The Supreme Court has done a U-turn on a Central Information Commission (CIC) order directing it to make public details of a fleet of cars, including those originally fitted with tinted glass or coated with dark films, being used by its judges and other staff.
The apex court had earlier decided to challenge the CIC’s April 26 order. After Hindustan Times carried a report on July 19, the authorities not just dropped the idea but also provided information to activist Jagjit Singh.
“On a reconsideration of all the issues involved, this Registry has decided to comply with the directions given in the CIC order reserving the Registry’s right to raise the larger issues involved in a more appropriate case,” Smita Vats Sharma, additional registrar and the court’s chief public information officer (CPIO), informed Singh in a letter dated July 24.
After the April 2012 Supreme Court judgment banning the use of black films or any other material on car windows for vehicles in India, Singh was curious to know whether or not the court’s own vehicles complied with it.
He sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act details of cars still having tinted glass, dark films and if any were removed. He also wanted information on the number of government vehicles in use by the apex court, their make, average monthly fuel consumption of each, copies of pollution under check (PUC) certificates and who uses these vehicles.
The information provided revealed sunglass films on judges’ cars were removed from an authorised dealer at the rate of R250 per car. However, the number of such cars was not provided. The court also gave copies of PUC certificates for 25 cars. Interestingly, these certificates bore time and date stamp of the same day (the day of Singh’s original application).
The SC registry also provided mileage of 25 cars during June 2011 to May 2012.