The Bombay High Court has granted interim stay on an order passed by the State Information Commissioner (Greater Mumbai), Ajit Kumar Jain, wherein the Deputy Registrar of the High Court was directed to furnish information regarding applications made by judges since 2010 before the state government seeking allotment of residential plots, apartments etc.
The application also sought details of judges who have benefitted from such allotments.
RTI activist Deepa Tilokani had filed an appeal before the State Information Commission (SIC) after her application was dismissed by the Deputy Registrar’s office.
In an order dated July 21, Jain allowed her appeal and stated: “From the point of view of common citizens, it was necessary to have transparency in the process of flat or plot allotments. Hence this information was admissible in public interest.”
Thereafter, a writ petition was filed by the high court administration through its Public Information Officer and the Deputy Registrar on August 21.
A bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Shinde was constituted to hear the matter after Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice MS Karnik recused themselves.
Appearing for the Public Information Officer, SR Nargolkar submitted that the high court was not bound by the rules to maintain such records, and even the Deputy Registrar’s office, in its first reply dismissing the application, had stated that the said information was exempted from disclosure under the Bombay High Court Right to Information (Revised) Rules, 2009.
Senior advocate Mihir Desai, who appeared for applicant Deepa Tilokani, submitted that even though the HC administration was not bound by the rules to maintain such information, the RTI Act required the application to be forwarded to the appropriate authority that may have such information.
However, the court decided to grant an interim stay on the SIC order and admitted the petition.