The High Court of Delhi on Friday held that the Court stenographer’s Shorthand note book is not a “record” held by a public authority and therefore cannot be sought under the Right to Information Act.
The Court noted that neither are shorthand books retained, nor can they be equated with a judgment or an order. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva hence observed, “Shorthand notebook can at best be treated as a memo of what is dictated to a steno to be later transcribed into a draft judgment or an order. When draft judgments and order do not form part of a ‘record’ held by a public authority, a shorthand note book which is memo of what is dictated and which would later be typed to become a draft judgment or an order can certainly not be held to be ‘record’ held by a public authority.”
The Petitioner, Mr. Tapan Choudhury had challenged an order passed by the Central Information Commission in March this year, refusing to provide him copies of the shorthand note book in which the Stenographer takes dictation of the Court.
Mr. Choudhary had reportedly sought shorthand notes of the stenographer taken on May 27, 2013, claiming that the Court had passed an order of ex-parte injunction in a suit initiated by a American multinational technology company on the said date, without any party appearing before it.
Deciding against the applicant, the Court relied on the decision in the case of Secretary General, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, AIR 2010 Delhi 159, wherein the Full Bench of the High Court had held that even notes taken by Judges while hearing a case cannot be treated as final views expressed by them on the case, and cannot be held to be a part of a record ‘held’ by the public authority.
Read the order here.