Should the Information Commission be a party to the petition before the HC?
A division bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M Venugopal of the Madras High Court has directed its Registrar-General to implead the Tamilnadu (TN) State Information Commission (SIC) also as a party in the writ proceedings in case the order passed by the SIC is challenged before the HC. The bench observed that impleading the SIC as a party would help the court to arrive at a complete and comprehensive decision.
KU Rajasekar applied to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the High Court seeking certain information regarding his matrimonial case and the diary notings. As the PIO did not provide the information, he matter went up to the TN SIC, which directed the Registrar-General of the Madras High Court in July 2012 to supply copies of all diary notings to Rajasekar free of cost. Instead of filing the compliance as directed by the SIC, the Registrar-General filed a petition before the HC.
The bench held that the independence of the judiciary is a basic structure of the Constitution and the judiciary is free from the executive and legislature. The appeal was upheld and the order of the SIC directing the PIO to furnish the records free of cost was rejected. The HC directed the applicant to pay the necessary charges as per the rules.
The bench further held that Clause 37 of the Letters Patent conferred powers on the High Court to make rules for regulating all proceedings in civil cases before the court. The court’s Appellate Side Rules permitted any party to obtain certified copies which ought to have been followed by the applicant. The HC ruled that an applicant is entitled to receive copies of the court records only under those rules. Moreover, an applicant can also avail the benefit under Rule 4 of the Madras High Court, Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules as per which the information under RTI Act could be provided to him on payment of necessary charges.
The bench directed the Registrar General to furnish information as per the Rules of Appellate Side on payment of necessary charges.
The Karnataka and Bombay High Courts have asked the Information Commission in the past to take up the role of a respondent in some cases and the Madras High Court has now joined the rank.
However, in Special Leave to Appeal (Civil)....../2013 CC 1853/2013 arising from the judgment and order dated 15/06/2012 in WA No.3255/2010 of The High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore titled Karnataka Information Commissioner Vs. State Public Information Officer & Anr, the Supreme Court had observed that the locus of the State Information Commission to file appeal against the order of the learned Single Judge of HC whereby its order had been set aside is not explained. The SC held that the Commission and the Karnataka Information Commissioner had no legitimate cause to challenge the order passed by the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court and had imposed exemplary cost of Rs 1 lakh.