Court to hear appeal against own information officer

February 1st, 2011 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Gandhinagar, Feb 1 (IANS) The Gujarat High Court administration is set to hear an appeal against its public information officer’s (PIO) order allegedly denying information to a right to information (RTI) applicant on the unavailability of high court judges for judicial work during 2009 and 2010.In an application filed under the RTI Act before the high court’s additional registrar (judicial), Indukumar Jani, editor of a fortnightly magazine “Naya Marg”, sought to know under which provision of law the judges remained unavailable for judicial work.

The RTI applicant, in a plea filed in October 2010, also wanted to know for how many days all the high court judges remained unavailable for judicial work in 2009 and 2010.

Jani also queried whether the high court judges were entitled to casual leave, and if so under which provision of the law and for how many days in a year.

Relying to his queries, the PIO said that details of unavailability of judges for judicial work were not in public domain and were exempted from disclosure.

On the issue of leave, the PIO replied that the judges were entitled to 14 days’ casual leave in a year in accordance with a 1979 resolution passed by the chief justices’ conference held in 1987.

On the question of the nature of work the judges did when they were unavailable for judicial work, the PIO said that they were involved in administrative work.

“By the order of the chief justice, the judges are engaged in different kinds of administrative work. Therefore, they’re unavailable for judicial work as and when they are given such work,” the PIO replied.

Jani filed an appeal being aggrieved by the reply given to his queries. He said in his appeal that the PIO was liable to penalty for not providing the details within the prescribed time. He claimed that there was a delay of two months in giving the information.

He claimed that the answer about the casual leave was misleading and erroneous. He claimed that the resolution passed by the chief justices’ conference was not valid.

Jani expressed surprise as to how information pertaining to the number of days the judges remained unavailable for judicial work could be outside the public domain. “The honourable judges are receiving the salary even when they are unavailable for judicial work.”

He filed an appeal against the PIO order Jan 3.

The appellate authority of the high court administration would hear the appeal against the said order of the PIO Feb 9.

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