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Central Information Commission
Mr. R Sekar vs High Court Of Madras on 9 August, 2010
                   CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
               Appeal No. CIC/PA/A/2009/000013 dated 31-12-2009
                 Right to Information Act 2005 - Section 19

Appellant:           Shri R. Sekar,
Respondent:          High Court of Madras
                 Decision announced in the hearing 9.8.'10

FACTS

By an application of 23-2-2009 Shri R. Sekar of West Brindavanam,
Puducherry applied to the PIO High Court of Madras seeking the following
information:

“I am a Lecturer in Physics working at Tagore Arts College,
Pondicherry. Since the said judgment affects my service
conditions, therefore, the certified copies of the judgment are
asked for.”

To this appellant Shri R. Sekar received a response on 24.3.2009 from
Deputy Registrar, Tmt R. Susheela Devi, High Court of Madras informing him
as follows:-

“I am to inform that copies of the document can be obtained by
applying for third party document by following the rules and
procedures are laid down in the Appellate Side Rules of the
High Court, Madras.”

Aggrieved, however, Shri Sekar moved an appeal on 7.4.2009 before the
Registrar General, High Court of Madras pleading as follows:-

“Since it has been ruled that certified copies, if applied for under
RTI, cannot be denied, I may be given the copies requested for
at once.”

He has attached a copy of the order of this Commission in N.

Venkatesan vs. Public Information Officer, Office of the District and
Sessions Judge, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi in which the Commission has held
as follows:-

“If a Public authority has a process of disclosing certain
information which can also be accessed by a Citizen using Right
to Information, it is the citizen’s right to decide which route he
wishes to use. The existence of another method of accessing
information cannot be used to deny the Citizen his freedom to
use his fundamental right codified under the Right to Information
Act. If Parliament wanted to restrict his right, it would have been

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stated in the Law. Nobody else has the right to constrain or
constrict the rights of the Citizen.”

Upon this, Shri A. Arumugasamy, Registrar General, High Court of
Madras in his order of 7.5.2009 has directed as follows:-

“When there is a specific provision, you are required to obtain
your information from the concerned section in the High Court
only by adhering to the Court procedures and rules.”

This has brought appellant Shri R. Sekar before us in his second
appeal with the following prayer:

“Certified copies of the order in WP Nos. 16402 & 30268 of
2004 dated 8.12.2006 (High Court, Madras) should be given as
per the ruling of the CIC Shri Shailesh Gandhi.”

The appeal was heard through videoconference on 9-8-2010. The
following are present.

Appellant at NIC Studio Puducherry
Shri R. Sekar
Shri Ram Ramesh
Respondents at NIC Studio, Chennai
Shri Nalla Chezhapati, APIO

Appellant Shri R. Sekar argued that the ruling of this Commission cited
by them implied that all information, no matter which the public authority, could
be accessed under the RTI Act and, therefore, the High Court of Madras has
erred in requiring appellant Shri R. Sekar to seek information through some
other means.

DECISION NOTICE

We find that in her response of 24.3.2009 CPIO Tmt R. Susheela Devi
has not refused information but only advised on the procedure to be followed
to obtain the same under section 2 (e) (ii) & 2 (e) (iii) of the RTI Act. The
Chief Justice of the High Court in the case of a High Court is the competent
authority so empowered under the law. It is this Competent Authority under
section 28 (1), which is authorised to make rules to carry out provisions of this
Act by notification in the Official Gazette. The implication of this
Commission’s ruling relied upon by appellant Shri R. Sekar is not that
information cannot be sought under the rules prescribed under the Act, but

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only that information sought under this Act cannot be denied. Besides this,
Commission has, in several cases, staring with n CIC/WB/A/2006/000275
Manish K Khanna Advocate vs. High Court of Delhi
announced on 7.6.07
decided that rules formulated by a competent authority even before the
promulgation of the RTI Act were still existing and, if not inconsistent with the
RTI Act which in this case the prescribed rules are not inasmuch as they
provide means to access information, are not overridden by the RTI Act. In
CIC/WB/A/2006/000940 Manish K Khanna Advocate vs. Supreme Court
of India
announced on 24.9.07, we have discussed the issue in detail as
follows:

What has been sought by appellant is a set of judicial files.
Judicial files can be accessed with the leave of the court under
Supreme Court Rules 1966. The issue for determination before
us is therefore whether the RTI Act applies to a judicial
proceeding and, if so, does it override the existing law
concerning dissemination of information in respect of a judicial
proceeding?

The question may arise as to whether section 22 of the Act
overrides any other provision concerning dissemination of
information or giving certified copies or copies of documents and
other records pertaining to a proceeding conducted by a court or
a tribunal, deeming this to be inconsistent therewith. In this
context, it is worthwhile to note that the Rules made by the
Supreme Court in exercise of the powers conferred by the
Constitution of India and the provisions of Right to Information
Act overlap each other in certain areas. One view could be that
RTI being a later legislation should prevail over an earlier
legislation. The other view could be that insofar as the grant of
copies of documents or records in a proceeding of a court or
tribunal is a matter in respect of which the Right to Information
Act has to be treated as a general law and the Rules made by
the Supreme Court are to be treated as a special law.
It is also noteworthy to take into account that section 22 of the
Right to Information Act explicitly mentions the overriding effect
of the Right to Information Act in respect of inconsistencies in
the Official Secrets Act but, although it refers to any other law or
any instrument having effect under that law (which would include
Rules) for the time being in force, it does not make a specific
mention of any other legislation. The non-obstante clause of the
Right to Information Act does not, therefore, mean an implied
repeal of the Supreme Court Rules and orders framed
thereunder, but only an override of RTI in case of
‘inconsistency’.

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In this context, the following observations of the Hon’ble Apex
Court in R.S. Raghunath vs. State of Karnataka – AIR 1992
SC 81 are pertinent:

“The general Rule to be followed in case of conflict
between the two statutes is that the latter abrogates the
earlier one. In other words, a prior special law would yield
to a later general law, if either of the two following
conditions is satisfied.

(i)                                 The two are inconsistent with each
other.
(ii)                               There is some express reference in the
later to the earlier enactment.

If either of these two conditions is fulfilled, the later law,
even though general, would prevail.”

A special enactment or Rule, therefore, cannot be held to be
overridden by a later general enactment or simply because the
latter opens up with a nonobstante clause unless there is clear
inconsistency between the two legislations- one which is later in
order of time and the other which is a special enactment This
issue came again for consideration before the Hon’ble Apex
Court in Chandra Prakash Tiwari vs. Shakuntala Shukla
AIR 2002 SC 2322 and the Hon’ble Supreme Court quoted with
approval the Broom’s Legal Maxim in reference to two Latin
Maxims in the following words:

“It is then, an elementary Rule that an earlier Act must
give place to a later, if the two cannot be reconciled – lex
posterior derogat priori – non est novum ut priores
leges ad posteriors trahantur (Emphasis supplied) –

and one Act may repeal another by express words or by
implication; for it is enough if there be words which by
necessary implication repeal it. But repeal by implication
is never to be favoured, and must not be imputed to the
legislature without necessity, or strong reason, to be
shown by the party imputing it. It is only effected where
the provisions of the later enactment are so
inconsistent with, or repugnant to, those of the
earlier that the two cannot stand together 1; unless the
two Acts are so plainly repugnant to each other that effect
cannot be given to both at the same time a repeal cannot
be implied; and special Acts are not repealed by general
Acts unless there be some express reference to the
previous legislation, or a necessary inconsistency in the
two Acts standing together, which prevents the maxim
generalia specialibus non derogant (Emphasis
supplied) from being applied. For where there are general
words in a later Act capable of reasonable application
without being extended to subjects specially dealt with by
earlier legislation, then, in the absence of an indication of
a particular intention to that effect, the presumption is that
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Emphasis ours

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the general words were not intended to repeal the earlier
and special legislation, or to take away a particular
privilege of a particular class of persons.”

In the aforesaid case, the Hon’ble Apex Court also cited with
approval an earlier decision in Maharaja Pratap Singh
Bahadur v. Thakur Manmohan Dey
– MANU/SC/0202/1966, in
which it was indicated that an earlier special law cannot be held
to have been abrogated by mere implication. That being so, the
argument regarding implied repeal has to be rejected for both
the reasons set out above.

The differences between the Right to Information Act and the
procedure as prescribed by the Supreme Court for conduct of its
own practice and procedure have to be looked into from another
angle also as to whether there is a direct inconsistency between
the two. In this context, it may be mentioned that neither
provision prohibits or forbids dissemination of information
or grant of copies of records. The difference is only insofar as
the practice or payments of fees etc. is concerned. There is,
therefore, no inherent inconsistency between the two provisions.
Over and above, the Supreme Court Rules are particular or
special law dealing with particular phase of the subject covered
by the Right to Information Act and, therefore, consistency is
possible. It is a sound principle of all jurisprudence that a prior
particular law is not easily to be held to be abrogated by a
posterior law expressed in general terms. The said principle was
accepted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and expressed by
Justice Mudholkar in the following words:

“A general statute applies to all persons and localities
within its jurisdiction and scope as distinguished from a
special one which in its operation is confined to a
particular locality and, therefore, where it is doubtful
whether the special statute was intended to be repealed
by the general statute the court should try to give effect to
both the enactments as far as possible.”

U/s 22 of the RTI Act the provisions of the RTI Act have effect
notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any
other law for time being enforced or instrument having effect by
virtue in law other than this Act. However, since both the Act and
Order XII of the Supreme Court Rules provide for disclosure of
information of the kind sought in the present case we find that
there is nothing inconsistent in the rules. It is only that Supreme
Court Rules 1966 through Order XII, Rule 2 prescribe the
procedure for obtaining the information. This procedure together
with fees is in the province of the prescribed authority u/s 28 of
the RTI Act.

Under the circumstance the CPIO, High Court of Madras has adhered
to the RTI Act in advising appellant Shri R. Sekar of the appropriate rules,
through which he may seek access to the information he has sought. APIO

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Shri Nalla Chezhapati has clarified in the hearing that copies of such records
are available in different forms depending upon the fess that are paid. The
appeal is, therefore, dismissed. Appellant Shri R. Sekar may indeed apply for
the information sought under the RTI Act, but in accordance with the relevant
rules as advised by PIO.

Announced in the hearing. Notice of this decision be given free of cost
to the parties.

(Wajahat Habibullah)
Chief Information Commissioner
9-8-2010

Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against
application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the CPIO
of this Commission.

(Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar)
Joint Registrar
9-8-2010

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