Should High Court RTI Rules prevail over the RTI Act, 2005?
In 2010, former medical officer Mahendra Bhatt had filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking certain information along with documents and certified copies from the high court. The Registrar and public information officer (PIO) informed the applicant that:
1. If he was not a party to the proceedings in respect of which information was sought, an affidavit was required stating reasons for which the certified copy and other documents were needed.
2. He should seek the information under the relevant provisions of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993 instead of filing an application under the RTI Act, 2005.
3. He should approach the high court for the required information either personally or through his lawyer on the payment of fee of Rs.3 to the deputy registrar, decree department. The information would be supplied to the applicant as per Rules 149 to 154 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993, on making such an application.
The first appeal against the PIO’s order was dismissed holding that no certified copy can be provided under RTI Act as it can be obtained under the High Court Rules. Bhatt filed the second appeal with the Gujarat State Information Commission which directed the PIO of the High Court to provide the information within 20 days.
On a petition by the Registrar against the SIC order, the High Court directed to provide the information to the applicant within four weeks under the RTI Act. Against the interim order, the High Court Registry filed an intra-court appeal with the division bench which ruled that the High Court Rules shall prevail over the RTI Act, 2005.
Against the order of the Gujarat High Court, the State Information Commission filed a petition before the Supreme Court alleging that the High Court ought to have appreciated that the Right to Information Act, 2005 is a special enactment which would have an overriding effect over other statues and rules (Section 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. of RTI Act).
Reader’s may recall a case coming up before the Apex Court in the past where similar issue was taken up - Karnataka Information Commissioner to pay costs of Rs. 1 lakh for frivolous filing of appeal Read more at: http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/karnataka-information-commissioner-pay-costs-rs-1-3162#.VOMMOuaUe1U
Reader's may also refer to the article -Who would teach law to the High Courts of the country? Read more at: http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/who-would-teach-law-high-courts-country-3313#.VOMHduaUe1U