High Court of Madras v. A. Kanagaraj

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High Court of Madras v. A. Kanagaraj

High Court of Madras v. A. Kanagaraj
AIR 2013 Mad 186
In the High Court of Madras
WP 28202/2012
Before Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice M Venugopal
Decided on June 14, 2013

Relevancy of the case: Quashing of an order of Tamil Nadu Information Commission related to furnishing of information regarding a writ petition

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 70, 72)
  • Rules of High Court, Madras, Appellate Side, 1965
  • The Right to Information Act, 2005 (Section 4, 4(d), 11, 20(1),22)
  • The Constitution of India, 1950 (Article 226)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The petitioner is the Registrar General of the Madras High Court. The second respondent (Tamil Nadu Information Commission) passed an order, stating that the petitioner has failed to furnish information to the first respondent in an RTI inquiry.
  • The first respondent, in an inquiry with the Registrar, asked for furnishing of affidavits of the respondent and petitioner and the orders passed in two writ petitions. Ultimately, the petitioner told him that he could obtain the documents by filing a Copy Application (under Madras High Court Appellate Side Rules) before the registry.
  • The second respondent’s order was passed in case number 18603-11 & 12498-12/Enquiry/A/2012. Firstly, the order directed the petitioner to furnish the information requested by the first respondent. Secondly, the order directed the petitioner to explain why court should not take action under Section 20(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • Subsequently, the petitioner filed a Writ of Certiorari, calling for records of case number 18603-11 & 12498-12/Enquiry/A/2012, and quashing of the same.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The petitioner’s counsel argued that the first respondent wanted to hinder the administrative functions of the Court. The first respondent already received the information, and hence the second respondent’s order serves no purpose and is unwarranted. Further, the second respondent did not serve notice to the parties of the Writ Petition, violating Section 11 of the RTI Act. The furnishing of information about proceedings related to a third party by a Public Authority (and not a  Court of Law) would be detrimental to the interest of concerned parties to the proceedings.
  • The respondent’s counsel submitted that the second respondent’s order was not illegal. Section 4 of the RTI Act talks about the “obligation of public authorities” and Section 4(d) covers giving reasons by a public authority for their decisions. Finally, Section 22 of the RTI Act has an overriding effect over any law inconsistent with it.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The right to privacy is an inviolable part of Article 21 of the Constitution. This is also dealt with provisions like Section 70 and 72 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Right to Information also comes from Article 19(1)(a).
  • The writ of certiorari is applicable as the second respondent exercises judicial powers, and so does the Information Commission. The Tamil Nadu Information Commission is a Tribunal with the power to decide appeals.
  • The right of consultation of a third party is available in circumstances of Section 2(n) and 11 of the RTI Act. But information sought relating to a third party cannot be withheld even if the party claims confidentiality, unless it comes under an exception of the RTI Act.
  • The first respondent is entitled to receive the information only under the relevant rules of the High Court of Madras. The order of the second respondent requiring the furnishing of information is thus legally incorrect. Further, the order requiring an explanation from the petitioner is illegal. Judiciary is free from the Executive and the Legislature. There is an in-built procedure to receive the information from the Court, which everyone must follow.
  • To prevent aberration of justice, the petitioner must supply the relevant documents to the first respondent within two weeks.

Final Decision

  • Writ Petition allowed.
  • Order of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission quashed.

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