Can the PIO of a Court offer legal assistance to the appellant under RTI?
The appellant was convicted in a criminal case and had approached the Supreme Court (SC) against the order of the High Court (HC) and the lower courts. The Supreme Court had dismissed his SLP Review and Curative petitions. He later filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the SC seeking assistance of the PIO for bringing up the matter again through a Writ Petition before the Supreme Court claiming that he was wrongfully convicted. The Public Information Officer (PIO) observed that she could not provide any opinion on such matters and that the request would not be covered under the definition of information given in section 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. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) upheld the PIO’s order. However, he directed to forward a copy of his order to the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee so that they could consider if any legal assistance can be provided in the case. The Committee then informed the appellant that they could not provide any further assistance in the matter since both his Review and Curative petitions had been already dismissed.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant submitted that he was a prisoner and considered himself to be innocent. So, he wanted assistance in the matter and desired that his case should be again heard by the Supreme Court. The respondent pointed out that under the RTI Act, the PIO could not offer any assistance by way of giving an opinion or advice.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the appellant can either approach a lawyer or go back to the respective Legal Services Committee for seeking appropriate legal assistance to take up the matter again before any court including the Supreme Court. The CIC rejected the appeal stating that the PIO could not provide any other information.
Citation: Mr. V M Elangovan v. Supreme Court of India in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/000775
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/915
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission