The Principal Seat of the Madras High Court in Chennai and its Madurai Bench have taken different stands while responding to a couple of applications filed under the Right To Information Act, 2005 seeking similar information with regard to disposal of cases in the two places.
An RTI applicant here had sent an application, dated March 9, 2010, to the Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) of the Principal Seat seeking certain information related to cases disposed of in Chennai. A similar application was also sent to the Madurai Bench.
The applications were received by both offices on March 24.
Responding to one of them, R. Susheel Devi, Deputy Registrar (RTI Act)-cum-APIO of the Principal Seat, wrote a letter on April 8 asking the applicant to appear in person for verification of residential address and signature.
The applicant was also asked to produce any appropriate document of identity such as voter's identity card in order to enable the officer to take further action in the matter.
Immediately, a reply was sent stating that the Act does not require an applicant to disclose his identity.
It was also stated that it was enough for an RTI applicant to provide his communication address to which the information should be sent.
However, the reply did not evoke any response from the officer even after the expiry of 30 days, the statutory period within which the information should be provided.
On the other hand, responding to the application sent to the Madurai Bench, its Registrar (Administration) S. Udayan wrote a letter dated April 23 stating that issue was brought to the notice of the Chief Justice who had ordered to provide the information as requested.
The Registrar also asked the applicant to pay Rs.2,450, apart from the court fee stamp for Rs.50 stuck on the application, towards copying charges for providing around 650 pages of information. The money was paid through a demand draft on April 29 and the information was mailed on May 24.
Nevertheless, the Principal Seat in Chennai had not provided the required information till date but for insisting on personal appearance of the applicant. The court had adopted the same approach in respect of another applicant from Karur in March 31 when she was asked to come to Chennai for verification of her residential address and signature.