Is the Advocate General a public authority under section 2(h) of the RTI Act?
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking the details of the advice given by the Advocate General of Kerala to the state government with respect to the alleged custodial death of the prime accused in the Puthur Sheela murder case, Sampath.
When the matter was brought before the First Appellate Authority, it said that the demanded information was fiduciary in nature as per section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act and hence cannot be provided. The second appeal in the matter came up before the Kerala State Information Commission (SIC), which relied on a Supreme Court ruling and held that the advice given by the Advocate General to the government is not of fiduciary nature as per the definition. In its order, the SIC has ruled that Advocate General is a public authority as per Article 165 of the Constitution and hence the legal advice given by the office of the Advocate General to the state government is a public document and comes under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. The SIC has ordered that the information be provided to the appellant within 15 days of issuance of order.
The readers may remember that the Central Information Commission (CIC) vide an order dated Oct 12, 2012 had rejected a request seeking certain information from the office of Attorney General of India (AGI) which was challenged in the Delhi High Court. Link - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/petition-filed-delhi-hc-demanding-declaration-ag-o-3305
For a reading of the CIC order, readers may refer to the following link - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/ag-%E2%80%98public-authority%E2%80%99-right-information-act-2915.
A critique of the CIC order was presented in the article titled “A second look at the CIC order regarding Attorney General”. We had predicted that a petition is likely to be filed with the High Court. Link - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/second-look-cic-order-regarding-attorney-general-2918