An organisation cannot be excluded from RTI Act retrospectively
A Supreme Court bench of J. Ashok Kumar Ganguly and J. Gyan Sudha Mishra in Civil Appeal No 10787-10788 of 2011 has given a landmark interpretation of the powers of the State to issue notification under section 24 of the RTI Act. The section 24 grants powers to the government to exempt certain organisations from the purview of the RTI Act.
In 2007, an applicant, Mr. Wahangbam Joykumar, sought information regarding the magisterial enquiries initiated by the Government of Manipur in. On not getting any response, the matter went up to the State Information Commission who directed to provide the information. It was challenged and a single member bench of the High Court gave a ruling upholding the direction of the Information Commission. Later, the State government issued a notification in 2011 under section 24 of the RTI Act exempting certain organisations of the state form the purview of the RTI Act.
The Supreme Court held that these notifications under section 24 of the RTI Act cannot apply retrospectively. The right of the public authority to deny information cannot apply retrospectively and the decision has to be taken on the basis of the law as it stood on the date the request was made. An applicant cannot be denied the right to obtain information under the RTI Act by issuing a notification subsequent to when the controversy is pending before the Court.