Today's Paper

Ministers not under RTI: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has set aside the Central Information Commission order declaring Ministers as “public authorities” and answerable under the Right to Information law.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru overturned the March 12, 2016, CIC verdict saying “there was no occasion for the CIC to enter upon the question as to whether a minister is a 'public authority' under Section 2(h) of the Act”. “Further, directions issued by the CIC are also wholly outside the scope of the matter before the CIC,” the judge said, adding that the order cannot be sustained and was, accordingly, set aside.

Centre’s appeal

The High Court’s order came on the Centre’s appeal against the CIC order.

The case emanates from an application filed by a Maharashtra resident who wanted to know how to get an appointment with the Union Law Minister. In November 2014, the man moved an application before Additional Private Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, seeking to know the time period of the Minister or Minister of State meeting the public.

As the information sought was not received, the matter reached the CIC. Here the Commission went on to frame the questions whether the Minister or his office was a “public authority” under the RTI Act.

It gave the Cabinet Secretary at the Centre and Chief Secretaries in the States two months to appoint public information officers for each Minister’s office. Also, the CIC said each Minister should get a website of his/her own where information can be disclosed.

The HC said that the Commission could not have gone into the above question. “The information as sought for by respondent No.2 (man) was provided to him and there was no dispute that he was entitled to such information,” the court added.