“Misuse Of RTI Act Causing Paralysis, Fear Among Government Officials”: Court

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'Misuse Of RTI Act Causing Paralysis, Fear Among Government Officials': Court

The court said the purpose of the RTI Act is “to further good governance”.

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court has expressed concern over increasing “abuse” and “misuse” of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and said it has led to “paralysis and fear” among government officials.

The high court said the RTI law was enacted with laudable objectives of bringing about transparency in the functioning of the government, to facilitate access to information to every citizen, to prevent corruption, and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable.

“However, this court is now seeing increasing abuse/ misuse of the RTI Act and this case is a classic case of abuse of the Right to Information. The purpose of the RTI Act is meant to further good governance, and unfortunate misuse of the same will only dilute its importance as well as make government servants dither from carrying out their activities.

“It will also prevent doctors from taking steps in emergent situations fearing the consequences of the same. This court has unfortunately been coming across various cases where abuse of RTI has led to paralysis and fear among government officials,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said.

The high court made the observations while dealing with a petition by Shishir Chand challenging an order passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing its registry to not entertain any further cases from him concerning the untimely demise of his younger brother on account of alleged medical negligence by Dr Atul Chhabra of Jamshedpur’s Tata Memorial Hospital.

The CIC cited the list of RTI applications filed by the petitioner and the repeated attempts made by him to reopen the same issue again and again. It said the issues have already been considered from all aspects and a substantial amount of information has been made available to him.

The CIC had held since the ambit of the RTI Act is restricted to ensuring access to information from existing public records, it found that enough relief under the RTI Act has already been explored.

It was of the opinion that a trial of medical negligence cannot be held through the process of RTI.

In its order, the high court said, undoubtedly, the petitioner was abusing the RTI Act by repeatedly filing applications either to ascertain the degree of the doctor, the issue which has already attained finality by the orders of the court as well as the Supreme Court, or by trying to question the decision-making process adopted by the ethics committee.

The high court said the petitioner has not sought the same information but further information and, therefore, the CIC ought not to have passed the direction to the central registry of the commission to not entertain any further applications from the petitioner on the same subject matter.

The court set aside the relevant portion of the CIC’s order directing the registry to not entertain further applications from the petitioner on the same subject.

“The court is sympathetic to the pain of the petitioner, however, he is advised not to abuse the process of law by trying to seek the same information over and over again, thereby diluting the very objective of the Act. The writ petition is allowed in part,” the high court said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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