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'No RTI query to Prez, guvs and CJI'

Exemption of top offices doesn't harm citizens' right to know, says law ministry.

delhi Updated: Sep 29, 2011 02:06 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Right to Information (RTI) applications should not be addressed to the offices of the President, governors of all the states, the Chief Justice of India and the Lok Sabha Speaker, the law ministry has proposed.http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/290911/29-09-11-metro13.jpg

The proposal by the legal arm of the government is based on the opinion of a senior law officer, who has stated that partial exemption of these high constitutional offices would not adversely affect citizens' right to know.

Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha has pointed out that information sought by RTI applicants from these high offices is available with the government departments concerned dealing with them and the RTI applications should be filed there.

The law ministry has informed the offices of all the four constitutional authorities that it proposes to keep out of the purview of the information law. "The information generated in course of the discharge of governance functions is available with the government departments concerned and transparency is in no way adversely affected by positing these constitutional positions outside the ambit of the RTI Act," he said.

"Any information received by the President/governors, is deemed to be available with the corresponding departments/ministries of governments," he added.

Tankha, in his interpretation of the RTI Act, pointed out that the high four constitutional offices mentioned by him do not figure in the list of designated authorities that have to provide information.

"Constitutional authorities as defined under the RTI Act, 2005, are competent authorities and not public authorities, who have been mandated to provide information," he wrote.

On the question of certain specific information available with only these four offices, Tankha stated that reports sent in exercise of constitutional functions of exceptional nature are covered under specific exemptions granted under relevant sections of the RTI Act.

The opinion came in response to a notice issued by the State Information of Goa to the governor, directing him to appear personally before the commission for the Raj Bhawan's failure to reply to a RTI query.