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RTI >> Judgments >> Supreme Court >> Miscellaneous (Law of Precedence, Compliant and Appeal, Freedom of Speech, Transparency in admission/selection)
High Courts(Miscellaneous (Law of Precedence, Compliant and Appeal, Freedom of Speech, Transparency in admission/selection))/ CIC(Miscellaneous (Law of Precedence, Compliant and Appeal, Freedom of Speech, Transparency in admission/selection))

Brief facts of the case:
Whether nongovernmental organisations substantially financed by the appropriate government fall within the ambit of ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 is the issue for consideration in this case.

7. At this stage we may note that in the Thalappalam case (supra) there was an order issued directing that cooperative societies would fall within the ambit of the Act. The validity of this order was challenged on the grounds that the cooperative societies were neither bodies owned, controlled and/or substantially financed by the government nor could they be said to be NGOs substantially financed, directly or indirectly, by funds provided by the appropriate Government.

8. It is a well settled statutory rule of interpretation that when in the definition clause a meaning is given to certain words then that meaning alone will have to be given to those words. However, when the definition clause contains the words ‘means and includes’ then both these words must be given the emphasis required and one word cannot override the other.

20. The principle of purposive construction of a statute is a well recognised principle which has been incorporated in our jurisprudence. While giving a purposive interpretation, a court is required to place itself in the chair of the Legislature or author of the statute. The provision should be construed in such a manner to ensure that the object of the Act is fulfilled. Obviously, if the language of the Act is clear then the language has to be followed, and the court cannot give its own interpretation. However, if the language admits of two meanings then the court can refer to the Objects and Reasons, and find out the true meaning of the provisions as intended by the authors of the enactment. Justice S.B. Sinha in New India Assurance Company Ltd. v. Nusli Neville Wadia and Anr.5 held as follows:“

51. …to interpret a statute in a reasonable manner, the court must place itself in the chair of reasonable legislator/author. So done, the rules of purposive construction have to be resorted to which would require the construction of the Act in such a manner so as to see that the object of the Act is fulfilled; which in turn would lead the beneficiary under the statutory scheme to fulfil its constitutional obligations as held by the court inter alia in Ashoka Marketing Ltd.”

29. While interpreting the provisions of the Act and while deciding what is substantial finance one has to keep in mind the provisions of the Act. This Act was enacted with the purpose of bringing transparency in public dealings and probity in public life. If NGOs or other bodies get substantial finance from the Government, we find no reason why any citizen cannot ask for information to find out whether his/her money which has been given to an NGO or any other body is being used for the requisite purpose or not.

Decision Extracts:
35. These are substantial payments and amount to almost half the expenditure of the Colleges/School and more than 95% of the expenditure as far as the teaching and other staff is concerned. Therefore, in our opinion, these Colleges/School are substantially financed and are public authority within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the Act.

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 98449845 OF 2013
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 98469857 OF 2013

36. As far as these cases are concerned, we find from the judgments of the High Court that the aspect with regard to substantial financing has not been fully taken into consideration, as explained by us above. Therefore, though we hold that these bodies are NGOs, the issue whether these are substantially financed or not needs to be decided by the High Court. The High Court shall give both the parties opportunity to file documents and decide the issue in light of the law laid down by us.

37. With these observations, all the appeals are disposed of in the aforesaid terms. Civil Appeal No. 9828 of 2013 is dismissed. Civil Appeal Nos. 98449845 of 2013, 98469857 of 2013 and 9860 of 2013 are remitted to the High Court for determination whether the institutions are substantially financed or not. The High Court shall treat the writ petitions to be filed in the year 2013 and give them priority accordingly.
2 11 Apr, 2019 Institute of Companies Secretaries of India Vs. Paras Jain

Brief fact of the judgment
This appeal is directed against the order dated 22.04.2014 of the Delhi High Court wherein, while allowing the Letters Patent Appeal, filed by the respondent herein, it set aside Guideline No.3 notified by the statutory council of appellant–Institute of Companies Secretaries of India and directed it to charge fee prescribed as per Rule 4 of the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005.

2. The factual matrix of the case is that the respondent appeared in the final examination for Company Secretary conducted by the Appellant in December, 2012. On being unsuccessful in qualifying the examination, the respondent made an application under the Right to Information Act for inspection of his answer sheets and subsequently, sought certified copies of the same from the appellant. The appellant thereafter has demanded Rs.500/per answer sheet payable for supply of certified copy(ies) of answer book(s) and Rs.450/per answer book for providing inspection thereof respectively as per Guideline No.3 notified by the statutory council of the appellant. It is to be noted that the respondent obtained the said information under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Being aggrieved by the demand made by the appellant, the respondent preferred a Writ Petition before the Delhi High Court wherein the Learned Single Judge dismissed the petition. A Letters Patent Appeal was thereafter preferred by the respondent wherein, the Division Bench quashed Guideline No.3 notified by the appellant and held that the appellant can charge only the prescribed fee under Rule 4, The Right to Information (Regulation of Fees and Cost) Rules, 2005.

Decision of Supreme Court
……..Guideline no.3 stipulates payment of Rs. 500 for obtaining certified copies and Rs. 450 for seeking inspection of the same.

On the contrary, Rule 4, The Right to Information (Regulation of Fees and Cost) Rules, 2005 stipulates,

“4. For providing the information under subsection.

(1) of section 7, the fee shall be charged by way of cash against proper receipt or by demand draft or bankers cheque or Indian Postal Order payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority at the following rates:-
(a) rupees two for each page (in A4 or A3 size paper) created or copied;
(b) actual charge or cost price of a copy in larger size paper;
(c) actual cost or price for samples or models; and
(d) for inspection of records, no fee for the first hour; and a fee of rupees five for each subsequent hour (or fraction thereof).”

Thus it is clear that the avenue for seeking certified copies as well as inspection is provided both in the Right to Information Act as well as the statutory guidelines of the appellant.

We are cognizant of the fact that guidelines of the appellant, framed by its statutory council, are to govern the modalities of its day today concerns and to effectuate smooth functioning of its responsibilities under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980. The guidelines of the appellant may provide for much more than what is provided under the Right to Information Act, such as re-evaluation, retotalling of answer scripts.

Be that as it may, Guideline no.3 of the appellant does not take away from Rule 4, The Right to Information
(Regulation of Fees and Cost) rules, 2005 which also entitles the candidates to seek inspection and certified copies of their answer scripts. In our opinion, the existence of these two avenues is not mutually exclusive and it is up to the candidate to choose either of the routes. Thus, if a candidate seeks information under the provisions of the Right to Information, then payment has to be sought under the Rules therein, however, if the information is sought under the Guidelines of the appellant, then the appellant is at liberty to charge the candidates as per its guidelines.

The appellant has submitted that the Division Bench of Delhi High Court erred in quashing Guideline no.3 which is affecting not only the appellant but also the candidates. Taking into consideration the fact that such quashing was done despite no prayer being made to that effect on behest of the respondent, we hold that quashing of Guideline No.3 was unwarranted. It is to this limited extent that we allow the appeal and set aside the impugned order of Division Bench of Delhi High Court whereby it quashed Guideline

Learned counsel appearing for the appellant further submitted that owing to nominal fee fixed under the Right to Information Act, the dissemination of information by the appellant has become financially burdensome and he wants to make a representation to the Government for enhancing the fee prescribed under the Right to Information Act. It is left open to him to make such a representation.
3 13 Sep, 2012 Namit Sharma Vs Union of India

Information Commission is bound by the Law of precedence:

Final Decision:

Supreme Court held that, " in terms of Article 141 of the Constitution, then judgments of the Supreme Court are law of the land and are binding on all courts and tribunals. Thus, it is abundantly clear that the Information Commission is bound by the law of precedence, i.e., judgments of the High Court and the Supreme Court of India. In order to maintain judicial discipline and consistency in then functioning of the Commission, we direct that the Commission shall give appropriate attention to the doctrine of precedence and shall not overlook the judgments of the courts dealing with the subject and principles applicable, in a given case.
It is not only the higher court’s judgments that are binding precedents for the Information Commission, but even those of the larger Benches of the Commission should be given due acceptance and enforcement by the smaller Benches of the Commission. The rule of precedence is equally applicable to intra appeals or references in the hierarchy of the Commission. "

In this case, the Hon'ble Court has examined in details of various provisions like Section 12 etc., of the RTI Act throughout the case discussion.

Orders of the commission are subject to judicial review before the high court and then before the Supreme Court. Information commission is bound by the law of precedence i.e. judgements of the high court and the supreme court of India.
4 10 Jul, 2012 Subhash Popatlal Dave vs Union of India and anr

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.
5 12 Dec, 2011 Chief Information Commission Vs State of Manipur

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.
6 09 Aug, 2011 Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr Appellants Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors

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.
7 26 Nov, 2010 CPIO, Supreme Court of India vs Subhash Chandra Agrawal

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……
8 04 Jan, 2010 Khanapuram Gandaiah Vs Administrative Officer & Ors.

Rationale behind the judgment can't be asked under RTI Act.

Final Decision:

Hon'ble Supreme Court held that :
" A judge cannot be expected to give reasons other than those that have been enumerated in the judgment or order. 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. If anything is done contrary to this, it would certainly affect the independence of the judiciary. A judge should be free to make independent decisions. The Supreme Court observed that the petitioner has misused the provisions of the RTI Act and upheld the decision of High Court- and dismissed the Writ Petition."

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.
Total Case uploaded: 8