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‘Public authority & public office not the same’, Union tells Delhi HC

Smrithi Suresh

Clients and lawyers waiting in the Delhi High Court
Clients and lawyers waiting in the Delhi High Court

In defending the Attorney General’s office from being included under the RTI Act, the Center today submitted that the Single Bench had equated ‘public office with public authority’, when effectively, they did not constitute the same thing even as per the Act.

The submissions were made in an appeal filed by the Union Law Ministry against a Single Bench order of the Delhi High Court which had held that the AG’s office was ‘public authority’ under the Act.

ASG Sanjay Jain appearing for the Union, argued that,

“There is a distinction between the expression ‘public office’ and ‘public authority’ in the RTI Act itself. The judgment passed by the Single Bench proceeds on the assumption that since the Supreme Court itself has referred to the AG’s office as ‘public office’ (as a passing reference and that too, in another context altogether), it is also deemed to be a public authority. 

My submission here is that if am discharging a public function, then alone can I be covered under Section 2 (h) of the Act.”

Due to reasons of personal difficulty stated by the Respondents, the Bench adjourned the matter today.

It will now be heard on November 4.