Can information regarding judicial proceedings be obtained through RTI?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Tis Hazari Court seeking certain information with reference to suit No. 597/2007; Mamta Rani Vs Goutam Bhowmick. He wanted to know in particular whether at the time of proceedings, the Court had validated the ownership of a lady in respect of the said property and whether the Court had validated consumer details appearing on the various bills. He also sought the reasons as to why the Court had decided that property rent has to be paid to that lady even after the Criminal Court (Saket) had decided that lady is not the owner of the said property. The appellant also wanted to know whether the Tis Hazari Court has taken any action to check whether the Court’s order directing that lady should supply rent receipts to applicant has been complied with etc. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that the information sought by him relates to a judicial proceeding and that he can obtain certified copies of desired documents through proper channel, as laid down by the Court.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent stated that the appellant is seeking information is sub-judice and that the appellant may obtain the copies of desired documents as per the court’s procedure. The appellant stated that he also wanted to obtain a copy of the sale deed of the said property based on which he was evicted from his house and this information has been denied to him on the ground of non availability. He questioned on what basis he was forced to leave his house. The appellant also reiterated his request for validation of a number of documents which are a part of the Court proceedings. The respondent stated that it is for the judicial authority concerned to decide whether documents submitted with the Court by the parties are valid or not and that this information can be obtained by the appellant after following the court procedure that has been laid down.
View of CIC
The Commission agreed with the submissions of the respondent that the matter was related to judicial proceedings and no information could be disclosed and advised the appellant to follow the procedure laid down by the Court for obtaining certified copies of documents as indicated by the PIO.
It has often been argued that if there are two options available to an individual to obtain information, it is up to him to use the option which is convenient to him. Further, it has been argued that if the fee chargeable is more and the procedure prescribed is circuitous, it amounts to overriding the RTI Act. A clear view is yet to emerge on this issue.
Citation: Mr. Goutam Bhowmick v. Tis Hazari Court in File No. CIC/AD/A/2012/002013
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/769
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission