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Monday, July 16, 2018

RTI Act can’t prevail over Supreme Court rules, says Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court observed the RTI Act cannot be resorted to in case the information sought for is related to judicial function

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: November 22, 2017 7:27:26 pm
RTI can't override SC rules For administrative functioning of the Supreme Court, RTI Act will be applicable and information can be provided under it, the Delhi HC said. (Photo for representation)

The Delhi High Court has held that the Right To Information (RTI) Act would not override the Supreme Court Rules (SCR) when it came to the dissemination of information.

Justice Manmohan also observed that the RTI Act cannot be resorted to in case the information sought for was related to judicial function, which could be challenged by way of any legal proceeding. “The SCR would be applicable with regard to the judicial functioning of the Supreme Court. Whereas for administrative functioning of the Supreme Court, RTI Act would be applicable and information could be provided under it. The dissemination of information under the SCR is part of a judicial function, the exercise of which cannot be taken away by any statute. It is a settled legal position that the legislature is not competent to take away the judicial powers of the court by statutory prohibition,” the court said.

The court’s order came on a plea by the Supreme Court, through its Registrar, who had challenged a May 2011 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the apex court to answer the queries of litigant RS Misra as to why his SLP was dismissed. While setting aside the CIC order, the High Court also deprecated the applicant’s conduct of writing a letter to apex court judges asking why his SLP, regarding termination of his services as a teacher, was dismissed.

Misra was holding the post of Postgraduate Teacher (Chemistry) in Kendriya Vidyalaya and his services were terminated by the Commissioner of KVS under Article 81(b) of the Education Code in November 2003. He had challenged the termination in the Central Administrative Tribunal which was dismissed. His petition in the high court and appeal in the apex court also failed. The review petitions were also dismissed.

Thereafter, he sought information under the RTI as to why his SLP had been dismissed while contending that the same had been decided against the principles of natural justice. On not receiving the information sought, he had moved the CIC which had directed the apex court’s public information officer to answer the queries raised by him.

Setting aside the CIC order, the HC said “a judge speaks through his judgments or orders passed by him. A judge cannot be expected to give reasons other than those that have been enumerated in the judgement or order. If any party feels aggrieved by the order/judgement, the remedy available is to challenge the same by a legally permissible mode”.

“No litigant can be allowed to seek information through an RTI application or a letter on the administrative side as to why and for what reasons the judge had come to a particular decision or conclusion. A judge is not bound to explain later on for what reasons he had come to such a conclusion,” the HC said.

It also said the CIC should not have directed the petitioner to supply information without considering whether the queries raised were maintainable under the RTI Act.

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