Not against RTI, but there should be guidelines for flow of information, CJI SA Bobde

Not against RTI, but there should be guidelines for flow of information, CJI SA Bobde

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today observed that there appears to be a feeling of fear and paralysis due to the Right to Information Act.

The observations were made by the Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde and comprising Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, in the matter, seeking implementation of the Supreme Court’s previous order directing for the appointment of Information Commissioners.

CJI Bobde observed that the Court is not opposed to RTI but there may be a need for bringing in certain guidelines and safeguards for providing information. The presiding Judge also observed that the RTI has started to have an adverse effect given that many bureaucrats were not taking decisions due to the fear of RTI.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was representing RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj in the matter,  told the Court that those officials who are not corrupt need not fear anything.

However, the Court observed that it had become a trend for people to identify themselves as an RTI activist.

“Is RTI filing a profession?” CJI Bobde asked.

People who have no connection with the matter often seek information under RTI and sometimes it has even led “criminal intimidation, which is a good word for blackmail,” CJI Bobde said.

On the issue of implementation of the Court order directing for the appointment of information commissioners, the Court asked Bhushan to file a Contempt plea against States who have failed to comply with the order. The matter will be heard next in February 2020.

In February this year, the Supreme Court bench of Justice AK Sikri and Abdul Nazeer had issued directions to bring in transparency in the process of appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners at the Central and State level.

On November 6, the Supreme Court bench of Justices SA Bobde, S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari had directed the Central government and eight states to file status reports regarding the filling up of vacancies of Information Commissioners.

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