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Bring attorney general under RTI: Petitioner

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Sat, Feb 23, 2013 10:30 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) A petition was filed in the Delhi High Court asking it to declare the office of the attorney general of India as a public authority falling within the ambit of the Right To Information Act, 2005.

Filing the petition, RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal challenged the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that earlier dismissed his complaint seeking certain information from the office of Attorney General of India (AGI).

The CIC in its order dated Oct 12, 2012 had held that the AGI is not a public authority within the ambit of RTI Act 2005.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who filed the plea for Agarwal, said that as far as the attorney general at the centre and advocate generals at the state level are concerned, they are public authorities and come under the RTI.

"Authorities established under any law or under any notification are covered by the definition of public authority. As far as law officers of the government are concerned, their office being established under appropriate notification, are all public authorities under the RTI Act," the plea said.

Bhushan said that attorney general being a law officer of the government of India, is governed by rules framed for law officers. Since there have been complaints about breaking of rules by law officers, these, including the attorney general, should be covered by the RTI Act.

The plea said that the subject matter of Agarwal's RTI petition before the CIC was about an episode "where present attorney general (then solicitor general) is alleged to have advised the then union communication minister (refer correspondence between prime minister and A. Raja) on the 2G issue directly without taking approval of union law ministry, as is mandatory for law officers of the government of India."

The petition said: "There have been other instances also where law officers of government of India were found breaking rules, at times making union ministries ask union law ministry for change of advocate as was admitted in an RTI response, where an Additional Solicitor General had to be replaced at the request of union petroleum ministry because the said law officer did not stick to brief given by the Union Law Ministry. Attorney General may therefore be made accountable to public through provisions of RTI Act."

Agarwal Nov 2011 had filed an RTI application seeking certain information, addressed to the public information officer at the office of the attorney general. That application got no response, as "there is no CPIO in AG's office".

He then, in Dec 2012, filed a complaint before the CIC, which dismissed the complaint saying the attorney general was not a public authority.

Agarwal moved the high court seeking that the CIC order be set aside, and asking that the office of the attorney general be declared a public authority falling within the purview of the RTI.

The matter will come up for hearing Feb 26.




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