Are judicial officers above information commission?
As Reported in Statesman News Service, BHUBANESWAR, May 18
Mr Janardan Samantray, a person seeking information under the Right
To Information Act has wittingly or unwittingly stirred a larger
debate on whether judicial officers are exempt or immune to notices
issued by the information commissioner.
The applicant Mr Samantray had sought information on number of under
trial prisoners, cases pending, acquittal and convictions. The
information officer of Khurda district judge rejected the application
of Mr Samantray who, then moved on first appeal to the district and
sessions judge court seeking the requisite information. Once again
his application was dismissed.
Mr Samantray then moved a second appeal as per provisions of the RTI
Act and presented his case before the state information commission.
He contested the rejection of his first appeal and alleged that he
had not been given reasonable opportunity of being heard.
Notices were issued to the office of the district judge, Khurda by
the Information commission to respond on 15 May for hearing the
matter, but nobody turned up, instead the commission was told that
the judicial officer had sought opinion and permission of the High
Court in this regard.
The issue that needs to be debated at the highest level is whether
judicial officers are exempt from appearing or responding to the
This being the first such case in Orissa, the grey areas in this
regard stands to be tested. The High Court's response to the district
courts request for views on the matter is awaited. Meanwhile the
information commission has fixed 13 August to discuss the matter.