Appellant: how the treaties such as GATT 1947 & GATT 1994 were given effect to? - CIC: appellant is seeking to know whether these two agreements were signed, ratified or acceded to or any other process was adopted; provide information
Heard on 29.4.14. Appellant not present. Public Authority is represented by Shri K. Ginkhan Thangi, CPIO, Ms.Asha, APIO and Shri Lal Chand, Supdt.
2. The Appellant filed an RTI application dt. 1.9.10 with the PIO, M/o Law and Justice seeking information against six points relating to International Treaties entered into by Govt. of India and in particular General Agreement on Trade and Tariff dated 30.10.1947 and 15.4.1994. The PIO replied on 7.10.10 stating that the information sought does not fall under the definition of ‘information’ as defined u/s 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the RTI Act. Not satisfied with the reply, the Appellant filed an appeal dt.14.10.10 with the Appellate Authority reiterating his request for information. The Appellate Authority vide order dt.26.10.10 upheld the decision of the PIO. Being aggrieved with the reply, the Appellant filed a second appeal dt.29.10.10 before CIC.
3. During the hearing, the Respondent submitted that the Ministry as a practice gives advice/opinion to the Ministries who seek the same and does not give any advice to individuals. She added that the advice is written in the file of the Ministry seeking their advice and hence the same is not available with them.
4. The Commission after hearing the submissions of the Respondent and on perusal of the document on record directs the PIO as follows:
i) With regard to point (a), to inform whether signing of an International Treaty by Govt. of India by itself amounts to executive order as contemplated under Article 73(1)(b) of the Constitution of India.
ii) With regard to point (c), to inform whether an Executive order is necessary to give effect to an International Treaty entered into by Govt. of India.
iii) With regard to point (e), to inform whether an Executive order is not necessary to give effect to an International Treaty entered into by Govt. of India.
5. The whole sum and substance of the RTI application appears as to know how the GATT was given effect by the Govt. of India. As per Article 253 of Constitution of India, the Parliament has power to make any law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country. This provision does not bar an executive order/action to give effect to International agreement, entered into by India. The respondent, who is the Ministry of Law and Justice has a very significant role in guiding the Government in this regard. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), considered as treaty of treaties was entered into force in 1980. It has formulated that states could sign, ratify or accede to the International Treaties and Conventions. India being signatory to this VCLT, the Government/Ministry of Law is under an obligation to disclose how the treaties such as GATT 1947 and GATT 1994 were given effect to, which was sought by appellant. Here the appellant is not seeking the opinion or advice of the Respondents or their PIO. The process of giving effect to such significant treaty should have been born by record or some document. The appellant is seeking to know whether these two agreements were signed, ratified or acceded to or any other process was adopted. From the nature of questions it appears that the subject matter pertains to Constitutional law and International Law, and the respondent – Ministry of Law and Justice is appropriate authority to furnish the information, which could be culled out of the law (both municipal and international) and the processes adopted to give effect to GATT. The Commission considers that it will be befitting if such information is provided as a response to this RTI application. The respondent’s submission that their officers would write the advice on the file of the authority which sought and hand over it back to them, makes it certain that it is part of the record. The respondent officers said such advice was written on the file which was returned to the department which sought it. That means some other public authority holds it and such information was generated by respondent and held by another public authority within the government. Hence the respondent has a duty to furnish the relevant information to the appellant as directed above. If the respondent holds any documents regarding this process, as sought by the appellant, shall be given, or in the alternative the respondent should have transferred that part of RTI application or that particular authority on whose file the advise was written regarding giving effect to GATT 1947 and GATT 1994. 5. The information should reach the Appellant within two months of receipt of this order.
6. The appeal is disposed with the above direction.
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Citation: Dileep Nevatia v. M/o Law and Justice in Case No.CIC/AT/A/2010/901104SA