An appeal filed by an RTI applicant has been dismissed by Central Information Commission against non-disclosure of the information sought about the decisions taken in 38 petitions disposed of by the Supreme Court in Aadhar judgment. As per the commission, the judgment titled Justice KS Puttaswamy vs Union of India which comprised of collective decision for the entire batch of 38 petitions, individual petitions or prayers which have not been disclosed and thus the information about individual decision on each prayer is not available on record, nor can it be provided.
Following information has been sought by Anupam Saraph before filing an RTI before the Supreme Court:
- A copy of the prayers before the court in each of the 38 petitions relating to Aadhaar heard together.
- The decisions taken by the court on each of the prayers.
- The parties who have been directed to take an action based on the decision of the court
- The recourse available to address any prayers that remain unanswered.
Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Supreme Court addressed this plea by mentioning that copies/ certified copies of judicial record/judgment/ orders of the Court can be procured by moving an appropriate application for the same or accessed from the official website of Supreme Court or other relevant Law Journals. As for the prayer (4), the CPIO said that it is beyond the control and scope of duties of the CPIO to interpret the law, judgments/orders of the Court or give any opinion/comment/explanation or advice regarding the same. Anupam Saraph in the second appeal contended that the information sought by him should have been available on the official website of the Supreme Court of India under section 4(1)(c) and 4(1)(d), 4(2) and 4(3) of the RTI Act, 2005 and also he did not seek information under Section 6, but Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005. For this, CIC Y K Sinha observed the following,
“Section 4 lays down mandates for the public authority to adhere to for suo motu disclosure of information, while only Section 6 of the RTI Act enables citizens to enquire about the information. The scope of the various sections of law is clearly laid down and cannot be used interchangeably. Thus the Appellant’s contention that he had sought information under Section 4 of the RTI Act is legally flawed and not maintainable under the RTI Act because information can be sought only under provisions of Section 6 of the Act, even if to enforce or challenge action or inaction of the public authority, as envisaged under Section 4 of the RTI Act.”
It was also noted by the commission that a total 1448-page decision is available in the public domain which discusses all the necessary aspects with respect to this matter. During the disposal of the appeal, the commission said that,
“The individual prayers in the 38 petitions and decisions thereupon are available in the relevant Court files, which can be accessed on inspection of relevant records, in terms of the Supreme Court Rules. In fact, the reply of the PIO referred to the relevant provisions of Supreme Court Rules, 2013, Order V, Rule 2(37) which discusses the powers of the Court, while dealing with Application from a person who is not a party to the case, appeal or matter, for inspection or search or grant of copies can be allowed only on good cause shown. Likewise, Order XIII referred to by the respondent deals with various nuances of providing copies of documents from the Supreme Court. Thus, information as available on record, and defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act has been made accessible to the Appellant, in response to the queries of the Appellant. Moreover, the Supreme Court website itself provides all relevant information pertaining to the status, proceedings, parties, and all other relevant details of any case. In so far as the query no. 2of the Appellant is concerned, the judgment comprises of collective decision for the entire batch of 38 petitions, individual petitions or prayers therein have not been discussed. Hence, the information about individual decisions on each prayer is not available on record, nor can it be provided. Response to query no. 4 entails giving a legal opinion, which certainly does not fall within the scope of work of the PIO. Thus, the perusal of records establishes the fact that the Respondent has disclosed all relevant information, available on record, in terms of Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005. The Commission finds no malafide or infirmity is found in the responses of the public authority.”