J&K RTI Act applies to Central government offices in the state - SIC
An application was filed with the office of Principal Accountant General in Jammu and Kashmir under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get some information under the J&K RTI Act, 2009.
As the information was not provided by the public information officer, the applicant approached the first appellate authority who directed the PIO to disclose the information under the central Right to Information Act, 2005. The matter was brought before a division bench of the J&K state information commission, which found that the FAA had issued direction to disclose information under RTI Act, 2005 and not under state RTI Act with reference to which the information was sought.
The SIC ruled that the office of Comptroller & Auditor General, and for that matter any central government office operating within the territorial jurisdiction of J&K directly or through their subordinate offices, come under the purview of the state RTI Act under its Section 2 (f). Referring to the special status accorded to J&K under Article 370 of Indian Constitution, the SIC held that Central Information Commission’s decisions and instructions are not binding on SIC.
The bench of State Information Commission (SIC) headed by Chief Information Commissioner G R Sufi ruled that “The State Information Commission holds that CAG is a Public Authority as defined 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 J&K RTI Act- 2009 operating within the territorial jurisdiction of State of J&K directly or through their subordinate offices posted within the territorial limits of J&K, thus fall under the purview of J&K RTI Act- 2009 in respect of information that flows and originates from records held by these Public Authorities within the state….Though it is an accepted constitutional position that in case of a clash between two laws passed by the Parliament and the State Legislature on a particular subject which falls under the Concurrent List, it is the central law which will prevail. However, PIO is ignorant of special constitutional relationship of State of J&K with the Union of India. The constitutional relationship of J&K with the Union of India is governed by Article 370 of Constitution of India.”
The Commission further observed that “The respondents have nowhere rebutted that the J&K State Legislature has legislative competence to include public authorities established or constituted by or under the constitution of India or by any law made by Parliament in the definition of Public Authority in section 2 of the J&K RTI Act, 2009.”