‘Documents submitted in courts are their property’

The documents submitted to courts as part of litigations become their property and can only be sought from the concerned courts once a decision has been given by them, the Central Information Commission has held.

Last Updated: Sep 07, 2010, 21:15 PM IST

New Delhi: The documents submitted to courts
as part of litigations become their property and can only be
sought from the concerned courts once a decision has been
given by them, the Central Information Commission has held.

The case relates to plea of RTI activist Shekhar Singh
who sought from the CIC copies of all the documents filed by
the Commission in the Supreme Court and different High Courts
pertaining to decisions of the transparency panel.

The documents ran into about 15-20 thousand pieces. The
CPIO rejected the plea saying documents are with the Standing
Counsel and retrieving them would be difficult. It said that
copies of such large number of documents would necessarily
divert the resources of the Commission, hence cannot be given.

During the hearing, Joint Secretary (Law) at CIC told
Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah that the
decisions of the High Courts and the Supreme Court are
judicial documents held by those Courts which alone may issue
certified copies.

If any decision were to be taken to disclose these
documents by the Commission, this can only be after issuing
notices to Registrars General of each of the concerned High
Courts and also a public notice for any interested person in
the public, he said.

Habibullah cited previous decisions concerning the Delhi
Police where he held that once a case has been submitted for
prosecution all the information concerned becomes the property
of the trial court, even though it may still be in the
physical possession of the Police.

"The same will necessarily be the principle here, except
that once a case has been decided and the limitation period
subsequent to the judgment has elapsed, such information
becomes public," Habibullah said.

PTI