Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Attorney general is a public authority, must be under RTI: HC

The Attorney General is not merely a lawyer for the government, but is a constitutional authority, the Delhi High Court has said, bringing the top law officer under the ambit of the RTI Act. 

Justice Vibhu Bakhru on Tuesday held the office of AG to be a "public authority" as per the transparency act and reversed the decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC). In 2012 a full bench of CIC ruled that the AG is only a person and can't be considered an "authority" under the Act. 

"It is apparent that the role of the AG is not limited to merely acting as a lawyer for the Government of India...the AG is a constitutional functionary and is also obliged to discharge the functions under the Constitution as well as under any other law," HC noted, extending the ambit of RTI to the AG office. 

Justice Bakhru pointed out that functions of AG are also in the nature of public functions and as required by the Constitution of India. "In this view also, the office of the AG should be a public authority within the meaning of section 2(h) of the RTI Act," the court explained. 

HC was hearing two separate plea filed by RTI activists Subhash Chandra Agarwal and R K Jain who had challenged the CIC ruling and urged the court to declare AG office answerable to RTI Act. Allowing their plea, HC also directed the AG to reconsider the RTI application of Jain.

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