HC sets aside CIC order declaring ministers public authorities

HC sets aside CIC order declaring ministers public authorities

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has set aside the Central Information Commission (CIC) verdict declaring ministers as “public authorities” and answerable under the Right to Information law.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru quashed the CIC landmark judgment last year, saying the order was “wholly outside the scope” of the matter before it.

The court said: “There was no occasion for the CIC to enter upon the question as to whether a Minister is a ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the Act… In view of the above, the order dated March 12, 2016 cannot be sustained and is, accordingly, set aside.”

The high court’s order came on the Central government’s appeal against the CIC order. The case stems from an application filed by a Maharashtra resident who wanted to know how to get an appointment with the Union Law Minister.

In November 2014, the man moved an application before Additional Private Secretary, Minister of Law and Justice seeking to know the time period of minister or minister of state meeting the general public. As the information sought was not received, the matter reached the CIC.

Here the commission went on to frame the questions whether the minister or his office was a “public authority” under the RTI Act and whether a citizen has the right to information sought and whether the minister has corresponding obligation to give it.

The CIC said each minister should get a website of their own where they can disclose information on their own as mandated under the transparency law.

The high court, however, said that the commission could not have gone into the above question.