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RTI >> Judgments >> Supreme Court >> Brief facts of the Judgment
S.No. SUPREME COURT CASE DATE OF JUDGMENT JUDGMENT
16 SLP CRL nos 1909 and 1938 of 2011 and 2442 and 2091-2092 0f 2012
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10 Jul, 2012 Subhash Popatlal Dave vs Union of India and anr

This judgement relates to orders of preventive detention at the pre-execution stage. One of the issues discussed in the judgement inter-alia is applicability of the RTI act, 2005 in this context.
SLP before the Supreme Court:
………not much discourse is required with regard to the primacy of the provisions of the constitution, vis-à-vis the enactments of the legislature. It is also not necessary to emphasize the fact that the provisions of the constitution will prevail over any enactment of the legislature, which itself is a creature of the constitution. Since clause(5) of article 22 provides that grounds for detention are to be served on a detenu after his detention, the provisions of section 3 of the RTI act, 2005 cannot be applied to cases relating to preventive detention at the pre execution stage. In other words, section 3 of the RTI act has to give way to the provisions of clause (5) of article 22 of the Constitution.

Comments: A very important judgement relating to application of the provisions of the RTI act vis-à-vis the constitutional provisions. Very useful for police and other investigation agencies.
17 Civil Appeal Nos. 10787-10788 of 2011
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12 Dec, 2011 Chief Information Commission Vs State of Manipur

Two applicants filed requests under section 6 of RTI act, 2005 seeking information relating to magisterial inquiries initiated by the Govt of Manipur from 1980-2006/1980-march 2007. As the applications under section 6 received no response the applicants filed complaints under section 18 of the Act before the state chief information commissioner who directed the state of Manipur to furnish the information within 15 days. The said direction was challenged by the state by filing a writ petition before the high court.
Writ petition before the high court:
Both the writ petitions were heard together and were dismissed by a common order dated 16/11/07 by learned single judge of the high court by inter alia upholding the order of the commissioner. Writ appeals were filed against both the judgements before the division bench of the high court which were disposed of in July 2010. The high court held that under section 18 of the act the commissioner has no power to direct the respondent to furnish the information and further held that such a power has already been conferred under section 19(8) of the act on the basis of an exercise under section 19 only. The division bench further came to hold that the direction to furnish information is without jurisdiction and directed the commissioner to dispose of the complaints in accordance with law.

SLP before the Supreme Court:
We uphold the said contention (of the high court) and do not find any error in the impugned judgement of the high court whereby it has been held that the commissioner while entertaining a complaint under section 18 of the said act has no jurisdiction to pass an order providing for access to the information.
This court directs the applicants to file appeals under section 19 of the act in respect of the two requests by them for obtaining information vide applications dated 9/2/07 and 19/5/07 within a period of four weeks from today. If such an appeal is filed following the statutory procedures by the appellants the same should be considered on merits by the appellate authority without insisting on the period of limitation.
The appeals if filed will be decided in accordance with section 19 of the act and as early as possible preferably within three months of their filing.
Comments : A very important difference between section 18 and section 19 of the RTI act has been brought out. This judgement is particularly important for the appellate authorities.
18 Civil appeal No 7571 of 2011
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02 Sep, 2011 The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India Appellant Vs Shaunak H Satya and Ors

One of the functions of the ICAI is to conduct the examination of candidates for enrolment as chartered accountants. The first respondent who was not successful in the examination applied for verification of marks. No discrepancy was found in the evaluation of answer scripts. The respondent thereafter sought information under 13 heads relating to qualifications of examiners, procedure of evaluation, selection of examiners, no of students appeared in the last two years etc.
The ICAI gave information in r/o all the 13 queries.

Not being satisfied with the response of the ICAI the respondent filed an appeal with the first AA who dismissed the appeal concurring with the CPIO.
Decision of cic
The respondent thereafter filed a second appeal before the CIC who also rejected the appeal while directing the ICAI to disclose certain information w.r.t the questions. However, information relating to the following main queries(3,5 and 15) were rejected by the CIC :
3) instructions issued to examiners and moderators oral and written if any.
5) model answers if any given to the examiners and moderators if any
15) number of times that the council has revised the marks of any candidate or any class of candidates in accordance with regulation 39(2) of the chartered accountants regulations, the criteria used, quantum of such revision, authority deciding such revision and number of students affected by such revision in the last five years.
Writ petition before the Bombay high court:
Feeling aggrieved the petitioner filed a writ petition before the Bombay high court. The Bombay high court allowed the writ petition holding that information sought against queries 3, 5 and 13 could not have been denied by the authorities to the petitioner. The principal defence of the respondent (ICAI) is that the information is confidential. Till the result of the examination is declared, the information sought by the petitioner has to be treated as confidential, but once the result is declared, in our opinion, that information cannot be treated as confidential.

SLP before the Supreme Court:
The following question were considered by the apex court : (a) whether the instructions and solutions to questions given by ICAI to examiners and moderators are intellectual property of the ICAI – the answer being ‘yes’ (b) whether providing the instructions and solutions to questions of ICAI to the petitioner involved infringement of copy right – the answer being ‘no’ (c) whether the instructions and solutions made available the examiners in their fiduciary capacity and therefore exempted – the answer being ‘yes’ (d) whether the high court was justified in directing the appellant to furnish the information w.r.t query no 13 – the answer being as the information was not available in the form of data, ICAI is not bund to furnish the same.
The CIC rightly held that the information sought under queries (3) and (5) were exempted under section 8(1)(e) and that there was no larger public interest requiring denial of the statutory exemption regarding such information.
As information relating to query 13 are not maintained and is not available in the form of data with the appellant (ICAI) in its records, ICAI is not bound to furnish the same.
Order of the high court is set aside and the order of the CIC is restored, subject to one modification in regard to query 13 : ICAI to disclose to the first respondent, the standard criteria, if any, relating to moderation employed by it for the purpose of making revisions under regulation 39(2).
Comments : another important judgement related to ‘copy right’, ‘fiduciary relationship’, larger public interest and the need for transparency in the examination bodies.
19 Civil appeal No. 6454 of 2011
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09 Aug, 2011 Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr Appellants vs Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors

Facts of the case:

Disappointed by his marks in the sec school exam, Shri Aditya Bandopadhyay(respondent) made a request under the RTI act, 2005 for inspection and re-evaluation of his answer books. CBSE rejected the request under section 8(1)(e), larger public interest, examination byelaws and an earlier CIC order dated 10/2/2006.

Developments before the Calcutta high court:

Feeling aggrieved the respondent filed a writ petition (wp) before the Calcutta high court and sought the following reliefs: (a) excluding re-evaluation of answer provision by the CBSE was illegal and violative of the constitution of India (b) appoint an independent examiner for re-evaluating his answer book (c) produce his answer books for review and inspection (d) section 8(1)(e) of the RTI act relied upon by the CBSE was not applicable.
The division bench of the high court held that the evaluated answer books of an examinee writing a public examination conducted by statutory bodies like CBSE/board/university being a document, manuscript, record and opinion fell within the definition of information as defined in section 2(f) of RTI act…………….in view of right to information, the examining bodies were bound to provide inspection of evaluated answer books to the examinees who sought information. The high court however rejected the prayer made by the examinees for re-evaluation of the answer books as that was not a relief that was available under RTI act.
Feeling aggrieved by the direction to grant inspection, CBSE filed SLP before the Supreme Court.

Developments before the Supreme Court :
The Supreme Court upheld the order of the Calcutta high court directing the examining bodies to permit examinees to have inspection of their answer books.

The Supreme Court also gave the following important directions:

The answer book is a document or record. When the answer book is evaluated by an examiner appointed by the examining body, the evaluated answer book becomes a record containing the opinion of the examiner. Therefore the evaluated answer book is also information under the RTI act.
Provisions of the RTI act will prevail over the provisions of the bye laws/rules of the examining bodies in regard to examinations. As a result unless the examining body is able to demonstrate that the answer books fall under the exempted category of information under section 8(1)(e), the examining body will be bound to provide access to an examinee to inspect and take copies of his evaluated answer books.

Once the examiner has evaluated the answer books he ceases to have any interest in the evaluation done by him. He does not have any copy right or proprietary right or confidentiality right in regard to the evaluation. Therefore it cannot be said that the examining body holds the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship, qua the examiner.

The information as to the names or particulars of the examiners/coordinators/scrutinizers/head examiners are exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(g) of the RTI act on the ground that if such information is disclosed, it may endanger their physical safety.

Comments: an extremely important judgment for training institutions and examining bodies. The concept of fiduciary relationship has been explained threadbare.
20 Civil appeal no 10044 of 2010 (Arising out of SLP(c) no 32855 of 2009)
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26 Nov, 2010 CPIO, Supreme Court of India vs Subhash Chandra Agrawal

Shri Subhash Chandra Agrawal requested the CPIO, supreme court of India to send him a copy of “complete files, only as available in the Supreme Court, inclusive of copies of complete correspondence exchanged between concerned constitutional authorities with file notings relating to said appointment of Mr Justice HL Dattu, Mr Justice AK Ganguly and Mr Justice RM Lodha superseding seniority of Mr Justice P Shah, Mr Justice AK Patnaik and Mr Justice VK Gupta as allegedly objected to PMO also.”
CPIO informed the requester that the information sought by him is neither maintained nor available in the registry.
The requester preferred an appeal before the appellate authority of the supreme court of India who dismissed the appeal and confirmed the order of the CPIO.
The requester thereafter preferred an appeal with the CIC under section 19. The CIC having set aside the orders passed by the authorities directed the CPIO, Supreme Court to furnish the information sought by the requester. It is that order which is under challenge before the Supreme Court.
SLP before the Supreme Court:
Para 12 :“having heard the learned attorney general and the learned counsel for the respondent, we are of the considered opinion that a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution is involved in the present case which is required to be heard by a constitution bench.
The case on hand raises important questions of constitutional importance relating to the position of Hon’ble chief justice of India under the constitution and the independence of the judiciary in the scheme of the constitution on the one hand and on the other , fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression……
Para 16:” for the aforesaid reasons we direct the registry to place this matter before the Hon’ble chief justice of India for constitution of a bench of appropriate strength. Let the papers be accordingly placed before the Hon’ble chief justice of India.
21 Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 34868 of 2009
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04 Jan, 2010 Khanapuram Gandaiah Vs Administrative Officer & Ors.

The petitioner claimed to be in exclusive possession of the land in respect of which civil suit no 854 of 2002 was filed before additional civil judge, Ranga Reddy district praying for perpetual injunction by Dr Mallikarjuna Rao against the petitioner and another, from entering into the suit land application filed for interim relief in the said suit stood dismissed. Being aggrieved the plaintiff therein preferred CMA no 185 of 2002 and the same was also dismissed. Two other suits were filed in respect of the same property impleading the petitioner also as the defendant. In one of the suits the trial court granted temporary injunction against the petitioner. Being aggrieved petitioner preferred the CMA no 67 of 2005 which was dismissed by the appellate court – respondent no 4 vide order dated 18/8/06.
Petitioner filed an application dated 15/11/2006 under section 6 of the RTI act before the administrative officer cum state SAPIO seeking information to the queries mentioned therein. The said application was rejected vide order dated 23/11/06 and the appeal against the said order was also dismissed vide order dated 20/1/2007. Second appeal against the said order was also dismissed by the Andhra Pradesh sic vide order dated 20/11/07.
Writ petition before the high court:
The petitioner challenged the said order before the high court seeking a direction to the respondent no 1 to furnish the information as under what circumstances the respondent no 4 had passed the judicial order dismissing the appeal against the interim relief granted by the trial court. The respondent no 4 had been impleaded as respondent by name. The writ petition had been dismissed by the high court on the grounds that the information sought by the petitioner cannot be asked for under the rti act. Thus the application was not maintainable. More so the judicial officers are protected by the judicial officer’s protection act, 1850.
SLP before the Supreme Court:
……..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 judgements or orders passed by him. If any party feels aggrieved by the order/judgement 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 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. A judge is not bound to explain later on for what reasons he had come to such a conclusion.
……..the public information officer is not supposed to have any material which is not before him; or any information he could have obtained under the law.
…….the application filed by the petitioner before the public authority is per se illegal and unwarranted. A judicial officer is entitled to get protection and the object of the same is not to protect malicious or corrupt judges, but to protect the public from the dangers to which the administration of justice would be exposed if the concerned judicial officers were subject to inquiry as to malice, or to litigation with those whom their decisions might offend.
SLP is dismissed.
Comments : a very important judgement for judicial and quasi judicial authorities.
22 Writ Petition (crl.) 199 of 2003
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18 Nov, 2003 Ashok Kumar Pandey vs The State of West Bengal

This petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950 (in short ’the Constitution’) has been filed purportedly in public interest. The prayer in the writ petition is to the effect that the death sentence imposed on one Dhananjay Chatterjee @ Dhana (hereinafter referred to as ’the accused’) by the Sessions Court, Alipur, West Bengal, affirmed by the Calcutta High Court and this Court, needs to be converted to a life sentence because there has been no execution of the death sentence for a long time.
Reliance was placed on a Constitution Bench decision of this Court in Smt. Triveniben vs. State of Gujarat, (1989 (1) SCC 678).

DECISION:
It is necessary to take note of the meaning of expression ’public interest litigation’. In Strouds Judicial Dictionary,Volume 4 (IV Edition), ’Public Interest’ is defined thus:
"Public Interest (1) a matter of public or general interest does not mean that which is interesting as gratifying curiosity or a love of information or amusement but that in which a class of the community have a pecuniary interest, or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected."
Total Case uploaded: 22