New Delhi (PTI) The Supreme Court has said that information or certified copies of orders held by a high court can be given to a third party only as per rules framed by the high court and the person cannot invoke the Right to Information Act to get details.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi, A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said rule requiring a person to file an application/affidavit stating the reasons for seeking the information is not inconsistent with the provisions of the RTI Act.
The apex court said that when there is an effective machinery for having access to the information or obtaining certified copies which is a very simple procedure it does not find any justification for invoking the RTI Act and adopt a cumbersome procedure.
This would involve wastage of both time and financial resources which the preamble of the RTI Act itself intends to avoid, the bench said.
“Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules stipulating a third party to have access to the information/obtaining the certified copies of the documents or orders requires to file an application/affidavit stating the reasons for seeking the information, is not inconsistent with the provisions of the RTI Act; but merely lays down a different procedure as the practice or payment of fees, etc. for obtaining information,” the bench said.
The apex court said that in the absence of inherent inconsistency between the provisions of the RTI Act and other law, overriding effect of the RTI Act would not apply.
The information to be accessed/certified copies on the judicial side to be obtained through the mechanism provided under the High Court Rules, the provisions of the RTI Act shall not be resorted to.
The counsel for the Chief Information Commissioner had contended that Section 6(2) of the RTI Act specifically provides that an applicant making a request for information shall not be required to give reasons for requesting the information sought.
“Whereas under the Gujarat High Court Rules, applications made by third parties seeking copies of the documents shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating the grounds on which they are required and there is direct inconsistency between the provisions of the RTI Act and the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993,” the lawyer said.
He further argued that in view of the inconsistency between the provisions of the RTI Act and the Gujarat High Court Rules, harmonious construction between the two is not possible and in the event of conflict between the provisions of RTI Act and any other law made by the Parliament or State Legislature or any other authority, the former must prevail.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Chief Information Commissioner against a Gujarat High Court order which had held that the high court rules governing issuance of certified copy of the documents would prevail over the Right to Information Act provisions.
As per Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993, any application seeking certified copies of orders should be accompanied by an affidavit stating the grounds for which the certified copies are required.