Indian Supreme Court to Review RTI Act Decision

26 November 2012

The Indian Supreme Court on Nov. 20 agreed to hear the government’s request that it review its Sept. 13 decision that among other things would require that information commissions be composed of retired judges. (See previous report.)

In agreeing to the review,  justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar, “made it clear that its verdict for appointment of people from judicial background in information commissions was not aimed at rehabilitating judges but to make information panels independent of the government’s influence,” according to an account in the Indian Express.

“Idea is not to rehabilitate judges but to ensure independence of the institutions,” the bench said, adding that “commissions must be headed by independent persons.”

The government in its appeal argued that the decision is contrary to the 2005 RTI Act. It said in part, “It is well settled that the court cannot issue directions to the Legislature to amend an Act or Rule. It is for Parliament to amend an Act or Rule.”

Critics of the decision said that it would dramatically slow the functioning of the central and state information commissions, among other negative effects. The ruling already has caused confusion among commissions. (See previous report.)


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