New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed a Central Information Commission order to make public the donations made by the Presidents of India on humanitarian grounds between 2004 and 2011.
While staying the CIC`s May 4 order, Justice Vipin Sanghi, however, observed that "the President is not above the law" and the public has the right to know about the donation made by the president out of tax payers` money.
The court stayed the CIC order, while reserving its own order on the President secretariat`s plea against the CIC order.
The court made critical remarks as Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok, appearing for the President secretariat, sought to oppose the CIC order and said that many of the donations are made to people seeking financial help for medical treatment and disclosure of such informations would infringe their privacy.
"If somebody goes with begging bowl, which kind of privacy he wants to maintain? How much money has rolled out and where the money has gone?" Justice Sanghi said.
As ASJ argued that the Right to Information Act is not meant to entertain such applications for disclosure of donations from Constitutional authorities, the court said, "We are not a monarchy but a republic."
"The President of India is not above the law," it added.
ASJ sought to argue that some constitutional authorities like the Prime Minister, have discretionary power to make donations, which he makes from the PM`s National Relief fund.
At this, Justice Sanghi said if the donations given by the President is from tax payers` money, the general public certainly has the right to know.
The court made the remarks during hearing of a plea by the President secretariat, challenging the CIC`s order, which has asked the First Citizen`s office to disclose the names of receivers of donation, their address and the amount given.
The CIC had asked the Rashtrapati Bhawan to give these information to applicant Nitesh Kumar Tipathi within 15 days, besides uploading the information on the official website of the President`s secretariat.
The court, however, stayed the CIC order, while also reserving its own order on the President secretariat`s plea against the CIC order.