JUSTICE CORPS

Action group for judicial transparency, justice reforms and human rights.

Signature Campaign for RTI

Posted by justicecorps on January 4, 2007

A signature campaign was undertaken in July 2006 to demand the implementation of The Right to Information Act,2005 by the Mumbai High Court. The letter drafted to demand the same received support of 36 organisations.

The content of the letter is as follows:

JUSTICE CORPS

(Action group for judicial transparency and justice reforms)
C/o: 28
Sunrise, Samta Nagar, Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101
Mob: 9869 828 619, Email: justicecorps@gmail.com

To

The Hon’ble Chief Justice July 19, 2006.
Bombay High Court
Fort, Mumbai.

Dereliction by Bombay High Court in implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Circular issued by Registrar General, Bombay High Court is ultra vires to the Information Act.

Sir,

This is an official complaint and your attention is invited against the excessive circular of the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court. The said administrative circular issued on February 15, 2006 directs all courts to withhold information asked under the RTI Act till further communication is received from the High Court. The Circular states that the matter of supplying information under the Act is under active consideration by the Supreme Court as well as the Bombay High Court. The complainants rely on the information provided in the news report of the Times of India, attached as Annexure I.

Now therefore, such a circular of the Registrar General is ultra vires to the Right to Information Act 2005; is excessive and unjustified on following grounds:

1.. The Right to Information Act contains a clear provision making it obligatory for the public authorities to appoint Public Information Officers within one hundred days of the enactment of the Act as per section 5, and to publish detailed information about its working within 120 days, as per section 4. This sufficient period of 120 days expired on October 19, 2005, the day the Act came into force.

2.. Under section 2(h)(a) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 the Bombay High Court is a public authority and under section 2(e)(iii) the Chief Justice is the competent authority, both who are enjoined to implement the Act. Even after eight-and-half months since the day the Act came into force, the Act remains unimplemented by the Bombay High Court. No provision in the RTI Act excuses the public authority or you as the competent authority by giving extension in period to implement the Act.

3.. No time-frame for implementation of the Act has been given by you as a competent authority and the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court. Infact, the Registrar had initially stated in an interview to the Times of India in November 02, 2005 that the process of implementation of the Act was likely to resume after November 14, 2005 (Please see TOI report as Annexure II). Five months later in April 2006, inspite of a notice issued by activists to the then Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to implement the Act, no response was received from the Bombay High Court. The Registrar General in a response to the Press, repeated that the HC was yet to decide to what extent the Act should be made applicable to the judiciary. (Please see Annexure III).

4.. The circular of the Registrar General does not fit in any provision or rule made under the Right to Information Act and is inconsistent with the same. The circular is an administrative order, non-judicial in nature and is excessive.

5.. The circular amounts to circumventing a central legislation, which is Constitutionally sound and remains unchallenged so far in any court of law.

6.. The Judiciary does not come within the purview of the 18 intelligence and security organizations that are exempt from the RTI Act.

7.. That, other than the regular practice of obtaining copies of judgements, there is enough scope to seek information under the RTI Act from the Judiciary and hence there is certainly a need to appoint Public Information Officers for the purpose. Please refer to Annexure IV, a letter to the editor of Times of India on the scope of using the Act vis-à-vis judiciary.

8.. That, as the competent authority, you are empowered under section 28 of the Act to make rules in terms of cost of the medium or print cost price of materials to be disseminated, the fee payable for providing information. Therefore, the duration in deciding the costs and fees payable for providing information is too long. The so-called “active consideration” as cited by the Registrar General of the court is nothing but an excuse and amounts to dereliction of duty.

Now therefore, in the interests of justice and transparency, the following reliefs are sought:

i.. That, as the competent authority, you direct the Registrar General to revoke the said circular forthwith.

ii.. That, information under section 4 of the Act is published immediately.

iii.. That, Public Information Officers under section 5 of the Act be appointed forthwith.

iv.. That, rules under section 28 of the Act should be framed forthwith.

The Supreme Court has in various judgments held in the past that the citizens enjoy the fundamental right to information. The Right to Information Act, 2005 was enacted “to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority”. It is therefore hoped, that as the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and competent authority appointed under the Act, you would take immediate cognizance of this letter and pass the necessary directives.

Yours faithfully,

Sd/- Sd/-

Ronald L. Rebello Sanket Kashid

Social Activist and Founder, Justice Corps Co-founder, Justice Corps

Sd/-

Ganesh Sodaye

Member, Justice Corps

Copy by email to:

1.. Central Information Commission, New Delhi

2.. Registrar General, Bombay High Court

3.. Organisations and individuals working on the right to information.

4.. Print and electronic media.

In solidarity with the above assertions and demands:

No Name Designation and Organisation

1.. Dr. Leo Rebello President, All India (Press) Letter Writers Association & Litigants Welfare Forum

2.. Mrs. Prabha Tirmare Sr. Lecturer, College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan

3.. Dr. J. Adsule Member, HC Legal Aid Committee, Mumbai

4.. Ms. Ulka Mahajan Sarvahara Jan Andolan

5.. Mrs. Farida Lambay Vice-Principal, College of Social Work

6.. Mr. Datta Balsaraf NavMaharashtra Yuva Abhiyan, Y. B Chavan Centre

7.. Ms. Medha Kulkarni Trustee, Sampark, Mumbai

8.. Mr. Ramesh Kadam General Secretary, Police-Janta Parivartan Dal

9.. Mr. Shuddodan Kathade President, Janvikas

10. Mr. John D’souza Director, Centre for Education & Documentation

11.. Mrs. Leena Joshi Director, Apnalaya

12.. Ms. Seema Pawaskar Systems Elite to Endeavor Development

13.. Mr. Vijay Najaraj Tata Institute of Social Sciences

14.. Mr. Allyn D’Silva Justice & Peace Commission

15.. Ms. Juliet Maben Documentation Research & Training Centre

16.. Mrs. Pamela Fernandes ACCP, Hotline

17.. Ms. Patsy Khan President, Institute of Social Service

18.. Ms. Philomina Vaz Anubhav Mumbai

19.. Mr. Pravin More State Secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

20.. Mr. Sanjay Lokhande Executive Secretary, Konkan Vikas Samanvaya Vyaspith

21.. Mr. Mohan Surve Executive Director, Vikas Sahyog Pratishthan

22.. Mr. Lalit Babar Dr. Ambedkar Setivikas Sanstha.

23.. Mr. Anil Borkar Gramin Vikas Pragati Mandal, Bhandara

24.. Mr. Datta Patil S. G. V. M

25.. Mr. Sachin Jakhi Sahil Sanstha, Ratnagiri

26.. Mr. Anant Kadam Lokadhikar Andolan

27.. Mr. Devidas Kumbhar Somling Gram Vikas

28.. Mr. Ashok Bhosale Samajik Nyay Pratisthan

29.. Mr. Gajanan Bhoir Sakav, Raigad

30.. Mr. Ajit Karde Vikalp, Satara

31.. Mr. Sachin M. Constructive Catalyst, Pune

32.. Mr. Ramesh Sagare Human Resource Development Corporation

33.. Mr. Suresh Sawant Co-ordinator, Rationing Kruti Samiti

34.. Mrs. Asunta D’souza Social Worker, Salokha

35.. Ms. Sneha Khandekar Social Activist

36.. Mr. Prasad Manjrekar Action Aid International, India office

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