Communication from Rashtrapati Bhavan beyond RTI?

Can communication from the President or its office be disclosed under the Right to Information Act?

New Delhi: Can communication from the
President or its office be disclosed under the Right to
Information Act?

Maintaining that such a communication is "protected"
from disclosure, the President`s Secretariat has raised the
issue before the Delhi High Court in a writ petition
challenging the CIC directive on the disclosure of the
communication between the then President A P J Abdul Kalam and
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the Padma Awards.

"The issue of law which arises pertains to the
communication entered into or which emanates from the
President`s Secretariat and the President of India; whether
such communication, material and information is protected by
the operation of Article 74 of the Constitution of India or to disclosure in terms of the Right to
Information Act, 2005," the secretariat has pleaded in its

The communication between the Council of Ministers and
the President is protected under Article 74 of the
Constitution of India and hence cannot be subject matter of
disclosure, the President`s office said.

The CIC had ordered the part disclosure of communication
between the two leaders in which President Kalam reportedly
has raised question marks over some of the people considered
for the Padma awards. The communication were sought by
activist S C Agrawal in his RTI application.

"The CIC has pronounced an order on a constitutional
issue, being the scope and operation of Article 74(1) which in
the respectful submission..., it lacks jurisdiction to
pronounced upon. The CIC is an authority whose powers and
jurisdiction are conscribed by the provisions of the RTI Act,
and in the present matter, the CIC has traversed far beyond
the same," the President`s office said in the plea.

It said calling records of the President`s Secretariat
or the President of India would "amount to treating the
President of India as a party before a court/authority is in
the teeth of Article 361 of the Constitution of India which
confers an immunity on the President of India from being
answerable to any court of law for the exercise and
performance of the powers and duties of the office or for any
act done or purported to have by her/him in the exercise and
performance of those powers and duties."

It said orders passed by the CIC have "grave and far
reaching" ramifications on the manner in which information,
communication and material emanating from or available in the
President`s Secretariat.


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