Seeking the judicial records from the Supreme Court in Hindi
The appellant filed two applications in Hindi, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Supreme Court of India. Vide the first application, he sought information relating to a news item published in the Hindustan Times regarding the Supreme Court decision on the appointment of Information Commissioners. Vide the second application, he sought information regarding the PIL filed in the Supreme Court against the Right to Information rules framed by the Allahabad High Court. The Public Information Officer (PIO) advised him to visit the Supreme Court website to know about any order passed by the court or about the status of any pending matter. The PIO also informed him that the same can be accessed from the Supreme Court registry by following the procedure laid down in the Supreme Court Rules, 1966.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant objected that the PIO had not responded to him in Hindi but in English. The respondents submitted that as per the provisions of the Constitution of India, the language in which the Supreme Court transacted its business was English and the PIO could not be expected to reply in Hindi. The appellant also argued that he should be provided the information under RTI and should not be required either to visit any website or to approach the Registry under any other rules for the information.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that section 6(1) of the RTI Act allows the information seeker to make a request either in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area. The PIO has to provide the information as it is available in material record. The CIC ruled that the PIO cannot be compelled to write to the information seeker in any particular language. Regarding the information, the CIC held that it relates to judicial records and that the citizens cannot get the certified copies of judicial records including the order passed by the courts under RTI. The same can be obtained by following the rules and the procedure set out by the Supreme Court of India or the High Courts. The Commission observed that section 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. of the RTI Act gives overriding power to this Act over all other laws inconsistent with its provisions. The rules framed by the Supreme Court of India or the High Courts for disclosing certified copies of the judicial records are in consonance with the provisions of the RTI Act, disclosure of information being the common objective of both. Therefore, RTI Act will not override the rules framed by the Supreme Court of India or the High Courts for providing certified copies of judicial records to various parties and citizens.
In many cases, the CIC has ruled that the applications being received in Hindi are to be replied in Hindi. This site has consistently taken a stand that while the information may be provided in the form in which it is available, the forwarding letter should be sent as per the language policy which has been made for achieving the goals of the constitution.
Citation: Mr. Ashok Kumar Goyal v Supreme Court of India in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001282 & 1621
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1093
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission