High Court quashes two notifications issued by UP govt.
Two notifications issued by the UP State Government regarding exclusion from the purview of the RTI Act were challenged by two PILs.
1. The notification no. 980/43-2-2009 dated 7.6.2009, excluded certain works allotted to Confidential Section-I of the Government of U.P from the purview of the RTI Act.
1. Appointment of the Governor,
2. Appointment of Ministers/State Ministers/Deputy Ministers,
3. Code of Conduct for Ministers,
4. Providing materials for Monthly Demi Official letter to be sent to the President of India
on behalf of the Governor,
5. Appointment of Hon'ble Judges of the High Court.
2. Notification dated 254/Chhappan-2008-15-05 dated 25.3.2008 excluded the operation Unit and the Maintenance, Security and General Administration Unit of the Civil Aviation Department of the State Government from the applicability of The RTI Act.
Section of the RTI Act under debate
It was argued that the Sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the RTI Act does not give any authority to the State Government to issue such a notification. Section 24(4) of the RTI Act is reproduced below:
"(4) Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to such intelligence and security organisations, being organisations established by the State Government, as that Government may, from time to time, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify:
Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section:
Provided further that in case the information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the State Information Commission and, notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7, such information shall be provided within forty-five days from the date of the receipt of request."
View of the Court
1. What can be excluded from operation of 'The RTI Act' is certain 'organizations', established by the State and not the 'works'.
2. The operation Unit and the Maintenance, Security and General Administration Unit of the Civil Aviation Department of the State Government was neither intelligence nor security organization established by the State Government nor having been notified as such, cannot be exempted from the provisions of 'The RTI Act'. Even if the civil aviation personnel has been included in the police force of the State, that will not be sufficient to exempt operation Unit and the Maintenance, Security and General Administration Unit of the Civil Aviation Department of the State Government, when the police department itself is not exempted.
3. The impugned notification has not even been placed before the State Legislature, which was the requirement under sub-section (5) of Section 24 of the RTI Act which says that every notification issued under sub-section (4) shall be laid before the State Legislature.
4. The impugned notification dated 25.3.2008 does not create any exemption with respect to information regarding corruption and human rights violations in either of the aforesaid units of the civil aviation department though under the proviso appended to sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the Act, even the intelligence and security organizations are not immune from giving information regarding corruption and human rights violations. The notification thus gives a blanket exemption with respect to information regarding corruption and human rights violations, which is in direct conflict with the provision contained in Section 24(4) of 'The RTI Act', hence cannot be saved.
The High Court quashed the notifications observing that the notification bad and per se illegal being grossly in violation of the provisions of the Act.
Many organisations have been randomly excluded from the purview of the RTI Act using section 24 of the RTI Act by which do not seem to have any co-relation with their function. Hopefully, this judgment would dampen such future efforts.
Citation: WP No. 6993 (M/B) of 2009 PIL National Alliance of People's Movements and another v. State of U.P. and others & WP No. 10875 (M/B) of 2011 PIL AK Tripathi v. State of U.P. at the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench dated 25th Jan 2012
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/HC/39
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission