Friday, August 31, 2012

CIC can't call for Prez-PM letters on 2002 Guj riots: HC

The Delhi high court on Wednesday ruled that the Central Information Commission could not have access to correspondence between the President and the Prime Minister.
   Allowing the Centre's appeal against the CIC, Justice Anil Kumar set aside the commission's order to reveal to it the communication between former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then president K R Narayanan on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
   “The order of the CIC of August 8, 2006 is liable to be set aside and the CIC cannot direct the petitioner (Centre) to produce the correspondence between the President and the PM… As it is barred under Article 74(2) of the Constitution of India, the application of the petitioner seeking such information will also be not maintainable,” the HC said. Article 74(2) of the Constitution bars disclosure of the advice given by the council of ministers to the President.
   The court pointed out that only judges of the Supreme Court and high courts had the power to call for such material (the communication) to peruse them under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution.
   “The CIC cannot claim parity with the judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts,” the HC said, adding that the commission's interim order for perusal of records was “wholly illegal and unconstitutional”.
   While reversing the order of the full bench of CIC, Justice Kumar, who retired on Wednesday, also dismissed RTI applicant C Ramesh's plea, saying he was not “entitled” to the communication exchanged between the then President and prime minister over the Gujarat riots.
   The HC, while setting aside the CIC order, also observed that Article 74(2) of the Constitution could not be made subservient to the transparency law as the same could not have been the intention of the legislature and even if it was, the same could not come in effect without amending the Constitution.