The Delhi High Court on Wednesday held that communication between the President and Prime Minister was "privileged" and, therefore, could not be revealed under the Right to Information Act.
The court made this clear while setting aside a 2006 Central Information Commission (CIC) order that directed the Centre to reveal correspondence between then president KR Narayanan and prime minister AB Vajpayee, relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Justice Anil Kumar, who demitted office on Wednesday, passed the order on an appeal filed by the Centre against the CIC's order, asking it to give the RTI petitioner access to all letters sent by Narayanan to Vajpayee from February 28, 2002, to March 15, 2002, relating to the riots.
Court upheld the contention of additional solicitor general AS Chandihok and the Centre's lawyer, Sumeet Pushkarna, stating that such a disclosure is exempt under the RTI Act because it could affect national security.
"Since the CIC is not entitled to peruse the correspondence between the President and the Prime Minister, as it is barred under Article 74(2) of the Constitution of India, the application of the petitioner seeking such an information will also not be maintainable," said the judge.
As it has already been established, the CIC cannot claim parity with judges of the Supreme Court and high courts. Though the judges of these courts may peruse the material in exercise of their power under Article 32 and 226 of the Constitution of India, the CIC has no such power.