In an order of far-reaching import, the Madras High Court has ruled that internal deliberations of judges relating to administration of judiciary cannot be disclosed to any information seeker under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
It also said the supply of such information under the purview of the RTI would definitely interfere with the proper discharge of the High Court’s role as an independent authority under the Constitution of India.
Disposing of an appeal against the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (TNSIC)’s order, the Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M.Venugopal also stated: “Notes, jottings, administrative letters, internal deliberation and discussions on the administrative side of the High Court cannot be brought under the Right to Information Act 2005.”
Originally, R.M.Subramanian of Pudukottai instituted a civil case on a property dispute against the Revenue administration before a civil court in Thirumayam. Though the sub-ordinate court passed an order in his favour, it could not initiate criminal proceedings against the authorities for non-execution of its order. The matter was referred to the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court. The High Court, on the administrative side, took a view that the subject was not a fit case for initiating contempt proceedings.
Mr Subramanian then sought copies of minutes recorded by Chief Justice and the High Court Judge in charge of the district. As his request was declined, he preferred the appeal before the TNSIC. He contended that though he was permitted to peruse the records, he was not furnished with copies. The TNSIC, in its order, advised him to obtain the copies by filing an application in the High Court.
Challenging the TNSIC order, the Registrar General (RG) filed the present writ petition as decided by a committee of judges.