Even after 63 years of Independence, India’s oldest court — Calcutta High Court — believes it is still controlled by the Queen of England.
That was the logic given to overrule the jurisdiction of transparency watchdog, the Central Information Commission (CIC), over the court.
The court’s Central Information officer Imram Hafiz told the CIC the RTI law could apply only if “an appropriate government” had established a public authority.
“Calcutta High Court was not established by Central government or Constitution of India but by her Majesty the Queen of England under Letters Patent dating from time of Queen Victoria,” Hafiz said. “Powers of such legislation are preserved and cannot be transcended by Government of India”.
Former Additional Solicitor General of India Vikas Singh said: “All high courts presently function under the Constitution of India and accordingly, initial setting up of the Calcutta High Court by the Queen of England under Letters Patent will not make any difference in its status with regard to applicability of the RTI to it.”
Hafiz admitted judges’ salary is borne from the Consolidated fund of India and the high court staff is financed by the state government, enough to provide the high court was a public authority under CIC.