September 2019

RIGHT TO INFORMATION (r2i)

Jinal Sanghvi

PART A DECISIONS OF HIGH COURTS

 

  •     Can a Government Order issued by the State exist over the provisions of the RTI Act?

A writ petition was filed by Advocate D.B. Binu, who is an RTI activist and president of a federation of such activists, impugning an order issued by the Government of Kerala which ostensibly says that certain types of information cannot be made available to the public even under the RTI Act.

 

In the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam, Mr. Justice Devan Ramachandran while delivering a judgement on WP(C) No. 11202 of 2019 on 25th June, 2019 stated:

 

‘From this limited perspective, I must say that I fail to understand how the Government of Kerala could order that “all documents / information related to Inter-State matters and documents / information which Government feels privy to and the disclosure of the same may hamper the interest of the State, shall be exempted from revealing to the public even on request under RTI Act”, particularly when, under the Right to Information Act is a well-defined hierarchy of officers, with the State Information Commission at its head, which is expected to be autonomous and resistant to any pressure from the Executive. It is disquieting that the order appears to be an attempt to influence the various Information Officers and Appellate Authorities under the RTI Act by dictating that they shall not make available certain types of information, no matter what the mandate of the RTI Act. This certainly is a very dangerous proposition and it is incomprehensible how the Government could arrogate to itself the power to issue such an order, knowing full well that this is gross affront to the provisions of law, because it must certainly be aware that information sought for by an applicant under the RTI Act can only be denied under the specific instances enumerated in sections 8 and 9 of the said Act and in no other. Whatever be the reason behind issuance of this order and however justified the reason stated therein may be, the incontrovertible fact is that the Government could not have issued this order to pre-empt grant of any information, whatever be its nature, since i

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