2 years after SC move, no Bench to decide RTI queries
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Almost two years ago, the Supreme Court had decided in three cases pertaining to the Right to Information Act that these would be heard by a Constitution Bench. However, this Bench of the SC is yet to be constituted, leading to delays in the disclosure orders of the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions.
The SC decision pertained to three cases — whether the office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority under the RTI Act; documents related to appointments of certain judges of the SC; and copies of correspondences between certain authorities. On November 26, 2010, a Division Bench of the SC decided that since these questions involved interpretation of the Constitution, these will be heard by a Constitution bench.
The first case was regarding applications filed by Delhi-based Subhash Agarwal on whether all SC judges had filed their assets and liabilities to the CJI or not. Says Agarwal, "I had not requested for copies of the declarations, but whether they had filed such declarations or not." While the CPIO of the SC provided the information later, adding that the office of the CJI was not a public authority under the RTI Act, the apex court started a legal battle on the issue, which is yet to be decided.
In all these cases the CIC had directed concerned officials to provide the information. The assets declaration case was decided by the full bench of CIC, headed by then Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, on January 6, 2009. The SC had lost this battle before the Delhi HC's three judge Bench on January 12, 2010. When the SC filed appeal before itself on the matter its Division Bench directed the matter be heard by a Constitution Bench.
In another application, the SC was requested to provide "copies of complete correspondence exchanged between concerned constitutional authorities with file notings relating to appointment of Justice H L Dattu, A K Ganguly and R M Lodha superseding seniority of Justice P Shah". The third request was for documents related to "revelation by Justice R Raghupati of Madras HC about some Union minister having approached him in some matter pending before the honourable judge in his court".
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