Top law officer out of RTI ambit: HC

The office of the attorney-general of India does not come under the Right to Information Act as it is not a "public authority", Delhi High Court ruled today.

  • Published 4.02.17
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New Delhi, Feb. 3 (PTI): The office of the attorney-general of India does not come under the Right to Information Act as it is not a "public authority", Delhi High Court ruled today.

The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath came on an appeal by the Centre challenging the decision of a single judge who had held that the AG's office is a public authority under the ambit of the transparency law.

"We are unable to agree with the conclusion of the single judge that the office of the AGI falls within the description of 'public authority'. The predominant function of the AGI is to give advice on legal matters, to appear in court as stated, i.e perform duties akin to an advocate/senior advocate...," the bench said today, setting aside the single judge's order.

"Essentially, the function being akin to an advocate of the Government of India (GoI), he (AG) is in a fiduciary relationship with the GoI and cannot put in the public domain his opinions or materials forwarded to him," the bench added.

In a March 2015 ruling, the single judge bench had declared the AG a public authority, saying he performed functions under the Constitution. It had quashed a December 2012 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that had concluded otherwise. The single judge's order had come on appeals by RTI activists Subhash Chandra Agarwal and R.K. Jain, who had challenged the CIC order.

The division bench accepted additional solicitor-general Sanjay Jain's contention that the AG did not come under the RTI. "The AG is not a functionary reposed with any administrative or other authority which effects the rights or liabilities of persons," the court said.

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