Hyderabad: Anti-corruption activist and President of Forum against Corruption, Vijay Gopal has termed the response, from the state public information officer, High Court of Telangana, to his RTI as 'unexpected.'
The RTI by Vijay Gopal dated December 13, 2019, asks a set of questions on topics such as implementing the Supreme Court orders on the minimum tenure and issuance of orders to civil servants in writing.
The RTI had questions in two sets wherein some of the questions were - about the person responsible for the delay of petitions in the HC and lower courts, the officer in charge/judge who has to begin the process of recruitment of judges, the time for which the district court judge position can be left vacant, the number of adjournments allowed for a PIL, the maximum number of adjournments and the number of leaves a judge is entitled.
The response from the Registrar general FAC registrar (Vigilance), HC read - " The information sought by the applicant cannot be furnished, since the information sought there comes under v3rf party information as the same is not related to him, further it is exempted from disclosure under section 8(1) (j) of the RTI act, 2005 and further involvement of larger public interest to justify disclosure of third party information is lacking.
Although the registrar general of the HC answered the question which read the tenure of the High Court judge to which the response was that there is no GO/circular with the registry.
To the question which asked the total no of sanctioned judges to this high court, the response was 24 and the no of posts vacant were 11.
As other questions such as delay in filling posts of the HC and the time by when will they be filled, the response read - " The information sought by the applicant cannot be termed as information was defined under the sec 2(f) of the RTI act.
The response for questions like lower age of the JC judges in Telangana from June 2014 to December 1, 2019 and the youngest High court judge appointed from June 2014 till date was that the said information is placed in the official website of the High court. It further read to browse the same as per section 4(2) of the RTI act.
The question asking the number of leaves entitled for a judge, the response read 15 days of casual leaves in a calendar year.
In the second set of questions asked about the High court judges, their recruitment, in-charge for recruitment, time taken by the HC to fill the vacant posts, dereliction of duty by keeping the posts vacant for a long period, the provision of law under which appointment takes place, provision of law under which the post of HC judge can be left vacant, is filling the post the responsibility of president or Chief justice of state, violation of responsibility by not appointing the judge, whose failure is the current number of vacant positions and the eligibility criteria of a Judge.
The response read, " The requisite information is not supposed to be disclosed on the ground the collegium of the Judges is not a public authority as defined under section 2(h) of RTI act, 2005, and moreover, the Chief justice hold the information in fiduciary capacity and the same is exempted from disclosure under section 8 (1) (e) of the act as it is confidential in nature, which is subject of assessment and approval at higher level; and no public interest is involved in the matter.
Speaking to Newsmeter on the response, Vijay Gopal said - " The response from them is extremely unexpected. Speaking of courts, even the Supreme Court gives 2 days of time to submit the version in writing whereas the high court take their own time. The RTI is mainly based on the number of adjournments given to an advocate. Some accountability must be established. How long do we wait? It has been over 6 months but there's been no response for many of the PILs which effect people at large. According to the Supreme Court rules, 2013, everything goes by the approval and consultancy of the president. I'm going to file an appeal in the State Information Commission as the response is really unexpected."