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Best of 2015; Eight Significant RTI Verdicts from Supreme Court, High Courts and CIC

Nation celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Right to Information Act in 2015. This year witnessed some landmark as well as regressive orders from the Constitutional Courts, Central and State Information Commissions on Right to Information. LiveLaw has reported almost all important verdicts. Here is a list of most significant RTI Verdicts from Supreme Court, High Courts and Central Information Commission.

1. RBI under RTI Act (SC)

Supreme Court in a landmark decision (Reserve Bank of India v. Jayantilal Mistry) declared that RBI does not place itself in a fiduciary relationship with the financial institutions because, the reports of the inspections, statements of the bank, information related to the business obtained by the RBI are not under the pretext of confidence or trust. Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice M.Y. Eqbal, expatiating on the nature of functions of the banking sector regulator said: “RBI is supposed to uphold public interest and not the interest of individual banks. RBI is clearly not in any fiduciary relationship with any bank. RBI has no legal duty to maximize the benefit of any public sector or private sector bank, and thus there is no relationship of ‘trust’ between them. RBI has a statutory duty to uphold the interest of the public at large, the depositors, the country’s economy and the banking sector. Thus, RBI ought to act with transparency and not hide information that might embarrass individual banks.

2. Medical Expenses of Judges cannot be revealed under RTI: SC

Supreme Court of India in Subhash Chandra Aggarwal vs. Registrar General, Supreme Court of India held that the medical expenses of Judges are not qualified to come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. The Apex Court rejected an appeal against Delhi High Court decision which had held that information about doctor’s visit expenses of judges and their families can’t be revealed.

3. Office of Attorney General under RTI  [Delhi HC)

Delhi High Court in Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. Office of AG  held that the office of the Attorney General of India is a public authority under the Right to Information Act. The Court decided the same while hearing a writ petition filed by RTI Activist Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal, which was against the order passed by full bench of CIC wherein the Central Information Commission had held that the office of Attorney General was not a public authority under the RTI Act.

4. RTI can be used even if information not relevant or germane and even if applicant has access to material through other means; Delhi HC

Setting aside an order passed by the CIC, the Delhi High Court in Adesh Kumar v. Union of India remanded a case back to CIC for consideration in the light of the observations. Justice Vibhu Bakhru emphasized on two points, first being that the question whether the information sought by the petitioner is relevant or necessary, is not relevant or germane in the context of the Act; a citizen has a right to information by virtue of Section 3 of the Act and the same is not conditional on the information being relevant. The second point was that the petitioner has access to the material relied upon by the prosecution does not prevent him from seeking information, which he considers necessary for his defence

5. Copy of FIR under RTI

A division bench of Kerala High Court comprising of Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A.M. Shafique in Jiju Lukose vs State of Kerala held that the police authorities are obliged to provide the copy of the FIR on an RTI application, unless an appropriate authority decides it is exempted under section 8 of the RTI Act.

6. CIC directed CBSE to pay Rs 25,000 as compensation for denying RTI seeking copy of answer sheets

The Central Information Commission in Vijay Kumar Mishra v. CBSE directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to furnish the copies of answer-scripts sought for by the father of a student, and to pay a compensation of Rs.25, 000 to the parent for harassing him and compelling him to sign illegal undertaking to give up rights. The Information Commissioner also issued show cause notice to then CPIOs of CBSE who refused information sought for. Rejecting the grounds on which the CBSE denied the natural guardian from exercising his legal duty to secure the legal interests of his son including his right to information the information commissioner Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu said “The CBSE has no authority to impose such restriction on the rights of minor and his guardian.” The Commission also directed the CBSE to put in place such system with conducive practices by which the Right to information is not limited but facilitated, by removing the obstacles such as undertaking to give up their legal rights.

7. Disclose Union Cabinet note on NJAC: CIC

Central Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu in S.N.Shukla v. Department of Justice directed the Department of Justice on 7.1.2015, to disclose the Union Cabinet note and details about its decision to establish National Judicial Appointment Commission.The Department of Justice had refused reasoning that it was a cabinet secret and was exempted u/S 8 (1)(i) of RTI act.

8. State is duty bound to provide easy access to up-to-date Legal Information to its citizens; CIC

Chief Information Commission has in Vansh Sharad Gupta v. PIO Legislative Department  held that State has a duty to inform citizens about the Law as and when it was made and the citizens also have right to know of the Law. This observation by the commission was made by Information commissioner Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu (Madabhushi Sridhar), in a complaint filed by a law student from National Law School of India University, Bangalore. CIC also ordered  to pay Rs.10000/- as a token compensation to the library of the National Law School of India University, Bangaluru, for causing loss of time of several law students.

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  • mallinath.a.t says:

    rti act is misused vastly by media n ngo,s . With prima facia proof requiring for public intrest ,may be made mandatory.

  • DR.G.HARIKISHAN GOUD says:

    Death merchants—T.S Health Ministry purchased under quality drugs and supplied to Govt Hospitals which some percentage of deaths of poor patients occurred .Some out of 10 to 15 highest position holders in Health Ministry are responsible for this deaths. Even one death occur, is a criminal case Particularly M.D TSMSIDC is the main accuse, without his/her knowledge this crime will not happened
    We have filed the complaint in local police station as per law, with great difficulty after25days , we got A/C No .U202307013900686 on the basis of Comptroller and Auditor General of India[CAG] Report MOST AUTHENTIC more than CBI /Vigilance / Police investigation etc .We request the police to investigate the case in the line of murder . others Manufacturing /Quality Control part will be taken up by Drug Control under Drugs and Cosmetic Act Huge Public Money is Misused in T.S. Health Ministry .Where is Accountability, Transparency and Justice .Today under RTI we have asked the status of our complaint— Participate improving Governance within Law and Non Violence — G.H.K.GOUD — Prisedent—Society for Social Awareness HYD—

  • Neenu Sodhi says:

    Can RTI be uses to ask for personal information of employees of private institutions even if it channelised through appropriate government department? Wouldn’t it be equivalent to the government department acting as mediator in irresponsibly procuring information for person/s who might be having malicious interests which would have no larger public interest? When the information pertains to third party, what is the protocol to be observed in keeping in loop, the person whose information is being sought?

  • K.V. Sreenivasan says:

    The CIC does not take any efective step against the Public sector sector undertaking M/S neyveli Lignite Corporation Lilmited, Neyveli , tamilnadu for not providing the relevant information regarding the misappropriation of assets accounts,and not taken any action against the CPIO of NLC and CBI office, and CVC and Ministry of Coal office. why this partiality.

  • J S Rawat says:

    1. The CIC has not ensured information regarding the violation of Fundamental Rights, ensured under Article 16 & 14 of the Constitution of India.
    2. Information sought under Section 6 (3) of the RTI Act and the decision of the Information Commission No. CIC/OK/A/2008//00467+00397/SG/0921 dated 07/01/2009 is not based on the second appeals dated 11/02/2008 & 19/02/2008 of the applicant and not decided in conformation of Section 19 (10) of the RTI Act. Even the Registrar of CIC declined to authenticate the said decision as mandatory under Rule 8 of the CIC (Appeal Procedure Rules, 2005. It is very shocking that the review petition of the applicant, under Section 23 of the RTI Act is not extended on the pretext of invalid CIC (Management) Regulation 23, already quashed by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court on 23/11/2009. On the contrary the hearing was scheduled against Section 19 (6) of the RTI Act.

  • Dr.Alauddin Tungekar says:

    Do the private hospital come under RTI act?
    If somebody asks information regarding them through RTI act,is it mandatory to answer him?though irrelevant person.

  • Ravi.P.Singh says:

    Very informative.

  • vinay dange says:

    sr. no.2. medical expenses of judges can not be revealed under RTI act. does it mean that it can be revealed under different act? the statement is not understandable as to why special treatment as compared to common man? why secrecy ? it creates lot of doubts in mind when transparency is not maintained.

  • nr.mohanraam. says:

    very very thanks.happy pongal sir.

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