The Department of Justice under the Union Law Ministry has refused to part with information on the file notings relating to grant of daily allowances to the spouses of judges of Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India, on their travel abroad.

After the Law Ministry raised certain objections in the grant of allowances to the wife of CJI, K.G. Balakrishnan, on his official visit to London last year, rights activist Subash Chandra Agrawal had in December sought details about the allowances, including daily allowance, available to spouses of Supreme Court judges, including the CJI, when travelling in India or abroad while accompanying the judges/CJI.

Mr. Agrawal also wanted to know details of such allowances granted in the last three years; whether any such file was presently pending for sanction with the Government of India; whether the rule for travelling through shortest air-route while on official visits abroad was applicable to Judges and accompanying persons; and the related file notings.

Since copies of file notings/documents/correspondence relating to each of the queries in his RTI petition were not provided, he filed an appeal. The Appellate Authority on February 8 allowed his appeal and sought certain clarifications on files for which notings were requested. He sent a reply stating that he required copies of file-notings/correspondence/documents on each of the aspects of his petition and also on movement of the petition.

The Central Public Information Officer in a clear bid to evade request for the related file notings and other documents, once again asked Mr. Agrawal to clarify on certain aspects. Against this order, he has now filed an appeal before the Joint Secretary and Appellant Authority questioning how an RTI petitioner could know the name/number/identity of file(s) of the Department.

He said: “It is well known that aspects referred in the RTI petition were widely covered in the media where the Department of Justice had to admittedly change its stand after the CPIO's delayed response.”

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