Skip to main content

Gujarat High Court officials asked to give info under RTI on "casual absence" of judges during hearing

Indukumar Jani
By Our Representative
In an important order, issued on November 12, 2013, Gujarat’s chief information commissioner (CIC) D Rajagopalan has asked the public information officer (PIO) of the Gujarat High Court and the appellate authority (AA), registrar, Gujarat High Court, to provide information regarding the number of leaves given to the court’s judges, as sought by an applicant. A senior social activist, Indukumar Jani, had sought information regarding judges’ leaves in 2010, arguing that people coming from far off areas, especially the tribal belt, often find it that there was no hearing on the appointed date, as the judge hearing the case had gone on leave or were on some other administrative job.
Jani was denied information citing Gujarat High Court rules for the right to information (RTI) Act, saying that anything that is not in public domain was exempted from granting information under the RTI. Rjecting the argument, in his ruling, Rajagopalan said, the officials of the High Court cannot act under their own RTI rules, which contradict the RTI Act. The rules of any organization are meant to the procedure to provide information works in well-oiled fashion. They cannot override provisions of the RTI Act.
The CIC’s order said, in case there is a difference between the rules worked out by an organization and the RTI Act, the RTI Act should be considered final. It added, if at all the officials of the Gujarat High Court wish to deny information regarding leaves granted to the court judges, it should be done under Section 8 of the RTI Act. Under Section 8, the public authority can deny information in case the information sought affects the sovereignty and integrity of the country, or leads to incitement of offense, or is breach of privilege of a legislative body, or is a commercial confidence.
In April 2010, Jani, who is editor of “Naya Marg” is one of the senior-most Gandhian activists, annoyed by frequent absence of judges at the time of hearing of cases related with poor tribal workers coming from farflung areas, filed an application before the PIO, asking for (1) whether the High Court judges are allowed leaves, (2) the rules under which judges are allowed leaves, and (3) how many leaves are allowed to the judges. He also sought the exact information of the number of days for which the judges had actually gone on leave or were absent for hearing.
The PIO replied to Jani’s request on December 29, 2010, or nearly six months later, saying that the judges are allowed 14 days of “casual absence” under a resolution passed by a conference of judges, under the chief justice of India, held in December 1987. On January 27, 2011, a dissatisfied Jani went in for appeal, wanting to know the reasons under which the judges are allowed leave, as people came from farflung areas, as far as 200 km away, only to find on board that the judge was not there for hearing. On May 5, 2011, Jani was sent a copy of the resolution. 
D Rajagopalan
Jani was denied information on March 3, 2012, citing High Court rules, which prompted him – with the help of Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), the state’s premier RTI NGO – to go to make a complaint to the Gujarat’s chief information commissioner (CIC), saying he should be given information, as it is of public interest, and the judges have their constitutional duty to hear a case if there is no unbecoming incident.
MAGP’s Pankti Jog said, Jani’s appeal to the CIC had its own merit, as the High Court “is expected to provide a model for other competent authorities to follow. If the PIO of the High Court does not take the RTI Act seriously, it becomes a bad precedence for others.” She added, “Denial of information is not justified. The PIO adding more exemptions for providing information is ultra virus to the objectives of the RTI Act. The provision for exemption, that ‘anything that is not there in the public domain’, is also against the spirit or transparency.”
She also underlined, the information sought by Jani actually falls under the proactive disclosure category of the RTI Act; hence, the PIOr’s denial of information is even less justified, adding, “The Gujarat High Court should reconsider its rules for providing information and work out a mechanism for it.”

Comments

TRENDING

You promised 50 lakh houses, give us one: Ahmedabad migrant women's plea to Modi

Women display letters containing rakhi for PM    By Hirabhai Solanki, Bhartiben Dantani, Ramesh Shrivastav*  Poor labouring families, including seasonal or long-term migrants of nearly 15 squatter settlements -- working as construction and casual workers and petty vendors, providing cheap but critically important labour for Ahmedabad city, living under plastic sheetings -- have reminded the Gujarat and Central Governments about the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of building 50 lakh dwellings, wherein every pavement dweller and homeless would be given a decent home by the end of 2022. Holding a meeting in Ahmedabad under the aegis of the Majur Adhikaar Manch, they also referred to the appeal of the Prime Minister to poor and labouring women, seeking his support as brother by sending rakhis to protect their humble basti dwellings and provide them with decent housing, which is secure for them and their families. So far, about 300 women have posted rakhis to the Prime Ministe

A tale of horror and fraud: Profits in trillions of dollars for vaccine manufacturers?

By Aruna Rodrigues*  John Leake is a best-selling and “experienced non-fiction, true crime author”. Having just read what must be described as an extraordinary ‘telling’ of the Covid-19 saga, his book “The Courage to Face Covid-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex”, co-authored with Peter A McCullough, MD, MPH, is the narration of true crime on a scale that could top the list in the history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. The book chronicles the unique role of national governments across the world and their health agencies, led by the USA and WHO, which followed an agenda that led to completely avoidable fatalities numbering several million. The question is why? The usual culprits are money and power. But to ascribe cause to these two is woefully insufficient. The sheer magnitude of the ‘dark agenda’ – coordinated and played out by governments, health agencies, the medical establishment (hospitals, doctors and chemists) and the massive a

A countdown to disaster: Breach in fly-ash bunds of Nagpur's thermal power plants

Fly-ash dyke, Koradi thermal power plant  By Dhwani Shah, Deepmala Patel*  Last month the residents of several villages of Nagpur district woke up to the nightmare of being inundated with fly-ash. Located in the north of Nagpur city are Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power stations which have their ash dykes in the vicinity. On July 10, 2022 at 3 am, the ash dyke of the Khaparkheda thermal power station broke, leading to ash contaminating the Kanhan river. Though the authorities claimed to have acted quickly and the fly ash dumping in the river was stopped, the claim stood to be misleading and false. Even today, the Kanhan river continues to be polluted with fly-ash, and the water supply to the city is affected. Not only did ash dyke of the Khaparkheda power station break, on July 16, 2022, the ash bund of the Koradi thermal power plant also broke. Fly-ash and water stored in the dyke gushed downstream to six villages -- drowning houses, water bodies and farmlands. With such large-

Kailash Satyarthi NGO floats new centre in Delhi to 'empower' underprivileged children

By Our Representative  A voluntary organisation linked with Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi-supported NGO has floated a unique children’s resource centre at Sanjay Camp, Chankyapuri, New Delhi, in order to facilitate in imparting remedial education, recreational training and holistic development of children of around 2,500 under-privileged slum-dwelling families. Virender Singh Kadian, MLA of Delhi Cantonment, inaugurated the centre, which is called Shaheed Kalu Bal Vikas Kendra. The resource centre is in memory of Kalu Kumar, who died at an young age serving and working towards the development of under-privileged children, said an NGO source. A firebrand activist, Kalu Kumar was trafficked from Bihar to the carpet manufacturing belt of Allahabad when he was six. He was rescued by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan at the age of 10. A bright student, Kalu he covered up the lost ground very quickly and grew up to become a leader fighting for the rights of other child slaves at Bal Ashram. In

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Multi-crore NRC updation scam? Awaited: Assam media's self-cleaning mechanism

By Nava Thakuria  If some editor-journalists are allegedly involved in a financial scam, shouldn't the people get an opportunity to identify them? As the mainstream newspapers and news channels of Assam are avoiding the issue in their coverage, how come the actual picture will come to the public domain? If the mainstream media outlets intentionally kill the news, reasons best known to the editors, should the social media users take a lead? By now a number of senior journalists (with experience in print journalism for many decades) have highlighted the issue in social media. Their message is loud and clear- identify the corrupt television journalists who grabbed a huge amount of money which is actually meant for thousands of Assamese professionals. It all began when a second first information report (FIR) was filed by the outgoing State coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC) against his predecessor alleging corruption and money laundering while updating the 1951 NRC in A

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad* Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle. When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities. Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so! A simil

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Since 2015 Govt of India didn't allocate single rupee to Gujarat for RTI training, awareness

By Pankti Jog*  The Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India (GoI) has allocated Rs 8.7 crore to Maharashtra for conducting Right to Information (RTI) training and awareness between 2015 to 2022. Of this, Rs 5.9 crore has gone to the Maharashtra State Training Institute, YASHADA, and Rs 3.01 crore have gone to the State Information Commission, Maharashtra. Gujarat, on the other hand, has not received even a single rupee over the last seven years for RTI programmes. Even Gujarat’s State Information Commission too has not not received any funds since 2005. RTI is one of the effective tools to bring transparency and accountability in the administration, thus improve governance. If citizens are aware, they would participate in a more meaningful manner in governance. They would effectively monitor planning and expenses of public programmes. Indeed, it is necessary that RTI is taken to every citizen, for which the government needs to conduct awareness drives and training

Anti-untouchability brass coin yatra to Delhi getting 'overwhelming' response: Macwan

By Our Representative  Gujarat’s top Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan, who is currently leading a week-long procession to Delhi carrying a 1,111 kg brass coin with the pointed question embossed on it, “Will the 1947 dream of untouchability free India be a reality in 2047?”, has reiterated that the removal of untouchability in India is Dalits’ primary concern, and not opposition to the new Parliament building. The march began in Ahmedabad on August 1 at 8:00 am amidst refusal of the Gujarat police a day earlier refusing to give the permission for the procession, which involves a small truck carrying the huge brass coin, another one with an Ambedkar statue, two trucks full of about 25 lakh one rupee coins donated by Dalits across India, and six buses with 300 Dalit activists. The brass coin has the image of BR Ambedkar on one side, and of Lord Buddha, on the other. Starting at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), founded by Macwan to provide technical-cum-empowerment training to the underpriv