Want to know judges’ leave status? RTI plea gets a thumbs down
Reported by RAGHAV OHRI in Express India, June 04, 2008

Chandigarh, June 03 “Information asked for cannot be supplied as you have no concern with the information and there is also no public interest in the information sought by you.” This is how the UT District Courts reply to an RTI appplication reads. What is more intriguing is the fact that the application had sought information about the total number of leaves a magistrate or sessions judge in the UT District Courts is entitled to and the maximum number of leaves availed by all judges from January to December 2007. The application was filed by Chandigarh Newsline.
The reply does not cite any rule or section of the Right to Information Act while denying information.

“How can the Public Information Officer say that there is no public interest involved?. The information that has been asked for is nothing secret or personal. All of us are interested to know what is the maximum number of leaves taken by a judge as there are so many cases pending in courts,” said Advocate R K Garg.
Filing an application under the RTI Act in the UT District Courts is a herculean task in itself.
Right from the procedure of filing the application, contacting an authorised person in court and submitting the fees, the procedure is nothing but a string of harassing experiences.

To begin with, court employees are not aware of the procedure to file an RTI application. “Go arrange the notification, read it and then come here to file the application,” is the reply one gets.

A copy of the notification is available with court employees. After repeated requests, if you are allowed to read the notification, the next hurdle is locating the official concerned who will accept the application.

Then there is the confusion about the mode of payment. When this reporter filed two RTI applications, officials said there was no fee for filing.
When the reporter insisted that there was a Rs 50 fee per application, officials said that court stamps worth Rs 50 may be purchased and pasted on the applications, the stamp worth Rs 30 on one and Rs 20 on the other.

On pointing out that according to the rules, Rs 50 has to be deposited for every application, the reporter got a casual reply from the other end. “If the need arises, we will call you and ask you to deposit more fee,” said an official. And this is exactly what happened.

Two weeks after filing the application, this reporter was told to submit some more money.