A division bench of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday delivered a split verdict on the issue of whether it was compulsory to disclose the details of institutional donors in the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund under the RTI Act.
The bench referred the matter to the Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court to allocate it before a third judge who will decide the question. When the bench Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sunil Gaur assembled for the pronouncement, the judges said there was disagreement between them on the issue.
“We are not in agreement with each other. So we have made a reference to the Acting Chief Justice,” Justice Bhat said. However, details of their judgements were not available. The bench was hearing PMNRF’s plea challenging a single judge’s order of November 19, 2015 dismissing its petition against a 2012 Central Information Commission (CIC) order asking it to disclose the details of its institutional donors.
The division bench had earlier stayed the operation of the CIC order till further direction saying the matter required consideration. PMNRF had approached the single judge in 2012 challenging the CIC’s order which had said, “we are of the view that the details of the institutional donors should be placed in public domain and disclosed to the appellant (Aseem Takyar)”.
However, the CIC had said it would not be appropriate to direct the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of PMNRF to disclose the names of the recipients and beneficiaries of the fund. Takyar had sought information regarding PMNRF including the names and particulars of donors and beneficiaries from 2009 to 2011 under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
The CPIO of PMNRF had provided some information to Takyar but denied details regarding donors and beneficiaries of the fund. Takyar had then approached the CIC. After the CIC order, PMNRF had moved the high court when a single judge bench dismissed its plea saying the CIC’s order was “well balanced”.
PMNRF had challenged the single judge order saying such information was private and must be kept confidential.