HCs urged to disclose info under RTI

Information Commissions landmark decision to bring transparency in judiciary

The Central Information Commission has suggested that high courts of different states disclose all information as mandated for all public authorities to reveal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

In an important decision bringing in transparency, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said as the High Courts were “looked upon as models” for implementing the laws of the land, they should take steps for making all disclosures enshrined under Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act.

Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act calls for all public authorities to publish within 120 days since the enactment of the transparency law the information under 17 heads.

These include the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; a directory of its officers and employees; the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; and the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers.

The commission was hearing complaints filed by C J Karira and Mani Ram Sharma alleging that the High Courts of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Allahabad, Madras, Punjab and Haryana, and Sikkim did not carry “suo motu declarations” as mandated under the RTI Act.

They also submitted the print outs from the websites of the public authorities in support of their claim.

Karira claimed that it was only the Gauhati High Court which made all disclosures available as per the mandate of the Act.

“As its preamble shows the RTI Act was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority in order to strengthen the core constitutional values of a democratic republic. The compliance of provisions of Section 4 ensures transparency and minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information,” the Commission said.

“We, under section 25 (5) of the RTI Act, recommend to all other High Courts whose names are listed in the present case to disclose all the information as per the provisions of subsection (1) (b) of Section 4 of the RTI Act within 3 months of the passing of the order,” the Commission said, asking them to follow the Gauhati High Court model.

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