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Khanapuram Gandaiah Vs. Administrative Officer & Ors. [2010] INSC 1 (4 January 2010)

Judgment

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO.34868 OF 2009 Khanapuram Gandaiah ... Petitioner Administrative Officer & Ors. ... Respondents ORDER

1.     This special leave petition has been filed against the judgment and order dated 24.4.2009 passed in Writ Petition No.28810 of 2008 by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh by which the writ petition against the order of dismissal of the petitioner's application and successive appeals under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (hereinafter called the "RTI Act") has been dismissed. In the said petition, the direction was sought by the Petitioner to the Respondent No.1 to provide information as asked by him vide his application dated 15.11.2006 from the Respondent No.4 - a Judicial Officer as for what reasons, the Respondent No.4 had decided his Miscellaneous Appeal dishonestly.

2.     The facts and circumstances giving rise to this case are that the petitioner claimed to be in exclusive possession of the land in respect of which civil suit No.854 of 2002 was filed before Additional Civil Judge, Ranga Reddy District praying for perpetual injunction by Dr. Mallikarjina Rao against the petitioner and another, from entering into the suit land.

Application filed for interim relief in the said suit stood dismissed. Being aggrieved, the plaintiff therein preferred CMA No.185 of 2002 and the same was also dismissed. Two other suits were filed in respect of the same property impleading the Petitioner also as the defendant. In one of the suits i.e. O.S. No.875 of 2003, the Trial Court granted temporary injunction against the Petitioner. Being aggrieved, Petitioner preferred the CMA No.67 of 2005, which was dismissed by the Appellate Court - Respondent No.4 vide order dated 10.8.2006.

3.     Petitioner filed an application dated 15.11.2006 under Section 6 of the RTI Act before the Administrative Officer-cum-Assistant State Public Information Officer (respondent no.1) seeking information to the queries mentioned therein. The said application was rejected vide order dated 23.11.2006 and an appeal against the said order was also dismissed vide order dated 20.1.2007. Second Appeal against the said order was also 3 dismissed by the Andhra Pradesh State Information Commission vide order dated 20.11.2007. The petitioner challenged the said order before the High Court, seeking a direction to the Respondent No.1 to furnish the information as under what circumstances the Respondent No.4 had passed the Judicial Order dismissing the appeal against the interim relief granted by the Trial Court. The Respondent No.4 had been impleaded as respondent by name.

The Writ Petition had been dismissed by the High Court on the grounds that the information sought by the petitioner cannot be asked for under the RTI Act. Thus, the application was not maintainable. More so, the judicial officers are protected by the Judicial Officers' Protection Act, 1850 (hereinafter called the "Act 1850"). Hence, this petition.

4.     Mr. V. Kanagaraj, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner has submitted that right to information is a fundamental right of every citizen. The RTI Act does not provide for any special protection to the Judges, thus petitioner has a right to know the reasons as to how the Respondent No. 4 has decided his appeal in a particular manner. Therefore, the application filed by the petitioner was maintainable. Rejection of the application by the Respondent No. 1 and Appellate authorities rendered the petitioner remediless. Petitioner vide application dated 15.11.2006 had asked 4 as under what circumstances the Respondent No.4 ignored the written arguments and additional written arguments, as the ignorance of the same tantamount to judicial dishonesty, the Respondent No.4 omitted to examine the fabricated documents filed by the plaintiff; and for what reason the respondent no.4 omitted to examine the documents filed by the petitioner.

Similar information had been sought on other points.

5.     At the outset, it must be noted that the petitioner has not challenged the order passed by the Respondent No. 4. Instead, he had filed the application under Section 6 of the RTI Act to know why and for what reasons Respondent No. 4 had come to a particular conclusion which was against the petitioner. The nature of the questions posed in the application was to the effect why and for what reason Respondent No. 4 omitted to examine certain documents and why he came to such a conclusion.

Altogether, the petitioner had sought answers for about ten questions raised in his application and most of the questions were to the effect as to why Respondent No. 4 had ignored certain documents and why he had not taken note of certain arguments advanced by the petitioner's counsel.

6.     Under the RTI Act "information" is defined under Section 2(f) which provides:

"information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force."

This definition shows that an applicant under Section 6 of the RTI Act can get any information which is already in existence and accessible to the public authority under law. Of course, under the RTI Act an applicant is entitled to get copy of the opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc., but he cannot ask for any information as to why such opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc. have been passed, especially in matters pertaining to judicial decisions. A judge speaks through his judgments or orders passed by him. If any party feels aggrieved by the order/judgment passed by a judge, the remedy available to such a party is either to challenge the same by way of appeal or by revision or any other legally permissible mode. No litigant can be allowed to seek information as to why and for what reasons the judge had come to a particular decision or conclusion. A judge is not bound to explain later on for what reasons he had come to such a conclusion.

7.     Moreover, in the instant case, the petitioner submitted his application under Section 6 of the RTI Act before the Administrative Officer-cum- Assistant State Public Information Officer seeking information in respect of the questions raised in his application. However, the Public Information Officer is not supposed to have any material which is not before him; or any information he could have obtained under law. Under Section 6 of the RTI Act, an applicant is entitled to get only such information which can be accessed by the "public authority" under any other law for the time being in force. The answers sought by the petitioner in the application could not have been with the public authority nor could he have had access to this information and Respondent No. 4 was not obliged to give any reasons as to why he had taken such a decision in the matter which was before him. A judge cannot be expected to give reasons other than those that have been enumerated in the judgment or order. The application filed by the petitioner before the public authority is per se illegal and unwarranted. A judicial officer is entitled to get protection and the object of the same is not to protect malicious or corrupt judges, but to protect the public from the dangers to which the administration of justice would be exposed if the concerned judicial officers were subject to inquiry as to malice, or to litigation with those whom their decisions might offend. If anything is done contrary to 7 this, it would certainly affect the independence of the judiciary. A judge should be free to make independent decisions.

8.     As the petitioner has misused the provisions of the RTI Act, the High Court had rightly dismissed the writ petition.

9.     In view of the above, the Special Leave Petition is dismissed accordingly.

...............................CJI. (K.G. BALAKRISHNAN)

..................................J.

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