"People who are in no way connected to an issue file RTI. It sometimes amounts to criminal intimidation, which is a nice word for blackmail," the court said.

The Supreme Court now wants guidelines for the RTI to be regulated
news RTI Monday, December 16, 2019 - 13:45

The Supreme Court on Monday said that it was “necessary” for guidelines to prevent the misuse the use of the Right to Information Act by those who have no relation to the information sought.  

The court said that RTI has become a tool being used to blackmail officials, leading to an atmosphere of fear. The court also asked for advocate Prashant Bhushan to come up with a system to filter RTI applications to disallow people uninvolved with a subject from filing RTIs.

This came when the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Bobde took note of the submissions of lawyer Prashant Bhushan that despite the apex court's February 15 judgment, the Centre and state governments have not appointed information commissioners in Central Information Commission (CIC) and (SICs).

During the hearing, the bench raised the issue of misuse of Right to Information Act by those who have no relation to the information sought and said that there was a need for examining its guidelines.

"We are not against the RTI Act but we think it is necessary to evolve some kind of guidelines to regulate this," the bench said.

"People who are in no way connected to an issue file RTI. It sometimes amounts to criminal intimidation, which is a nice word for blackmail. We are not against the right to information. But there is a need for guidelines. It cannot be an unrivalled right," it said.

This comment comes just a few weeks after the Supreme Court held that the CJI comes under the ambit of the Act, pertaining to safeguards. 

The Chief Justice said there may be innumerable cases of blackmail and extortion, and if there is a cognizable offence and the people concerned should file a complaint with the anti-corruption bureau.

"Why every member should get information, for example if someone needs an axe to grind against an officer .... We are asking methods to stop abuse of RTI, why do you think it happens", queried the Chief Justice to advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was appearing for the petitioner seeking transparency in the appointment of information commissioners.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre and the state to appoint information commissioners in the CIC and SICs within three months and said there was a need to evolve guidelines to stop alleged misuse of the Right to Information Act.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde took note of the submissions of lawyer Prashant Bhushan that despite the apex court's February 15 judgment, the Centre and state government have not appointed information commissioners in CIC and SICs.

"We direct the Centre and the state to conclude the appointment from today," the bench, which also comprised justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said.

The bench also directed authorities to put up the names of members of the search committee for appointment of Central Information Commission's information commissioners on the government website within two weeks.

The bench was hearing an interim application filed by Anjali Bhardwaj seeking a direction to government authorities on implementation of top court's order asking them to appoint information commissioners within a stipulated time and in a transparent manner.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

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