The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the law ministry to make public the details of how it allowed its top law officer, the attorney general, to appear for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in his private capacity before the Supreme Court.
The CIC, in a two-page order, has rejected the ministry’s argument that its communication with the attorney general, GE Vahanvati, on this matter was confidential and cannot be divulged.
The national transparency watchdog’s order came on an appeal filed by Delhi-based activist, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, whose Right to Information (RTI) application on rules for the government’s law officers was only partially replied to by the ministry.
In a surprising development, the ministry provided the copies of the show-cause notices issued to additional solicitor general AS Chandhiok for appearing on behalf of a private power distribution company in the Delhi high court last year, but it invoked the secrecy clause of the RTI Act in case of Vahanvati to withhold information.
“Permission was granted by the ministry for the attorney general’s appearance for the BCCI in the Supreme Court only,” the law ministry had stated in its reply.
It, however, refused to provide details of letters exchanged between Vahanvati and the ministry on the issue. “As regards copies of the permission sought by shri Vahanvati, the learned Attorney General, the same cannot be provided under the various clauses of the section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005,” the ministry had replied.
Not convinced with the response, Agrawal approached the CIC, which has now ruled in his favour. “After hearing the parties and on perusal of the relevant documents…….the appellant be provided the information within four weeks free of cost,” the transparency watchdog stated in its order.
According to the government rules of 1987, its law officers cannot appear for private parties during their tenures. The government treats the BCCI as a private body, and that is why Vahanvati was required to seek the ministry’s permission before appearing for the cricket body in the top court.
CIC has rejected law ministry’s argument that its communication with attorney general cannot be divulged
According to rules of 1987, govt law officers cannot appear for private parties
Govt treats BCCI as a private body and that is why AG was required to seek the ministry’s permission before appearing for the cricket body in the SC.