of the High Court in order to help the general public, litigants and all other stakeholders in linking the High Court’s orders and judgments with the impugned orders,” he said in his recent order.