CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION Appeal No.CIC/WB/A/2008/01078 dated 19.6.2008 Right to Information Act 2005 - Section 19 Appellant - Shri S. S. Mehra Respondent - Supreme Court of India Decision announced: 13.1.2010 Facts
By an application of 14.5.08 Shri S. S. Mehra of Shalimar Bagh, Delhi applied to the CPIO, Supreme Court of India, New Delhi seeking the following information:
"In view of the fact that when State & Supreme Court have no powers to include in or exclude from the list of SCs & STs for each U.T. notified by the President, the petitioner desires to know the information leading to inclusion of all Castes/Tribes in India in the list notified for U.Ts. by the following judgments:
i) Chandigarh Administration and another vs. Surinder Kumar & Ors. 2003 (1) Scale 300
ii) S. Pushpa & Ors. vs. Shivachanmugavelu and Ors. (2005) 3 S.C. C-1."
To this Shri S. S. Mehra received a response of 22.5.08 from CPIO Shri Ashok Kumar, Addl. Registrar, Supreme Court of India, as follows:
"This is to inform you that it is beyond the jurisdiction and scope of duties of the CPIO, Supreme Court of India under the Right to Information Act, 2005 to interpret the Constitution and the Law, Judgments of this Hon'ble Court or of any other Court, comment, opine and advise on matters. Your request is not covered within the meaning of 'Information' under Sec. 2(f) of the RTI Act 2005 hence cannot be acceded to."
Aggrieved with this decision Shri Mehra moved an appeal before Shri M. P. Bhadran, First Appellate Authority, Supreme Court of India on 28.5.08 with the following plea:
"When Supreme Court has no power to include in the list notified by the President, the petitioner wants to know under 1 which power/law all castes/tribes of the country have been included in the list of UTs by judgment of the Supreme Court cited in my petition.
The petitioner urges that my petition dated 14.5.08 may kindly be brought to the notice of the Competent Officer in view of letter dt. 22.5.08 of CPIO, Supreme Court of India."
Upon this, Shri M. P. Bhadran, having heard the appellant, came to the following conclusion:
"The request made by the appellant in the application dated 14.5.08 and the appeal memorandum does not come within the meaning of the "Information" as defined in Sec. 2(f) of the RTI Act 2005. This is not an information to be supplied by the CPIO. The further request of the appellant to place his application dated 14.5.2008 before the competent authority to answer the same also cannot be accepted. There is no further information to be supplied by the CPIO and there is no error in the impugned order. There is no merit in this appeal and the appeal is only to be dismissed."
Shri Mehra has then appealed before this Commission with the following prayer:
"The petitioner wants to know under which law Supreme Court has amended the President Notification of UTs of Chandigarh & Pondicherry as under Art. 341 & Art. 342 it has no power to include in or exclude from the list."
The issue here then is whether an applicant can question the reasons based upon which a Court has reached a decision, under the provisions of the RTI Act 2005.
The appeal was heard on 13.1.08. The following are present:
Appellant Shri S. S. Mehra Respondents Shri Raj Pal Arora, Addl. Registrar, SCI Shri Devadutt Kamat, Advocate for SCI Learned Counsel for respondents, Shri Devadutt Kamat presented his vakalatnama which has been placed on record.2
Appellant Shri S. S. Mehra submitted that he has not sought to challenge the judgment of the Supreme Court in the two cases cited by him but has simply sought to know under what authority the SC has come to a decision which it is not authorized to make. Shri Devadutt Kamat submitted a copy of recent ruling of the Supreme Court of India in SLP No. 34868 of 2009 in the case of Khanapuram Gandaiah vs. Administrative Officers & Ors. of High Court of Andhra Pradesh, announced on 4.1.2010. This judgment is specifically with regard to cases where applications are filed u/s 6 of the RTI Act to know why and for what reasons the Supreme Court of India had come to a certain conclusion. In this case the Bench consisting of Hon'ble K. G. Balakrishnan, CJI and Dr. B. S. Chauhan, J has ruled as follows:
"6. Under the RTI Act "information" is defined under Section 2(f) which provides:
"information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e- mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force."
This definition shows that an applicant under Section 6 of the RTI Act can get any information which is already in existence and accessible to the public authority under law. Of course, under the RTI Act an applicant is entitled to get copy of the opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc., but he cannot ask for any information as to why such opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc. have been passed, especially in matters pertaining to judicial decisions. A judge speaks through his judgments or orders passed by him 1 . If any party feels aggrieved by the order/judgment passed by a judge, the remedy available to such a party is either to challenge the same by way of appeal or by revision or any other 1 Emphasised by us 3 legally permissible mode. No litigant can be allowed to seek information as to why and for what reasons the judge had come to a particular decision or conclusion 2 . A judge is not bound to explain later on for what reasons he had come to such a conclusion."
In that particular case the learned Justices have come to the following conclusion:
"8. As the petitioner has misused the provisions of the RTI Act, the High Court had rightly dismissed the writ petition."
DECISION NOTICE The plea of appellant Shri S. S. Mehra before us is to know how and for what reasons the SCI has come to a certain conclusion to which, in his view it has no authority to decide upon under Art. 341 & 342 of the Constitution of India. If this is to be treated as a request for information, the decision of the SCI in Khanapuram Gandaiah quoted above is directly applicable. If on the other hand, as appellant sought laboriously to argue before us in the hearing, this is to be treated as a complaint against SCI for exercising authority beyond its jurisdiction, this is again outside the jurisdiction of the RTI Act 2005 and, therefore, of this Commission which can only ensure as per Sec. 2(j) that information held by any public authority or under its control is provided to an applicant. Under the circumstances, we find no merit in this appeal, which is hereby dismissed.
Announced in the hearing. Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.
(Wajahat Habibullah) Chief Information Commissioner 13.1.2010 2 Emphasis added with reference to present hearing 4 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 Shreyaskar) Joint Registrar 13.1.2010 5